Less JRPGs is a good thing

June 27, 2009

These days there are often discussion about JRPGs. Where are they, why aren´t they selling anymore and is a certain system doing worse because it isn´t the number one-JRPG-system anylonger? But my answer to all of that is: The less JRPGs, the better!

Back in the days, JRPGs were the best type of game for a majority of gamers. Even in the beginning of the recent generation of consoles, future success was marked by the number of announced JRPGs. But here we are, and Microsoft´s 360 has the most JRPGs, yet even that isn´t that much. Wii also has many JRPGs, but not a single high profile-title of that genre. If you want JRPGs, the NDS is your system of choice.

To me, i am rather happy about the decline of JRPG´s popularity. Don´t me wrong, i loved them…5-10 years in the past. Big adventures and such, awsome. But now we have games that let us have these big adventures, without the resticition of non-gameplay, where you cannot interact with the game world, except for clicking the X- or A-button on every place until something happens…that´s not interaction, sigh. Also, JRPGs suffer from their archaic battle-system. I often hear from JRPG-fans how that´s not true, how there are games with innovative battle-systems and what not. Well, guess what: As long as i cannot have direct control over my character, it still sucks. There is no fun in watching a group of emos bashing random monsters until one side´s stats show to be inferior. Even exceptions like the Tales of-games don´t have such satisfying combat as many western RPGs. And speaking of emo, the cast of JRPGs simply sucks. I´m not complaining about stereotypes, because there only are stereotypes nowadays, but i complain about always the same kind of setup…at least that´s what it feels like. Add to that that people at the age of 30 are considered “old”, and you have all the negatives.

This is one hundred percent subjective, but to me, western RPGs are infinitely better than JRPGs, because they put YOU, the player, into an adventure. When you play Oblivion or Fallout 3, it is YOU that explores that world. Whereas in JRPGs you follow a preset path within a tightly preset story. Or, to conclude this entry:

I´d rather watch an anime than playing a JRPG. No silly battle-system, no silly grinding, no load-times, and only that what is the best part of a JRPG: Story and cutscenes.


Human meets A.I. – The Fake-Game

June 12, 2009

When we talk about new possibilities, industry revolutionizing improvments and other “next gen”-enhancements, it´s always about un-released hardware. Stuff that needs a certain hardware, be it raw power, a wiimote, Natal or the balance board. But what about the “new” stuff that doesn´t need any of these?

At this point i´d like to admit that i´m one of those people that said that pure software-innovations aren´t possible anymore, that we had to get new hardware (the Wiimote) to be able to expand further. I still think that we need new hardware to get closer to V.R., but there also are new, and, imo, revolutionary software-possibilities out there. One of them being the Fake-game.

By using the term Fake-game i mean nothing else than a game that pretends not to be a game. Consider it like that: You´re starting a new game, enter your name and whatsoever, and everything´s fine. But instead of, if you´re like me, playing it eight or more hours in one session, the game is about random short events. That means that there´s no ingame-clock that let´s you play dozens of days in a few hours of real-time. It´s like Animal Crossing, times are equal. But that´s not all (and that´s how i came up with this idea). By using a feature like WiiConnect24, the game sends you messages. No “visit the WiiShop and buy new items for the game!”, but messages that are part of the game. Also, all the characters within the game refer to you as yourself, not as some kind of preset character, and depending on when you play the game, they take notice of it.And as i already mentiond, an important part of the game is that events happen at times you cannot control. Of course you can play the game a whole day, but not to progress in the story. You colud, for example, play minigames, go around and look for sidequests, befriend with new people, maybe do relationship-stuff and start a romance. Whatever. But in the end, the game dictactates the pace.

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For example, you started the game, played for two hours to get to know everything that´s important, and that´s it. When you go back to the Wii-menu you find a message that says “Come to the school roof in two days”. And for real, you have to wait two days until something happens in that place. I haven´t thought about how to manage it if you miss events, but i´m sure that could be worked out.

I´m sure all that has been done to some extent already, but i´d really love to see it taken to the extreme, where you yourself are part of the game and, vice versa, the game becomes part of your life. My favorite example of this “you are part of the game” is Baten Kaitos. Don´t read this paragraph if you don´t want to be spoiled. The game starts off with you being a spirit that travels alongside the main character. For most part of the game it´s just a gimmick, where characters talk to you and you can chose between yes and no. But later in the game, your role as a spirit becomes more involved. That´s what i absolutely loved. You became part of the game, not even as a “spirit”, but the characters referred to you as a person.

To give some settings i could especially imagine this kind of game work great, i´ll name a few: The cyberworld of  //.hack has a perfect setup for this kind of stuff. You have your computer (or videogame system) that you log on to and even though you´re not looking like yourself while playing, it doesn´t matter because everyone is just some kind of avatar. Another good example would be the anime Chaos; HEAD, where the character is, while an extreme otaku, quite connected to reallife. But after a while things between reality and fantasy get so mixed up that everything becomes messed up. Or even the Digimon-series is a great example of what such a Fake-game could turn into. In general, i think settings that start out in some realistic place would work best for this sort of thing. You being a student in your own room with your computer, so that the conncetion between you and the game can work the most effectively.

Maybe i´ll add something to this article to make my point even clearer, but to those who already understood what i said: Please post a comment of your thoughts about that concept. I´d love to talk about that. Or maybe you can even recommend me games that are close to my idea.


Project Natal – The next Revolution in gaming questionmark

June 12, 2009

There´s a lot of talk about motion controls sind E³ 2009. Of course, now that waggle has become cool. Microsoft ist very confident in Project Natal, that new kind of camera that can track movements, even in depth. There´s also quite some fan-following that hype themselves about the “endless possibilities” of Project Natal. But here am i and ask: What possibilities?

I often hear the argument that Natal has the advantage of not needing a controller, when compared to the Wii. Well, excuse me, but that´s exactly what made the Wiimote better than Eyetoy: You had something solid in your hands. Waving throught nothing but air WITH nothing but air doesn´t feel good. But that´s not even the biggest problem.

The Wiimote, with MotionPlus, can detect even smallest movements. And it has the pointer. When it comes to tracking movement, i´m not sold yet on Natal, because as seen in the E³-conference presentation, the player had to make big waves with his hand to go through the X360-menu. If you have to do such big movements for all kinds of functions, it´s going to be tiring and annoying soon. ALSO: What made most “hardcore”-games on the Wii so great is the pointer. RE4 Wii, Call of Duty, House of the Dead, Metroid Prime, bow-shooting in Zelda, etc..

What remains is a camera that can detect bigger movements and…that´s it.

Don´t get me wrong, though, i´m super excited about Milo. Milo-software integrated in future games as a communication-feature, maybe especially for RPGs, would be a revolution in gaming. But for now, not even Milo is ready to go, let alone big epic games that include it as a gameplay feature.

All of the above leads me to believe that we´ll see a lot of EyeToy-minigames and sportsgames with annyong full-body controls. Remember how the Wiimote was, and is, trolled for the player having to move so much? Well, Project Natal takes that even further and you can´t even sit on the couch when playing certain games.


The Truth – Wii has no Games!

June 7, 2009

Obviously, that statement is not true, but somehow, certain fanboys always bring this argument up yet again. Thanks to Tenbatsu from NeoGaf for the following picture:

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Zelda Wii Artwork-theories: To be Continued

June 6, 2009

Hey folks,

my mind just won´t stop thinking about that first bit of stuff we got about the upcoming Zelda for Wii. So instead of annoying random people in chatrooms i hereby start a blog-post about all that. As a matter of fact, i KNOW that i will think about it in the future again, so i declare this a dynamic blog-posting, where i keep it updated with each new theory that i come up with. Anyway, let´s start with my most recent theory:

  • Visiting Ganon´s Hell Prison

In my first article about the artwork i already speculated that there seems to be some hot place in front of Link, a hole in some wall of rocks. Now, another person mentioned how it looks like Link protects the sword-girl from the direction of the hole´s inside. My theory is that Link´s mission in this Zelda is to visit a place we never saw before: Ganon´s Hell Prison. At the end of most Zelda-games, Ganon is defeated and banned back to hell. But what is that hell like? Furthermore, there is no real info on how the Master Sword was created, except for the mention that some ancient sages made…well, how about that: The Master Sword was created in the hot lava-rivers of hell. The same hell that is Ganon´s “home” for most of the time. It is that reason that the Master Sword is the one item that can seal Ganon: Because it´s part of Ganon´s world.

I can´t even start of how cool that would be. Then again, the Master Sword has turned into a girl. Or has it? How about that: This girl is indeed a fairy. It looks exactly like the fairy from The Wind Waker. Fairys are highly magical creatures, and if Ganon is a demon from hell, then why can´t the great fairy be an angel-like being? Basically some kind of counterpart. Obviously, there is no one single being on the good side that can defeat Ganon, but as the result of team effort, Link can, with the help of the Master Sword. So i´m saying: The girl in the picture is not the Master Sword, but it is the Great Fairy that created the Master Sword, originally. Or at least helped with its creation.

Now i´m getting really hyped, because what´s to come would be really exciting and interesting: Link´s task in the new Zelda is to escort the Great Fairy to hell, where she 1.) creates the Master Swords, 2.) re-creates the Master Sword. Each depending on when the game is set. If it´s supposed to take place before Ocarina of time, it could be about the original creation of the Master Sword. If it´s set after, it could be that the Master Sword broke and a new one has to be forged. If it´s the first, this could also explain the whole process of choosing a brave boy. This Link was the first to help and afterwards, the Great Fairy decided to choose brave younglings that would fight the evil of the  world. That would, to some extent, explain how that whole cycle of Link, Zelda, Ganon always happens again.

I´ll go even further: This new Zelda could start off with your battle against Ganon. Right after you finish him off, the sword breaks. But instead of enjoying peace until Ganon´s return…you forcefully go after him to find material for a new Master Sword. After all, it´d be kinda too late if they waited with that until Ganon is back. What further strengthens my belief in this theory is that there are statements of Miyamoto that hint towards a stronger focus on story. And what story could deserve such focus more than the origin of one of the most important elements of all Zelda-games?

This is my first Edit already, lol, but that just shows how excited i am. Anyway, if Link´s task is indeed to go down to hell, i could imagine a very nice game structure, of how the player proceeds in this game. Entering hell is a, well, hellish mission. To kind of compensate the horror that is the way downwards, the overworld could be filled of “light” adventures. Think of it like that: The game starts and you have to go down to hell. You start doing so, but at one point you cannot go further because of your limited abilities. Instead of doing the usual Zelda-hickhack and search for the treasure of a dungeon, you go back up where a fantasy-world, full of gorgoes sidequests, awaits. Complex sidequests. Or to be more clear: The overworld of this Zelda would be like Majora´s mask without dungeons, while the way to hell would be ONE BIG DUNGEON that you have to revisit all the time. Though, unlike the horrible Phantom Hourglass, you wouldn´t have to resolve already completed puzzles. Though i hate using the term “puzzle”, as i´d hope that this one-dungeon was more natural, really feeling like a way downwards a cave that becomes darker and darker, without your typical trigger-puzzles and stuff, but more natural adventures, maybe even horror-elements (it´s hell, after all). And once you´re back up in the overworld, you´ll see all the light, nice adventures, stuff like what we know from Majora´s Mask or Link´s Awakening. Nintendo could go completely crazy about all that, because of the seemingly non-mission that is Link´s adventure in this game.


The Legend of Zelda for Wii – First Artwork and hints

June 5, 2009

Wow, what a day. When we got to hear from those that attended the Miyamoto roundtable at E³, it was said that this artwork of The Legend of Zelda Wii isn´t for the public. Well, now it´s on Nintendo´s press server, ready to be shown. Here it is:

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So let´s interpret the painting a bit. Link does indeed look older, but just a bit. He doesn´t look as angsty as on those Twilight Princess-artworks, and the whole visual style looks more saturated. As Miyamoto kept pressing to say in an interview with IGN, Link is not holding a sword. Which brings us to the weird girl in front of him: Go look for a picture of the master sword and you´ll find out that the resemblence is uncanny. This girl is the master sword come to live, or she´s got another deep connection to the famous sword.

Going back to Miyamoto´s comment, this seems like an interesting way to keep Link away from his sword, at least from time to time. Just have the girl run away or get taken away, and Link has no sword. And Link without a sword…well, that´s bound to be a strange, new experience. That having said, i hope this is not the whole feature of the new Zelda-game. Just taking away the sword makes not that much of an overall gameplay-experience. And then i hope the final game´s visuals resemble those of this painting more than Twilight Princess and its artwork did.

UPDATE: Some more crazy speculation now that i realized that there are rocks at the sides of the painting: The girl is indeed the living master word, and Link has to bring her back to the place where she was made (the middle of the painting looks like a hot place, maybe lava, volcano?), either to rescue “her”, or to throw her in the lava, Lord of the Rings-style to save someone/something.


E3 is over – Where are the games? – and – The day waggle became cool

June 3, 2009

Well E³ as an expo isn´t over, yet, but the big three conferences are. And to come straight to the point: I am disappointed. Let´s be clear, though: This year´s E³ is a dozen times better than what we had to go through last year. Then again, that should have been expected.

What i´m so disappointed about is how few new games had been announced. And don´t call me out on this one naming some small puzzle-download-games. I don´t care about those. I´m talking about big games that i can sink into, that grant me an experience. But what did Microsoft, Sony and Nintendo show us?

Microsoft started with a broad showing of popular IPs. In the end, Kojima´s Metal Gear Solid: Rising was the only new game, though. Sony…hm, ah, there was The Agent from Rockstar and a couple of PSP-games, though it´s yet to be proven how well a Resident Evil works on a handheld. Nintendo showed the most new games, but…it was like Mario, Mario and Mario again. Seriously, i was about to shout when Cammie Dunaway spoke as if it was great to have more Mario games…well, then she showed Mario Galaxy 2, so that´s good, but still… Oh well, Metroid: Other M should be considered a half-megaton, but not for me, as i hate Team Ninja´s hack and slay-games, and i am not interested in a Metroid Hack and Slay.

THEN there is the sad part about the past two days: Waggle became cool.

I am a Wii-owner sind end 2006, and i always love the idea of motion controllers, i even made a bad picture before Nintendo even unveiled the Wiimote. But for the past 2,5 years, as a Nintendo-fan you got ridiculed all the time by bitter Sony-fans about how crappy motion controlling is, about how it kills gaming and how they don´t want to move after they come home from work. Guess what, NOW they´re fighting on all the internet boards, fighting for THEIR motion control is better than Nintendo´s. Give me an effing break. At least Microsoft has a different approach and i hope they use their Natal-camera more for supporting traditional games than trying the “without anything in your hands”-crap. There´s a reason why the Wiimote works and Eyetoy bombed.

NERVNow, let me point out something else: If i was Microsoft, i´d badmouth Kojima so much that he has to go out of business. What kind of kindergarten was that when he said at Sony´s conference, the PSP-MGS is the “true next MGS”? As if he was making fun of MS that he announced MGS: Rising the day before. The next thing is Capcom developing a RE-game for PSP. WTF, the Wii gets only On-Rail-shooters, and the PSP gets a, probably, real RE-game? Give me a break. People say that Nintendo doesn´t help third parties enough, but they gave them 2008 and the whole 2009 without any Nintendo-competition. That is more than any of them could ever want.

At long last, let´s talk about what i liked. Yeah, there were things i liked. First of all, looking at my E³-predictions, Microsoft delivered. Not only was ME2 shown, but also Molyneux´ Project Dimitri, now called Milo, was revealed. If this thing works as it was shown, it´ll be revolutionary. Also, there was a nice trailer for Endless Ocean 2, so Nintendo delivered that. Of course, i´m anticipating Mario Galaxy 2, but it´s coming out in 2010, so it´s too far away. A game that looks at least as good as FF12 is Monado: Beginning of the World from Monolith Software…which Nintendo didn´t mention at all, sigh. Looks rock solid, and has active battle system, yay. Then i´m a bit hyped for Silent Hill Wii. Looks very immersive, maybe a bit too immersive for me. And that´s it. There are other interesting games, but i have yet to see more of them. Biggest disappointment is maybe Red Steel 2, which, from watching a developer walkthrough, doesn´t really use MotionPlus for 1:1 sword-controls. At least in the videos he never moved the sword slowly, only made fast swings. Oh well.

In the end, Miyamoto mentioning Zelda Wii and showing a, most likely, completely irrelevant painting of Link and a girl in a blue robe is enough to make me feel satisfied. But it´s not enough to make my brain stop and think: Nintendo, what are you doing in Kyoto? There are only 2 new Wii-games by Nintendo themselves. Are they developing other games secretly for future times? Are they working on fewer games with more manpower for greater quality? Or did they fire many of their inhouse developers? Really, something´s fishy, and i´d like to know what.

Now let´s wait for 2010, because as of now, Nintendo won´t be releasing a big game in 2009…at all.