Mario/Rabbisds RPG is real…for some reason

h1-noscale

There’s this “really funny” joke people like to make regarding Nintendo, maybe you’ve heard it before: “Nintendo just does the same thing over and over”. You see, it’s funny becuase we’re going to ignore the aesthetic and game play shack-ups and focus on the fact that each game uses an established formula in order to make those shake-ups more palpable.  Well, here you go you finest of comedians, Nintendo is doing something new. And stupid.

Okay, okay. Before any one jumps down my throat, yes i wish Nintendo would do more in the “originality” department too. Maybe develop some more new IP’s, maybe do something with some of their old ones (cough cough Metroid cough cough). But over all i really do think the idea that Nintendo is simply resting on their laurels is a bit over blown. I also think that public perception is starting to get to Nintendo, which has lead them down a dark and very stupid path.

I mean….just look at this. LOOK AT IT. Mario with a gun? A Cosplaying “Rabbisd” dressed as Peach taking a selfie? This is just, so….so dumb. This is what you get when you force Nintendo to be too creative.

Okay, okay. I’m being a little hyperbolic. Just a bit. Dumb idea’s often make for good games, so it’s kind of unfair to judge too prematurely.

Spartan Fist Trailer and Impressions

Every now and again, a game comes along and reminds you of one really important fact: video games are dumb sometimes, and that’s okay. Honestly, when was the last time a game let you punch someone into pieces? When was the last time a game juxtaposed extreme gore with an endearing art style….that wasn’t trying to traumatize  players with a gut punch of an ending (looking at you Hotline Miami)? I do kind of wish the trailer showed us a bit more of what too actually expect from the game, but as an introduction it works well enough.

The Challenge of Difficulty

Recently I had a “lovely” conversation with a “gentleman” regarding one of my reviews. This “gentleman” had an issue with the fact that I didn’t complete the game due to finding it needlessly frustrating. To them, the game’s difficulty was a feature and my criticism with it showed a misunderstanding of the game. Obviously I disagree, but the conversation did make me think about difficulty in games and what separates an enjoyable challenge as opposed to rage inducing frustration. In the end it all boiled down to good design, much like everything else when it comes to good games.

I’ve made it pretty clear on my cite that I am a “SoulsSlut”. I love From Software’s Souls series, and the easiest way to get me interested in a game is to tell me “it’s like Dark Souls but….”. Salt and Sanctuary was like Dark Souls meets Castlevania and I loved it, Nioh was like Dark Souls with Samurai and it’s a forerunner for my game of the year. The Serge is like Dark Souls but Sci-fi and it’s the last game for this year I’m truly excited for, even though it’s made by the same people behind Lords of the Fallen, which was like Dark Souls but Crap. And in each and every case, the thing that drew me in to each game, the reason “it’s like Dark Souls” works for me, was the expectation of overcoming the games challenges. Even back in the PS2 era I was a big Devil May Cry fan, which were known for their difficulty back in the day. The funny thing about all of this is: the original Dark Souls, my personal favorite of the bunch, proves my point for both good and ill.

I’m one of those people who hate the idea of Dark Souls having an “easy mode”. Not because I don’t want more people to enjoy the game, but because I don’t think it’s possible. Enemies hit hard in Dark Souls, but their wind up and cool-downs compensate for it. If you change the amount of damage enemies do, the time it takes them to prep and unleash an attack is too unbalanced. If you change the animation times to compensate, then the enemies are doing proportionately the same amount of damage, they’re just faster. The same goes for the player character. If you boost the damage or attack speed you end up breaking the games balance. None of that was to say that there aren’t accessibility issues that From could work on, but for 90% of Dark Souls, the games difficulty proves my point: good design leads to good difficulty. The games systems are connected and balanced in such a way that the easiest way to overcome the game is to have a thorough understanding of these mechanics and systems.

And then there’s Blight Town.

Most fans of the game will tell you this is the worst part, and I am in that camp. (However, Hamish Black from Writing on Games did an excellent video countering this point. But this isn’t about him, fuck off Hamish.) So, why does Blight Town not work: it lags. By this point in the game you should more or less have a firm understanding of the combat. Attack animations are long, and you can’t back out of them, so you have to time your hits. Due to the lag in Blight Town, getting that timing right is much harder than it should be. In fact, I’d even wager that without that lag Blight Town wouldn’t be an issue. The enemies aren’t hard to beat and there’s enough land to avoid getting poisoned. Even the boss is one of the easier ones in the game. The hardest part is navigation, but so long as you keep moving down you’ll be okay. So, here’s the million dollar question: why is Blight Town so lagy? Because some stupid fuck thought it would be a good idea to render the entire area all at once. From the very top, if you look down you can see a clear outline of the poisonous mire down beneath. Rendering all of that takes a toll, and that toll was playing havoc with the games frame rate. As one of the Dan’s from Extra Cridits mentioned in his Lets Play of the game, a Silent Hill like layer of fog to hide some of Blight Town from the player so that not everything had to be rendered at once could have easily fixed this. The one part of the game that was poorly designed lead to the one part of a game that was no longer challenging, but frustrating.

For another example, lets look at the game I’m most in love with right now: Persona 5. I have very few issues with Persona 5 overall, and for the most part the difficulty isn’t one of them. Sure a boss or two have given me a few issues, but in the end I think the game is a little too easy. However, there is one exception to this. In the latter game safe rooms become more and more rare while enemies increasingly have attacks that can instantly kill members of your party. And if that happens to the player character, it’s game over. Where I am now the game even through me into a scenario where I had to fight three mini-bosses back to back with no ability to save between them. The second of which had two separate one hit kill attacks. If I had not been slightly under leveled to create a new persona and not been forced to stick with my main (who could block both attacks) this battle could have lasted hours. Speaking just for myself, out of the 70 hours I put into the game, I think there has been at least one hour per dungeon extra just for the amount of times I got instakilled in the level and had to redo long stretches of it. Thankfully in bigger fights the game gives you the ability to start over from the beginning of that fight, but this doesn’t ease the frustration of losing large amounts of progress when you did nothing wrong.

And yet again, almost all of that was also true for Darkest Dungeon, a game I loved and in which these same things didn’t bother me. Why? Because everything in Darkest Dungeon, from story to tone to game play mechanics, reinforced the idea that the world is a cruel place that does not care about you or your goals.

Good difficulty stems from good design. Good difficulty requires work and dedication by the player in order to overcome, but it does not get in the players way. Good difficulty does not ask a player to brute force their way past the games challenges, but to make smarter use of the games systems. Good difficulty does not laugh at a players failures, but revels in their successes. Good difficulty may ask for a players dedication, but it does not waste the players time.

To No Ones Surprise, The Joker will be in Injustice 2

I know it sounds like a bad joke, but get this: one of the most popular comic book villains of all time is going to be in an upcoming superhero game. Shocking!

Okay, sarcasm over. While i haven’t played much of the original Injustice, but i heard that the games version of the Joker jumped into another dimension (becuase DC just will not let the multiverse die) and thus it wasn’t a sure thing the character would be in this game. Except when you think about how this is the Joker and it’s a DC game. I’m sorry, i just can’t treat this like it’s really “news”. But for the one person here who just started reading comics and didn’t know if DC would bring the character back, here you go.

Call of Duty: WW2 Traverses Old Grounds, for Better and Worse

Call of Duty returning to World War Two is probably the best decision anyone involved in the franchise has made since choosing to leave the setting back in 2007. While some have criticized the idea of making a for fun shoot em up about one of the ugliest points in human history, i’m choosing to hold off on that for right now. I mean, people were saying the same thing about Battlefield One, which was based on an even more useless waste of human lives and suffering, but once it was released people found that the game did in fact try to be a respectful interpretation of the events it depicted. With that in mind, i’m going to wait for release before making my mind up on that front. However, the games first trailer does give me one major reason to be concerned: players will once again be storming the beaches of Normandy.

It might be hard to remember, but once upon a time, World War 2 shooters were a dime a dozen. So much so that “first person shooter” and “world war two” might as well haven been synonyms. If you don’t remember this then you probably also don’t remember HOW MANY GOD DAMN TIMES WE STORMED THE BEACHES OF NORMANDY.

While a lot of people like to say that the move to modern combat was due to WW2 shooters over-saturating the market, that’s not quite true. The real problem was that most of the games we were getting focused on the same events. WW2 was a truly global conflict, yet game designers rarely use that to their advantage. Because of that, yeah i’m a little concerned for how this new Call of Duty is going to pan out. If the team at…..whichever studio is working on this game (they’ve got what, three teams making COD now?) thinks that revising WW2 means having go through the same motions as before the switch to modern day, then there really isn’t a lot of reason to get excited for this up coming game.

As always when i write something super negative, i hope i’m wrong. I hope the game has more than this one trailer has to show. But the fact is, you only ever get one chance at a first impression, and so far COD: WW2’s first impression is “you’ve done all this before”.

Ludophile Lab is having an Identity Crisis

I haven’t been posting as much as i would like. Hell, i haven’t been posting much at all. Part of that is just life. School takes up a lot of time and there isn’t always something interesting to talk about. Recently, however, I’ve come up against a new issue. I’ve always been more interested in doing reviews more than anything else, and with my review now being mainly hosted over at IndieGamerTeam.Com, i’m having kind of a hard time coming up with what exactly i want Ludophile Lab to be. Part of me thinks it would be a good idea to try and make this more editorial based, and reviewing Non-Indie Games (like Persona 5 which i am loving and putting way too much time into). However, by the time a topic reaches me bigger and better voices have probably already wrote or made a video on it. I mean really, between Jim Sterling, Writing on Games and Noclip there really isn’t much i can add to most conversations.

So now that you know what’s been going on and where my head is at most of the time, i’d like to ask: what would you like to see? Stuff like the trailer reactions and stuff probably aren’t going away becuase they give me an excuse to talk about games. But other than that, what kind of stuff would you all like to see? Editorials? More personal game related stories? Fucking Top 10 lists? Please, feel free to leave a comment and give some ideas, i’d appreciate it.

Fez is releasing on Mobile

Five years after it was released, Fez is coming to Mobile devises sometime this year. This is pretty surprising given how Phill Fish….less than gracefully left the gaming scene, to put it nicely. With this and the fact that he released a patch for the game around this time last year as well, maybe we’re seeing his reemergence, maybe enough time as past and Fish has been able to calm down. I hope so, becuase i really enjoyed Fez and the idea that we wont get another game form it’s creator, whatever you think of him, is kind of a shame to me. Or maybe he’s late on a car payment and is doing this for the cash, i don’t know, but i choose to be an optimist.