Category: Video Games

Be the Ball: For the love of Pokémon

I wrote this for my university course Computer Games and Simulation. Within a 1,500 word frame, I discuss obtaining Pokémon … sort of.

Since 1996, the children of Japan have striven to be the very best, like no one ever was. In 1998, the rest of the world was introduced to this idea: Pokémon were precisely the creatures that needed to be caught.
In 2007, players are no longer told that they’ve “gotta catch ‘em all”, but those that have stuck with Pokémon through the years still feel the intense need to do so. Pokémon, with its apparently simple and almost infinitely customisable game play, is one of the ultimates in immersive gaming experiences. With the recent release of Pokémon Diamond and its near identical partner, Pokémon Pearl, the Pokémon have swelled in number to 493 and have taken their trainers to a new frontier: the internet.

Productivity never to be achieved again! Panic on the streets of the internet!

Perhaps you are familiar with my friends the Pokémon. I have been friendly with them since 1998, and they have rewarded me by winging their way into my home come tomorrow. Expect to never hear from me again!

… unless I come back, triumphantly riding on a Torterra. You never know with me. One second I’m gone, next second I’m astride a tortoise that has a tree and a mountain on its back; just like US Network Television.

Killin’ Zombies for Plasma … or Glory?


You may recall that in October I said of Dead Rising

As it stands, I don’t feel like playing Dead Rising ever again.

Times change. People change. The moment that I finished Dead Rising I lent it to a friend. The moment he gave it back, in late January, I played it through again. Twice. The moment I finished it the first time on my repeat play (from level 1, because I figured out how to do that), I played it again on my level 50 save.
Since then I’ve played it through, what, five or six times? That may be an exaggeration, I don’t know; the impetus for my recent spate of play throughs was the introduction of an HD TV to my home. Now I can actually read the text rather than simply make it up!

It’s probably no surprise to a lot of 360 users that the achievement system is a stroke of genius for replayability, if they feel like achievements you could be bothered achieving. Dead Rising makes you feel like a king amongst zombies.
I am now thoroughly convinced that I am a king amongst zombies.

Yes, my good sirs, I have saved fifty plus survivors in one run and, thanks to My Name is Earl and picture-in-picture, I achieved zombie genocider. Now I can shoot things like a true Megaman.

I’m not sure why I came back to my old friend Dead Rising, with whom I had parted on bad terms. It’s the sort of game that you master; the sort that you just keep on playing because you’re so dang good at it. Unlike something like Oblivion, you can get harder, better, stronger, faster, but the zombies and psychopaths stay as they ever were. Unfortunately, the survivors are permanently stupid, running into walls and whatever, but if you know all of the mall’s secrets, then you can outfit them well enough to make them not suck to hard. If you’re good enough, you can save every last one of them without compromising the storyline.

This is just like the olden days of video games, when the game content was so limited that you had to keep on playing and improving on your style for the benefit of … well, who exactly I don’t know. In my personal experience, video gaming has become so broad that you can’t bring your friends around to say “hay check out what I did in this game” or tell them about it at “school” the next day. Kids still go to school, right?
I’d say that the days when you could lie about having done something in a game are done, too, thanks to the internet, but rumours and scuttlebutt are really easy to be perpetuated amongst the stupider classes, I suppose (“Hay guys Luigi is total in Super Mario 64 if you stab yourself in the eyes and jump forty seven times on Bowser’s shell.” This does not explain how the N64 accepts the knife-eye interface and I’m lucky that I was able to worm my way to the top of the transplant list).

Basically, in the last thirty years (only 21 of which I have been a party to), many video games have remained exactly the same: exercises in rote learning! The only difference is now you can kill in excess of 53,594 zombies and then tell everyone on the internet how great you are.

Because believe me, I am freaking magnificent.

Update: I have been informed that Luigi was in Super Mario 64, and unlockable by the method I described above, only I couldn’t see him on account of my eyes being stabbed. I apologise to the heroes who have managed to achieve such a feat.

Oblivion: Confessions of an Axolot

Did you ever notice that the game Olivion has so much of everything (including bugs) that it feels like just as much of nothing (except bugs)? I’ve been playing for 94 hours and, with each minute spent, I feel more of a hollow individual.

Still, I was playing the game and I found a most interesting journal contained within. It was titled “Confessions of an Axolot”, and appears to chronicle the adventures of a cynical Breton long past bored.
Enjoy it here without having to put up with the game’s annoying “handwriting” font and without having to search for a document that patently doesn’t exist.

Viva! Piñata!

Having been quite underwhelmed by Perfect Dark Zero (more on that later), and having yet to try Kameo (soon, my sweet), I’m finding myself eagerly anticipating Rare’s next effort, Viva Piñata:

Moral of the story? Kids are suckers!

Dead Rising: Becoming a Better Person Through Disembowelment

This is about my fourth attempt at writing something about Dead Rising. You would have been better served if I chronicled my experience in instalments, because my attitudes changed dramatically over the days … but I was too busy playing it.

Overcoming addiction is a good thing. For the last 7 days, I was consumed by Dead Rising. Now it’s out of my system and I can go on living, and writing. I can breathe a little easier knowing that the zombie threat is quashed.

Rareware! Eat your filthy lies!

This article marks the first instance of the “Hyper Bowl” category of this site. Any article marked “Hyper Bowl” is going to be uninformed and indignant, or uninformed and enthusiastic. Which flavour Alex are you going to get in each Hyper Bowl? You’ll have to dig past the nonsensical metaphors and find out!

What have we here today? Why, we have a teaser for Banjo-Threeie:

Oh really, Rare? You think that you can continue the franchise that became your greatest bastian of lies?! I said to one of my friends, Hudson, that if Threeie fixed the problems of its predecessors I would forgive Rare. He said that he had forgotten the whole fiasco.
That’s exactly what they wanted an unsuspecting public to think! Rareware, making sequels on next generation platforms belonging to other publishers, so that no one will recall their crimes that shook the video gaming world six years prior!

Shadow Man (Dreamcast)

Yes, this is for the N64 version, but it’s the same game.

Maybe I should have written this before I chose to start playing The Ocarina of Time: Master Quest again. Still, here I go anyway.

Back in 1999, I rented Shadow Man for my N64, got a little way in and then had to return it. This was, of course, back when I could play N64 games without my eyes shutting down in protest. Last year, when I got a Dreamcast from eBay for a criminally good price, I saw Shadow Man for about $5 and decided to finally finish it.
What’s more, I played it back in February. A game from 1999, on a system from 2001 that I bought in September 2005 played in February 2006 and am now writing about in August 2006. For the launch of this aspect of my site, I’m nothing if not topical.

Shadow Man is notable for the fact that it was made when Acclaim was in its heyday, churning out games of questionable quality based on licences of popular things that they really messed up (South Park) or that they effectively made up (if anyone had heard of Turok before the game was released … they’re a liar). Shadow Man is one of those made up titles. It was made in the days when people actually cared about Nintendo’s reputation as a “kiddie” system*, and so it broke the mould with novel concepts such as “blood” and “grey skinned people”.

It is a game of decidedly mixed qualities, starts and stops, and an almost non-existent story that it would have been better off without.

Shadowrun (SNES)

Shadowrun is probably best described as the cyberpunk equivalent of Dungeons & Dragons. It would be inspired by, some might say derivative of, the works of William Gibson were it not for its anathematic dwarfs, trolls and elves.

Shadowrun was Melbourne-based development company Beam Software’s attempt to transfer a dice and paper game to the Super Nintendo. It’s not the straightest of RPG conversion: it has an at times incredibly obscure method of progression, and the level up system is far too slow in the game’s early stages, but it is nonetheless stangely compelling. I devoted many hours to it and, despite its misfires, I do not feel that those hours were spent in vain.

It should be noted that, despite its Australian origin, Shadowrun was incredibly difficult to find on our fair shores due to its coming at the end of the period where Nintendo hardware in Australia was distributed by Mattel, the software by Mattel and Metro. Metro “lost”; Shadowrun was distributed by Metro.