New year – New hopes

January 7, 2011

The new year of 2011 has begun and left us with an interesting time shortly to come. The last year wasn´t necessarily spectacular, but it had its high times. The game that made me start this blog, Fragile: Farewell Ruins of the Moon, turned out to be a topnotch atmospheric experience, unfortunately suffering from out-dated gameplay mechanics. Monster Hunter Tri marked the first online-gaming experience that I totally loved. And Dragon Age Origins showed me that not all BioWare-games are that great. In the end, 2010 was a run-of-the-mill year for gaming as far as my gaming flavor is concerned. But what can you expect in a time where all available systems start to feel old in one way or another? The Wii´s graphics were old from launch onwards, but due to the lack of MotionPlus-based games, there really isn´t that huge difference in gameplay compared to other systems. Meanwhile, the HD-systems are spammed with known and already-seen experiences. Shooting someone just doesn´t get any fresher the tenth time, ya know. On the handheld front, Nintendo DS could never fully grasp my enthusiasm since I´m not much of a 2D-fan, and 3D-games on NDS aren´t exactly the most fun. Not to mention that I was severely disappointed by Dragon Quest 9, my first DQ-game. Maybe it really were the ugly visuals, because if I look at DQ8, I want to give it a try again. As every year, I´d like to take the time to express how I hope to see this industry heading more towards a gameplay-experience over the currently popular hollywood-experience.

Now, for the year 2011. Let´s not hesitate to start with the big one here: Nintendo 3DS is going to launch somewhere between March and April in both Europe and the USA. I might have mentioned it before, but I´m actively looking forward to become a handheld-exclusive gamer once this attractive piece of hardware finds its way into my hands. As said above, graphics on the NDS were always a problem for me, but that´s exactly where the 3DS comes in, offering pleasant 3D-graphics on par with GameCube/Xbox/Wii, even featuring certain effects that put it above those systems. Not only do 3D-games look nice, also Paper Mario looks just like its console-predecessors. Unlike any former Nintendo-system, the 3DS seems to get software-support from about every important Japanese publisher, and I´m looking forward to Resident Evil Revelations, Pro Evolution 3DSoccer (or Fifa, depending on what leaves the better impression on me), Dead or Alive Dimension and Street Fighter 3D (which, again, I´ll have to choose between the two). There´s also some fantastic stuff coming from Level 5, but I´ll stay away from getting too hyped about their announcements for now – you never know if their games will see a release in the west.

And then there´s Nintendo´s first-party offerings, of course. Surprisingly, Nintendo still has not announced a big 3DS-title. Sure, we have Kid Icarus, but that looks rather like a small title with its arcade gameplay. And we have the Ocarina of Time-remake, which I´ll be all over, especially if it features new content, but it´s a remake nonetheless. Same goes for the Lylat Wars-remake. There´s Mario Kart and Paper Mario, too, but I believe both will take some more time.  Nintendo wanted to have third-parties support the 3DS at launch, and that´s a pretty understandable course, then. But I can´t wait for Nintendo to get serious with their new handheld. I´m thinking along the lines of Super Smash Bros. 3DS, Metroid Prime 4, or a new Mario-platformer. Personally, I´d love to see the first 3D-Yoshi platformer instead, though. And don´t forget about new IPs! I´d always love to see RetroStudios get back to Raven Blade.

But it´s not all about 3DS – not yet. The Wii seems like a forsaken system in terms of software, even when its hardware-sales are through the roof again. I don´t know about Japan, but dear Nintendo, just release Xenoblade, The Last Story and The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword in 2011, and I´ll have nothing but praise about the Wii´s 2011. So far, all we have is a delayed Zelda-game an Mario Sports Mix, hooyay! :/ Can´t remember the last time a system´s lineup could go that easily from yay to nay to yay to nay …

My Xbox 360 is waiting for exactly one game: Mass Effect 3. Let´s see if Bioware can really release it at the end of the year. I´m not a fan of the much discussed plot of gathering all the different races´ loyalty only to attack the Reapers in one big attack – feels too unbelievable for me that none of the previous galaxy´s  inhabitants would have tried that. But whatever BioWare decideds to go with, I´ll be there. Let me end it all with a bang – and show us Tali´s face FFS! The last game I´d like to mention is Deus Ex: Human Revolution. Much like the Mass Effect-trilogy, Deus Ex promises to be an incredibly immersive, interactive experience, both in terms of story and environmental interactivity. Will be bought for PC.

That´s it so far! The Nintendo World 2011-expo will start tonight, featuring playable 3DS-stations and presentations, and then on January 19th, Nintendo´s going to have a simultanous conference for both Europe and the USA, which is expected to tell us non-Japanese people all the final details we need to know about the nextgen-handheld. I also hope to see something from Zelda Wii soon, but I think that the less hype now, the better the game turns out in the end. Just remember the situation before The Wind Waker and Twilight Princess.

Happy new year, everyone!


GMotY-Awards 2010

December 2, 2010

The year 2010 is approaching its last days and it´s time to look back at the best stuff that video games offered over the course of these 12 months. However, don´t be mistaken: This is not a game of the year-entry. Rather, it is a gameplay of the year-award, mentioning gameplay mechanics that made for terrific experiences. Even in critically well-received, hyped games, superb gameplay is often something not to be found. The following games went beyond the means of hype and scores and delivered certain elements of gameplay that made me give them this special mention. Of course, I´m only going to mention games that I played myself, so don´t take this as a “these and ONLY these entries are worthy!!1”, but rather give these games a second chance if you haven´t played them, yet. Also, I´d love to see some comments from you about which mechanics you loved.

These are the gameplay mechanics of the year-winners:

Metroid: Other M for its satisfying combat. A game that got mixed reactions, ranging from best to worst. Personally, I loved the fluid, smooth movement of heroine Samus Aran. What especially stood out, though, was this game´s combat. I´m a big fan of the Prime-games as well as the Zelda-series, but both these franchises have obvious weaknesses to their respective combat. Battling enemies in Prime 1-3 boiled down to tedious non-stop shooting, slowly lowering the foe´s health points, whereas in Zelda-games, each boss-monster has to be hit three times (or four, if Nintendo decides to surprise the player!) and that´s it. Engaging in boss-battles in Other M is like the sweet-spot between both of these concepts. It feels more like an actual fight like Prime-series´  bosses, but without the frustrating large amounts of health points. And it has you on the look-out for special weak points, without divulging into feeling more like a puzzle than a fight. It´s also balanced out by having Samus die quickly as well. Together with the auto-evade function, this created a super-fun, dynamic combat mechanic that felt like no other game this year.

Mass Effect 2 for interactive story-telling. Games as a medium are unique thanks to one simple fact: They´re interactive. They let the player change stuff that happens in all-virtual worlds. But while gameplay mechanics regarding character-movement are nothing special, granting the player freedom in terms of story is even moreso. Personally, its predecessor was even better in that it gave you more big decisions, but Mass Effect 2 is one of the few games that actually tackles an interactive narrative, and that over the span of a 30 hours+ title. In a time where games get shorter and shorter, more like watching a movie with in-between action-scenes, Mass Effect 2 is the definitive cinematic experience and handles story-telling just the way a video game should do.

Silent Hill: Shattered Memories for most immersive experience. There a fun games, games that are a great time-waster, games that are all about the “epic scenes”. And then there´s games that try to create an environment so incredible, believable and logical that it pulls the player deeper inside that world. Silent Hill: Shattered Memories for Wii did a fantastic job at exactly that.  It´s probably the most tragic bomb on the Wii-system, even moreso because of Konami actively deciding not to advertise the game. Shattered Memories makes such perfect use of the wiimote´s pointing-functionality and combines that with impressive visuals, all one-upped by the terrific lighting effects. When the Wii launched, people thought that Luigi´s Mansion 2 would be a great fit for that, but Konami was faster than Nintendo and proved how great this control-style suits a flashlight-featuring game. Unfortunately, the game is only six to seven hours long before you see the credits-screen, but everything that you explore within that  never boring, never filler-ish time is immersive gameplay at its finest. On top of that, Shattered Memories gave another example of interactive story-telling for games that are not meant to be grand role-playing games. A special mention goes to Fragile: Farewell Ruins of the Moon, which achieved a similar rich atmosphere and only fell flat due to its less smooth, old-fashioned character-environment interaction.

Super Mario Galaxy 2 for Flip Out Galaxy. Admittedly, this is a title that´s surely going to be mentioned in a lot of goty-lists, but I wouldn´t have put it up here were it not for that one level. I got a little over 100 stars after getting the game on release-day, but then let it rest on the shelve. Some weeks ago I finally decided to go for “all” 120 stars and that´s exactly the only way to see this galaxy. It´s the last one. The final galaxy in the game that you unlock last. So, what´s so special about it? One simple fact: It made my mind go all “they didn´t really do that, right? They can´t! That´s … absurd!“. This level was not like the rest of the game, where although not easy, you always felt like playing a typical Mario-game. This one galaxy, however, was like one of those self-made 2D-Mario games you can see on Youtube. Not all the way like it, but search for “asshole Mario” and you get a feeling of what I´m talking about. That galaxy wasn´t nice, challenging Mario. It was “look, consumer, you complained about lack of difficulty in our games? Suck it!” And how I did! At one point I was close to crying, especially since I wanted to get that medal, too. Getting the medal quickly became really easy, but then there remained the last section of the level: By shaking the wiimote, blue and red objects would switch between back- and foreground. In that final part of the level, you had to wall-jump in-between several red and blue walls, each only being touchable by the player´s tightly chosen controls. Of course, missing a wall or activating it too late would result in a fall to death, no floor underneath. That was the single finest piece of level-design I´ve ever encountered in any video game. And guess what was that galaxy´s second star-mission? The same level, only now chased by shadow Marios that follow your very steps and hurt you when coming in contact. Damn!

Legend of Guardians for Flying. A rather odd choice, I realize, but not a wrong one either. The license game about owls is nowhere near being a special game, a must-play, so to say. But it manages to do one thing very right. That one thing being the feeling of flying through mid-air. A lot of video games that take place in the sky exist, but only a vast minority gets “it” right. Legend of Guardians made it, and has you experience overseeing gigantic areas from high above, rushing downwards at enormous speed, only to make a sharp turn upwards to glide over the ground. It combines a satisfying feeling of being up there with gorgeous environments (that, unfortunately, lack interactivity). I really hope to see the day where a big, epic action-adventures includes a fun, dynamic, rich flying-mechanic. Until then, Legend of Guardians does a great job at giving you that.

That´s it. Sure, I played a lot more games this year than just these five, but these five examples of gameplay mechanic stood out the most to me. Maybe I forgot something, then I won´t hesitate to update this article. Either way, I hope to have shed some light on games that did something very right and maybe you feel like wanting to share your own GMotYs in the comments. Thanks a lot for reading The FlyingFisch and merry christmas and a happy new year!


Busy with gamescom

August 19, 2010

Not a new article on FlyingFisch for well over a week. I´m sorry for that, my duty on another website is keeping me very busy, though, during this gamescom-week. Anyway, just wanted to tell whoever likes reading this blog: It´s not dead, not forgotten 🙂

To put a bit more stuff into this entry, let me express just how badly I want the Nintendo 3DS. There have been some new pictures of the hardware and it looks simply perfect. But Nintendo said that the design is not 100% finished, so maybe it´ll get even “more perfect”. Oh well.

By the way, there also another reason why it had been that much time since the last blog entry. Well, two. For one, I don´t write when I have no interesting topic to talk about, and I have no obligation to press myself into writing each and every week. That´d would just make for some badly, uninspired written texts. The other one is that I started working on a, well, rather nerdy video-project. If you kept reading this blog, you know what my (current) dream concept for a video game ist. And while listening to the right music, I felt like expressing myself a bit more than just through words. So, expect some (hopefully not “that” shitty) 3- maybe 4-minute video in a bunch of days from now on. Gamescom will keep me away from working on that for at least two/three more days, though.

Anyway, lots of videos and screenshots from gamescom, guess there´s enough to keep any gamer busy at the moment. See ya next time!


Zelda Wii – E³ 2010

April 24, 2010

Here is a little present to all Zelda- and video game-fans out there. Thanks to my own obsession regarding the Zelda-series, I can hereby show you a video, made for the purpose of getting into the mood for the upcoming Electronic Entertainment Expo 2010, that´s going to take place from June 15th to 17th. Without any further explanations, here´s the link. Have fun!

Zelda Wii E³ 2010 – Video


The Calm before E³ 2010 – Crazy Prediction Time

April 23, 2010

Another year passed by, and the Electronic Entertainment Expo 2010 is approaching quickly. From June 15th to 17th, we´ll get this year´s biggest, cumulative media blowout, with conferences supposedly taking place starting with June 13th. While sporting a bunch of interesting titles nonetheless, the past couple of E³s have been lacking. These expos never fail to gather a lot of hype, but rarely is that hype justified. E³ 2010 ramps up to be different – or to be its old self, for that matter. Remember E³ 2004, when Nintendo revealed Twilight Princess? Yeah, it´s going to be that kind of E³! Like last year, I´m focusing on predictions and expectations regarding Nintendo, as the two competitors simply don´t interest me that much. That´s more fair than making up stuff. So, let´s start with the FlyingFisch´s predictions of E³ 2010!

Fanboy´s favorite: Nintendo


Nintendo hat a pretty damn good start in 2010, with games like Silent Hill: Shattered Memories or the now released Monster Hunter Tri. Super Mario Galaxy 2 and Metroid: Other M are underway, too, so a good first half of the year is well covered with games. So what´s being released in the latter half of 2010? Despite the higher amount of great games compared to 2009, it kind of feels as if third-parties stopped trying. There´s only one third-party title I´m going to mention…maybe another one, though that one´s more likely to be revealed at Tokyo Game Show.

We´ll definitely see Warren Spector´s Epic Mickey. The dark, adventurous platformer, starring the new Mickey-design, will get a lot of focus at its publishers booth. I´d say it´s safe to assume that not only will there be videos, but it´ll be playable. As far as as I know, it´s supposed to be released at the end of the year, so now´s the time to start the Mickey-hype machine. First screenshots were pretty disappointing, but everything you read about the game sounds just so promising. We´ll see how that one turns out. The other high-quality third-party game that might be shown, but, most likely won´t, is Dragon Quest 10. I don´t have to explain how this is the biggest traditional JRPG-franchise in Japan. Which is exactly why it´s more likely to be shown at this year´s Tokyo Game Show (if at all). Considering that Dragon Quest 9 for Nintendo DS will be released in the US and Europe this July, it also wouldn´t make too much sense to announce the next instance of the series now. There´s a really slim off-chance, but I´d rather bet money on some of the upcoming crazy predictions than DQ10 being shown at E³ 2010.

Which leads us to Nintendo´s first-party offerings. Honestly, I don´t know what other awesome stuff I should predict, when we already know of the two most important things of this year´s E³: Zelda Wii and the Nintendo 3DS. Really, just rename “E³ 2010” into “Zelda 2010”. It´s going to be all about Zelda Wii. Sure, I´m personally hyped, but you´d be a fool to deny how much weight, how much importance rests on this game´s shoulders. It´s kind of staggering and hard to believe just how little we know about the new Zelda. Which is…nothing. There´s an artwork we got at last year´s E³, but that´s it. We know that it´ll use MotionPlus, and Eiji Aonuma talked about introducing a new overall structure of the game, which could mean a lot of things. There´s basically three options for Zelda Wii: 1.) Devolving into some kind of Phantom Hourglass/Spirit Tracks-like game, featuring top-down camera-angle and wiimote pointer-based controls, 2.) yet another Ocarina of Time-like Zelda, like Twilight Princess, or 3.) a truly new, fresh adventure-experience, that finally manages to jump out of Ocarina of Time´s shadow and become its own classic, impacting the future gaming industry again. I fear for 1, hope for 3, but believe we´ll get 2. Which will be disappointing, too, but at least nothing too bad. Then again, I think Zelda Wii is going to be the definitive experience of the next 10 years to come. That´s what it should become. But there´s so much stuff that Zelda Wii “should” do, it´s hard to believe that Nintendo´s going to be able to get it all right. But no matter if they fail or not, Zelda Wii is THE game of E³ 2010.

And when there´s a game of E³, there also has to be a hardware of E³ 2010. There are only two contenders, but if we go by historic importance, then Nintendo wins this one, too. This will be the first time when Nintendo´s going to show the Nintendo 3DS in public, and probably lets E³-visitors get their hands on the true DS-successor. We know that it has some kind of 3D-capabilities and that the screen size will be smaller than 4″. Rumors have it that the 3DS will feature GameCube-like graphics, but that was never confirmed. Even though that much should be possible in 2010, it´s silly to take it for granted. But I can understand that the thought of a portable version of The Wind Waker in 3D sounds daring. Yeah, if Nintendo continues their tradition of remaking an older game for a new hardware´s launch, I´d want that one to be TWW. But let´s see what the 3DS really will be like. It´s supposed to be backwards-compatible to the DS, so some kind of 2-screen-design is obvious. But there´s a lot of possibilities within that frame. Another hardware that´s likely to be shown is the Vitality sensor. But I have no idea how that one´s coming into play.

And then there´s the two Nintendo-funded JRPGs, Xenoblade and The Last Story. While the former looks promising, even though graphically not too special, it is The Last Story that might surprise a lot of gamers. Seemingly, Hironobu Sakaguchi is behind that game, and it´s him as well as the known artworks that make it appear as if this is meant to be a Final Fantasy-competitor. But, again, we have no idea about the game, except for some vague combat-system details. In the end, a high-profile JRPG should also look high-profile, so what many gamers ask themselves, is: What is The Last Story going to look like? Personally, I´d love to see a gorgeous cel-shading style featured, similar to TWW´s. Just have it more detailed. But I won´t complain about a good-looking realistic game. Just make sure it looks “round”. Xenoblade suffers from that.

So, prediction time, eh? With Zelda Wii dominating the Wii´s lineup, there´s not much that could impress equally. But if we assume that Nintendo finally figured out how to use motion controls in a singleplayer-adventure to its fullest, it has to be another MotionPlus-game. Three games would greatly fit that new control-style. First one is Kid Icarus. Yeah, a popular, recurring speculation, but with his bow and arrow, Pit is a perfect match for MotionPlus. Imagine a platformer that closer to Zelda than Mario, and you have it. Another franchise I really want to see anew is the StarFox-series. I´d go against the serie´s arcade-feeling, but I finally want a flight-game that uses the wiimote (and motionplus) as if you´re holding a flight stick. It would control like the flight-game from Wii Sports Resort, but you´d be holding the wiimote vertically instead of horizontally.  The last fitting game is a crazy wish that I had last year, too. Give me a Berserk-game (great anime/manga). Have it use MotionPlus for Gut´s sword strikes. Have it be a mixture of Zelda and Monster Hunter. Have it sport gorgeous cel-shading. And thus, attempt at making me forget Zelda Wii. Ha!

A new hardware obviously needs some new games. Surely, the 3DS will get its own version of Wario Ware. And there´ll be a remake/port of an older title, which I want to be The Wind Waker. But what for new games? We haven´t heard of RetroStudios in quite a while. We should hear from them at this year´s E³. With Zelda getting all the spotlight on the Wii, I cannot imagine that they´d like to start a fight there. Instead, I believe they´re working an the 3DS first killer-app. If the GameCube-level graphics rumors are correct, it would grant RetroStudios a well-known developing environment. There, I expect to see Metroid Prime 4 exclusively for the 3DS. I´d prefer a Metroid-game that continues the story after Fusion, though. There´s also going to be Pokemon Black and White. I´m pretty disappointed by how small the visual upgrade from the last games came out to be, but maybe we´ll get 3DS-support at the least. If not canceled, Golden Sun DS will be fully covered, as well.  Depending on how the 3D works, I also believe that Nintendo will introduce a movie-watching ability for the 3DS, starting with James Cameron´s Avatar. It´d be just too perfect of a marketing move.

As I told you initially, predicting is hard when we know of the best stuff already. Maybe there´ll be Pikmin 3, a new F-Zero-game, some WiiFit-like title. Capcom might finally port Resident Evil 5 to the Wii. Perhaps, Konami makes Zone of the Enders 3 for Wii. And how about a real home console-Pokemon? The heck, I could even imagine that Nintendo´s showing or at least talking about the Wii´s successor, even though there´s the 3DS. If Zelda remains a 2010-release, as well as all the other games, Nintendo won´t have any games for Wii except for Dragon Quest 10 somewhere down the road. We have had two Mario-games by then, another Zelda-game won´t be finished that quickly. And there´s nothing else that can fill the hunger for big, epic, adventurous games like these two. Or, even more crazy, maybe the 3DS is much more important than everyone thought until now. Maybe the 3DS marks Nintendo´s future business, being a hybrid handheld-home console. We know that 3D needs more power, so how about GameCube/Wii-level graphics when you´re not at home, and when plugging the 3DS into the TV, you´ll be able to play HD-quality games, a Wiimote connecting via bluetooth. Who knows. E³ 2010 is looking like it´s going to a Nintendo-show. But when there´s a lot of promise, there´s also a lot potential for disappointment.

Microsoft´s effort-machine


There are two things that highly interest me on the Xbox 360. One is Natal. And no, I´m not interested in that one because of controls. I believe that completely hand-free controls don´t feel good. After all, I had EyeToy, and you just need something in your hands. But I´m totally interested in A.I.-focused games, so that´s Milo for me. Of course, it´s Peter Molyneux. That means: Lots of awesome sounding announcements, lots of terrible shortcomings. But what the showed with Milo last year was…revolutionary. I´d like to see two “games” for Natal. One being a pure A.I.-based simulation-game. Maybe replace Milo with a girl, too, so a nerd can learn how to socialize. As for the second game, create a RPG that makes use of Milo-like interaction. That´s where I see the possibility for a revolution regarding Natal. You´re still using the 360-controller, but all the communication-part of the game is done by yourself. If Microsoft and Molyneux manage to do that, they´ll have their own killer-ap. A game I´d also love to see some first bits and pieces of is BioWare´s Mass Effect 3. I haven´t followed the developer´s recent news-announcements, so if they already said there would be no ME3, too bad. But this third and final part of the Mass Effect-saga is hyped-worthy, no matter when they decide to show it. On the note of surprises, maybe Microsoft finally got their hands on a Metal Gear Solid 4-port.

The Third Place: Sony

I´m (not) sorry, but i just don´t care.

Conclusion:

Phew…E³, eh? The true christmas of every gamer. No better time in the year. I think every gamer, no matter what you´re a fan of, will see a lot of great stuff. Aside from all the stuff I already talked about, it´ll be most interesting to see gamers´ and developers´ reaction on the 3DS. Will Sony announce a new handheld to counter Nintendo? Will the 3DS be too freaky for a lot of developers? Or is it going to be a much more important hardware than “just” the next handheld of Nintendo? Time will tell. But predictions are big part of each year´s E³, so let´s see how much of the above turns out true. Just one advice for next year: Please, Nintendo, don´t spoil all the fun by announcing the two biggest things beforehand. Where´s the fun in predicting a new Kirby-game when you already know of ZELDA being shown. Not that I blame you.


The FlyingFisch celecbrates 20,000 visitors

April 16, 2010

Well, thanks to all the readers of Flyingfisch.net !

I just wanted to get that out there, no big, long comment prepared for this. Though, I´ve got to mention how glad I am that this many people (and it is a lot for this website) found their way to this place, as I have literally no marketing at all. Whoever comes and reads my articles found here due to unknown circumstances…but it certainly makes me happy 😀

I´m not making any money of this blog, but I still love seeing the numbers of people reading my articles, simply because I write them to reach as many as possible people. So, let me take the opportunity and highlight my personal favorite article, “Beyond Motion-Control and HD: A New Concept for Videogame Systems“. It´s one of the very early texts to be found on FlyingFisch, but I still really like that one. It really shows my fascination for future possibilities and A.I.s in general. If you haven´t read it, yet, give it a try.

After thinking for a bit, I´d actually like to thank my two affiliate-websites, My Nintendo News and Link’s Hideaway, who definitely got me a bit more popularity and are great places to visit by themselves. Also, if you haven´t noticed, yet, there´s another link under “affilities”, which is called “Zelda Wii – The Blog“. If you liked my Top30 Expectations of Zelda Wii, you might like that blog, too. Just go see for yourself.

With that, I´d like to conclude this entry and say another thank you to everyone. I hope I´ll be able to publish many more interesting (and freaky) articles about as well as popular as weird gaming-related things. Next time I´ll post something like that, it´ll have to be 100,000, so let´s find out together if The FlyingFisch can make it.

sincerely yours,

MFauli