Shantae: Risky’s Revenge was originally developed for the DS and was released to acclaim. It was a charming Metroid-vania style platformer with a charming colorful art direction and when I saw it was ported to the pc and discounted, I finally took the opportunity to check it out.
It had a bubbly, fantastical old school sensibility. Belly dancing half-genies feuded with pirates and were best friends with zombies because why not? It’s fun. I explored the town and wandered around for a while. Everything was going swimmingly, aside from a few hiccups trying to figure out how to transition between screens, until I finally found myself at the first dungeon. I was confronted by the Squid Baron and had to acquire his seal. After a little silly dialogue I was exploring and puzzling my way about. I kept pushing deeper into the labyrinth, making progress, until I eventually looped back in on myself with some newly found powers. I used my new abilities to access previously unavailable areas until I came across a locked. I figured the key must be hidden somewhere further down the path that I’ll now be able to get to with my new ability so I continued along until I looped all the way back to the door again. I still had not found the key. I gave a more thorough search of the area and still came up with nothing. Not wanting my progress stalled, I decided to consult a guide online. I walked through the steps in the guide and I still hadn’t found the key.
I enjoyed Shantae: Risky’s Revenge, but I didn’t love it. Once I hit this wall, I had to make a choice. My free time was limited and frankly, I didn’t want to spend it beating my head against a wall trying to figure out how to progress in a game I wasn’t really all that into to begin with. There are some games where I will gladly put up with a frustrating part and try to overcome it, but I have to love playing the game. The experience of failing itself has to be fun for me to not mind failing, and I have to love the game enough to put up with the obstacle to see the rest of it. Shantae: Risky’s Revenge unfortunately did not fulfill these requirements. I got the hour and a half of fun I could get out of Shantae: Risky’s Revenge, but unfortunately that’s all I was able to get out of it before having to toss it back into the steam pile to rot.
Gameplay time is not the end all be all when it comes to what games to purchase. Some of the greatest experiences gaming has to offer are single-player games that you can beat in less than 10 hours. There are many indie games that you can squeeze out everything they have to offer in a weekend that are absolutely worth experiencing. Likewise there are plenty of bland JRPGs out there with hundreds of hours of content that feel like a chore to grind through. There is a vast multiverse of would-be World of Warcraft killers that lie desolate and barren on the internet with no player base and months’ worth of content. Regardless, the ratio of how many hours of gaming a title offers to its cost is a vital metric for the frugal gamer and can shape the way we pay to play. I like to call this metric the hours per dollar (hr/$) a title offers.
Well it’s that time of year again folks. That magical seasonal phenomenon is over when the natural orbit of the Earth causes temperatures to rise and steam prices to fall, a thousand wallets crying out as they are gutted taking their natural place in the circle of capitalism. Steam sales are one of the few times I actually buy games anymore and are responsible for the shift from the gaming draughts of my youth to the modern gaming gluttony that takes place today. Games amass like cold war nuclear stockpiles in people’s steam libraries, well beyond the limits of any practical need. I already own more games than I could ever play in this life time and yet the compulsion for more hasn’t subsided in the least. This is what I managed to pull this summer:
When I found out that there was a Steam sale occurring while I was at PAX East my first reaction was to fall to my knees and sob into the concrete floor of the expo hall. When I finally got home and discovered that the sale was week long and not just for the weekend though I was overjoyed. These are the games I added to my steam library and will never get around to actually playing:
Wow, I can’t believe it’s been a whole month since I’ve updated, but we are officially back! And what better way to start updating than with a couple of Check This Outs at PAX East? There weren’t too many major AAA titles this year being showed off at PAX East but that’s alright. If you’re waiting 4 hours in line to watch a 10 minute trailer and get an inflatable tomahawk, you’re PAXing wrong. There were plenty of more interesting indie titles with shorter lines to boot to check out in the indie megabooth anyway. A few honorable mentions worth checking out that I didn’t get a chance to demo at PAX were Transistor, the next game from the studio behind Bastion, and Quadrilateral Cowboy, a hacking game where you fake code your way past various security systems.
Steam had the Spring Indie Sale that weekend also and Friday night’s update will be about what I purchased during it and why. Be sure stop by and share what you grabbed from it as well. The official schedule I’m going to try to be sticking to with this blog is updating every Friday night and Monday night around 7pm. The logic is that I will have all of the work week to try and find time to write a blog post and all of the free time on the weekend should give me plenty of opportunity to write a second one for Monday. If possible I might try to tie the two posts each week together with some kind of theme. I just picked up Bioshock Infinite tonight from the Redbox machine and if I manage to squeeze in enough game time, I’m going to try to have a review of it ready by Monday. I’m starting a new feature called the Redbox Review where I review a more current game that I can get from Redbox and tell you whether or I not I felt like I got everything I wanted out of the game from the rental or if I feel like there is still enough content left to be worth buying. Depending on how I’m feeling I might also try to do some critical analysis of it for next Friday’s article as well but I’m going to wait to finish the game to see if I have anything interesting to say about it. Alternatively I might just post an article about which gaming system is best for gaming on the cheap that I’ve been sitting on for a while.
I’ve already played Bioshock Infinite a little bit and I love what I’ve seen so far. I spent an hour just looking at every nook and cranny of the lighthouse and the city before I even got to any of the gunplay. The world is just filled with so much detail. I love the way they sold the flying city as a kind of real world heaven and making the entry into the city a religious experience really sold that idea. Requiring a baptism to enter the “city of heaven” was a brilliant way to drive home the theme, and the way the preacher actually drowns the player in the process gives you your first hint that these people are taking things far past the point of good-hearted modern Christianity and to a much harsher puritanical adherence used to justify societal cruelty. I couldn’t help but be reminded of the scene from Boardwalk Empire when Van Alden accidentally drowns his Jewish partner at a baptism ceremony in the woods.
It gave you the feeling of being an atheist in church. The way the lighthouse was dark, overcast, and in the middle of the sea really gave the feeling of being lost in the desolation of a destroyed Sodom as well, and the red flares from the sky made the landscape look downright hellish before the player makes his ascent to the floating city, creating a brilliant contrast between the city and the world below. The golden light of the city above the clouds, the choir music, the gentle ankle deep water flowing on the floor from the entrance down the stairs, and the church-like aesthetic all work together to actually give the player the feeling that he has ascended to a divine place. All of this is of course before it is revealed that there is hell in heaven. In a way, it’s kind of a fitting fate for a false idol’s faux-paradise I suppose.
The week after that will be a kind of God of War week. I’ll be posting my Redbox Rental Review of God of War Ascension that I’ve been sitting on for a bit on Monday April 15th and we’ll have our first guest post from my good friend Andy Pope providing a fan boy’s review of the game. Andy is a colossal God of War fan so it’ll be interesting to see his perspective on the latest entry and to see what insights about Ascension his extensive knowledge of the series will provide. He’s told me he’s playing all of the previous God of Wars right now to refresh himself. Also he’ll be able to tell you about the multiplayer which I can’t do (damn you season passes!)
Gaming on the Cheap is back folks, check back Friday night and tell us about what indie games you’ve picked up lately.
Street Fighter x Megaman v2 is an update to is an update to a fan made game Capcom released to celebrate the 25th anniversary of Megaman and Street Fighter. The game features classic Megaman gameplay but with Street Fighter characters serving as bosses instead of an assortment of robot masters. Continue reading “FREE STUFF: Street Fighter x Megaman v2”→
Take heed video game writers! Pixel Bubble puts out a call for thoughtful, intelligent games criticism that I 100% support.
Art is a conversation, and no matter whether that conversation is stimulating or trite it cannot be had alone. If video games are ever going to be taken seriously as an art form it’s not enough to make artistically valid games. There has to be an intelligent audience ready and willing to engage the material on a sophisticated level.
Finishing up Tom Bissell’s Extra Lives: Why Video Games Matter the other day left me somewhat hollow and empty, not because the book was bad, but because I was saddened that there were so few pieces of literature like it in existence. Extra Lives is a collection of critical essays penned by a war reporter who just happens to also be a severe video game addict; unlike a lot of games writing, Extra Lives is extremely well-written, thought-provoking, and sincere. Bissell, as wordy and educated as he seems, is just like the average hardcore gamer in the sense that he’s sunk hundreds of hours into a library containing games as diverse as Grand Theft Auto, Mass Effect, Eternal Sonata, and Braid, and he alone seems to be moved to actually dissect these games in a meaningful way and explore what it is about them that…