Monday, February 25, 2013

Nintendo Makes It A Pain To Play Pokemon Competitively

by Shawn McFadden

Pokemon is one of gaming's most popular long running franchises and it's easy to see why. It now has a 600+ roster of cute collectable monsters that have captured the hearts of millions across the world. What is special about the Pokemon franchise though, is how much hidden depth there is when you look underneath the hood of its seemingly simple battle mechanics. This is why Pokemon has one of the most dedicated competitive battling communities out of any game. There is even an entire website and forum dedicated to battling Pokemon competitively. Go over to to check it out. These guys have thought of everything. They have divided Pokemon into specific tiers for each generation of games, offer sample competitive move sets for each Pokemon and even have a battle simulation program for the PC where you can build a team and test them out against people online. It's truly an impressive community.

After first being introduced to the world of competitive Pokemon by my friend who had wiped the floor with me with a Vaporeon that had seemingly infinite regenerative health, I wanted to give it a try. After spending some time going over sample movesets and tier lists and selecting Pokemon I wanted to train, I realized something: Nintendo makes it a pain in the ass to play competitively. Seriously, it seems like Game Freak knows exactly what it takes to make each Pokemon good and does their due diligence to make it especially difficult and time consuming to accomplish your goals. I am just going to say that I am by no means a Pokemon expert, but I am just going to go over my experiences with the series and what Nintendo could do to improve their future games.

The first thing that bothers me about the Pokemon games is that all competitive battling revolves around game mechanics that are hidden. Ever hear of EVs and IVs? If you have, you certainly didn't hear about them from playing the actual games. EV stands for Effort Value. Essentially, an effort value is what controls which stats are raised during the leveling process. Each Pokemon has a total of 510 EVs with 255 points maxing out a particular stat. EVs are obtained whenever you defeat certain wild Pokemon. For example, when you kill one Patrat (Or Rattata if you're old school), you will get one EV added to your Pokemon's Attack stat. This means that to max out your attack stat, you would have to fight 255 of these particular Pokemon and make sure that you don't fight any Pokemon who would give you the wrong EV points. Yeah, that doesn't sound fun. There are items that will delete EVs, but it is all done in such a roundabout way that it begs to question why we can't just go in and pay PokeDollars to simply edit our EVs. It's also very puzzling that Nintendo does not even acknowledge the existence of EVs in the actual game, even though they are so vital to creating an effective team. That's not all though. Nintendo added items that sharply decrease how long it takes to EV train. Well, they would if Game Freak didn't make them such a pain in the ass to get. They do offer you the Macho brace in the game that is relatively easy to get. This item doubles the amount of EV points that are gained from every battle. This may sound like it helps but it still takes freaking forever. If you really want to cut down on your training time, you will want to get the set of "Power Bracelet" items. These add +4 to a specified stat after every battle. This means that if you have the "Power Bracer" and you fight a Patrat, you will get five attack EVs, instead of one. The only problem is that in order to acquire these items, you need to go through the painfully boring "Battle Subway." These are a set of ten battles which reward you with BP or "Battle Points." These Battle Points let you redeem prizes, such as the much sought after bracers. You will have to battle long enough to get one of these items for each stat in the game, so it will take a painfully large amount of time. This is also the only way to get popular competitive battling items, such as the "Life Orb", which sharply raises attack but makes you take recoil damage every time you attack. The only problem with the Battle Subway is that if you lose any battles, you receive nothing. You don't even gain experience for these battles so you just feel like you wasted your time! That's really crappy, Nintendo. Why add more grinding to a game already reliant on it?

That's only beginning though. You want to make a good team? You better get used to running around for hours and hours by the breeder, hatching eggs and releasing garbage Pokemon in order to save room in your boxes. IVs or Individual Values are very important when it comes to maxing out the stats of your Pokemon. IVs are essentially values that a Pokemon is born with that can give a stat boost to certain stats. Check Serebii for more information on them. The one thing that annoys me about this, is that there is no in-game way to check a Pokemon's IVs. In order to determine IVs, you have to use an online IV calculator. Is there any reason why a game mechanic should be so secretive? The only real way to guess a Pokemon's IVs are their characteristics. These can be found in their stat menus. For instance, if you are training a Pokemon in HP, you will want to get the characteristic "Often Dozes Off" for your best chances in having the highest possible HP IVs (It offers the chance for an IV value of 1, 6, 11, 16, 21, 26, or 31). Sound confusing? Well, it kind of is. Along with characteristics, Pokemon also have Natures. Natures raise and lower a particular stat by 10%. This means that if you are planning to make a powerful physical attacker, you could use a nature that raises Attack and lowers Special Attack. So, now you have to get a Pokemon with a good Nature and a good Characteristic and then use an IV calculator, all to make sure your Pokemon has max stats. There are 30 different characteristics and 25 different natures. This means that there are 750 possible combinations. There are ways to raise the chances of getting the nature or characteristic that you want, but still. That's a huge pain. Can't there be a way to train a previous Pokemon to behave in a certain way or pick a specific stat to train for at the breeder? There are so many ways they could make it easier for people who know what they are doing to make an effective team. Besides all this madness, there are also moves that specific Pokemon cannot learn without the use of breeding. Why is this the case?? If a Pokemon has the ability to use a move, then let them use it! To add insult to injury, there are certain TM (This stands for Technical Machine, which lets certain Pokemon learn certain moves that they normally wouldn't learn via leveling) that do not appear in later versions of the game. This means that you need to boot up an older version of the game, like Diamond and Pearl, breed your Pokemon, and THEN trade them over.

This may sounds like me complaining, but creating a great competitive team simply has too high of a price when it comes to time. Normally, I would be fine with this but it doesn't need to take hundreds of hours to create a good team. Nintendo needs to find ways accommodate their hardcore fans. Give us the opportunity to edit EVs and IVs. Let us breed for specific natures and characteristics. Let us have access to TMs for every move in the game. And please, for the love of God, fix your online battling system. No more friend codes and let us play 6v6 against random people. Let's hope they throw us a bone in X & Y.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

PS4 Reveal: Five Things Sony Did Right and Five Things They Did Wrong

by Shawn McFadden

So unless you are living under a rock, you have probably heard that Sony announced the long-rumored Playstation 4 during their heavily advertised press conference on Feb 20th. Finally we saw a glimpse of the beast of a machine that will be sucking up our money this holiday season. In my opinion, Sony did a wonderful job debuting their new piece of the hardware. I have certainly seen unveils go a lot worse in my day. Although they did a good job, I do think there were a few things that were missing to make it a perfect presentation. This is why I thought I would go over five things I thought Sony did right and five things that Sony did wrong during their debut of the PS4.

What They Did Right.

1. Getting down to business.

Sony really cut to the chase this time. They have been hyping up this meeting for several weeks and they already knew that everyone was aware what was to be announced. We were there to see the PS4. Sony didn't have Jack Tretton come on stage and talk about sales figures that nobody cared about. Nobody came on to talk about how great the Playstation Move or Wonderbook is. Sony got right on stage and said, "We are here to announce the Playstation 4. Here it is." It was a simple but effective way to get everyone's attention.

2. Explaining to us WHY it's the future of Playstation.

Sony didn't beat around the bush. It's obviously that as we move closer to photo realistic graphics, we will never see a graphical jump like what we saw from PS2 to PS3. This didn't stop Sony from telling us why this new console is the future of gaming. Our society is becoming increasingly more integrated with the popularity of smart phones and tablets. This is why Sony made social integration one of the key features of their new console. Sure, they did kind of jack Microsoft's SmartGlass idea, but let's face it: this was going to become standard across all platforms eventually. They also officially announced previously leaked features of the PS4 like the rumored Share button and integration of their newly acquired  cloud-based service via Gaikai. It all sounds pretty damn cool. They even showed us console specs, which was certainly a nice touch. Plus, it plays used games after all. Dodged a bullet there!

3. They announced the release date (sort of).

This is a big question whenever companies announce new hardware. We are always thinking, "When can I get my hands on this monstrosity?" Well, Sony was nice enough to announce that PS4 will be coming during the 2013 holiday season. This was no surprise, but it is certainly nice to know when the next generation of consoles is set to start (Not counting Wii U of course).

4. Glorious game demos!

What is a new console without games? Yes, Sony also showed off several games for their new console. Although, it was puzzling that they showed off Knack, the most family oriented of the bunch, as their first announcement due to it not really showing off the extent of PS4's graphical capabilities. It was not surprising however, that a new Killzone game was announced alongside their new console. This was probably the most beautiful demo that was shown, graphically speaking. It certainly shows how FPS games will continue to amaze on Sony's platforms just as they did on the PS3. They also managed to get a couple demos from third party developers such as Square-Enix, Ubisoft, Jonathan Blow and more. Certainly a good way to get gamers excited.

5. A couple epic surprises.

Sony didn't have too many megaton announcements in the game's department at their conference, but the two that they did have were certainly shockers. Blizzard at a console press conference? Has hell frozen over? Blizzard then announced that Diablo III would be coming to PS3 and PS4. Blizzard partnering with any console manufacturer is certainly a big deal. Especially since they have almost never put any of their games on any platform other than PC. This wasn't as big of a shock as Bungie crashing the conference though. That's right, Bungie. Bungie appearing at a SONY press conference. Let it sink in for a moment. Bungie, who has always been the darling of Microsoft, comes out and says that Destiny will be coming out with exclusive content for PS3 and PS4. I'm sure that Microsoft felt a little betrayed after this announcement. This just shows how Sony is not taking any prisoners this generation. This does beg the question of what did Microsoft do to piss of one of their key game studios.

What They Did Wrong

1. Where's the box?

I know it's a very small thing, but it was rather puzzling that Sony showed off their new controller but did not show off the prototype for what the actual PS4 console was going to look like. It's true that the console's design may not be finalized yet but it would have been nice to at least have an idea how this box that will be sitting next to our TV for the next 5-7 years will look.

2. How much will it cost?

Sure, this may have been a strategic decision. Sony may not want to announce their price before Microsoft does so they can make sure they price it competitively. This is a big factor to whether or not people will buy the thing or not. Though, Sony was nice enough to say that it will be competitively priced. I assume this means that it won't be repeating the mistake of coming out with the notorious $599.99 price tag that has become a joke among gamers that the PS3 launched with. I'm sure that Sony had to save something to reveal at E3 though.

3. Sony Exclusives MIA.

Sony did show off a lot of cool games at their press conference, but I can't help but feel that there were certain Sony studios that should have shown up at the conference. What has Naughty Dog been working on lately? I know that they are working on the Last of Us, but they have told us several times that they are a two team studio now. So what is their other game? What has Sony Santa Monica been working on lately? Ready At Dawn? Super Bot? Wait, never mind about that one. It was also a shame that all Quantic Dream had to show off was a simple tech demo. I want to see their next game for PS4! There is clearly a lot that Sony has under wraps. I just can't help but feel that they could have shown more. And I have to ask, Where the hell is the Last Guardian?

4. Under-Utilizing Media Molecule.

Wait, the Playstation Move is still a thing? Don't get me wrong, I think it's an amazing peripheral. I would even go as far to say that it's the best motion gaming accessory on the market. Sony just doesn't have enough support for it. This was probably the most surprising part of their press conference. They decided to bring out Media Molecule and have them show their new "sculpting" tool using the Move. Is it a new game? I have no idea. If all they showed was the sculpting, it would have been fine. Too bad Media Molecule broke one of the basic rules of giving a press conference: No virtual band demonstrations! I'm looking at you, Nintendo. It's just plain painful and is never something we want to see. If they said that this was a new mechanic that was to be used for the new 3D Little Big Planet, it would've been far more acceptable. Too bad this ended up being the "Wonderbook" of the presentation.

5. The Wow Factor.

Sure, it wasn't as sparse as when Nintendo showed off the Wii U, but there just wasn't that one game that made you say, "Wow, I am buying this system." Sure, Killzone looked gorgeous. Unfortunately, Killzone has never really been a game that has gotten the sales it deserves though. The same can be said about the Infamous franchise. Knack looks cute and charming but it hardly looks like a system seller. Jonathan Blow's new game looks to be another wonderful artistic experience a-la Journey or the Unfinished Swan, but nobody is going to buy a system for that. We already knew about Watch Dogs, so that wasn't a big surprise. Where is the Uncharted of this generation? Sony needed that one game that shows everyone how great the PS4 is. I may be overly critical with this, but this is very important. Sony did a wonderful job showing off their new console and I hope that they can make their showing at E3 this year something truly special. Sony, I wish you the best of luck. See you on in June!

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Madden vs. NCAA Football

by Tom Diedrichs

As most of my friends would say, "Sports games are pointless; it's the same game every year with an updated roster." While I agree with this to an extent, I still find myself enjoying playing matches, building my dynasty, and managing my players. Most enjoyable though, is getting into career mode where my character can be a money grubbing scum bag who treats his team like crap (But no one can argue with the fact that he can put up stats and has five super bowl rings). Myself being an avid sports fan, I am going to explain some of my pros and cons of sports games. I will go over which games I feel bring something new to the table each year, and which ones you should just ignore. In this week's edition, I will expand on Madden vs. NCAA Football.

Obviously Madden is the god of football for all current consoles. It has the big budget, and extensive marketing campaigns. When I was younger, I loved Madden, because I idolized these professional football players. This is where I feel madden draws most of its sales. Any kid who loves football from ages 7-18 will usually have at least one copy of Madden at his house. It feels great to be in control of a game and make your team win the Superbowl. Lets face it, there is no way the Cleveland Browns or Buffalo Bills are winning a Superbowl anytime soon. It's insanely fun in the off season to make crazy trades like Tom Brady for Arron Rodgers and first round draft pick, just to mix thing up in your league.

Now let's get everyone to take a step back from the Pros for a bit let me enlighten you on why every year I buy NCAA Football over Madden.

Recruiting, to me, is the most fun part of NCAA football. With its newly introduced online dynasty mode, which I believe came out in NCAA Football 12, you have to compete to recruit players to your University. You and your friends will be going after the same players sometimes. Maybe you both need a pocket passing quarterback, but there is only really one who stands out to both of you; he is six foot five inches and has incredible throwing power. The way it works is that every university has different things that make them stand out, so it depends what the computer generated player likes. Maybe he is all about academics and becoming a pro, or maybe it is all about the campus life style, and history of the University. For example: Michigan vs Ohio State. Michigan has an excellent education program. That gives them an A+ in that category, where Ohio State is only a B+. This contrasts with the potential to become a NFL player from Ohio State is an A+, where Michigan is a B. The wonderful thing about these ratings are that it doesn't matter if you are Fresno State, or Nevada, and you have a D+ for National Exposure. The more games you win, the better your University becomes, and the more your coach gets noticed. 

So let's say after a while, you have been coaching a lesser known team. Tired of not getting the players you want, and you don't feel like coaching at Miami of Ohio University anymore? Well, there may be an Offensive Coordinator position open at Texas A&M, which let's you take that job and work your way up to be the head coach there. Or maybe the bright lights and crazy fans are to much for you, and you'd rather quit your Defensive Coordinator position at Georgia, and take the head coaching job at Florida Atlantic. I feel that NCAA Football gives you so many more options then Madden does. Plus, if you play a dynasty mode, you don't have to worry about money! Granted, you only have a player for a minimum of three years (You could leave early for the pros, but much like recruiting, you can try to convince them to stay and play for you again). They can stay for a maximum of five years if you red shirt them, meaning they will sit on the bench for a year. This is good if you have an abundance of players for the same position.

In the game, certain characteristics are especially fun as well. I love running the option. This is where the quarter back runs along side. The running back then has the ability to pitch it to him. This is one feature that is not available in Madden. Seeing the mascots dance around, and hearing your University fight song play in the background every time you score a touchdown is another features that adds to the experience. If you have no loyalty to a specific college, there is always the ability to create your own. Though this is fun for some, for me I personally like taking over a small school and building them up into a championship winning team. Nothing like taking Idaho State and knocking off #1 ranked team, Alabama for the opening game of the season. Plus, with both Madden and NCAA, they have fake twitter feeds and news reels, so it makes it feel a lot more like you are actually playing a real season and not just going through the motions of a sports game. I hope you all will take this into consideration whether you are a NFL fan, or a College fan. Both games every now and then can still bring an interesting experience to your video game collection. I would recommend what I do, only buy one football game a year. There is no need for both Madden and NCAA, that's just silly. 

If you have any input, sound off in the comment section.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Ten Characters That Should Be in Super Smash Bros U/3DS.

by Shawn McFadden

It's no secret that Super Smash Bros. is one of Nintendo's most popular franchises. I mean, it's easy to see why. Who doesn't love taking a giant hammer and smacking the crap out of Pikachu or throwing fireballs at Link for being so effeminate? In case you haven't heard, Nintendo is currently developing not one, but two new Smash Bros titles (One for Wii U and one for 3DS). What has made this game so popular? Well, if I had to pick, I would definitely say it would be the roster of characters. I mean, how excited were you when you first saw that Snake was going to be playable in Brawl? The character reveals have always been the most exciting part of any Smash Bros game. This is why I have decided to go over who I think should be included in the next game's expanded roster. Keep in mind that these are in no particular order by importance. This is just who I think would be a good fit for the game. I am going to keep it to first and second party characters this time. Yes, Namco is helping with development but I won't be putting Pacman or Lloyd (Tales of Symphonia if you don't remember) this time. That's for another list.

1. Dixie Kong (Donkey Kong)

Diddy Kong was an incredibly popular character in Brawl. Who didn't love the old Donkey Kong Country games (Besides Miyamoto himself)? DK has been a huge part of the Nintendo ecosystem for a long time now. This was the brand that helped Mario gain his popularity in the first place after all. Yes, I know; Everybody wants King K. Rool as a character. Well, I think that good ole' Dixie is more deserving. She would play similarly to Diddy, but with her own unique set of moves. I also think that they could integrate some of Tiny Kong's moves from DK64, because let's face it: they were essentially the same character. I mean, she did star in the third DKC. Why not throw her in Smash?

2. Ridley (Metroid)

It would be an understatement to say that Metroid has not gotten the love that it deserves by today's gamers. Metroid: Other M was relatively poorly received and the Prime series got a lot of flack for being a "First Person Adventure" game. But for some reason, since the announcement of Brawl, Ridley has been easily one of the most requested characters. Why? Well, he's a big freaking dragon that is also a space pirate. That's just awesome. Seriously, I get that Ridley is a large character compared to all of the other fighters in Smash, but so was Bowser. Just scale down Ridley and make him playable. He easily could just be 1.5x the size of Bowser in Smash Bros Next. It will make a lot of people happy. Fighting games need more big-ass dragon nowadays.

3. Zoroark (Pokemon)

Pokemon has always been a big part of the Smash Bros franchise. I mean, it's one of Nintendo's biggest sellers, so it makes sense. One thing that is always debated is who should be chosen to represent the series in every Smash Bros game. Well, with the fifth generation being around for so long, it is inevitable that it will be represented in some way. Who better than the first Pokemon to be announced for Black and White. Zoroark is an interesting specimen. He is known as the illusion Pokemon. This means that he can take the form of whoever he is fighting. This is an interesting mechanic that could be great for mind games in matches with three or more fighters. Who wouldn't love that?

4. Dillon (Dillon's Rolling Western)

Probably the newest character on this list comes Dillon. Who is Dillon? Well, he is the awesome new protagonist from Dillon's Rolling Western. Never heard of it? Well, you must not spend a lot of time on the 3DS eShop. Dillon is one of the best characters to come out of Nintendo since captain Olimar and he would make a great inclusion to the game. I mean, how can you not love an armadillo that is also a cowboy? He can roll into a ball to a ripoff of Sonic's spin-dash, along with several other cool abilities. His unique looks and move set should make him a shoe-in. Let's hope that Sakurai sees the same potential in him that I do.

5. Takamru (Nazo no Murasame-Jou)

Probably from one of the most obscure characters to be recently updated by Nintendo comes Takamaru. He is from a Japan-only Famicom disk system game but apparently, Nintendo thought he was important enough to get his own mini-game in 2012's Nintendo Land (I mean seriously, this guy got one and Pikachu didn't). Takamaru also saw cameo's in Nintendo's Japan-only Captain Rainbow and Samurai Warriors 3 for the Wii. Nintendo even released a sort of spiritual sequel to his game for the 3DS eShop called Sakura Samurai. Nintendo hasn't forgotten him so why not include him? Plus, samurai are just plain cool.

6. Saki (Sin and Punishment)

Wait a minute, this guy was already in a Smash Bros game. Well, not as a playable character and wasn't that a shame. I mean, Sin and Punishment was such a popular import game that Nintendo was forced to make a sequel. People love the series so why not throw him in Smash? We need more weird anime-inspired guys with laser weapons.

7. Isaac (Golden Sun)

Another character that didn't quite make the cut for Brawl's playable roster was Golden Sun's Isaac. Sure, they made a third game for the DS, but why not include the original's protagonist. He's the coolest anyway. With all of his swordplay, spells and magical Djinn creatures, he would make a unique and varied character. He certainly has a lot more possible moves than Marth and Ike. That's for sure.

8. Little Mac (Punch-Out)

Okay, this one seems like a no-brainer. He is the only Nintendo character to fight Mike Tyson and live after afterall! He is a classic character who has been recently revived for a new audience and has already been seen in the previous Smash Bros game. Who doesn't love Punch-Out? Plus, adding a boxing based character would certainly add a unique fighting style to an already crazy game. Sure, he wouldn't be flashy but he doesn't need to be. He just fits.

9. Jill (Drill Dozer)

This one is going back a few years. Drill Dozer was an original IP for the Gameboy Advance. It was a cool and original little game with an interesting protagonist. If you are looking for somebody who would be an interesting character to play in Smash, why not throw her in the roster? I mean, she was popular to enough to be an Assist Trophy in Brawl.

10. Geno (Super Mario RPG)

Oh my god, just put him in the freaking game already. He is by far the most requested character. He didn't even make an appearance in Brawl even though everyone was ranting and raving about him being included. I get it, he is a cool character. I have never played Mario RPG but I think he would be an interesting inclusion. I want him, the people want him. Make it happen, Sakurai. I know that Square still owns the rights to him but, come on, what have they done with Geno recently? What have they done with him in the past ten years? Nothing! Get him in there.

Honorable Mention: Claus (Mother 3)

Oh, Earthbound fans. We tend to get the short end of the stick. I mean, we had to wait for the stupid fan translation to be able to play Mother 3 in English. This is why most of us missed out of probably the coolest character in the Earthbound franchise. I'm of course talking about the ill-fated brother of Lucas, Claus. Claus, unlike his brother, has a story that is a tragic one. He is killed and resurrected by the evil Porky as a cyborg and forced to fight his brother without any memory of his past life. Why should he be included though? Just look at him! He has a jetpack, light saber, thunder magic, pig bombs. He would be an awesome character! He was even highly requested in the japanese survey before Brawl came out. His original non-cyborg form was also an alternate costume for Lucas in Brawl. Will he be included? Probably not. He was my most wanted character in Brawl and this holds true for the new game as well. What, a guy can dream.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Game of Thrones: the Next Great MMO?

by Tom Diedrichs

You may or may not know, but there is an amazing show out called Game of Thrones. Before I proceed, I'll give you a brief summary of the show. It deals with the 7 different kingdoms of a fantasy realm. They are all battling fora special throne which has rule over all the other kingdoms. There has already been a Game of Thrones game released last year in May. To sum that game up, DO NOT WASTE YOUR TIME! Just from the 15 minutes I played, I almost threw my controller at the wall. It had nothing to do with the show I had come to know and love. I was playing as characters I have never seen from the show, playing a story was very convoluted and confusing. They decided to go for the whole "side-story" idea, which just didn't make sense. It seemed kind of like they created the story as a simple cash-in.

Fortunately there is hope, Game of Thrones fans! A new browser based MMORPG, called "Game of Thrones: The Seven Kingdoms" is coming out towards the end of 2013. So far all we know is that the game is being made by Bigpoint, Art Plant, and HBO. There is a small 42 second trailer that shows a tiny bit of gameplay but not much more. I'm going to expand on the potential of the game and how I feel it could bring a unique, fun experience to all gamers and Game of Thrones fans.

One of the best things I feel they could do for this game would be to make it so you can choose which kingdom you would like to be apart of. Each kingdom could have their own strength and weaknesses.  This would almost like choosing a race in other MMOs. If you play as the Lannister's, you could receive more money from completing quests. The trait could be called "A Lannister always pays his debts: +20% more gold when completing quests." One of my favorite features out of any MMORPG was in "Lord of the Rings Online." You could only select certain hair styles and colors depending on what area your character was from. Lannister's typically have blonder hair, and the Starks have darker colored hair (red, brown, and black) and darker colored eye colors. I believe that expanding on the rich history of Game of Thrones could add an extra dimension to the game, which could set it apart from other games in the genre.

I feel that HBO, Bigpoint, and Art Plant have a lot of hype to live up too. But it could be quite an accomplishment if they can pull it off. Game of Thrones brings a fun new atmosphere to the MMORPG genre, and hopefully the game can live up to the quality of the TV show.

Monday, February 11, 2013

Why Elder Scrolls Collection Needs to Happen.

by Shawn McFadden

Okay, so Elder Scrolls blew up recently due to last year's Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim. It already had a crap-ton of fans all across the world. I mean, who can blame them? It’s one of the most in-depth RPG series around with on-going lore that continues to expand with every new game. Now, when I really enjoy a series, I tend to do a little research on it. I was always familiar with Morrowind and Oblivion. I even knew a little about the first two titles, Arena and Daggerfall. The thing that several people don’t know is that there are quite a few other Elder Scrolls titles that nobody seems to remember. Some of them are almost impossible to find. After reading this, I was very curious to why Bethesda never made an effort to re-release any of these titles for others to play.
Okay, now for a little background information. After the popularity of the first game in the series, Elder Scrolls: Arena that released in 1994, Bethesda made a sequel. This game was Elder Scrolls II: Daggerfall which was released a few years after in 1996. This is common knowledge. Little known to several people (Or at least myself), they released another Elder Scrolls in the following year which was titled “An Elder Scrolls Legend: Battlespire.” According to Wikipedia, the story surrounds a young Mage Apprentice who, on the day of his final test, discovers that Merunes Degon has sent an army of Daedra to kill all of his teachers and classmates. You basically have to defeat Mr. Dagon and save the world. This game also introduced a Co-op mode and a competitive multiplayer. Multiplayer in Elder Scrolls? That sounds awesome. But wait, there is more.
In 1998, Bethesda released yet another Elder Scrolls title that I had never heard of. This game was called “The Elder Scrolls Adventures: Redguard.” The story followed a young Redguard named Cyrus. Cyrus’ quest is to find his lost sister. Even though I almost never hear about this game, Bethesda actually released a comic book with early copies of the game. It obviously was important enough for them to go the extra mile.
You’d think this is where the Elder Scrolls obscurity would stop but it only goes deeper from here. Remember the Nokia N-Gage? Yeah, that failed attempt to merge gaming and cellular devices? I recall it looked kind of like a taco with buttons. Well, what if I were to say that Bethesda actually supported this device a great deal. Yes, they released not one, not two, not three, but FOUR Elder Scrolls titles for that piece of crap console. What?? Was there something I missed? Clearly.
It all started in 2003 with the “The Elder Scrolls Travels: Stormhold.” You play a prisoner who must defeat an evil warden and gain his freedom. This was actually the only Elder Scrolls game to take place primarily in the Argonian homeland of Black Marsh (Except the region being playable in the second game). The next game in this series was called “The Elder Scrolls Travels: Dawnstar,” which was released in 2004. This one I actually could not find any information for. I assume it takes place in Skyrim, due to it having a city of the same name. The third entry for N-Gage was “Elder Scrolls Travels: Shadowkey,” also in 2004. This game revolved around a young heroine who is attacked by a band of bandits and upon killing the leader of the bandits, finds an artifact called the Shadowkey. The final game should have a familiar title to fans of the series. It was called “Elder Scrolls Travels: Oblivion.” This came out in the same year as Elder Scrolls IV. From what I understand, this was a prequel to the Elder Scrolls IV.
I have searched for the four N-Gage titles on eBay and the only one I could actually find was Shadowkey. Obviously, this game goes for a very high price due to its rarity. So what gives? Six Elder Scrolls titles that almost nobody has ever played. Why has Bethesda never re-released any of these titles? With the high popularity of both the Elder Scrolls series and HD collections, I think it would make a lot of sense for Bethesda to do a collection of their own. Why not create “the Elder Scrolls Collection” including Elder Scrolls: Arena, Elder Scrolls II: Daggerfall, Elder Scrolls Legend: Battlespire, Elder Scrolls Adventures: Redguard, the Elder Scrolls Travels Quadrilogy, and Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind with all the expansions? It would be a great value and would give players a chance to catch up on years and years of Elder Scrolls lore that you have to go out of your way to catch up on now. It wouldn’t take that much effort to put something like this together? Fans would love it and I’m sure they would get high sales off of the title alone. Hell, people would buy it just to have Morrowind on their PS3 or 360. While I’m at it, I’m not sure why they never made a remake of Morrowind. As awesome as that game is, try going from playing Skyrim to playing Morrowind. It has not aged so well. This is why I really think that Skyrim’s future DLC should visit some of the other continents of Tamriel. How awesome would that be? Way more deserving of a $19.99 price tag than Dawnguards few new areas and features. I have heard rumors of Elder Scrolls and Fallout being released for the iPhone, so hopefully these titles will see the light of day sooner or later. But, I digress. Bethesda, make this happen.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Meet the Editor #2

by Tom Diedrichs

My name is Tom Diedrichs, and I am your typical jock/nerd. 

I was brought on here at Jetstreame to write informative and educational articles on the video game industry and culture. Instead I'm probably just going to go off on silly rants about games that hopefully our readers will enjoy. Now for a little bit about me. I'm leaving for the US Army in 2 weeks. I love hanging out with my friends, playing video games, and if I could, I would spend all of my money traveling the world (Wow this sounds like a bad intro to a profile off of okcupid).

I guess I could say I specialize in sports games (Cubs fan here), First Person Shooters, and MMO RPGs. I do tend to go off on adventures, and play Pokemon from time to time. I even play random things like Lego Star Wars (Play any of the Lego video games and try not to have a good time. I DARE YOU! If you do not like those games, you have no soul). 

Don't worry, I wont be on here to give you over hyped updates on why Call of Duty: Black Ops 50, or Madden 2999 is the best game ever, because lets face it, they are not. For example lets to a closer look for a second at Call of Duty Modern Warfare 2. They took time to look at the first game, made some adjustments, updated the graphics, and made the ideal first person shooter for console and PC, while also creating a pretty epic single player storyline. Let's go all the way back to Madden 2002 (If you can even remember that game). I can and I'll tell you why. Two words, "Mini Camp." You where finally able to build a player's skills up in Dynasty Mode, have a player career mode, and actually practice with your player before and after a game to make improvements and better a player's stats. 85 on throwing power? No problem, Go to Mini Camp, throw the ball down field at some targets, and Boom, you do a good job, get a silver or gold medal, and your player is now an 86 or 87. The point I'm trying to make is, both of these games in a very media hyped, over produced era of video games actually created a game that could stand out for years to come. Those are the things I look at when I see a new Call of Duty commercial and things I will be expecting from this years Madden 25 ( It's Madden 14, but for some reason they're doing an Anniversary Edition. Definitely not confusing. THANKS EA!) As far as MMO RPGs go, I have a WoW account (Don't judge. It's still fun from time to time), Guild Wars 2, Star Wars: The Old Republic, and Lord of the Rings: Online. It's hard to create a MMO RPG in today's market when WoW can overthrow everything. But each of those games create very uniquely amazing experiences that always draw me back, but that's a story for another time.

To wrap this up, I hope to focus a little bit of shinning light on these games that I've come to love. Instead of giving the "Hey, here is whats new and amazing."  I will of course touch on these new games, but I want to say "Hey here is why you shouldn't buy this game, and keep playing MW3 instead" or "Why is the only update in MLB 2k13 this year the roster update?" "Really? So only 5 more levels, and pandas, that it Blizzard?" I hope you look forward to the articles we will be writing on this website as much as I look forward to writing them. Until next time, See ya on the flip side!

Friday, February 8, 2013

Eternal Darkness: Reminding Us What Horror Should Be.

By Shawn McFadden

Let’s be frank. The survival horror genre has kind of dropped off in recent years. The only two franchises that have kept the genre alive with any sort of quality are Dead Space and Resident Evil (Even though the last two entries in the series were pretty poorly conceived .  It’s been a long time since a game has really come along and done something truly different in the realm of horror.

As I previously mention, at one point I had a little obsession with collecting old Gamecube games. I am a sucker for nostalgia so how could I resist? One game that I always heard great things about was a little title called Eternal Darkness: Sanity’s Requiem. This was a game surprisingly published by Nintendo and developed by Silicon Knights, those responsible for Blood Omen and MGS: the Twin Snakes. If you haven’t played this game, you really should.
Okay, so best opening to any horror game ever. First you see a short story segment blah blah blah. Then literally the first second you are allowed to take control of your character, a hoard of zombies are coming at you from all directions in a dark room. You see a shotgun in your hands. Ahhhhh, what do I do??? You have no idea what button does what. You are immediately panicked from the second the game starts. If you survive, your character will wake up and realize it was all a dream. What the hell just happened?
This is a small example of what's to come. Eternal Darkness is one of the creepiest games I’ve ever played in my life. This is partly because the game likes to mess with you. You see, this game has something called a sanity meter. Every time an enemy hits you with their piercing gaze, you will lose some of your sanity. You can refill it by either doing a finishing move on them. This really makes the game unique though. The game will actually have blood running down walls, have stone busts will follow you with their eyes and more. One time my character started shrinking and then reappeared in another room. Uhhh, that’s new. Another time, the game actually showed a “To be continued” screen with an advertisement for a fake sequel to the game. Did I miss something or am I just going crazy?
I’m not going to go into the mechanics that much, because this is not a review. I just have noticed how horror, both in movies and in video games, just does not have the same magic as it used to. Being a big fan of horror, I find this to be a shame. When I first played Eternal Darkness, it did something that I haven’t seen in horror in a long time: it creeped me the f**k out. It can truly make you feel like you don’t know what is real and what is not. This psychological aspect to the game that makes you feel exactly what the character is feeling is something truly rare in gaming. If you haven’t already, check out this forgotten gem.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Meet the Editor #1

by Shawn McFadden

This is the part where we are supposed to tell you a little bit about ourselves (How original, right?). My name is Shawn McFadden (If you didn't read the heading). I am the head of Marketing at Jetstreame Studios. I currently manage all of their social media and conceptualize and implement all of their marketing strategies. I'm currently 23 and am finishing up my BBA from Cleveland State University in Ohio. But that's all boring.

I'm a self admitted game snob with a love of the obscure. I had a brief obsession with collecting rare Gamecube games and I claim to have the best collection in the state of Ohio. My current consoles of choice are the Playstation 3 and the 3DS. Although I own the majority of current consoles (I am missing the Vita), these are the consoles I play the most. I am a Mac user (*flame shields on!*), so I don't game on PC very often. I mostly play single player games which an emphasis on RPGs. Some of my favorite games include Fallout 3, Mass Effect 2, Super Smash Bros. Brawl, Mother 3, Jump Ultimate Stars (I told you, I like the obscure), and more recently Ni No Kuni. But I am only one of our editors here at Jetstreame so stay tuned for more.

Monday, February 4, 2013

What is Jetstreame?

by Shawn McFadden

Welcome to the first post of the Jetstreame Blog. Since you are new to this blog (I mean, this is the first time you are reading it after all, I thought I would take the time to explain who we are. Jetstreame Studios represents a group of people who are very passionate about the game industry and wanted very much to break into it and develop our own games. We were all brought together by our lead designer and studio head, Godric Johnson. If his name sounds familiar, you may remember him as the man behind the "Game-hop"  movement in the Nerdcore Rap community. All of us are currently working for free and have devoted a lot of time and resources to making our dreams a reality. We all have lots of other obligations such as work or school. We have done a lot of work to build this studio from the ground up and we intend to use our talents to create the best games we can and put out fun and original content.

But what would a game studio be without games? We are currently working on three games for iOS, Android, Windows 8 Mobile and Blackberry. We also plan to eventually port our games over to the Wii U eShop. The first of which, is called Dragon Drop. This is an action/puzzle platformer where you have to guide a Knight through levels by dragging and dropping (See what we did there?) items into the level, such as platforms or bombs. The second is Crush Hour. This is an action game where you play a vengeful traffic cop whose goal is to create as much mayhem as possible. The third is called Train Hopper. In this game, you play as a friendly Hobo who must hop across moving trains to get to the end of each level. All three of the games are tentatively scheduled to be released in March. We also already have a puzzle game on Android called Circuit Swap, which we plan to port over to the previously specified platforms.

So you're probably thinking, "Why should read this blog?" We at Jetstreame DO want to gain awareness for our games, but it would be pretty boring if all we talked about was ourselves. Although we will use this blog for updates about goings-on at the studio, we will also be posting game reviews, editorials and other interesting articles. We aren't some corporate company and this isn't some corporate blog. We want to provide an outlet for us to communicate with our fans and let us share our opinions. We are all very excited for the future and we hope you all are too!