Monday, August 30, 2010


It surprises me how a game involving the wimping out of the main character and a focus on their character and "Maternal Instincts" has that acronym.

It saddens me that the actual gameplay for this game looks ludicrously fun, yet the cutscenes (like lyrics I don't agree with in a song) completely ruin it for me.

It encourages me that I'm not the only one who feels this way.

I've recently discovered a video through my Internet meanderings *cough*malstrom*cough* and I sincerely hope it gets spread around.

I think that Malstrom's e-mailer hit it on the nose when he said that this video embodies everything that is wrong (in similar fashion to how Spirit Tracks embodies everything wrong with Zelda.)

There are many good comments on youtube about this, but my favorite is this one:
Of course, it could do without the whole I CAN HAS CAPSLOCK thing, but even so, it still expresses my thoughts watching through the video.  Samus has had no problem blowing this guy up the past four times (even by Sakamoto 'Canon,' she's already fought Ridley twice) so why is she suddenly all helpless now?  It would make sense if this were a prequel, in fact, I think much of this game would be better suited as a prequel.  Or a movie.  Or a manga.

What I don't understand is why Samus even needs to have characterization in the first place.  Video games are about role play, they're about me taking up the role of someone and making their decisions.  Video games, due to their nature, are event driven, and not plot, character, or time driven.  The story is the story I tell myself.  The other characters are free to have as much characterization and development as is necessary, but the player character is me.

That's one of the things I really like about the original Starcraft, you were the magistrate/commander, cerebrate, or executor.  The characters talked to you and there was no player 'character,' it was you. Of course, there is the Protoss campaign, which has 'your old friend' Fenix, but that just helps you know 'you like this guy.'  In fact, I think that's been one of the things bugging me about Starcraft 2.  Best I can tell, that character that used to be you (during the Terran campaign, anyway) is now this Matt Horner fella.  I liked it better when I was the commander, not this new thing where I think I'm supposed to be Raynor.  It actually feels a lot like Warcraft 3 in that way, that sort of third-person approach to the story.

This wasn't unique to Starcraft, either, as many games were set up to get you in the game. Off the top of my head, I can think of two: The Ultima Series and Star Control 2.

Ultima did a lot of things like this.  You are a hero from Earth.  You become "The Avatar."  Lord British (Richard Gariott, though I don't think that's ever 'said' in the game) is your friend, also from Earth.  As a character, the Avatar doesn't really have much development, aside from the quest to become the Avatar (game 4) and really, each game you pretty much decide your personality with the questions they give you at the beginning.

Another good thing Ultima did right is your party, which you have free reign over.  You ask someone to join you, and they do.  You tell them to leave, and they do (usually they aren't happy about it either.)  As I recall, the party members could affect your game experience, as well. 

The early Castlevania, Zelda, Mario, and most relevantly Metroid games seem to have this sort of attitude.  The player character is rather flat as a character, but they serve as your avatar to the game world.  A sort of archetype for role play. I think really a major problem with video games is that they've moved away from the 'first person' approach to the story and more to a 'third person' one.  Your viewpoint character is no longer you, but just who you're experiencing the story through.

That 'first-person' approach to the story I think is really only something that can be achieved in video games.  Their nature is such that your actions move forward the story.  When you're being told what to do is when people start complaining.

Now I'd like to switch gears a bit and tell you what I find wrong in the video.

1. You have to be told to use super missiles.  If I've got Super Missles, and know how to use them, why do I have to be told?  Oh, I know, it's because the game designers think I'm stupid.  Like in Spirit Tracks, where there has to be a big cutscene (read: interrupting gameplay.)  to explain how to use a key. "hey look, a key!  I wonder where we use it"  "Hey look a door, we need a key.  I have an idea! try that key you found earlier!"

It would be something else, and probably better game design in general, to just have something where the tutorial pops up when you've shown you need it.  You don't need to authorize Super Missiles, let me have them from the start, and when I use regular missiles to try and blow up something that takes Super Missiles, then you tell me to use them.  If I still can't do it, come up with the tutorial.

Of course, that could be what actually happens in the game, so I could eat my words.

2. Samus is a power ranger.  I've actually been thinking about this since I saw the 'laughably hardcore' trailer, where she is shown 'morphing.'  In this one, she even 'de-morphs' while she's getting tossed around by Ridley.  I actually wonder if this game would be better with that mindset, like how my brother commented that the new TRON movie is about ghosts and specters (from SC2) and now I think I'll have a lot of fun with that one.  think about it, you have Samus as the outcast of the group, the 6th ranger, Adam as the red Ranger, the black guy as mind.

Actually, that brings me to another point.
3. Obligatory black guy.  This might stem from Japanese media copying American stereotypes, but even so, that's no excuse.  Want a cast with some racial diversity?   I again point to Starcraft, the second one this time.  To me, there isn't really any obvious tokenism.  I didn't really get the feeling of stereotypes, as much as archetypes.  There's the war general, the Hoodoo man, really the only stereotypes I noticed were the news anchors.

4. She's blown up Ridley already.  Four times.  She's blown up the Space Pirate Homeworld twice (no idea how that works, but whatever)  How is she now having problems with her past?  Again, this would be better as a prequel.

5. Samus looks like a Barbie doll.  I don't mean just because she's got blond hair and that, but she looks like she's made out of plastic.  Everyone does in this game.  The physics are weird, too.  sub-90s or something.  It just overall doesn't look right. (they might be passable in a children's show, but that's only because people think kids are stupid).

I'm really just 'meh' about this game.  I'm definitely not paying full price for it.

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