Tag Archives: Gaming editorials

E.T. is the worst game ever!

Or is it?

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Short answer. No, not at all.
I was originally going to just do one of my “game overviews” of this game, but I feel this game deserves a little more depth than that due to it’s infamous nature.

But before I get into why it’s not the worst game ever, lets just recap on the infamy surrounding E.T. for the Atari 2600.

Often labeled the “worst game ever” (not true) and often cited as the game that caused the infamous game crash of 1983 (also not true), it was also the spawn of the “rumor” that Atari buried 1000’s upon 1000’s of E.T. carts in the desert as it was so bad (again, not entirely true).
E.T. has been the subject of many reviews, ridicule and blame over the years. Most of that comes from people that either do not remember E.T. at the time, did not understand the game or just taking misinformation from the many, many people that have done exactly what these people are doing themselves by remembering the infamy of the game and not the game itself, kind of like a bad game of Chinese Whispers.

I decided to read a few E.T. reviews in research for this article and I mostly found reviews by people that would have been either 2 at the time of release or even -20. But as I said, these are people that are acting on the infamy and not the game itself.
E.T. is just too easy a target to rip apart and quite frankly, it’s tedious and dull.

Now I’ll not sit here typing a defence for E.T. being a great game…cos it’s not. It’s just not “the worst game ever”…not even close.
First, a “Little Bit of History”: E.T was was designed by Howard Scott Warshaw who also developed Raiders Of The Lost Ark for the Atari 2600 and both games were relased within weeks of each other. But with Raiders being released just a few weeks before E.T., making Raiders the first ever fully licenced movie video game.
E.T. was rushed through development to cash in on the upcoming Christmas season and Howard Scott Warshaw himself was burnt out after developing Yars’ Revenge for seven months and then spending six months on Raiders of the Lost Ark previously.
Upon release, E.T. actually met with favourable reception and success. It even went on to be one of the biggest selling games ever on the Atari 2600 selling over 1.5 million units and back in 1983 that was a hell of a lot.

The whole infamy comes not from that E.T. was bad, but due to Atari massively overestimating the gaming market at the time and overproducing the E.T. game cartridges along with many other products. E.T. did not cause the infamous game crash of 1983 either. The game was released in December of 1983, so how could 1 game bring down an entire industry in only a few weeks?
So if E.T. did not cause the game crash of 1983, what did? Well, around the same time console hardware and software sales were dropping fast as more affordable home computers started to hit the market. As consoles could only play games, but computers could play games and so much more as well, the computer was a more logical choice for the consumer.
The reason the game crash of 1983 occurred was simply due to the fact manufactures like Atari over flooded the market with products no one was buying at the time. There were many games caught up in the game crash, not just E.T. There were great games as well as terrible games. In fact the game crash was already underway when E.T. was released at the end of 1983 and part of the reason it was rushed through development was an attempt to counteract the already plummeting sales at the time as Atari believed a game based on the massively popular film could turn sales around.
Yes 1000’s of E.T cartridges were buried in the desert…but so were 1000’s of other gaming cartridges, game consoles and phererials. They were buried, not due to the fact they were bad, but because they were simply unsold and they were unsold because Atari overproduced during a time when the consumer was just not buying.

Anyway, about the game itself. For it’s time, E.T. was actually a very innovative game and ahead of it’s time (much like Howard Scott Warshaw’s Raiders of the Lost Ark). Yes of course when you play it today it seems pretty poor…but that is from today’s perspective and where pretty much every (mis)review of this game comes from.
At the time however, E.T. was a striking and original game. That is why it became one of the Atari 2600’s best selling games. It had an original concept and it was also one of the very few games that you could complete at the time with an ending and a plot to follow, which was relatively unheard of back then.

Is E.T. the “worst game ever”? No, but I admit time has not been kind to it even though it was a very solid game back in 1983. E.T. was very playable back then and offered us gamers a fair challenge. Give it 30 years and games of today will also be getting called “the worst game ever” as some games just do not stand the test of time, but that does not mean they were bad when they were first released.

So what is “the worst game ever”? That’s up to you as games are subjective. I just wanted to set the record straight on the undeserved infamy E.T. has.

I’d rather play E.T. for a while than any QTE based game anyway.

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Duke Nukem used to be awesome.

Duke

Duke Nukem Forever took…well forever to be released. It was to be called “Forever” as it was (at the time) the 4th game in the series (get it, FOURever?) to be made after Duke Nukem 3D (get it THREE-D? Sorry I’ll stop now) from 1996. But delays meant Duke Nukem Forever would not see the light of day until over 15 years after it was first announced as the sequel to Duke Nukem 3D.
Due to the delays there were other games released in the series in between the 15 year gap.

Duke Nukem Forever when finally released in 2011 was one of the biggest disappointments in gaming history and seemingly buried the Duke Nukem character. But I’m not here to talk about the Duke Nukem series of games and the bitter disappointment that was Duke Nukem Forever…yet (it’s coming though).

I wanted to cover one of my all time favorite game characters from his early low budget start to his meteoric rise in the mid 90’s and his fall from grace in 2011.

Duke Nukem was created by Todd Replogle, Jim Norwood, George Broussard, and Scott Miller of Apogee Software. Being a parody of 80’s action heroes by meddling elements of Arnold Schwarzenegger, Charles Bronson, Clint Eastwood, Sylvester Stallone, Kurt Russell as well as throwing in a bit of Roddy Piper from They Live and smidge of Bruce Campbell’s Ash from Army Of Darkness.
Duke was essentially the best of the best (or worst) of action heros mixed together to make one bad-ass mofo.

Voiced by Jon St. John (from Duke Nukem 3D onwards) giving Duke a rather unique, iconic and instantly recognisable voice. Seriously try saying “What are you waiting for, Christmas?” without thinking of or hearing Duke Nukem’s voice in your head. Duke Nukem became one of gamings all time greats.
Duke was sexist, misogynistic, confident, aggressive, and beautifully politically incorrect with a soft spot for “the babes”.
His was skilled with a variety of weapons from explosives, automatic and even energy weapons…oh and his “mighty foot” for kicking alien pig-police in the face. He would also use vehicles such as his monster truck or even a jet pack. He is never seen without his trademark Ray-Ban Wayfarer sunglasses, even at night and often seen with a nice fat stogie hanging out of his mouth.
His ego was so huge he even wrote an autobiography called: “Why I’m So Great”.

Duke’s first appearance was in Duke Nukem from 1991 and has been in a total of 18 official Duke Nukem games, sequels and spin offs as well as making cameos in other games like: Cosmo’s Cosmic Adventure (1992), Blood (1997) and more recently Choplifter HD (2012) along with several other games.

There was a time when the name Duke Nukem really meant something in the gaming world. From early 16-bit visuals to full on 3D and textured polygons, Duke Nukem was a hugely popular character despite really being a huge, egotistical (insert slang term for a lady’s front bits here). The humor of the character was often really childish…but still funny. Mr. Nukem was certainly controversial as a character.
Often found on top lists of all time great gaming characters along with the likes of Mario, Sonic, Lara Croft, Pac-Man and many others and he is even listed in The Guinness World Records Gamer’s Edition. Duke Nukem still remains a fan favourite and a character that has earned his rightful place in gaming history.

Alas, the dismal Duke Nukem Forever may have buried the character for good. Aside from the game itself, may a reviewer just did not “get” the character. Calling him out on his sexism, mysongism, childish humor, stating he was outdated and so on…yes, that is the point of the character. He’s supposed to be a parody, a pastiche of 80’s cheesy action heros.
Yes, Duke Nukem Forever the game was bad, but Duke himself as a character was just as great as he ever was and his puerile humor was much needed in the sterile world of straightlaced characters and very “brown” personalities we have today.

Since the release of Duke Nukem Forever in 2011, Duke has been laying low and not really heard of since and it does look like Duke Nukem may finally be dead. But I really do hope not, while Duke Nukem Forever was a horrible game and definitely not worth the 15 year wait. The character is just too important and impactful to sweep under the carpet.
We need Duke Nukem back to inject his humor and style back into gaming, he just needs better games to be in.
I’d most definitely like to see Duke return, but let’s just ignore Duke Nukem Forever and pretend it never happened.

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“Hail to the King Baby.”

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To next gen or not?

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So I was at work and we were just chatting about games and gaming when the question was asked of me, “what next gen console do you own?”. I replied with “none” and I got looks from my work colleagues as if I just insulted all their mothers with a bad “yo momma” joke from the early 90’s.

Yes that is right, I do not own any of the next gen machines…why is this such a taboo?
I mean, go onto any gaming website/forum and just talk about the fact you do not own a next gen console, and you’ll be greeted with abuse and insults.

There are several reasons why I do not own a next gen machine…

Money: It’s not that I can not afford one, more a case of there are other things I would rather spend my money on. As of now you are looking at around £300 for one of the new consoles with a game bundled in. Then I’d need other games to play as one is not enough, so we are looking at £450-ish. Plus there is the fact another controller would be required which sell for around £40 right now, batteries and charger for the controllers which go for about £30. So even just to start up I’m looking at roughly £490…and to be honest there are other things I’d rather spend that money on. Oh I could go out right now and buy myself a shiny new Xbox One, but close to £500 just to get started is just not worth it.

Games: In all honesty there is NOTHING I really want to play on any of the next gen machines, Not on the Xbox One, Playstation 4 or even the (cheaper) Wii U offer anything I am interested in. The only games so far that pique my interest are remasters of games I already own and have played on the last gen and I’m not paying again for a game I already own for slightly improved visuals and a handful of extras. I really have not seen a single game that is honestly “next gen” gameplay and not just improved graphics. It always takes a good few years before developers truly get to grips with the hardware and start developing real “next gen” games anyway, and by then the prices drop and I’ll get into the next gen cheaper and when there are more worthy games out there. I really do not feel like I’m missing out on anything here.

Last gen: I still have a few great games I’m playing through on last gen. I recently bought Fallout 3 & New Vegas, Oblivion & Skyrim all special editions with all the DLC included and I got them really cheap too. While I had previously played the games, I only played the vanilla versions and they took me a good while. So these versions with all the DLC included will entertain me for a good while yet. There are also other games I’m only now catching up on that I either missed previously or replaying as I really enjoyed playing them. That before I get into games on my PC and even iPad.

Space: As I currently have set up under my TV a Playstation 3, Xbox 360, a Bluray player and even a PVR set top box. Oh and my internet hub. I really do not have the space for another machine right now. It already looks like an explosion in a spaghetti factory behind my TV with all the wires, power cables, HDMI cables, etc.

No backward compatibility: This is not a big thing for most people, but it ties into the last 2 reasons of last gen and space. Seeing as I’m still playing games on the 360 & PS3, seeing as I do have a lack of space. If the new consoles did have backwards compatibility (the last ones did) I could get a new machine, replace my older machine and still play the last gen games I want to while not taking up any more space. Yes for some (including me) backwards compatibility is a big issue and a major selling point.

Time: Tying into my previous point as playing through some last gen games takes up time. I also work fulltime and invest as much time as I can into this site too. Then there is the fact I have an amazing girlfriend I live with, a house to maintain…and a 7 month old puppy to take care of. Oh and we (the girlfriend and I) are at it like rabbits as we are trying for a baby too. I just do not have the time like I used to a decade ago when the last gen was in it’s early years. There are just more important things for me to spend my time doing and spending around £500 for a machine that is more likely to gather dust rather than be played on just seems inane.

So those are the main reasons I have not gone next gen and to be honest, I really do not see these reasons changing anytime soon. Sure I could go out and buy a new console today…but why would I? I really do not think I’d play on it even if I did own one.
I may get into the next gen in the future maybe when the prices drop, maybe if they start making worthy games, maybe if I ever have the time, maybe if I’m brave enough to untangle the mess of wires behind my TV.
But as of writing, the next gen is just not appealing to me at all and I’m more than happy with my last gen machines and working on this site to get my gaming fix.

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Bad game endings.

You put hours into a game, you pay attention to the plot and enjoy the engaging characters…only to be greeted with an inane, underwhelming and disappointing ending. Making that journey you just took leaving you feeling deflated and asking yourself “why?”.

Of course not all game endings are bad and a bad ending does not necessarily equate to a bad game either, but they can leave you really disappointed and wondering why the developers even bothered.

So lets take a look at some of the worst game endings ever from classic gaming right up to today and look at what makes them bad.
I’ll start with one of the most notorious bad endings…

Ghostbusters:

Ghostbusters NES

Ghostbusters for the NES was based on the film and tasked the player with defending New York from ghosts. Not a great game, but even this title deserved a better ending…

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Not just a lazy black screen with white text, but also badly spelt and presented too.
“CONGLATURATION” and “PROOVED” were just some of the highlights of this bad ending that looked like your average 13 year olds comments on Youtube.

Even great games can be guilty of bad endings.

The Legend Of Zelda:

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The Legend Of Zelda is easily one of the very best games on the NES and went on to spawn a huge franchise that is still going to day…but about the ending…

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Another one of those black screens with white text, but not as bad as the Ghostbusters one it is spelt correctly and the grammar is fine. The problem is that The Legend Of Zelda was an immense game for its time with a great story and characters. Something this epic really should have had a more satisfying ending other than the lazy black screen and white text that essentially just says “well done”.

Next let’s go for a popular choice.

Mass Effect 3:

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The Mass Effect trilogy was a really enjoyable series and took us on a space adventure not matched by anything. The characters were engaging and well written, you could make choices/decisions that would carry over from one game to the next.
So where did all those decisions you made throughout the trilogy lead to? Well, nowhere to be honest. Nothing you said or did over the course of the games made any impact on the ending. The ending to Mass Effect 3 was so bad the developers issued an “extended” ending via DLC which left players even more disappointed than before. The more you follow and understand the plot and narrative of Mass Effect, the worse the ending is for you.

Now one of the best games from one of the best developers of the best genre of the early 90s.

Monkey Island 2:

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There was a time when Lucasarts made amazing point n’ click adventures. Monkey Island and Monkey Island 2 were among the best. But the ending of Monkey Island 2 really did turn out bad which basically made out that Guybrush and LeChuck were really just two kids playing a game at a carnival. It was a cop out ending that was just a hair short of being a “it was all a dream” ending.
The ending was so bad that Monkey Island 3 just swept it under the carpet and pretended it never happened.

Here comes another great game with a bad ending.

Ghosts n’ Goblins:

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Ghosts n’ Goblins was one tough game, it was also really enjoyable and one of the best action/platformers of the mid 80’s. So playing as tough knight Arthur trying to get your kidnapped girlfriend back from none other than The Devil himself. So what happens once you reach Beelzebub? Well he tells you you have to go back to the beginning and play through the entire game again…only this time it’s harder. Screw that!

Now for a bad ending a long, long time ago in a galaxy far, far away.

Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic 2:

KOTOR II

The two Knights Of The Old Republic games were immense and a genuinely great addition to the Star Wars expanded universe. The first game had one hell of a great ending with an amazing sting in the tail, so we were pumped to see what the next game would bring us and how it would impress us again with a jaw dropping ending.
What we actually got with the ending of Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic 2: The Sith Lords was an ending where Kreia attempts (and fails) to wrap up all the loose ends from this game with could take 20-30+ hours to complete with a brief conversation in which nothing is really resolved. Plus you never got to cross lightsabers with Revan either.

Those are just a handful of bad endings of which there are many, many more.
Do you have some bad game ending memories? Feel free to share them in the comments below.

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Nintendo, the rise and decline.

Nintendo

I believe it can be said without much disagreement that Nintendo are one of the biggest names and most recognisable brands in the gaming world, if not THE biggest.
Its a name and brand that just conjures up so many memories and characters that no other games company can match.

But where did Nintendo come from and how did they rise to become such a well known brand?
Many know that Nintendo started out making playing cards founded in 1889.
nintendo playing cards
They became famous for the card game: Hanafuda and even organised it’s own tournament called the “Nintendo Cup” in the 1950’s.

In the mid 60’s, Nintendo got into producing toys including the Kousenjuu series of light gun games, The Ultra Series which included; The Ultra Hand, The Ultra Scope and The Ultra Machine and even a toy for couples called The Love Tester. But Nintendo were just not big enough and often found they would struggle against other big toy manufacturers of the time like Tomy and Bandai who were able to produce more and varied games for the market.

In the early 70’s, Nintendo saw a future in “interactive entertainment” and so used what they had learned from the Kousenjuu series of light gun games and built on this concept by producing more games within this genre. The Laser Clay Shooting System and even Wild Gunmen (the original) which were placed in abandoned bowling alleys and even in few arcades which were slowly starting to emerge around the same time. However, the systems were deemed to expensive to keep running and were eventually shut down due to excessive costs. From this however, Nintendo released a future in “interactive entertainment” and decided to build on this concept.

The mid-late 70’s saw a rise in arcade machines and people wanted to play these type of games at home. Enter The Magnavox Odyssey, the world’s first commercial home video game console. Manufactured by Magnavox, Nintendo secured the rights to distribute the Magnavox Odyssey in Japan. This would be Nintendo’s very first foray into the home console market.
Then in 1977, Nintendo made their very first piece of hardware in-house called: Color TV-Game.
Nintendo CTVG
Around the same time, Nintendo hired a young student developer named Shigeru Miyamoto (remember that name), where his was first tasked to design the casing for several of the Color TV-Game consoles.

There were several different Color TV-Game consoles created each with their own game and variations on that game for each console. The consoles were a moderate success for Nintendo in Japan and they decided to get into the arcade market with EVR Race and several other titles followed in the late 70’s to try and break the North American market, where they met with mediocre reactions and Nintendo again failed to do what they set out to do. But Nintendo still believed there was a future in arcade gaming and used what they had learned to create one of the most recognisable and influential arcade games ever.

1981 saw the release of Donkey Kong…and this is where Nintendo’s fortune changed for the better and in a HUGE way. The brainchild of that young student developer: Shigeru Miyamoto, Donkey Kong went on to make a big impact in the arcades.
As a side note, did you know that Donkey Kong was originally pitched as an idea for a game based on the Popeye comic strip, which Nintendo were trying to secure the rights to but ultimately fell through? Think the then named Jumpman as Popeye, Donkey Kong as Bluto and the damsel in distress Pauline as Olive Oyl.
Ironically, after the success of Donkey Kong, Nintendo finally did secure the rights to Popeye and made an arcade game based on the characters the following year.

Donkey Kong became a success and gained the attention of people all over the world…including Universal Pictures.
Universal Pictures saw similarities between Nintendo’s Donkey Kong and their 1933 film, King Kong and asked Nintendo for a share of the profits made from the game, Nintendo refused. This act prompted Universal Pictures to sue Nintendo over copyright claims against their King Kong character. Nintendo stuck by their guns and went to court over the matter. Hiring lawyer John Kirby (remember that name too) who countered the lawsuit and pointed out that Universal Pictures had themselves argued in a previous case that King Kong‍’​s scenario and characters were actually in the public domain and could be used by anyone. The judge ruled in Nintendo’s favour and Universal had to pay Nintendo $1.8 million for legal fees, lost revenues, and other expenses. Universal Pictures later appealed…and lost.
Nintendo thanked John Kirby with the gift of a $30,000 sailboat named Donkey Kong and “exclusive worldwide rights to use the name for sailboats”(and later named a Nintendo character after him too). The court battle also taught Nintendo they could stand up against and compete with larger entertainment industry companies and win.
It was this fortune from the court case that gained Nintendo the money they needed to crack the home market.

In 1983, Nintendo launched the “Family Computer” or “Famicom” as it colloquiality became known. The “Famicom” became a big success in Japan and in 1985 Nintendo cosmetically redesigned the console and renamed it the “Nintendo Entertainment System” or “NES” for sale outside of Japan.

It’s often said that Nintendo and SEGA were the two main companies that managed to survive the infamous “games crash of 1983” and give a rebirth to the then struggling gaming industry.

Nintendo’s rise after the whole Donkey Kong court case was astronomical and releasing the NES cemented them as one of the best hardware and software developers in the market. Nintendo became an unstoppable force. From the release of the Famicom/NES to the Super Famicom/SNES in the early 90’s, Nintendo WERE the gaming world. Pretty much everything Nintendo touched turned to gold…pretty much.

While Nintendo had their successes, especially with games like: Mario, Zelda and Metroid creating long running franchises and characters plus hardware like The Gameboy. Nintendo also had their bad ideas and failings during this time. The Powerglove and the Virtual Boy were among some of the worst ideas Nintendo had. But the very worst (or best) thing Nintendo help to create was in fact their very own main rival…

The early 90’s saw the rise of CD-ROM based technology in gaming. SEGA had released the SEGA CD in 91 to update their main console at the time, the SEGA Mega Drive and Nintendo wanted to try the same for their Super Famicom console.
So Nintendo hired two companies to help develop a CD based add on for the Super Famicom, these companies were Philips and Sony. Nintendo did not tell either company they were also working with someone else on the idea. In June 91 at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES), Sony revealed a Super Famicom with a built-in CD-ROM drive. The next day after the CES reveal, Nintendo broke its partnership with Sony, opting to go with Philips instead. Unbeknown to Nintendo at the time, they just inadvertently created their main rival for the next generation of gaming.

Sony were very annoyed by this backstabbing from Nintendo and took everything they had learned and developed with the Super Famicom CD add on and founded Sony Computer Entertainment (SCE) and made their own console, the Sony Playstation. Released in 1994 which went on to become on of the most popular consoles at the time and outsell Nintendo’s next machine the Nintendo 64, and mark the decline of Nintendo from that point onwards.
But before we got to the decline of Nintendo. What did become of that aforementioned SNES CD add on? Well when Nintendo sided with Philips instead of Sony over the CD add on, Philips released the CD-i in 91 and Nintendo allowed them to use some of their IPs like Mario and Zelda. The console and games were a disaster and Philips lost billions of dollars over the CD-i machine.

The next generation of consoles came about and Nintendo released their Nintendo 64 (N64) in 1996. Too little, too late as Sony had already hit the market with their first foray into gaming consoles with the Sony Playstation in 1994 and made a big impact on the market.
While Sony were pushing the technology and using CD-ROMs to their best ability, Nintendo stayed with their tried and tested cartridge based games. Yes CD-ROMs meant loading screens whereas cartridge games didn’t…but CD-ROMs could also hold a lot more data over cartridges which meant bigger and more detailed gaming environments. CD-ROMs could also provide CD quality sound and music as well as cinematic video that cartridge based games just could not match.
While the N64 had it’s share of great games like Mario 64, Zelda: Ocarina Of Time, etc. They just could not match the scope and style Sony were managing with the Playstation.
From this point on, the leading company in consoles and games, Nintendo would find themselves being out sold and out performed by the very company they created when they chose to upset Sony, and Nintendo would never fully recover from even to this today.

Nintendo would later release the Gamecube in 2001 (again after Sony released their new machine the Playstation 2 in 2000) and finally ditch the cartridge based games. Nintendo for the first time made a console with an optical disc format. But instead of going for the new (at the time) and popular DVD technology Sony had chosen for it’s new machine. Nintendo opted for it’s own creation; the Nintendo GameCube Game Disc. This disc provided faster loading times, but still could not hold as much data as the more popular DVD format. So yet again, while Nintendo’s competitors were able to bring gamers bigger and richer games now with DVD quality, Nintendo lagged behind again.

Even today, Nintendo struggle to compete with their two main rivals Sony and Microsoft. Not that Nintendo do not have good sales for their machines as the release of the Nintendo DS and 3DS have both been very strong sellers. Their Nintendo Wii was a fast seller at launch, but showed signs of slowing. Their latest console, the Wii U has met with poor sales worldwide and it is currently Nintendo’s worst selling console to date.

Can Nintendo rise to the top once again, or will they go the way of SEGA?

Personally I feel Nintendo are living in the past and have been for around 20 years now. While they try to innovate with things like 3D games without the need for glasses with the 3DS or motion controls with the Wii and other innovations like touch screens. They seem to be forgetting about the simple fact gamers want to play games and 3D/touch screens/motion controls are just too “gimmicky”. After a 8-10 hour shift at work, I want to sit down on my comfy sofa and play games to relax, not stand in front of my TV jumping around and swinging my arms about.
Plus their marketing seems to be flawed, myself and many others didn’t even know the Wii U was a whole new console and mistook it for a simple add on to the Wii.

Nintendo have already announced they are working on a new piece of gaming hardware codenamed the NX which is said to be “a dedicated gaming system”. The Wii U was only released in 2012 and already Nintendo are working on a new machine? I guess Nintendo know the Wii U hasn’t really worked out too well then.
Also, Nintendo’s whole “family friendly” persona is slowly killing them. There is nothing wrong with family friendly gaming of course, but Nintendo need to start securing better third party support and bring more adult games to their machines for adult gamers…you know those adult gamers that were once kids playing on the NES in the 80’s.
Nintendo just do not seem to want to grow with the gamers they helped to create and that could be their biggest downfall…like SEGA.

Nintendo still make great games, but their consoles are just being out matched by Sony and Microsoft.
Maybe it would be best if Nintendo left the console market all together and just became a software developer instead?
Will the aforementioned Nintendo NX be an actual Xbox One & PS4 contender with better third party support…or will it just be another slight update of the Wii/Wii U with a new “gimmick”?

From the dizzy heights of Donkey Kong to the lows of the Wii U. Nintendo have been the biggest name in gaming for decades, but is their time coming to an end?

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Why play Minecraft?

minecraft

Minecraft was a game that I had heard a lot about and it did pique my interest. So I downloaded the demo for my Xbox 360 and tried it out…found it unbelievably dull and deleted it from my hard drive.
Minecraft was just not that interesting and I really could not understand the love for it either.

Still, months passed by and I accidently stumbled on a Youtube video where someone had built an entire village on Minecraft…and I was impressed, I didn’t know you could even do that. That got me looking for other videos of what people had built in Minecraft. I found space shuttles, pirate ships, the Titanic, a playable guitar, King Kong fighting a T-Rex, 1940’s New York, a working and playable version of Donkey Kong. Finding these blew me away and opened my mind as to what Minecraft really was.
Most of these were built on the PC version which is far bigger, but the Xbox 360 version still allowed you to be as creative as you wanted.

So what is Minecraft?
It’s essentially LEGO in digital form…but that is putting it into bare basic terms. Minecraft is so much more than just building blocks. It was well and beautifully crafted “experience”.
Each block has it’s own attribute, strengths and weaknesses. While there is a basic “creative” mode where you can select any block or item within the Minecraft world and just build with them, I personally prefer “survival” where you start with nothing and have to work to progress and build. “creative” is fun if you want to build something fast, but “survival” makes you earn those buildings as you have to work for every block and item you want and need.
“Survival” mode for me is where the main meat of the game lies.

Spawn in a randomly created world with nothing.
Your first job is to find a tree and chop it down (with your bare hands) to obtain some wood, turn that wood into sticks and make a wooden axe. Chop down more trees, this time faster with the wooden axe and build a crafting table…and this is when what you can do in Minecraft opens up as you are greeted with a plethora of crafting and building options.
In “survival” mode, you’ll have to contend with enemies that come out at night. As in the beginning you’ll be lacking anything and will have to build a basic shelter to hide inside and get annoyed and emotional when a Creeper blows it up. Slowly build your inventory and storage by upgrading from basic wooden tools, to stone, iron and even diamond. Evolve your basic shelter into a house, expand that house, turn it into a castle, make farmland and grow your own crops to turn into food, raise animals, build more houses and create a village, turn that village into a town/city…

Minecraft slowly unfolds, opens up as you play and provides you with one of the most immersive and creative open worlds to play in. From humble beginnings of starting with nothing, to the ability to create entire cities, working computers, to anything you can think of.
Plus the HUGE and never ending mod community on the PC and constant free updates and new features from the developers themselves. Minecraft is a game that just will never end in the near future and will continue to grow and grow.

But why does Minecraft work?
I don’t know. There’s not real goal to achieve, no narrative or plot, no real characters. Its the very definition of wasting time. Its not really a “game”…or is it?
Minecraft “works” as it allows the player to be and create whatever they want. Just like when I was a kid playing with LEGO when I would create my own world, my own environment, my own characters. Minecraft give you to ability to be whoever you want, while the default character is named Steve (works for me), he can be whoever you want him to be. Make your “Steve” your own persona/character, create a world just for him, make up your own stories and history. It becomes an RPG you dictate and build.
You can even download skins from fan made to officially created and licensed characters. Want to be Homer Simpson and create you own Springfield? Well you can. Want to become The Avengers and build your own New York to watch over and protect? Yes, you can do that too. Even better if you have a regular group of friends to play multiplayer with and help you build and create your world. Multiplayer Minecraft is a pure joy to play and engage in. The more you play, the more you learn how to play and create.

Minecraft is a blank canvas that is limited only by your own imagination. For me, this is why I initially didn’t like the game, because I wasn’t using my imagination, my own creativity. I was so used to modern gaming that hand-holds the player every step of the way that I forgot how to be a kid again, forgot how to use my own imagination when playing with LEGO as I used to.
You need to approach this game with an open and even child-like mind and you’ll be rewarded with one of the most imaginative gaming worlds ever created…and created by you.
With Minecraft, the world is your lobster.

So far I own Minecraft on my PC, Xbox 360 and even my iPad.
Minecraft has stolen many, many, many hours of my life and I don’t regret a second of it. It is one of the most creative and relaxing games to play and worthy of anyone’s time.

Just watch out for those damn Creepers…

Creeper

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What ever happened to Peter Molyneux?

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As a kid I loved playing games, but I mainly stuck to the basic platformers, shooters, etc. You know those easy to pick up and play games on the Amiga 500 like IK+, Bubble Bobble, Xenon II, Batman and others. Simple arcade games that were just quick, fun, mindless romps you could get through in a short amount of time.

Then one day in 1989, my elder brother came home with a copy of a game called Populous. Quite unlike anything I had seen before and thought it looked rather dull and uninteresting. There were no big aliens to blow up, no cars to drive, no guns to shoot. The game just was not my cup of tea at all.
Still, I saw how much my brother was enjoying Populous so thought it could not be all bad and decided to give the game a try on a whim. After a while the game grew on me as I slowly started to learn and understand the concept behind the game…quite unlike anything I had played before and Populous was the one game that got me interested in something other than inane action games. It was also the game that got me thinking about how much work goes into a game and not just the game itself. I became curious as to how a game like this was made, who made it and why?
Populous opened my mind to other gaming genres I had previously ignored.

With Populous, Peter Molyneux gave birth to the God Game genre and became a gaming god himself. Around this time, Peter was the King Midas of the gaming world and went on to create and produce some of the best games ever with titles like Syndicate, Theme Park, Theme Hospital and of course Dungeon Keeper all from Bullfrog, a development company Peter himself founded along with Les Edgar.
Bullfrog was eventually brought out by Electronic Arts. Peter decided to leave and later founded Lionhead Studios…and this is where the demise of a once amazing game designer began.

Lionhead Studios produced some “interesting” games but they were often over hyped, delayed and never delivered on their promises. Games like The Movies (a previously cancelled title from Bullfrog called Theme Movie Studio) was a welcome return to Peter’s roots with elements of his earlier work like Theme Park, but the game just felt empty and lacking in so many ways.
There was also Black & White a return to the God Game genre but again, the game was over hyped, delayed and just did not deliver on what Peter promised…this happens a lot from this point on.

Lionhead Studios biggest, most ambitious game yet was announced. A title, while in development called Project Ego. Project Ego promised to be a huge open world RPG where you could do anything you wanted, go anywhere you wanted. A game that Peter promised would be a revelation in the RPG genre. I remember Peter talking about being able to plant trees and they would grow over the timeframe of the game. It was all things like this that was to add a level of awe to the RPG genre.
Project Ego went on to become Fable…and what a Fable it was. As the dictionary defines the word Fable as being: an untruth; falsehood. To speak falsely; lie. Idle talk. In a way, that is exactly what Fable was…a lie based on idle talk and falsehood.
What we got from Fable was not the game Peter described and promised. Did we have the huge open world? No we had small singled off areas with little to zero exploration. Did the game have a “do anything” concept? No, it had a very restrictive and linear concept.

The release of Fable was roughly when us gamers had enough of Peter’s “promises” and even Peter himself would acknowledge his own failings…

Peter Molyneux: “After Fable, there was a pretty dark time where people looked at the game and compared it with what I said in the press, and they felt cheated. I realised that we just couldn’t keep on doing that.

But he did keep on doing exactly that…several times…
Fable spawned two sequels and while Fable II was a slight improvement over Fable. It still was not the game Peter promised and still lacked so much. Then along came Fable III and took several massive steps backwards and managed to be even worse than the original Fable by taking so much away from the player, replacing a simple menu system with the dreaded Sanctuary. A god-awful “Co-Op” mode, restrictive interactions…the list goes on. Yet just as with previous games, Fable III was promised to deliver so much to us gamers (watch Angry Joe’s Fable III pre-release interview and count the blatant lies).

Maybe Peter’s ideas were just to advanced for the technology we had at the time, maybe this open world RPG where you could do pretty much anything you wanted just could not be made on the machines we had…well no. I point you towards Bethesda Game Studios Elder Scrolls games; Oblivion and Skyrim as both of these games were more inline with what Peter promised with his Project Ego concept. Just try to imagine Skyrim with it’s open world, deep character creation and development, everything Skyrim offered…but with the character and humor of Fable…that is Project Ego.

Still, while Peter’s lies and deceit were bad. Do you know what was worse? The fact we gamers kept falling for it. Even after so many broken promises, even after disappointment after disappointment. We kept on buying the games and believing Peter.
Why did we keep doing this? Probably as many of us remember when Peter was a game creating god…he made Populous. We still believed Peter could make great games and even deliver on what he says, even after the countless times he has not.

Eventually, Microsoft brought Lionhead Studios and Peter moved on once again.
So what would Peter do now, open another big time development studio? No, he went the other direction and got back to his roots by forming 22 Cans, a small, independent game studio that would make smaller yet better games free from big business bondage. It was ideal..or so we hoped anyway…

22 Cans first “game” was a title called: Curiosity – What’s Inside the Cube?
Curiosity was described by Peter as being an “experimental social experiment”. Which sounds about right as it certainly was not a game at all. Curiosity’s setting was a minimalist white room with a floating cube in the middle made up of billions of smaller cubes. Players tapped the smaller cubes to get through the surface of each layer and reveal the next layer below.
The ultimate goal was to reach the center and to discover what was inside the cube. Each smaller cube that was destroyed by a player would award them coins. Coins which could be exchanged for tools that would enhanced the player’s abilities for a set period of time, such as various picks ranging from iron, steel and even diamond that would increase the number of the smaller cubes destroyed with each tap.
Essentially the game was nothing more than just tapping on cubes…this from the same guy that created Populous.
So, what was inside the cube? Well I’ll let Peter tell you…

Peter Molyneux: “What is inside the cube is life-changingly amazing by any definition.

What actually was inside the cube was far from “life-changingly amazing by any definition”.
The “game” was won by Bryan Henderson from Edinburgh and what did he win that was “life-changingly amazing by any definition”? Well, nothing at all.
He was supposed to win the ability to be the sole, all-powerful, digital god within 22 Cans upcoming release of Godus and to receive a small portion of all of the incoming revenue that is brought in by the game.
Bryan received none of this, just more lies from Peter.

22 Cans second game was: Godus, hailed by 22 Cans as being the rebirth if the god game.
Godus was also not without its controversy. Being a Kickstarter funded game it (and just like Peter’s previous work) was not the game promised to investors and gamers. With many people who paid via Kickstarter being hugely underwhelmed by the game and demanding their money back as they were just being outright lied to over the whole project.
Godus was far from “the rebirth of the god game”. It was more of an insult to the genre…and this from the man that created the genre to begin with.

After the release and backlash from Godus Peter has been quoted as saying…

Peter Molyneux: I’m going to stop doing press and I’m going to stop talking about games completely.

No Peter, instead of just “ignoring” the press and deciding to not talk about games. Why not just be truthful?

From Populous, the birth of the God genre in gaming. To Godus, an insult to the God genre in gaming and despite of the lies, deceit and delays. I personally still have faith in Peter Molyneux, I still believe he has great gaming ideas in him, I still think Peter has yet to deliver his opus.
The same man that created the god game genre with Populous and produced the amazing Syndicate, the same creative mind that gave us Theme Park & Hospital also brought us Dungeon Keeper…made a “game” where you click small cubes. How times have changed eh?

Instead of burying his head in the sand, Peter should answer his critics and give us a great game that delivers on the promises. It’s been over a decade since Peter announced and talked about Project Ego, it’s been over a decade since Peter disappointed millions of gamers around the world with Fable. Technology has advanced, so why not bring us Project Ego now? I know Microsoft now own the Fable IP so Peter can not use it, but there is nothing stopping Peter from creating an all new IP using his Project Ego concept.

Peter M quote

You made plenty of great games Peter…just not in the last 20 years.

You know, I still play Theme Hospital to this day, as well as Populous and even Dungeon Keeper (original, not that terrible iOS insult). Do you know why? They were and still are great games with rewarding gameplay, great mechanics and overall good, solid titles.

Can we have that Peter Molyneux back?

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