Friday, December 25, 2015

The real reason why old school gamers are not so hyped about modern games

Hey folks, I wasn't going to write today (just after Christmas), but while playing Dark Cloud (the PS4 version) I realized that all this time I have been analyzing and ranting about the old school vs new school topic in a very superficial way. First, I am going to shoot down all my own misconceptions and then I'm going to explain my new point of view on this subject, so let's get busy and start this up. Keep in mind that the phrases that are bold and underlined will serve their purpose on the final explanation.

Warning: This article came a little longer that I expected so I hope you like reading

Yes, it is incomplete, but it takes a while to get to the end.

Misconception #1: Modern games are smaller in scope.

This one has been going around my head for a while now. Some gamers say that modern videogames have become smaller in scope, but the advent of open world and sandbox games beg to differ. The truth is that if we take some exceptions out of the equation, games seem to be getting bigger, for example Metal Gear Solid V even in its incomplete state is still bigger than the previous installments. Now let's be clear about something. Modern games have become bigger and have more stuff to do, but bigger isn't always better, keep that in mind.

Once again glued to a game that has the same simplicity as some of the modern ones.

Misconception #2: Modern games are too simple.

In order to debunk this failed hypothesis, I had to look back at some of the games that are considered classics. Take Dark Cloud for example. The premise of that game is really really simple and although the game is really good, it is basically a dungeon crawler that tried to have a Legend of Zelda vibe (Sony even dared to call it "The Legend of Zelda Killer" at the time). It is quite safe to say that if it weren't for the re-building towns element and the interesting weapon system it had, the game would had passed under the radar at the time and to be frank, the first time I saw it I wasn't so moved by it, mostly because I was accustomed to other types of JRPG and was not into their simpler brethren called dungeon crawlers. What I mean by all this is that modern games are not necessarily simpler in nature when compared to old school classics, so that means that simplicity is not the problem, but the overdoing of simplistic ideas.

Sometimes it is just obvious, but oh well...Keep reading.

Misconception #3: Modern games always hold you by the hand.

This one is half true, but only on certain games and some limited aspects. Don't get me wrong, I am pretty much against games becoming casual oriented, but I have to admit that many technical fixes that have come to pass are really good. From been able to skip cutscenes, smarter save game schemes, been able to continue from more reasonable points when losing (avoiding having to repeat all the story cutscenes and build up) are nice fixes that eliminate some of the annoyances that we used to suffer in the past. The problem begins when developers try to fix what it's not broken.

Repetitive is one thing, but zombified in front of the screen is another.

Misconception #4: Modern games are mindless.

This one is one of those complaints that gets repeated over and over again over an old school vs new school argument, but if we take a look at the classic games we still enjoy and defend so much, we can see that this statement crumbles beneath its own weight. Many of the games we see as "heralds of a better era" can be pretty complex, but also many of them are quite mindless. In fact, some of them actually rely in the repetition of actions (like grinding) and design patterns that follow a loop, which are things that we mostly blame on the modern era, but were there from the very beginning. Now with that out of the way we can state that the level of "mindless gameplay" is not a defining factor and that the real issue is how they handle that mindlessness, because a game can be monotonous and fun, but only if doesn't make it a vain and pointless process.



What we old school gamers really think then?

That is a question that has a really simple answer and while it may look as if I am criticizing my own way of thinking as a gamer, believe me I am not, as this is perfectly o.k. and I even encourage it so bear with me. The real thing about us old schoolers vs modern gaming is just one thing...

We don't want to compromise our gaming experience

You may be asking yourself what I meant by "compromise" so I will explain. By "compromise our gaming experience" I meant having unwanted mandatory changes that feel like baggage in the mind of any old schooler who values a simple, but solid gaming session. For example:


  • We sometimes resent and classify a certain game element as unnecessary because it becomes a hassle and it feels like it's been force fed to us. 


  • On other occasions we see how the developers took a familiar sense of simplicity and exaggerated it exponentially to a point where we feel like we wasted money on the game. 


  • At some points we may even feel that all of our efforts in a game have no real value because we are only catering to a network structure that aims to keep us playing for years (mmorpgs don't count for this statement) making it all feel like a chore or like a mobile game on steroids. 


  • Last but not least, we sometimes feel like a game tried to be so big and open that each objective feels like a mile away with a path filled with pointless filler content. It's like having to go to the grocery store to get some supplies, but having to talk and do some favors to each of your neighbors before you finally get to the place you wanted to go on the first place. Some games do really good at this, but then companies start to imitate the trend and quality is lost. This serves to prove that not every game is meant to have an open world. 


For us, some modern elements that have become standards are just extra weight that we don't need. We feel that resources could be put to a better use and that we should go back to having games that are dualistic in nature (main game + extra stuff) rather than a merge of "one size fits all" features. Some modern games still do the right thing, but many don't, and we don't understand why they become hits in the gaming scene. It is quite complex to say this, but although we were raised with old school games, we feel like we are actually regressing to the days of Atari instead of the modern gaming perfection we expected. Maybe this is because most of us were raised in the 90's so we didn't lived those rudimentary gaming days in the 70's/early 80's so our school of thought is in the middle of gaming history (for the time being).

gaming industry today
This is the gaming industry as it stands today (minus a few exceptions)

In summary, we just don't want to compromise our gaming experience for the sake of others (mostly the game publishers out there). We don't think that the gaming scene has changed so much from the days of old, but we feel like it is out of balance and 100% profit oriented instead of been something that really caters to everyone (they use that phrase a lot these days, but we all know that most of the time it is not true).

Now that all the explanation has ended, tell me what you think. Is this is the real reason why old schoolers are skeptic about the future? Is it selfishness or only a set of high quality standards? Is our gaming taste just too expensive to make? Reading about your thoughts on this subject would be awesome.

Monday, December 7, 2015

5 JRPG to look for in 2016

Hello my friends! It's good to be back and now that I'm here blogging again let's have something for my favorite genre of all, which is Japanese RPG games. I've recently noticed how even some of my friends (who are also hardcore jrpg fans) are kind of lost about what the Japanese role playing game scene will offer to us in the near future, so I've decided to stop my almost non-stop marathon of Xenoblade Chronicles X for a while and make a little guide of whats heading our way in the form of confirmed west side releases.

Note: Although this guide is supposed to be only composed of games that will be released on 2016, I will start it by mentioning one that is coming this month.

Exist Archive


Platforms: PS4, PSVITA
Western release date: December 17, 2015

It still baffles me that not many rpg fans are aware about this game, especially considering that this is in fact the successor of the Valkyrie Profile series, sharing the same gameplay elements and featuring a similar plot involving life beyond death. So far the gameplay footage that the developers have released into the public shows that the game will be a side-scroller, but the fights within the game will be turn based and the story goes around the main character dying and instantly appearing on a strange alternate dimension. What is different between Valkyrie Profile and Exist Archive is that the side-scrolling exploration on this one has a lot more interaction and will probably have backtracking and puzzle elements similar to a "metroidvania" game, which is something that will add a lot to the overall game. This one is coming up soon, so prepare those wallets.


Star Ocean: Integrity and Faithlessness

Platforms: PS3, PS4
Western release date: TBA 2016

This one began as a simple tease by Square Enix where they published an enigmatic website sometime ago, but finally after a long stream of trollings and false hopes, a new Star Ocean game was actually announced. If you look at the gameplay video, you can see that the game will take sort of an action rpg-ish style, but at the same time it keeps all of the original goodies that we are accustomed to when we talk about a Star Ocean game. The game has no specific release date for the west, but considering that the Japanese version of the game will be released on February, I'd say we will probably be playing Star Ocean by Summer.


Nier: Automata


Platforms: PS4
Western release date: TBA 2016

The first Nier game was released in 2010 and while it may have passed unnoticed for some, it gained quite a following and had a good reception between those who played it. Now Square Enix joins up with Platinum Games and they are going full force with it's sequel, side named "Automata". This new Nier game seems to be featuring the same action rpg mechanics and open world of the last one, but this time it looks like the game will be a lot more focused and solid. It is also worth noting that this time, the game will jump a little into the futuristic side where the main character has to deal with all sorts of robots and machines in an earth that has been invaded by a mysterious race of mechanical based life forms. No official release date has been announced, but we could try to guess and say this one could be on shelves by late Summer or early Autumn 2016 although we could be surprised with an earlier date as new announcements are made.


Bravely Second: End Layer


Platforms: 3DS
Western release date: Spring 2016

Called by some "the Final Fantasy of these modern times", Bravely Default is known to be the game that brought Square back to the JRPG scene and it's sequel will come to the west in 2016 to the delight of all jrpg fans in this part of the planet. The game promises to have the same goodies that the first one delivered, but a lot of new and awesome things to add up. I expect another epic story and a bigger world than the previous game so this is definitely the one Japanese rpg to have on a handheld console, mostly because real classic JRPG experiences are kind of scarce on that type of platform.


Persona 5


Platforms: PS3/PS4
Western release date: Summer 2016

This one needs no introduction to any JRPG fan and it will (hopefully) be released on Summer 2016. Last thing we knew was that the game had been delayed (again) and while we got a few nice trailers, most of us felt like this was the jrpg to have this Christmas. From what we have seen from the game since it was first announced, it will feature the same mood and atmosphere that the Persona games are famous for, but it will also have an added layer of exploration where you will have to actually run and even jump on things in order to get ahead in certain areas. This one seems pretty strong, so I'm sure that all this waiting game was actually worth it.



Wrapping things up

Well ppl, there you have 5 Japanese RPGs to keep you busy in 2016. It is important to state that this is just the tip of the iceberg, as there are many other games like these coming in 2016 and if I had kept going, the list would had been bigger than planet Mira on Xenoblade Chronicles X, so yeah that's quite big. If you want to see a full list of the JRPG games coming on 2016 you can check it HERE. I know I've been ranting a lot about the lack of this genre in the past, but I think this is it. 2016 is the year of the JRPG and the future looks awesome!



Saturday, June 27, 2015

Ghost Strands - A Comic series worth checking

I know I mostly write about video games and life as a gamer, but sometimes I like to dwell in other venues of related entertainment like anime and comics because sometimes they just go together in the mind of any gamer. Now because of that, today I'm going to talk about a comic book series that really got my attention. It was brought to me by a friend and it seems like it will be a very interesting series once it gets officially published. Wanna know what I'm talking about? Keep reading my friend.


Ghost Strands

Ghost Strands (website)
Presented by: Monkey Man Labs
Published by: Rotten Apple Comics
Written by: Allyn Jensrud
Art by:  Erik Lervold
Genres and themes: Noir, Mystery, Paranormal, Crime, Action

Ghost Strands story goes around a seemingly normal guy called Jack (who has a very big problem paying his debts and avoiding getting into new ones) that is suddenly stalked by a long haired mysterious man in a trench coat (Hellsing style). This man seems to know everything about Jack and he gives him the obligation of successfully completing certain "missions" or else his life will be taken. The first mission that is assigned to Jack by the mysterious man seems like a simple one, but the circumstances could not be worse as it is a matter of life and death and Jack is just stuck at a bar while the clock is ticking.

If you want to know what happens next I suggest you get the first comic book issue when it goes on sale, but if you need to have a tip about it, let's say that the line between failure and success gets really thin, as Jack has certain mix ups that put him in quite a tough spot. Will he complete his mission in time or will he fail and die as a result? That is for you to discover.

Ghost Strands

The first impression you will probably get when reading this comic series is that of a simple noir story, but once the mysterious man appears it goes the way of mystery as lots of questions will begin flooding your mind while you continue reading. Those could be questions like:

Who is the man with the coat? Why does he forces Jack to do stuff for him?
Why is that man so certain that he can just kill Jack that easily?
How will Jack deal with this sort of ordeal?

I have my own theories about it, but I will let you make your own after you read it. This is the kind of comic book story that has a really big potential of growing and expanding into its own little universe as it has all the needed elements like a big enough setting and a strong argument that has a lot of unknown details that can be uncovered little by little.

Ghost Strands


The art in Ghost Strands is another thing that I found to be pretty cool. The colors used and the style implemented in the drawings give it a noir feeling from the get go and even on scenes that happen outdoors, it manages to keep the gloomy and mysterious mood going. Some of the expressions they gave to the characters are like a tell tale sign about the world surrounding Jack been one full of people with strange agendas and even stranger happenings. In summary, the art direction taken by Erik Lervold gives the correct look and sets the best mood for the story, which is one of the most important things in any story driven work of art.

Could Ghost Strands be a video game?
Yeah I know, I'm always putting video games on everything, but hey I can't help but think about how a series like this would look with the art and gameplay style of Telltale games. It does have the mystery and the action, so yeah my gamer sense is tingling with mental pictures of how could this be and I am really liking what my mind is seeing. We should see more of these kind of stories in the gaming scene, as they are interesting and engaging, Well... I guess I just love these kind of plots and I know many of you do so too.

Ghost Strands

Wrapping it up
There you have it folks. It has been a long time since I last started reading a comic book series, but this one has sparked my interest again so I recommend it to you people. If you are a fan of comic books, you should check this one out as it has the makings of a cool and mystery filled story, sort of like a noir story that feels like manga, but reads like an American comic book which is quite a nice mix. I currently don't have the final publishing date for this comic book series, but I will be sure to share it with you people as soon as I get it, so stay tuned.

Bonus Stage!
As an extra I would like to mention another on going comic series. This one is called The Red Calaveras (also drawn by Erik Lervold) and very much like Ghost Strands, it seems to be quite cool. The series already has a lot of scenes posted on it's website, so once I get to read them all I will make a review about it, be sure of it.

If you want to go to the Red Calaveras site, click HERE.


Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Don't know what Shenmue is? Then check this out.

Another one of the big bombs that were detonated in the Sony E3 conference this year was another heavily expected game and that game is Shenmue 3. Now, other than the tons of articles about how it is getting funded at a machine gun pace (3.1 millions in 2 days and counting), you most probably don't know a thing about Shenmue as a gaming franchise. Now going forward from the premise that you decided to read this article in order to know what the fuss is all about, I am going to shed some light on what Shenmue is, while answering some the most asked questions about it.

Shenmue main art


A little background...

Shenmue was supposed to be the Dreamcast killer app back in the year 2000. It is Sega's most expensive and riskiest project to date, costing the whopping amount of 70 million dolars (99 million on our present time). The game had a lot of promotion and at the time it was something we never had before. The game was super innovative in a lot of ways and it presented the very first detailed open world experience in any video game. An interesting note to the first Shenmue is that the game was going to be released on Sega Saturn, but Sega then decided to move it to the Dreamcast as the Saturn was beginning to lose the fight against the PlayStation and the Nintendo 64.

Shenmue (Saturn vs Dreamcast)

If the game was so good, then why did it only achieved "moderate to low" success?

Shenmue didn't do as bad as some people may have you believe. The real problem was that the production values were sky high and while many copies were sold, too many people just played it for free (a.k.a illegal copy of the game), which was one of the gravest problems that the Dreamcast had at the time. To give you an insight on how bad this problem was for Shenmue, imagine that Grand Theft Auto V (which costed 265 million dollars to make and promote) was just pirated away and played by a really big percentage of the gaming scene without paying a cent. As awesome as the game is, it would still have problems selling and that's what happened to Shenmue. it sold decently, but not enough to justify the productions costs.

The game's sequel (Shenmue 2) was not even available for North American Dreamcast owners and to make matters worse, Grand Theft Auto III was already there taking up all the attention on the more popular and successful PlayStation 2. In the end, Shenmue 1 and 2 were just victims of bad decisions and bad luck.

Shenmue Ryo Nozomi


So what was the game about?

Shenmue was all about playing on an open world that had little to none generic aspects. You had the main protagonist Ryo Hazuki on his quest for vengeance against an evil Kung Fu master called Lan Di that killed his father and stole their precious family relic, but instead of just running around killing tons of bad guys and/or just playing a lot of fetching quests, you had to basically live the world as close to real life as it was. Not only you had to investigate about the Lan Di by talking to people and gathering clues, but you had to train in order to learn new moves and become stronger as you also had the chance to explore a lot of places as the story progresses.

Talking of exploration, as you go by the different towns and places in the game, Ryo can find all sorts of things to interact with, play mini-games, earn collectibles, fight some foes and find martial arts masters that can teach him new moves. He can also do other things like getting a job, making some bets and meeting lots of people all around town. To summarize it all, Shenmue is a game with a linear main quest, that is set on an open world that lets you advance at your own pace.


Shenmue's fighting style is very similar to this.

So Ryo is a martial artist... Cool, but when does he fight?

The game uses the same fighting system as Virtua Fighter (Ryo is kind of similar to Akira) and fights are almost entirely dependent on the story of the game. If the story puts you in a bad neighborhood you will get into fights, both in Virtua Fighter fashion (on the first Shenmue there is even an endurance fight where Ryo and an Ally have to beat 100 guys in a row) and on quick time event sequences. Keep in mind that this game is not a grind fest (unless you spent hours throwing kicks and punches at the air on training sessions) so enemies are not abundant, but when they appear you are sure to have some fun kicking their asses.

So we have covered it all, background, exploration and action. Now we are ready to begin...

Wrapping things up

In summary, Shenmue is your alternative open world experience. It plays sort of like a sandbox game, but it feels like a mix between a simulation of daily life and an martial arts movie. The game really captures the feeling of that kind of flick and turns it into a game that is full of different feelings and moods. It is a really easy experience to get immersed into by combining a lot of different aspects into one, while giving it a cinematic feeling. Don't be fooled by what cynics can say and give this game a chance, especially with the third one coming up on 2016.


Shenmue 3

Shenmue 3 Kickstarter Campaign
If you would like to have the best game that Shenmue 3 can be, be sure to back it on Kickstarter. Right now, as I write this article it has reached 3.1 millions dollars and while this is a very good amount, we need to make sure that the game's funding goes full circle so that Yu Suzuki can make the most out of his efforts and with the help of Sony deliver to us the awesome sequel we have been waiting for so long.

If you want to see what this kickstarter campaign is all about, click HERE.




Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Final Fantasy 7 Remake: The Hard Challenges Ahead

Most of us were astounded when the very much acclaimed remake was finally announced at the Sony E3 conference, but after all the celebration I know many of us started thinking about it and began asking ourselves "How are they specifically going to do this?". The question comes from the fact that all of the Final Fantasy games in the 90's were more about design and style than graphics, so if this is to be a remake... What hurdles will they have to go over in order for this remake to be as good as we expect it to be? That question sets a chain reaction of doubts like the ones you will see below.


Final Fantasy 7 Turn based battle

To be turn based or not to be?

The first thing that most likely passed through the mind of many fans is the fighting system. Back in the day Final Fantasy 7 was all about classic turned based combat, but in today's day and age Square Enix isn't so comfortable with it anymore. Ever since Final Fantasy XI Online, they have been transitioning from turn based to a more action oriented approach, only giving Final Fantasy XIII and XIII 2 a shot at the old school style just to turn it back into action based again with Lighting Returns. What Square Enix will do with a game as big as Final Fantasy 7 is anybody's guess, but if I had to give a definitive answer I would say that they will stick to turn based, but try to mix it up somehow or at least make it look fresh. They can't just go full action rpg on the game because then they would have to sacrifice a lot of depth that the game needs to be as epic as the original one, but hey that's just my humble opinion.


Final Fantasy 7 world map

Scaled world map or something more realistic?

The world in Final Fantasy 7 is really big for a linear game, but the way it is connected has a lot to do with how fun it is to explore. Back in the day, the scaled world map not only served for grinding purposes, but also for finding hidden events and secrets that ranged from simple stuff like finding a hidden item to whole scenarios like Fort Condor. Now the people at Square Enix have to be thinking on how to do this without it looking dated. They know that they need a way for players to go from place to place, but they can't really go fully realistic (or with a boring menu based system) here because that will basically slash away 30% of the game. I know that this is a remake and it does not have to be a carbon copy of the original one, but in this aspect they will need to be really smart or else they will break the whole thing.


Final Fantasy 7 Materia System

Materia system...Simplified?

The materia system is one of the most fun skill systems in any JRPG. It is kind of complex when you try it for the first time, but as you get good at it you will find all sorts of crazy materia combinations while you look for one that gives you an edge in battle. Now in the world we live in today, a system as complex as this can be a turn down for many players that could lack the time or patience to efficiently work with it, so it is quite possible that the developers of this remake are already thinking of ways to re-engineer the materia system in order to cater to both the fans and curious new players. There is also a chance that the system will be split in two, with the original version for fans of the game and a simpler version for anybody that feels like the materia system is too complex for them. A third and very distinct possibility is to re-make the whole system, but I personally see that as very unlikely.


Final Fantasy 7 Junk Heap Dungeon

Is dungeon complexity at risk?

One of the best things in Final Fantasy 7 was how good the dungeon and explorations parts where. From climbing through a mountain of junk and storming into a giant government building, to a Japanese styled tower and even a running train in a collision path, the way in which we experienced all of these places was very dynamic and had a lot of essence to it because they all were unique. Now the problem begins when translating all of those places from pre-rendered environments to full 3D ones. Will we be able to explore Don Corneo's mansion at will, peeping into every room? (Don't look at me like that, I know everybody will do that). Will we be able to invade the Shinra building in the same way we did in the original game with all the different paths and details to find? Will exploration in dungeons and places be as good as the original or will we find ourselves running through generic versions of these places? Square Enix has to give a lot of attention to this issue because it is not only about looking pretty, but also feeling like we are playing through a broader and enhanced version of the memorable places we used to know.


Final Fantasy 7 Golden Saucer

Are mini games and micro events at risk?

Final Fantasy games in the 90's were linear yes, but they had such a great variety of micro events and small stuff to do that they almost felt like they weren't. So how can Square Enix bring this to the remake? I know we are all hoping that they do so just like they did back then in the Square Soft days, but there's a possibility that they could take the lazy path and just throw a bunch of QTE events which is scary for any Final Fantasy fan out there and even more so when such a big game like this has a 2017 release date. Will they be hard pressed to sacrifice some of the awesome stuff that mini games and micro events added to the game or will they grind up, rise to the challenge and give us all the neat stuff? That my friends, is just a matter how much they want this game to succeed.


Final Fantasy 7 Remake E3 2015

Wrapping it up

Will these challenges be conquered? Nobody knows...

The Final Fantasy 7 remake shows a lot of promise and has put all of our imaginations to work, but we also have to be aware that this is a big time production and a very long game. Let's just hope that they have been working on this for a long while now, or at least enough for it to be as loyal to the original as possible while giving us that little extra that the original couldn't on the technology we had back then. For now let's just hope and see because if the house of Final Fantasy does well in all of the previously mentioned challenges, we will be well on our way to one of the most epic games ever.


Bonus Stage!

Here I share you people, a video made by a friend of mine with his impressions of the FF7 remake reveal. It's really simple, but straight to the point.




Sunday, June 14, 2015

Game Doctrine E3 Special

Game Doctrine is a little side project I have been working up with a friend and what better way to introduce our little wacky antics than I showing you our E3 special. If you don't understand some aspects of this episode you can look for previous ones so you can see what it is all about, hope you all enjoy it.


Game Doctrine is shaping up to be a channel that mixes up gaming discussion and criticism with a simple storyline and lots of extras that will be added as we go. I know we have a lot to improve, but we are working to make this a better channel and have lots of ideas that we will be implementing in the future. If you liked the video then help us out by liking, subscribing and sharing the video as it will be of great motivation to us.

Sunday, May 31, 2015

E3 2015 - Keys to Victory

We are basically 15 days away from this year E3 event and the stakes couldn't be higher. Sony has a big lead in the console war, but the PS4 is running the risk of becoming slow in the sense that their biggest guns are not ready and demand for new games has become very intense. Microsoft has been on the losing side for the last couple of years, only managing to win some months in terms of sales, but the lack of powerful games in the past could lead them to give gamers a lot of good news that have been building up until now. On the other hand, Nintendo has been recovering little by little, relying on their solid fan base. Don't get me wrong, we all know that the Wii U is still struggling (even though it is a very good console with a good game library), but it has at least gathered enough power to survive.

Now let's see what needs to happen for any of the companies to win...


Microsoft e3

Pros:

  • Expectations, having the chance to announce a lot of exclusives.
  • The Xbox One fanbase is still strong.

Cons: 

  • Out of the Xbox One fanbase, morale is low and people are clearly thinking that Microsoft only cares about certain genres. 
  • Many gamers feel left out and have no strong reason that could justify buying the console.


Keys to Victory
In order to win the E3 battle, Microsoft must come up with an attractive offer, not only to their long time fans, but to other gamers too. For example, if all of their announcements are about shooters and sports, the possibilities for them to end up victorious are greatly diminished because neutral gamers (potential buyers at this point) will feel left out and because of this, Microsoft will find themselves in the same place they did last year.

Another thing that they should use to lift themselves over the others would be to take a lost franchise and revive it. The Silent Hill rumor was proven to be false, but it wouldn't surprise me if the higher ups at Microsoft have given Konami a couple calls after seen how gamers reacted on the web making this an opportunity that could make them win this year E3. Other options for them would be to give some love to their own flagship franchises like Gears of War and Alan Wake (which has a small chance of ending up on PS4) in order to use these fan favorites as reinforcements for their new projects (by keeping the platform relevant to their fans while trying to win new ones).

Bottom line
This year it is all about games with Microsoft and they need to have quite a bombing run in order to pull up the Xbox One from the fact that they are lagging behind by more than 10 million units. If they do this right, they can take the E3 event by storm, but if they don't then it will be just another year of them falling behind Sony in the console race.



Sony e3
Sony
Pros: 

  • A great market advantage and popularity.
  • Gamers still believe in Sony's promise of bringing a new PS2 era.

Cons:

  • Their first party lineup for the rest of the year looks weak.
  • Most of the previous big announcements are for games in 2016 or have no release date at all.
  • Sony is still carrying the burden of past mishaps (the christmas DDOS attacks, Driveclub issues, The Order 1886 failing to meet the expectations of the mainstream crowd).

Keys to Victory
Sony needs to have some big announcements for this E3 event or else they will have a very hard time. For starters they should at least show some game play of Uncharted 4 in order to keep their fan base all hyped off and to prove that the game will be worth the wait. They should also prove that they will have a lot of third party games that the Xbox One doesn't have (mostly from Japanese studios) and that these games can cover up for the fact that the PS4 first party lineup looks kind of empty for 2015.

They also need for their conference to be fun and dynamic because last year it looked as if they could learn a thing or two from Nintendo who has changed their image from dull goobers back to the trolls they used to be in the 90's and this means less of the "boring politician" style and more of a radical feel to it. Another thing that they should also improve in their conference offering is to talk more about games and less about statistics.


Another thing that Sony needs to do is to unleash their speculated franchises unto their fans. Many PS4 users are eager to hear about the new Gravity Rush game as well as the rumored (and apparently fake) Medevil game that took the net by storm because of some picture, so there you have two possible heavyweights. Now last but not least if they really want to give their E3 conference the equivalent of a nuclear bomb, then they should show something about legendary non-existent (at least for now) games like The Last Guardian or maybe revive Crash Bandicoot or Legend of the Dragoon at least. Yeah I know that those last 3 games I mentioned are very unlikely to happen, but hey we can still hope.

Bottom line
For Sony to hold this year E3, they need to keep reassuring gamers that the "PS2 era" that they promised to unleash on the PS4 is still happening. If things are like Andrew House said and 2015 is more of a year of investment and planting seeds for the future, then they need to give us a glimpse of that future or else skepticism will hurt all that they have managed to achieve up to this point.



Nintendo e3

Pros:

  • Fanbase is as solid as ever.
  • The Wii U has gone from nothing, to now having the most interesting exclusive game lineup in the console wars.
  • Nintendo has recovered from the slump they were into and now they are looking at profits again even though the Wii U console itself it still lagging behind.
Cons:
  • Haven't been able to convince enough skeptics to give a chance to the Wii U.
  • Legend of Zelda U was delayed and some key games still have no release date.

Keys to Victory
Nintendo is in a very good position for this year E3 even though the fact that they delayed the Legend of Zelda for the Wii U may push you to think otherwise. The first thing that Nintendo needs to do in their E3 Nintendo Direct is to be as straight forward as they can and show the games they have been teasing us about for a long time. We need to see more about games like the Shin Megami Tensei / Fire Emblem crossover, the new Star Fox game for the Wii U, See a little bit more about Mario Maker and of course, finally get release dates for Xenoblade Chronicles X and the new Fatal Frame localization to the west. 

For Nintendo to be able to get a hold of this year E3 (which would be a back to back win, considering that they "won" last year) they need to make their presentation to be both informative and exciting at the same time. So they should once again start with a bit on the wacky side as they did last year and follow through with updates on their games, coupled with some new announcements in order to keep the fan base interested and well seated on the hype train. 

As for the Nintendo World Championships, they need to be as impressive as the one in the 90's or better. We need to see the Nintendo of old still living and breathing in this modern era and I think that the Championships are a good way to show it. If the championship ends up been an over the top event, then it will add up to their whole E3 efforts in a very good way.

Botom line
Nintendo has a real chance here to continue their climb up to the minds of Skeptics that up to this point still believe that Nintendo is only for kids. For Nintendo, this year E3 has to be all about placing themselves in front of the competition and displaying their might for all of us to see, which means showing the games that their platform has and the others don't. If they go around it passively, they will not defend their past year win, so they need to come as strong as possible while giving it that hilarious Nintendo twist that they had accustomed us to in their previous recent offerings. 



E3

So in the end... Who will win?

Like in a sporting event, the game isn't over until its over so predicting a winner is not a wise move. I personally expect Microsoft to come up swinging, Sony keeping a well hidden surprise to us and Nintendo doing their thing without any problems at all. In the end it all comes down to who can shock us or at least give us more enjoyment with their announcements so that #1 spot is still up for grabs.



Monday, May 11, 2015

5 Castlevania bosses that were imaginative, yet brutal.

Now that Koji Igarashi has set the path to his return to the fray with his game Bloodstained: Ritual of the night, I was thinking of some of my past Castlevania experiences and other than the exciting action and awesome stories, another thing I am very fond of are the franchise's bosses which went from simple and easy to really complex and challenging. Today I am going to mention 5 of the Castlevania bosses that in my opinion were some of the best.

Castlevania Bloodlines Water Wizard

5) Water Wizard - Castlevania Bloodlines 
This is one of the Castlevania bosses that can make any overconfident gamer to get cocky about it when facing it for the first time. The guy himself doesn't do much as he only teleports around the room a lot. The thing is that his teleportation pattern is kind of tricky to figure out at first and he has one ace up his sleeve. While he teleports left and right and you have to chase and whip him, an orb is constantly pouring water and because of that, the room starts to flood. This means that if you miss him enough times, water is going to get to a point where the fight will become next to impossible and before you now it, you will be swimming with the fishies.


Castlevania Lord of Flies

4) Lord of Flies - Various Castlevania games
The Lord of Flies is one of those bosses that can go one of two ways. You either find a sweet spot and hack him to death while taking minimum damage, or the flies he throws make quick work of you. Either way, this fight requires you to be constantly moving and hacking away at the flies while trying to slash different parts of his body. Once the head and torso remains the fight gets a little more comfortable as you can concentrate on one part of his body until you finally defeat him. The cool thing about this boss is that it makes you move around a lot, making for a very nice fight. Also it is a lot of fun to slash his body parts away one by one.

Castlevania Legion

3) Legion - Various Castlevania games
Making its first appearance in Symphony of the Night, Legion is a very impressive boss that thrives on the element of surprise. It is basically composed of a tentacle like demon that is hidden beneath a shell made of corpses, which gives it a very impressive look. As you slash away at this monstrosity, parts of his shell will fall to the ground, little by little revealing the demon hidden in it. Also while you hit the shell, the corpses that fall to the ground are re-animated and become enemies as well so it is best to either keep the floor clean or keep yourself on the platforms. The hardest part of this boss comes when he starts shooting lasers out of its tentacles and as you keep destroying the demon's shell, more tentacles will be free to shoot you. In the end, you just have the demon with all its tentacles shooting at you from different directions and if you don't get the pattern right you can be blasted away pretty fast.

Castlevania Puppet Master

2) Puppet Master - Dawn of Sorrow and Harmony of Despair
This boss is a race against time and it is almost guaranteed that he will defeat you the first time you fight it. At first you will think that the boss is slow and clumsy, but while you are trying to slash his face, he is trying to put your soul into one of the iron maiden coffins that surround him by using one of his puppets (sort of like voo doo dolls). As soon as you see that your soul is trapped in one of those, you must run and try to break the coffin it before he closes it, because if he does then it is game over. While this happens he will be attacking and moving all around a big area, so you have to move with him fast enough to prevent him from closing an iron maiden on you. In Harmony of Despair (or Castlevania HD) this boss is even harder, as the iron maidens are put in tricky places and he moves around even more than on his first appearance.

Castlevania Galamoth

1) Galamoth - Symphony of the Night
The number one spot clearly belongs to Galamoth. This Egyptian god will be challenging regardless of your level, so this is a fight that relies mostly on skill (or equipment if you want to make it easier). For starters he can throw lighting bolts out of his cane that attack at random and cover 30% of the screen (the other 50% been covered by Galamoth himself). He can also throw very powerful lighting balls at you and walk back an forth which will cut the space you can use to fight him. Assuming that you are not using any lighting absorbing equipment or using the Shield Rod trick. Galamoth is one of the most satisfying bosses to beat in the whole franchise.

Wrapping it up:
There are a lot more creative and awesome bosses on the franchise, but these are the ones I remember the most. If you think there are other ones that should had made it to the list, tell me on the comment section below.

Igarashi san is back! Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night


Just sharing with you people in case you haven't seen it already. Igarashi (Castlevania's creator), published that the Castlevania spiritual sequel that we were hoping for can actually happen. You just have to become a backer and make this project a reality. Let's tell all those nasty publishers that we still want this type of game. Btw did I mentioned that Yamano will be behind the game's music? (think Symphony of the Night) so this is even more awesome than I thought.

In order to see it go HERE.

The video that Iga made is pretty awesome too, it takes a few jabs at publishers with a lack of vision and also establishes how gothic games need to make a comeback. Now, join the dark army people and let's bring this style of gaming back from the grave. It's like Iga said on an interview (paraphrase):

With this kickstarter campaign will see if we can prove that the publishers were wrong and I was right or if they are right and I was mistaken.




Sunday, May 10, 2015

What's up with the negativity of my generation?

I am a child of the late 80's - 90's so in terms of gaming I do have seen and played a lot of games while living through all those gaming eras (the only one I'm missing is the Atari one). Now the thing that surprises me the most about the present time is not how the industry has changed, but the number of people in my generation that are acting weird and negative towards gaming. I even made a small assessment of my very own group of friends and from 25 or so that were avid gamers 10 years ago, only a handful of us carry the same enthusiasm for gaming at this point in time. None of them have retired from gaming, but their attitude is a mere shadow of what it used to be. Be aware that this is not about internet trolls or kids who complain about everything, that I can understand. The ones I am talking about are people that went through the golden era of gaming, enjoyed it to the fullest, but still came out as bitter gamers in the end.

90's kids year 2057
Will this really be the case in 2057? You be the judge...
Yeah, you could say that 25 is a miserable amount of people for that kind of statistic and I thought that as well until I began finding all sorts of comments on the net coming from people that share my same range of age. Now let me show you a few examples things I have read or interpreted.

  • Specific genre lovers that actually hate the genre now for no apparent reason other than "I used to love it, but not anymore". One instance of this is the people from my generation who played and loved Final Fantasy VII, yet they hate the idea of a remake, not because they don't want it, but because they are extremely pessimistic about it, up to the point that it annoys them to hear fans asking for it.
  • People that developed a hate for consoles that goes far beyond what we know as the "pc master race" fanatics.
  • Gamers that have closed themselves to only one type of game (not counting anybody younger than 25).
  • People that have spent their entire lives playing single player games and now say that if a game doesn't have an online more then it is crap.
  • People that say that there are no games to play, yet when somebody shows them games they invent excuse after excuse to keep their hate argument going.
  • People lacking the sense of adventure. These are the ones who ditch a game for the simplest of reasons without really giving it a chance.
Those examples are just the tip of the iceberg of all the things I've found relating to this topic. You see, I know that time makes people change, but after these people spent a great part of their lives deeply immersed in gaming, it is hard to fathom that their attitude can shatter in just a couple of years. It's like having an ideology, it doesn't matter how much stuff you add or remove from it, the base remains the same unless something extreme happens.

Now the question is... Did something extreme actually happened? Has the industry changed so much that it destroyed the spirit of gaming that my generation used to have. On the other hand, could the daily grind of adulthood be the culprit? People from my generation often complain about the new schoolers been "entitled brats", but they don't see how much sand they move themselves. 

I know people from the times of Atari that are more passionate for gaming that most of the people of my age, so how old they are shouldn't be an issue, I know people that are working class gamers (as I am) and they see gaming as they always did so time shouldn't be an issue either. So, as I finish this blog entry, I once again wonder... What happened? It shouldn't be like this, so what in the world went wrong?

More importantly it would be awesome to know what do YOU think it happened? 

Sunday, April 5, 2015

Bloodborne - types of death for careless players

Yeah, Bloodborne is here and while a lot of people is just mesmerized by it and have been playing for countless hours (myself included), others are still struggling and counting themselves out of the experience just because the game seems to be "too hard". The reality about this is that Bloodborne while challenging, is not as difficult as previous related titles like the Demon Souls/Dark Souls games. The base difficulty is kind of the same, but the game mechanics differ so much in style that this time players can feel a lot more comfortable while hacking through the hellish creatures that inhabit the nightmarish places that they will go through.

Why do I write an article such as this without tangible tips?

Well, while others can tell you a lot of technical stuff like how to get insight or where to grind for blood or what pattern to use against a boss, your real enemy in any game like Bloodborne is yourself. The reason for this is that we have a few attitudes that work against us and that are very apparent in a game like this, so today we will see some of them so you can spot them and make your own adjustments, unless you want to keep dying and dying, ad nauseam without an apparent logical reason. Now without any more introduction let's begin the list.

Bloodborne Cleric Beast

Expecting a land-slide "photo finish" victory  = discouraging death.
I personally had this problem and while it is sometimes kind of obvious, it is quite hard to neutralize. We sometimes just expect to land a lucky combo and just rally to the finish. It is like playing a baseball game, scoring 15 runs early and just continue on cruise control until the end of the game. The truth is that this will almost never happen in Bloodborne (or any souls game), so you have to accept this or else you will get very discouraged each time a boss lands a hit on you basically letting yourself die because you didn't thought that you could fight back and win. Most of the time it takes some Rocky style "go the distance" struggle before you can fell a beast and survive. It will not always be pretty or easy, but it is very satisfying.

Thinking that grinding will make bosses a breeze = deserved death.
This one may be an attitude that newcomers could find themselves with. The grinding and leveling in Bloodborne is faster than any of the other related games, but that doesn't mean that adding up stat points will make it a breeze. The game is mostly based on dodge and attack mechanics, so even if your stats are high, if you are not fast enough when playing a boss you are going to get hit a lot and die regardless of how much you "enhanced" your character. Don't get carried away in a grind fest for too long and focus on your strategy.

Bloodborne against werewolves

Not playing with a healthy dose of confidence = unexpected death.
For both newcomers and those who have a history with the Soul games, it must had been pretty weird to keep taking damage while you were playing as careful as possible. This is because the game is designed in a way that it rewards you for been aggressive, but penalizes you if you are too shy when attacking. For example, I began my game with the Cane weapon. At first I was having problems with normal enemies because the cane has less attack power than the other weapons, but after a while a discovered that the real problem was that I wasn't attacking with authority, instead I was just trying to poke the monster to death (which doesn't work that well with crowds), so now I play Bloodborne just like I would play Castlevania and the change in my survival rate was impressive. Your #1 rule when fighting an enemy in Bloodborne should be that if the creature hesitates then you hack and slash it to oblivion.

Ignoring the potential of items = unnecessary death.
This one goes for those of you out there that are just ignoring the good assortment of items that you have in Bloodborne. Survival isn't always limited to attacking and dodging as sometimes a well placed item can be a life save or just make a fight a lot easier (for example try some simple stuff like throwing an oil pot on a monster and then using a Molotov to set the thing on fire). Later on you will find a lot of good items that will serve you well in your fight against the hellish hordes and some of these items even have a logical connection to the big bad boss itself (like a certain music box).

Bloodborne father


Seen armor as a simple fashion statement = fabulous death.
Armor sets in Bloodborne are quite cool, but they have stats and some of them go a little further than just a cool looking set. If you simply change sets for their visual appearance then you must surely be a dodging master or at least finish boss fights really fast, because the type of attributes your armor has sometimes play a significant role in whether you live or die and it also applies to some normal enemies in the game. For example that church gear that doesn't look as badass as you would had liked is really good at resisting poison and that my friends is quite useful against some annoying beast that lurks around Old Yharnam.

Bloodborne Hunter

Wrapping it up:
I know that the things mentioned as tips on this article can look kind of obvious to some of you, but I know that others may be going like "damn it, I do that all the time". The cool thing is that changing those attitudes can really take your skills up a couple notches not only on Bloodborne, but on any game that requires skill and quick thinking.







Saturday, March 21, 2015

The working class or busy student gamer survival guide

There are a lot of things that we talk about gaming everyday, but it is not too often that we get into the topic of how our gaming experience changes as we get older. I'm sure anybody over 25 (unless you are rich or have somebody paying for your hobby) can relate to this, as reality and life itself clashes with the things you love to do (like gaming). Today I am going to do a little guide that gives some tips on how to keep your gaming experience as intact as possible while at the same time tending to your adulthood. Now, without any more delay, let's jump right in.

I have nothing to play
Nothing to play... If you only dedicated 20 minutes to each game or course.
1) Focus your gaming time into whatever you want the most.
You may remember the days where gaming meant play everything and master every game you touch. Well, if you are reading this it is possible that this is not so easy for you as it was 5-10 years ago. At times you most likely feel like you are not enjoying your game so much and this is because you are not advancing as much as you would like in the games that you play. You may play that epic story based game you bought for a while, but then all of a sudden you change to an online multiplayer, played a couple hours and went back to your epic solo adventure to play a little more and so on, giving scraps to each game.

At the end of the week you will notice that you haven't really progressed that much in either of them and that pisses you off and makes you feel like you wasted money on both, but before you quit gaming altogether, know that there is a solution to that problem and that is to choose a side. If you want to play your solo adventure to the very end then stick to it. If you just want to play with your friends, level up, complete the game while playing with others or just compete with other players, then do it. There is no wrong option as long as you stick to it and enjoy it. Believe me when I tell you that trying to do everything at once is just as waste of time after which you will end up with a bunch of unfinished games piling up and reminding you about how little free time you now have, its depressing.

Simpsons Mob
Almost impossible to avoid once you get focused.
2) Be prepared for a backlash.
If you are already a focused gamer, then you most probably have received a lot of criticism because of it. This rather unpleasant situation happens when focusing your gaming time to fit what you want to play when you want to play it, makes you look like an asshole in front of other people. When other gamers that are close to you (like friends or siblings) have more free time than you or when they just have different interests, they will see you like an outcast because you are not flowing into their collective. This is completely normal and no reason for you to feel discouraged.

What you need to do is to be prepared and stand your ground. After all, you buy games for your entertainment so just don't let anybody tell you what to play or when to play it. If you at some point coincide with them, then enjoy it to the fullest, but don't dedicate yourself to following the opinions of others because you no longer have the time to afford such luxury. You are no longer the 17 year old kid who could please everybody because you could play all day, everyday so grow a backbone and play whatever suits you at the moment, regardless of any criticism or peer pressure.

Gaming vs distractions
You decide who wins...
3) Forget about modern distractions while you play.
Gaming in this day and age is not the same as it used to be. Back in the past, a gamer's environment was most likely composed of a gaming console/pc and a tv/monitor (with the occasional gaming magazines thrown around the room). Now the current gaming environment has a lot more distractions coming from an always connected world. Now you have social networks, instant messaging applications, push notifications, email notifications, different types of news in your face all the time and all those kinds of modern life components that are quite useful... If you are not trying to play a video game.

Trying to get immersed into a game world or just enjoying a play session with your friends becomes really annoying when the cellphone is always getting in the way, your computer is full of people trying to make small talk (getting angry if you don't respond) or web services are bombarding you with information that takes you away from the game. The best thing you can do against all this is to temporarily ignore them or get some auto-messaging software that can tell people that you are busy. (if any of you know about a good one for Facebook I would be glad if you could share it with me). Contrary to popular belief, doing this is really good for your social life, because then when you spend time with somebody you will not be ignoring him/her in 10 minute intervals because you just cannot put your eyes away from your phone screen.

Burned out brain
Believe it or not, burn out also applies to gaming.
4) Whatever you do avoid burn out (not the game).
The fact that you like certain types of games doesn't mean that you have to be only playing that. Tip #1 may had been about focusing your gaming time, but that doesn't mean playing the same thing until you hate it. From time to time you need to take a breather and play something simple. Getting one of those mobile time wasters (without falling into the micro-transaction scam), downloading some demos or trying some indie games can be real good to your overall gaming experience. This kind of thing makes you feel relaxed and eases the tension of a gaming industry that moves a lot faster than you can follow. In fact, it doesn't even have to be about gaming, as you could just go outside, take a nap, watch a movie or any other one of those things you like to do beside gaming.

This kind of thing is also an old trick used to clear your mind when you get stuck in a game. Instead of spending more time than you have, trying to get past that nasty boss, just get off from the game for a while and try something else. Neuroscientists say that the human brain pieces together information way after initially getting it, so give some rest to your organic computer and let it work while you think on something different.

"Once processed in short-term memory, our brain’s neural pathways carry these memories to the structural core, where they are compared with existing memories and stored in our long-term memory, the vast repository of everything we have ever experienced in our lives.  This process occurs in an instant, but it is not always perfect."

The "not always perfect" part is what makes this tip necessary. If you want to read the rest of the article you can find it HERE.

Adventurer
The sky is the limit unless you limit yourself.
5) Never lose your sense of adventure!
This doesn't mean that you have to make a backpack and head to the wilderness as if you were the explorer guy in Pitfall. NOT losing your sense of adventure is all about keeping the same excitement you always had for gaming. It is understandable that been starved of time and having to do all sorts of things in order to keep been a gamer regardless of your age can make you a little too picky about games in general, but overall been too picky harms more than it helps. The gaming industry is bigger than ever and there are a lot of games coming from a lot of places, so getting into a "bleh" attitude can only take you so far. For example, don't be one of those people that talks trash about every indie game without even trying it.

Remember the days when you tried anything regardless of how stupid and senseless it looked? Remember all those "what the hell" moments that happened when playing that game you picked at the video club just because the box art looked cool? There were no "bleh" or "meh" feelings in those times were they? Well, that's the kind of enthusiasm you need to keep in order to fully enjoy your experience as a gamer while been a responsible adult at the same time. It is not easy to pull off, but once you do, it is very rewarding.

Wrapping it up
Well, folks there you have it. A small survival guide for any gamer over 25 who feels like he/she is spread too thin between adult life and gaming. Of course there are other things that affect how gaming is personally perceived after certain age, but keep in mind that you can do still do something to enjoy gaming and be the hardcore gamer you have always been.

Monday, March 9, 2015

Which has been your most relaxing moment as a gamer?

Today I am going to write in a more calm and non-critic matter. We all know that certain combinations of sensory input have the power of becoming some sort of memory beacons. Those memory beacons are moments in your life that flash through your mind just by thinking about those events and objects even if your thoughts are ambiguous, sort of like catching a glimpse of a poster or something and remembering a very specific feeling because of it. The same thing happens with video games, so today I am going to share a very rare time in my life as a gamer and that was the small time span when I felt so at peace while playing that it was almost weird and surreal.

Anime Santa Claus

It was Christmas 2008 and as the college semester ended I was getting ready for my holiday vacations. My Xbox 360 had died (RROD)  and I was broke as hell, so I went back to the Wii and my PC for some Christmas time gaming. I started my vacations by ordering The Longest Journey (saga which I am a hardcore fan of since then) and Sanitarium through a very cool trading site that used to exist at the time and went by the name of Goozex (no longer working). I did this by using the first 100 points they awarded me just for joining the community and another points I earned for referring a friend. Both games were awesome and I just felt so nice and focused while playing them that I basically breezed through all the puzzles and problem solving with a lot of ease. Also both storylines were really surreal, which helped to the overall "mind on the clouds" mood. It is also worth noting that the temperature at the time was near perfect and there were a lot of rainy days (which I love) making it all a lot more enjoyable.

After that, Nights: Journey of Dreams was going to be released and in a lucky turn of events, my mother bought it for me as a Christmas present (which was very surprising considering that the last game she had bought for me at the time was Double Dragon III: The Sacred Stones (NES) so yeah, it had been a while). Been a long time Sega fan, I found the game to be quite enjoyable even if official game reviews were not that good. I was also one of the very few that actually used the online feature this game had, in which you basically constructed your own dream world and could have friends visiting your world while you were visiting theirs. The whole dream topic made the experience to be very mellow and relaxing and I thought that the game's ending was even better than in the original Sega Saturn games.

Last Window Nintendo DS
So there was another game like Hotel Dusk: Room 215... I have to play this!


After that, as New Year's Eve was getting near, I got a couple games for the Nintendo DS at a bargain bin at Kmart (they don't do those anymore) which were Hotel Dusk: Room 215 and Contact. In Hotel Dusk I was instantly absorbed by the film noir style it had and also by its intriguing story (in which I got a couple bad endings before finishing it the way I was supposed to). As for Contact I got it thinking it would be some sort of DS Earthbound and while it wasn't exactly what I expected, it still made up for a pretty nice experience.

Finally as 2007 went away and my vacations were ending, I got some more cheap games while I had the chance. This time it was Trace Memory (DS) and Alida for PC (Alida was through Goozex). Trace memory was a good game that made me feel as if I was watching one of those "wth is happening" anime series and Alida took me back to the days of games like Myst. I barely finished both games before college started again and I went back to the daily grind.

So yeah, my little story of an awesome holiday season... So what?

Why do I tell you all of this? Well, because this was my case, but I'm sure each one of you had at least one occasion where you went full mellow gaming just to kickback and relax. For me, that holiday season was very special even if my Xbox 360 broke down (missing out on some of the new games) and even if most of the games I played were one year old at best. This proves one simple thing, which is that following the latest trends will not always lead you to the full enjoyment of your games. At times you just have to look back and give a chance to those games you may had missed when they first released. Give it as try, as it is a very fun and rewarding thing to do.