New Games, Old Technology

Making New Games The Old School Way

If you ever want to take a look at the past, just look into some of the downloadable games available on Playstation, Nintendo and Xbox networks. I don't mean the past as in the countless games that are available that were originally on older systems. I mean some of the new games that are using old time technology.

 

People don't go to download $60 version of a game onto their system. There are still a majority of people that visit the store and purchase the disks. They don't want a large investment like that unless there is something physical in their hands. People are very tactile and still don't trust Cloud gaming or weighing down console memory with a ton of large games.

 

Instead, they prefer spending $5 or $10 on smaller games that don't have the major whiz bang factor. They may look like something that belongs on PS1 or the original Xbox, but are fun to play for a few hours until you beat it. These smaller games can still be just as fun as the big games, but graphics and sound just wouldn't be as sharp.

 

Many of these small developers don't spend millions on this games, but more like thousands. Many are labors of love that evolve into something bigger and better. The technology that developed first generation console games is incredibly inexpensive because everyone has moved on to the bigger titles. They can create games for pennies on the dollar. You can't beat great games at rock bottom prices.

New Grand Theft Auto is set to impress

A complete revamp.

Anyone who has played Grand Theft Auto games knows that you take the good with the bad. It's an expansive, free roaming world with plenty of opportunities to do carnage and mayhem, but hand to hand combat pretty much sucks driving feels like you're transporting Miss Daisy.

When Rockstar decided to put out a brand new GTA game, they took everything back to the drawing board with the goal of using the current generation of game systems to their absolute max. They took the complaints of earlier games and decided to actually improve the game instead of the status quo.

Granted, the game is a ways out and things could change by the time it's finally shipped. The developers have some high hopes when it comes to the hand-to-hand elements as well as driving. The goal is to make the hand-to-hand more fluidic and less 8-bit. The driving is going to get an major tune-up so that it actually feels like a racing game.

As it stands, the graphics just didn't have the umph to make the driving anything more than an interesting way to get from one place to the other. Chases were sluggish and jarring, but they are hoping to change that.

What has always made GTA great has been the story, music and lawlessness. Where else can I blow people's heads off and drive a tank through downtown? If they can succeed in making the most unattractive parts of previous games a draw for the newest, then they may have created the perfect videogame - for adults only, of course.

The family that plays together

Spending quality time in front of the television.

Odds are you and the kids have a four-day weekend coming up starting tomorrow thanks to the Thanksgiving holiday. This is a great time to come together as a gaming family and spent some quality time erasing the Covenant from existence or watching Mario save the Princess...again.

I've long been a proponent of families coming together through gaming. As children get older, the things parents and kids can do together gets smaller. Either the kids that the activity is lame and boring or the parents can't wrap their heads around why this is fun.

It doesn't matter if you're playing those party games designed for the whole family or a first person shooter on co-op. It doesn't matter if you're playing from home and your children are playing from their colleges to homes via network. All that matters is that you are doing it together.

Video games are one of the few activities that families that can't be together for the holidays can still do. There aren't many hobbies or past times where that is true. This Thanksgiving I plan on eating a whole lot of turkey, do a whole lot of driving and then come home to play some video games with my children. The hardest part isn't finding the time, but realizing that they are getting to the age where they can actually beat me.

I, for one, treasure every moment with my family and it doesn't matter to me if it's in front of a television or at the playground. Family time is family time and it's the memories that you'll remember forever.

Halo 4 is Finally Here

Master Chief id Back to Take On New Enemy

People have been using Master Chief to battle the Covenant for years and it seemed at the end of Halo 3 that the war was over. The Covenant was defeated and Master Chief and his A.I. Cortana were thought to be lost or dead.

 

Of course, in the videogame world that's never true, so Master Chief and is A.I are back to face both new and old foes. I could go into the plot of the game about The Flood Composer, etc., but I'll leave that to you. Halo has always been heavy on the emotional impact and storyline and this game is no different.

 

I can guarantee you, the ending will move you to tears no matter how much of a manly man you think you are. The guts of this game is the fighting. Master Chief has his traditional array of weapons at his disposal as well as a host of new ones.

 

Anyone familiar with Halo: Reach will be familiar with the mechanics of this game. Lets face it, they are all basically the same types of gameplay just different plots. Let me just say that I loved this game. I never got into the Halo games until I played Halo Reach and this far better than that game.

 

It contains not only the primary storyline mission, but also a host of co-op options as well. The game has a huge replay value because of the co-op play and I am sure there's going to be tons of downloadable content.

Wii U brings back an old favorite

Hey look, it's Mario!

You can't say Nintendo hasn't had a tremendous amount of success with that plumber over the years. Mario started out as a barrel hopping hero in arcade Donkey Kong, bounced on turtles on Mario Bros and graced the first Nintendo System in Super Mario Bros.

Since then, there have been a steady stream of games featuring Mario, Luigi, the Princess, Bowser and everyone else associated with the games over the years. The have fought, raced and fought the forces of evil and never more is that true then during a console launch.

When the original Wii came out, there was one crucial thing missing: Mario. The company wanted to focus on the Wiimote and its ability to analyze your movements. Instead of our usual sidescroller we got WiiSports. Players played tennis and baseball, but it would be a while before Mario would get his chance to shine.

With the Wii U coming out in December, they have already announced a new Mario game that will be coming out as well. It uses the controllers as well as the Wii game screen. The bad news is that the game is not likely going to break any barriers.

There is a Mario formula that can't and should not be strayed from. Mario needs to save the Princess, jump on Koopas and shoot fireballs out of his mouth. It's what generations of gamers have come to expect and frankly it's what we want.

Let everyone else invent the Skyrims and Gods of War, but that little plumber will always be a fan favorite.

Quantic Dreams' Beyond Two Souls

May revolutionize storytelling in gaming

I've been big fan of Quantic Dreams since the Playstation 2 days and Indigo Prophecy and their newest games seems like a revolution in storytelling. Beyond Two Souls tells the story of Jodie played by the amazing actress Ellen Page.

We follow Jodie through 15 years of her life as she learns more about this entity that is both a blessing a curse. You switch between both characters and the decisions that each makes impact the direction of the story.

Aiden is an invisible entity that has considerable power. It can possess people and control their body's to help Jodie out of certain situations and there is always more than one way for the entity to use its powers. He can possess someone in order for them to kill themselves, have them shoot other enemies, drive a car into a building, etc.

This game has been years in development, which is nothing new for Quantic Dreams. They have only release two other games in the last decade and push the consoles to their limits. For this company, creating the ultimate gaming experience is the true reward and not just money.

Given the videos I've seen and articles I read about this game, it guaranteed to revolutionize gameplay. In a world driven by first person shooters and how many bad guys you can fit on a screen, having the limits push on a story based game is refreshing. You can bet that when it comes out that I'll be one of the first ones out there to get it.

Skylanders Giants or money sucking machine?

The price of accessories

Remember when video games were just that: games? You went to the store or these days online and bought a game. It was either a cartridge or a disc, but once you had it, that was it. You didn't have to buy anything more for it.

Even the ones that need a monthly subscription aren't as much of a money grubbing horror as the Skylanders game. It all started with Guitar Hero. It was packaged with a guitar and then next thing you know you had to buy the drums, microphones, etc. Thankfully, that little genre has faded into oblivion, but know my children are obsessed with Skylander.

If anyone remember the Spyro the Dragon games, then you probably know a little bit about Skylanders. The game featured a physical mount that you place characters on and they are then playable in the game. You can level them up and take them to different machines and have a good old time.

It's just like Pokeman, but much more expensive. There are rare and limited edition characters that you can only find in certain stories or are available for a certain period of time. You end up spending a boatload of cash on this stuff and pray it interests them long enough to make the money spent worth it.

The game recently came out with the second set of characters called Giants. These are significantly larger than the previous characters and my kids are already salivating. It's no coincidence they're coming out at Christmas.

I miss the days when all I had to do was go out and buy a $60 game and not worry about all the accessories that go with it.

Japanese vs. American gaming

A difference in culture

There is no doubt that while America is often considered a major world power, when it comes to video games, we're are far behind Japan. In Japan, you can't walk down the street without hitting a bank of pachinko machines or other type of game.

Video games in this country aren't just a pastime, it's a way of life. Professional gamers have just as many fans and admirers as America's biggest movie stars. While the U.S. has its fair share of video games premiering every month, Japan has many many more. It's kind of sad for us who love certain games like Hack, Wild Arms and other Japanese imports that have flourished in Japan, but pretty much died out here in the U.S.

The types of videogames themselves are different in Japan. U.S. game developers have a different set of rules when it comes to gaming than those in Japan. Japanese games aren't necessarily better, but they are different. It's just about the change in cultures.

Take a look at the games from Japan that have come to America and compare them to U.S. based games. They tend to be more character-oriented and visually fantastic. They have a tendency to mimic the popular Manga styles of the time. The plots also focus on the cultural and mythological aspects of Japan and not the U.S., which makes sense.

How many of us have played a Japanese import and were thoroughly confused by things like talking fruit? I don't think our two styles will ever truly merge and will continue to be divisive in their very nature.

It's Halloween: Just in time for Resident Evil

Fans anticipate new game

There are few games that will give you heebie jeebies more than Resident Evil. I grew up playing the original games on PlayStation and love the movies. Through the years, there have been good games and not-so-good games in the series.

I think that everyone will agree that Halloween is the perfect time to release a Resident Evil game. The past decade has become a zombie mecca with countless games, books and movies about the shambling corpses. Resident Evil is a big reason why that zombie resurgence happened. The movies were a major successes in the theater and the games have a strong following.

That brings us to Resident Evil 6. Perhaps the biggest departure from previous games is the divergent storyline. You're not just playing a few characters in a single building or city. You're playing characters in different parts of the world and their stories are all connected.

This game is more like an interactive movie as you find out what Umbrella is up to and then play as different character in a different place and find out more. Only you can put all the pieces together because the other characters are unaware of each other.

There is a lot riding on this game. Reviewers already consider it a success even if they haven't played through the whole game. I am looking forward to it, but with all the hype I am afraid it's going to disappoint because they have raised the bar so high.

Games and children

What is and isn't appropriate

I've been playing video games since I was five years old. The original Nintendo games were cartoony and in no way looked real. They were games designed for children and videogames grew as I did. By the time I was a teen, women were half naked and games were being banned for being too real and violent.

Now, I am a parent and my own children are at the age that I started playing games. They want to play my Xbox and PlayStation, but many of the games I have aren't good for kids. Gears of War, Halo and a ton of other shooters are great fun, but are incredibly bloody and have very foul language.

You're not going to see Mario saying some of the language from Gears. I let my oldest son play Halo; he's nearly seven. Halo has some blood and language, but he understands that it's just a game and that he's not supposed to say those words. My other two can play Spider-Man and other games, but nothing too violent and realistic.

The primary market for videogames these days isn't children is teens and adults. You can't read a gaming magazine without seeing a dozen games dealing with death, drugs, guns, sex and everything else I don't my five-year-old introduced to quite yet. There are several games that I own that I can't play until after my children are asleep and for good reason. Rise of Nightmares is a great Kinect workout, but they don't need to see zombies being hacked and slashed.

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