Friday, 31 October 2014

Opinion piece: The concept of True Fear

That is correct, you get two opinion pieces today.

While I do investigate all different kinds of the mediums I review, all different genres, play styles ect, horror isn't one I investigate often. While I have my own personal fears and there are scenes in films that creep me out because they rely on those fears, when a movie, show or game is meant to be scary, I find that I'm even less scared by it. With all the talk about Five nights at Freddy's happening at the moment (maybe a review next year, I'm rarely topical, you should all know that by now), it has given me a chance to ponder the concept of True fear and why I'm not as easily scared by horror.

So what is the difference between horror and "true fear"? For me, its the human factor. The human imagination is powerful and it can scare you more then any movie of show could. What's scarier, a lifeless corpse in a dark hallway, or seeing someone shoot that person while they are alive? When you see a dead body, with blood around him, your mind instantly starts thinking "who did this? How did this person died? What did the killer look like?", it leaves more room for the imagination to take effect, and as such this person without a face seems more terrifying, the illusion itself is scarier then then this person is, and when done well, it can be truly terrifying. That's why I think books do this kind of horror the best because while it can describe the face, the imagination can still alter it, so in reality they still don't have a face, but instead thousands of slightly different faces. Fear of the unknown is a fear shared between most people on this planet, hence why people fear death, hell and the devil, and at a root, the imagination can be a cause.

This concept also lends itself to the concept of the Uncanny Valley, when something looks so realistic that it stops being realistic. As human beings, we're used to seeing common sites in society, we know what a human face looks like as a example. But when robots start being made with human esque aspects to them, human eyes, moving mouths ect. In trying to replicate realism, it actually stops looking realistic. In horror, the concept can be used to scare you. Look at Five nights at Freddy's and Slenderman as examples. If you look at the designs for the anamatronics in the game, they all have that Uncanny Valley aspect to them.

The same can also be said for Slenderman (before taking into account his other... features...). It's no accident that there's no face on him.

There is another aspect that these two concepts share for their games in particular, the shock value. You don't know when and where these characters will show up, and combined with the the atmosphere that the games have, it will get those jump scares out of you. I haven't seen enough of the gameplay of either of them to accommodate for the music (should it exist) but the dark colours, the lack of any other presence, and the lore the games have

For Five nights at Freddy's can be found here for those curious
And here's the lore for Slenderman (because I've had a hard time finding a source with detail):

A common problem though for shock scares is the lack of subtlety. a patch of blood every hour and a chilling theme is scarier then blood pools every 5 minutes... that I'd hope would be common sense.

Finally, a final excellent tool in horror is the lack of control, the lack of power. An army of zombies isn't threatening when you're a walking tank, that defeats the purpose of horror. The greatest horror monsters have all shared traits with the humanity of the time with their greatest strengths being the lack of strength you have to challenge them, but letting the viewer walk away wondering, questioning "am I really like that?" Even modern characters like the Nolanverse version of the Joker has that aspect to it. If you can master those tools, then you can create something truly terrifying. Until next week for Transformers 4.

Don't be afraid of what comes alive at night :)
 ... Its and old joke, but a good joke...

Why do Bronies and Pegasisters exist?

I believe I speak for a large majority of the world who also don't have a clue as to why this question needs to be asked. There are people who make money off of Youtube trying to answer this question and personally, while I see their opinions as valid takes on the question, I don't think it's the whole answer. Seeing as I've just finished my review of this generation of the series's first film, I might as well throw my opinion into the mix as well. Is this opinion the final answer to the question? Probably not, though I do believe its a step in the right direction. This is a wall of text FYI.

As a forward for those who aren't aware of the term: a "Brony" is a male fan of the My Little Pony franchise in some way. It is a self endowed term that the community gave to itself. Due to a large, and loud, portion of the community being male, the fan base refers to itself as "Bronies". However there is a female equivalent (which I found during the research for this topic, I generally don't like to look to deeply into fandoms due to... distasteful products fan communities have produced) called "Pegasisters" (I swear to Arceus I'm not making this up).

One of the closest takes on the question is this (as a short hand version): the current MLP generation is written as a sitcom and men tend to prefer sitcoms and comedy in general over other genres. There are, however some flaws with that view. Generally speaking, a sitcom generally follows every member of its main group (take for example, The Big Bang Theory, every episode gives each member of its main group a decent amount of air time). One of the biggest hurdles to overcome when putting MLP in with these types of shows is that, while you may see the main cast in each episode, any given episode tends to revolve around a select few of them and the others would only appear if they needed to be. So while it might be a comedy, it isn't a sitcom. The other issue with this view is that it negates the other portion of the fanbase, the intended market.

So why do I think its fanbase is the way it is, a part of it will be explained if you read these:

"Animation is different from other parts. Its language is the language of caricature. Our most difficult job was to develop the cartoon's unnatural but seemingly natural anatomy for humans and animals."

"Animation offers a medium of story telling and visual entertainment which can bring pleasure and information to people of all ages everywhere in the world."

"You're dead if you aim only for kids. Adults are only kids grown up, anyway."

Who was the person who originally spoke these words? Walt Disney. The man spoken of as one of the geniuses of animation, the man behind the most well known animated character in history. This style of thinking is still used in the Disney animation studios (at least, to my knowledge... theory) to this day. There's a reason why people still watch Disney films, regardless of their age: because their films are targeted towards everyone and I believe the same can be said for MLP. When I finally caved into my curiosity, I said to myself "if its anything like what my sister watches, then I'll look into the first 5 episodes at the most (to give the series a fair chance), and move on if it doesn't pursued me to keep looking into it". At the end of the first two episodes I was asking myself "Did they seriously just do that in a show for that audience?". Normally a pilot episode/ episodes are used to shown as concepts as to what the rest of the show is going to be like and while the pilot for MLP is misleading to a degree, it did accomplish its goal of deviating itself from the other children's TV shows (both for boys and girls). As I looked into it more for this review, I started seeing several resemblances to animated Disney films.

Before I go into this point, I want to talk a little bit about Marketing (yes I know its boring, I had to learn it in High School). When your marketing a product for kids, your not only targeting kids, your also targeting their parents. The reason for this is that, more often then not, the parents are going to be the ones to fuel their children's love for the series. For example, I didn't get into Transformers from watching the show, what first got me into is is a birthday present from my parents, which was Transformers Armada Jetfire. From there I discovered the show and the rest is history. The other aspect to targeting parents is this: If a child is watching the show, then the parents will either ignore the show (loosing a possible viewer), the child will either want the parents to watch the show with them (which may make them phase out, loosing quality time with the child) or watch the show with them because they have nothing better to do with their time. If the parent likes the show, then the parent will most likely be inclined to buy the toys based on that show for their child, earning more money for the company. It was probably this trail of thought (in some form) that convinced Hasbro to green light the changes.

This doesn't describe why the team behind the show would decide to make these changes in the first place. And for that, I want to divert your attention to these:

1. "cartoons for girls don't have to be a puddle of smooshy, cutesy-wootsy, goody-two-shoeness" Lauren Faust

(Yes, I know the videos mostly relates to games, but the concepts still apply for TV shows and film)

So what do these have to do with anything? The first video talks about designing for children and the later points are what I want to bring attention to. "Kids are adults with a lot less experience", contrary to popular belief, children can handle complicated ideas if it is being presented in a way that makes sense for them. I mentioned in my last opinion piece, on how the Transformers have survived for so long, that the stories that have succeed, that will survive the test of time explore complicated ideas while keeping that simplistic theme, one of the reasons for that is because of how younger generations can interpret these concepts. Children can understand more then most would like to admit, the only issue is that they need to be taught these concepts in different ways to others. I want to divert your attention to Avatar: The Last Airbender (and maybe Korra, I haven't watched enough episodes to base the following on Korra though), the series is mature and well constructed, yet all ages can understand its messages because it is written in a way that teaches all ages. I intend to review Avatar later so I'm not going to go into much more detail, stay tuned.

 As for the second video and the quote, it shouldn't be a surprise to anyone that more and more stories are getting darker re-imaginings and, contrary to popular belief, MLP:FiM is a darker re-imagining when compared to its predecessors (from what I've herd). The quote is by Lauren Faust, the concept designer for this current generation, spoke that as a inspiration behind the changes.

"My Little Pony was one of her favorite childhood toys, but she was disappointed that her imagination at the time was nothing like the animated shows, in which the characters, according to Faust, "just had endless tea parties, giggled over nothing and defeated villains by either sharing with them or crying". With the chance to work on My Little Pony, she hoped to prove that "cartoons for girls don't have to be a puddle of smooshy, cutesy-wootsy, goody-two-shoeness"." Wikipedia:

Darker doesn't have to mean "grey", for darker can come in all forms, in this case, darker themes. The world that has been crafted for FiM appears to be like nothing seen in the series before (I can't say for certain I haven't seen previous generations and I don't know anyone who has). I mentioned before that marketing likely played a key part in Hasbro greenlighting project, but there is another reason, and ironically it's Michael Bay. With the financial success (sadly I can't argue with that) of the Transformers movies at the time (so the First film, and Revenge of the Fallen) Hasbro was looking to redesign and re-imagine their other brands. Lisa Licht suggested to Lauren Faust that her animation style fitted the MLP series and from there, the rest is history.

Finally, during my investigations in the series, I found a common insult being thrown around, saying that all bronies (in particular) are autistic in some form. As a man who is diagnosed with Asperger Syndrome myself, I find this offensive... but possibly with a shred of truth to it. Now before I have insults and attacks thrown at me, let me explain. A common connection between people who have Asperger Syndrome and Autism is the kinds of shows, film, visual stimulus in a nutshell. People with Aspergers and Autism tend to enjoy "simplistic" shows, simplistic as in facial and tone. A common issue Aspie's and Autistic people have are issues with facial expressions, body language and tones, its why a common issue is sarcasm. While I was analyzing the show and Equestria Girls, I noticed the way the characters behave is simplistic when compared to people of the real world. You know what the characters are feeling as they have simplistic facial expressions and tone. You know when someone's annoyed, scared, happy, bored ect because the simplistic actions, however not so simplistic that its insulting. Again, the way the show is written means that it teaches without forcing the lesson, something that is very hard to do. I released a questionnaire a while ago, but I didn't get enough replies to conclusively prove this theory. Thank you to those who did participate though. I should stress, this does not mean that I think all bronies are Aspie's/ Autistic, this is just to shed some light as to why Aspies and Autistic people might like the show.

So at the end of the day, why do Bronies and Pegasisters exist? There are many reasons, several I haven't addressed in this. However I don't believe it was a accident, I think it was going to happen, but that should say how well its been written. Next Wednesday: Transformers Age of Extinction... but I have something else for today, come back later for a festive post.

Wednesday, 29 October 2014

My Little Pony: Equestria Girls: "There's nothing funnier than the human animal"

Direct to DVD films are to movies what Shovelware and, specifically, movie tie in are to video games, nothing but a quick cash grab even if the final product is awful. The budget is kept as low as physically possible to make the most profit from fools who were stupid enough to buy it for either themselves or for their families... With the success of the first three seasons along with the success of the other products made based off the show, it makes sense that a movie for My Little Pony would be made. The film itself, titled My Little Pony: Equestria Girls has received mixed reactions amongst the community, there are people who will defend it and others who would destroy it. But how does it fair from someone who looks at it as a movie? Time to review My Little Pony: Equestria Girls.

Friday, 24 October 2014

Top 10 Zones in the Sonic franchise

With the release of the review of Sonic Unleashed, I thought it would be fitting to look at the best zones (in my opinion) from the Sonic series. The rules are simple for this.

1. Sonic Generations levels cannot be included unless it's alongside the original level
2. No game can occupy two spots on the main list (honorable mentions not included)

One final thing before the list is started, no, Green Hill zone or its clones is not on the list. While I enjoy the zone, its overused.

10. Tropical Jungle, Sonic's story (Sonic 06): 

I will always take better execution over ideas. The popular level from Sonic 06 is Crisis City... and the original level was awful due to its poor execution. Bug after bug for the snow board, questionable collision detection (worse in Flame Core) and a Mach Speed Section that almost made me take a sledge hammer to the game. Tropical Jungle may be a worse level in terms of ideas, but it's better execution makes this one of my favorite levels from the game (its not saying much, trust me). Elise as a gameplay mechanic works more often then not and the level design is fun to play. This is the only level in the game that I rarely lost a life in and when I did, it was because of my error and not bugs. I will say though that the level for Rouge and Silver are AWFUL. "When people are getting lost in a Sonic game, there's a problem, A BIG PROBLEM"

9. White Park Zone Act 2 (Sonic 4, Episode II): 

 Just Act 2. While White Park Act 1 is also a great level, I'm not a fan of Act 3 (its a water level, if you've played a platformer, then you'll know why). Yes White Park act 2 is mostly automated, but Sonic has always had a degree of spectacle to his level design and White Park is proof of it. The zone as a whole is gorgeous and Act 2 is the pinnacle of it in my opinion. The carnival theme of the level and the use of the carnival lights is just beautiful. Act 2's music track is also my favorite track in the Sonic 4 series... its catchy...

8. Night Carnival (Sonic Rush): 

I swear this looked good back in 2005... Sonic Rush was a early DS title (same year as the system's launch here) and for the time, it was good. Night Carnival has some of the best, fair level design of the game (I'll go into detail another time but lets just say Dimps's level design is well known in the Sonic community for all the wrong reasons) and its a joy to play through. If I'm going back to Rush, its to either play this or Huge Crisis (that one purely because of Jeh Jeh Rocket... yes that is the name of the track). I love the idea of the light acting as platforms, it could have been executed better, but it still holds its own.

7. Sky Babylon (Sonic Rush Adventure): 

This was the best video I could find, skip to 7:34 for the level

Notice how all the levels made by Dimps are grouped together... Both Sonic Rush and its sequel Sonic Rush Adventure have the gimmick of letting players either play as Sonic or Blaze the Cat, each one behaving similar, but with enough differences to make them both enjoyable. If you're going to play Sky Babylon though, do yourself a favor, play as Blaze, this video should prove to you why. Sky Babylon itself is hard, but I still think its fair as its the second last level in the game, I expect it to be hard. The level itself looks beautiful and its theme is beautiful. Boss is a royal pain though and is without a doubt, the worst part of the level.

6. Rail Canyon and Bullet Station (Sonic Heroes):

Rail Canyon:

 Bullet Station: 

Remember when I said I'll take execution over ideas any day, well to those who say I'm a hypocrite because of these two levels, I say "I didn't have a problem with them". I actually like the concept of Rail grinding in Sonic games, yes it automated, but dam does it look cool. These were the levels I really wanted to see in Sonic Generations as it would have been a nice change of pace when compared to what we did get in the end (seriously, enough with the green hill and city tropes). I'm willing to bet there are some people that are asking "Why do you not find this broken?" and to that, "it's because I didn't know there was a better way to switch rails then jumping with the flight character".

5. Stardust Speedway (Sonic CD):

Yes, the metal Sonic fight is a big reason why this is here, but I also like the level design of Stardust Speedway, its thrilling, the soundtrack for the Japanese version (aside from Sonic Boom, I'm not a fan of the US soundtrack) is a joy to listen to and the level design as a whole, while yes it can be confusing, the golden rule still applies "GO RIGHT". Again though, the Metal Sonic fight helped bump this up as its a fun boss battle.

4. Chemical Plant Zone (Sonic 2 + Sonic Generations):

Sonic 2: 

Sonic Generations: 

What can I say about Chemical Plant that hasn't already been said? Its Chemical Plant Zone, nothing I say would be anything different from the 22 years of praise it has gotten. The reason why its not in the top three isn't because its bad, but because I like the top three just a bit more. I will say though that Act 2 in Generations is one of my favorite acts to replay.

3. Skyscraper Scamper Day (Sonic Unleashed): 

WHY WASN'T THIS LEVEL PICKED? I DON'T CARE HOW GOOD ROOFTOP RUN'S THEME IS, THIS IS THE SUPERIOR LEVEL!!! Sorry... In case you couldn't tell from the review of Unleashed, I love Skyscraper Scamper Act 1, more so then Rooftop Run. While I loved the clock tower in Rooftop Run, running up Skyscrapers, to me, is more awesome. If the two levels would get combined then it would be perfect.

2. Starlight Carnival and Asteroid Coaster (Sonic Colours):

Starlight Carnival: 

Asteroid Coaster:

I'm grouping these two together as they share similar ideas. The thing about Sonic Colours is that there are really only three zones. Tropical Resort (which is very similar to Planet Wisp), Sweet Mountain (and Aquarium Park) and the worst offender of it being Starlight Carnival and Asteroid Coaster... But thankfully, they are still so fun. The main reason for this is Starlight Carnival more so then Asteroid Coaster because Starlight Carnival looks beautiful. The music is beautiful with Asteroid Coaster's being my second favorite set of themes in the game and both zones are fun to play. Sonic Colours was on the Wii, and if this isn't proof that games can still look good aesthetically wise on the Wii, then only one other game has a chance.

And the honorable mentions (in no order)

1. Palmtree Panic (Sonic CD):

2. Death Egg Zone (Sonic 3 & Knuckles):

3. Casino Park/ Bingo Highway (Sonic Heroes):

4. Spring Yard Zone (Sonic the Hedgehog):

5. Rooftop Run (Sonic Unleashed):

1. Speed Highway (Sonic Adventure and Sonic Generations):

Sonic Adventure: 

Sonic Generations: 
 I don't care what you people think, Speed Highway is awesome. I love the three tracks that play in the original level and what they did to the level in Generations is amazing. If you ask anyone I know, they'll tell you I was hyped the moment Speed Highway was confirmed for Generations, and it didn't disappoint. I think Speed Highway is the best Sonic zone I've played because of how much of a thrill it is to play. the platforming still has that sense of speed to it and the thrill moments in the level are real thrills.

Before I get any hate as to why nothing from Sonic Adventure 2... I haven't played that one yet... Feel free to post your thoughts on this, what do you agree with, what makes you hate my guts ect. Next week, not only will the "marathon" continue with My Little Pony: Equestria Girls, but a new opinion piece. As for the topic, well that would be giving something away wouldn't it?

Wednesday, 22 October 2014

Sonic Unleashed: UNLEASH THE KRATHOG!!!

2006-2007 is a part of a time most Sonic fans would rather forget. Sonic hit rock bottom at that point and his 15th anniversary was "celebrated" with disgust. There was Sonic Riders; which is probably the best Sonic game released at the time, Sonic Genesis; put it this way, a fan actually made a rom called "Sonic 1 on GBA done right", don't believe me? . SONIC the Hedgehog (more commonly referred to as Sonic 06), which is one of the two contenders for the title "Worst Sonic game ever made", Genesis being the other, and Sonic and the Secret Rings for the Wii early in its life cycle (and that should be all you need to know on it). That time period was so bad for the franchise that another bomb would kill the franchise permanently.

Monday, 20 October 2014

Hidden reviews: The Bookworm

Don't expect these to come out often. As a part of my course work, I wrote a review of a play I worked on a few weeks ago. If this kind of medium is enjoyed, then I'll try and do more and make it a constant review type if I can. Understand though I have a low budget for this site at the moment so don't expect plays and musicals to appear often. 

When most people think of a play, they normally think of shows that go for several hours, standard 5 act structure ect. Short plays aren't common as most people don't think its worth the investment nowadays, combined with the domination of the musical, and you have a structure that is few and far between. However there are times when less is better and the short play The Bookworm is evidence of it.
So what's the story of The Bookworm? You know the stories of medium addiction? the stories of people becoming so invested in some sort of medium that they can no longer tell the difference between what is fiction and what is reality, this is one of those stories. The story focuses on the character Paige Turner (its not the worst pun name I've herd) as the play delves into her back story as to why she is the way she is, so obsessed with literature, with stories, that she can't tell the difference between stories, not even her own. The writing always has that dark overtone to it as a result of the concept and the character.
The set has that feeling of "done on a budget" but never in a way where it becomes obvious. The set makes use of the venue's limitations well and you do feel like you're in this woman's as I doubt she's seen a hallway in some time. The set has more books in it then I've seen almost anywhere (not including libraries). And with the primary lighting being standard lamps, it adds to the cozy, yet creepy feeling that the play itself uses. 
The writer of the play, Belinda Campbell, acts as Paige Turner for this and it shows just how thought out the character is. Campbell can pull of the character perfectly, further adding to that cozy yet creepy feeling. There are points where the script can get scary in a disturbing way simply because of how well the character is portrayed, the voice the character has, the movement on stage, its beautiful in a disturbing way.
If you have a chance to see it (should it ever get shown again), I would recommend seeing it, its short but worth it.

Friday, 17 October 2014

Mini Project: How to be a Game Designer Part 1: Structure and the mind

Every now and then, I hear people ask "how can I be a game designer?" with a conversation that tends to lead to more and more questions. Combine that with a large portion of fan games not having a competent game designer, if not one at all, I thought I'd try and lend a hand with it. Every now and then I'll be posting to here a few tips and tricks I taught myself, and the way I approach my reviews. I should note, this fist post is going to be a long one and may ruin people's ability to enjoy games and to that, I'm sorry. If you're still curious, lets begin.

The first thing that needs to be covered is the best tool at any person's disposal if they want to work in IT, and even other fields: the Problem Solving Methodology. Whenever you're designing anything, you should always keep this tool in mind. The Problem Solving Methodology is devided into 4 parts:

Note: System= any form of hardware/ software

  1. Analysis: What is your problem? how is it caused? Before you do anything, you must know what it is you're going to do, analyze every aspect of the problem. Analysis is what this part is going to primarily focus on.
  2. Design: before you even boot up a piece of development software. Design your system. Have a physical copy of your design documents which should have everything to do with the project, including testing and evaluation requirements (more on that later). Your final product may look nothing like what you design, which is fine, but you shouldn't be designing it on the fly.
  3. Development: The "fun" part, making your system. Your code, your renders, this is when you get to finally see your project take shape. One thing though I can't stress enough, TEST EVERYTHING! this isn't the time to use your testing and evaluating requirements, you're job in this phase is to make sure your system works, not if it does its job. Your testers see if it does its job and your testers should not have any hand in the development of the system (as in they shouldn't be working on it, their job is to test, not make). You are actually the worst person to test your system as you know how its supposed to work.
  4. Evaluation: So your system is out to the public, now is the time to bring out your evaluation documents. After your system has been in the public for some time (a good base is six months after release), you need to look at the public feedback, see how its being used, the common errors people have, find more problems and go back to analysis.
The big thing to remember when working in the IT industry is "Fail Faster". Every fail costs you money, but it also makes your system better. The later into development your failures show up, the harder it is to fix and the more it costs. Fail faster, don't be afraid to fail, it happens. Its better to fail during the design phase then it is to fail in the development and evaluation phases.

So now you have those tools in mind, now its time to play some games... but if your a designer, you not playing them just to have fun, you're analyzing them. You always have to ask yourself "Why did they do this?" "What would it be like if it was like this?". Remember, everything in a game is done for a reason.

Here's a small exercise. I want you to play a game, any game of your choice, for this example, I'm going to use Pokemon Red and Blue versions. Once you've selected a game to play, set yourself a point to finish analyzing, for this example I'm going to go up to (and include) Pewter City, though you can go as far as you want to. Now in Pokemon Red and Blue, during that time, what can and can't you do?

  1. You get the opening intro.
  2. You can choose the name of your character.
  3. You can choose the name of your rival.
  4. You can get a free potion from the PC.
  5. You are given a basic guide of the controls.
  6. You cannot go into tall grass.
  7. You are given your starter Pokemon.
  8. You are introduced to the battle system (when you battle your rival).
  9. You are introduced to NPC's.
  10. You are introduced to Tall Grass and wild encounters.
  11. You are introduced to the Pokemon Centre and Pokemart.
  12. You are introduced a Gym you can't enter.
  13. You are given the Pokedex.
  14. You can choose to have another rival battle.
  15. You can choose to be taught how to use a Pokeball.
  16. You are introduced to dungeons.
  17. You are introduced to eye contact.
  18. You are introduced to Trainer classes.
  19. You are introduced to type match up.
  20. You are introduced to "loot".
  21. You are introduced to Pokemon Gyms.
  22. You are introduced to the concept of Fossils.
  23. You are introduced to Gym Badges.
  24. You are introduced to the concept of TM's and (hinted at) HM's.
Once you have a list of introductions, now its time to ask why and if needed, how?

Note: these are basic investigations on the matter, the more complicated analysis you can provide, the better. I'm just using minimalistic as a example.
  1. Why is there a opening intro? To get people excited to play the game and provide some basic knowledge of the game for first time players.
  2. Why can you choose the name of your character? To make Red the link between the player and the game, so that the player can feel that its them doing these tasks and not another character.
  3. Why can you choose the name of your rival? To make the game feel more unique. It's your adventure, not another's.
  4. Why can you get a free potion from the PC?To reward and encourage exploration along with introducing the player to PC storage.
  5. Why are you given a basic guide of the controls and how? You are never told how to, you are encouraged to look. When you are told, its hidden away to give players a chance to figure it out for themselves, making the tutorial a more rewarding experience.
  6. Why are you denied from going into tall grass? To ensure you get your starter Pokemon, giving you access to the combat mechanics.
  7. Why are you given your starter Pokemon and why can you choose what your starter is? To introduce players to the concept of Pokemon and to give players a stronger bond to the Pokemon, to act as the first step in the player thinking of them as a friend, a partner more so then a tool.
  8. Why are you introduced to the battle system (when you battle your rival)? To allow for players to grasp the basics required to make it through the game and to build up a rival in their minds, more so then just allowing the game to tell them "he's a rival".
  9. Why are you introduced to NPC's? To help encourage exploration and to make the world feel more alive.
  10. Why are you introduced to Tall Grass and wild encounters? To help enforce the skills learned in the Rival battle before introducing the player to the catching mechanic along with showing players places where they can find wild Pokemon.
  11. Why are you introduced to the Pokemon Center and Pokemart? To introduce the player to the different kinds of buildings and what buildings you should be looking for in new cities and towns.
  12. Why can you not enter the Gym in Viridian City? Foreshadowing for the plot
  13. Why are you given the Pokedex? To give the player a in game way of tracking all the different kinds of Pokemon.
  14. Why can you choose to have another rival battle? It is a reward, adding to the intensives to explore before you get to the first dungeon.
  15. Why can you choose to be taught how to use a Pokeball? To allow players who know how to catch a Pokemon to skip it while giving the players who don't know how to the intensive to ask NPC's, adding to the exploration.
  16. Why are you introduced to dungeons? To introduce players to the concept of the game's mazes, along with Trainer battles and introduce the concept of them before taking off the "training wheels" in Mt Moon.
  17. Why are you introduced to eye contact? To allow players the chance to avoid trainers and showing them how far they can see the player, where their blind spots are.
  18. Why are you introduced to Trainer classes? To encourage the player to use a variety of Pokemon, as each class uses different kinds of Pokemon.
  19. Why are you introduced to type match up? To hint to the player that each Pokemon has weaknesses, encouraging the player to investigate each Pokemon's strengths and weaknesses and hint to the player to have different kinds of Pokemon on them at all times.
  20. Why are you introduced to "loot"? To introduce the player to the item system and to encourage exploration.
  21. Why are you introduced to Pokemon Gyms now? To introduce the player to the concept of "boss battles" and provide a ideal point for the player to be at in terms of levels.
  22. Why are you introduced to the concept of Fossils? To foreshadow the event in Mt Moon and eventually the Fossil revival system.
  23. Why are you introduced to Gym Badges? To show the player how to progress to new areas in the game, because you cannot leave Pewter City without Brock's Badge.
  24. Why are you introduced to the concept of TM's and (hinted at) HM's? To show the player another way to teach their Pokemon new moves.
That's a analysis of the first three routes, dungeon and towns/ cities in the game, and where I end this for now. But as a fun activity, either use your list or the one I provided here and imagine what the game would be like if something was changed or removed, imagine how it would have effected the game.

Wednesday, 15 October 2014

Kirby Triple Deluxe: Nintendo does have more then one Platformer mascot

Yeah, contrary to popular belief, there are actually more Platformer mascots from Nintendo that aren't Mario. For clarification, a Platformers is a gameplay style, often seen as very arcade in nature as it is getting from point A-B while jumping over obstacles, its the father of Parkour in short.

With every new Nintendo console, you're going to get your staple franchises. You're going to get your new Mario (sometimes 2 in the case of the WiiU), you're going to get your new Zelda, your new Mario Kart and your new Smash bros (I'll get to that one later), Kirby is one of the franchises you don't hear a lot of because it either gets very little publicity or it appears closer to the end of the console's cycle. Kirby didn't get a main series game on the Gamecube (instead we got Kirby's Air Ride) and didn't appear on the Wii until Kirby's Epic Yarn. Portable consoles have been kinder to Kirby as we got 4 Kirby games for the DS. During the wait for Smash 4, Nintendo was kind enough to release Kirby Triple Deluxe, the pink puffball's first appearance on the 3DS (that doesn't include the Virtual Console), how does it compare to its predecessors? Time to see just how big his black hole of a stomach is this time.

Wednesday, 8 October 2014

To Boldly Flee: Because everyone hates plot holes

The year is 2012, Doug Walker has decided to stop writing Nostalgia Critic episodes, but not without leaving on a high note. The team still has a anniversary to release, and what better way to finish the character then with a 3 and a half hour long sci-fi movie. Time to, for the last time, re enter this world, To Boldly Flee.

So how does one go from... whatever you call Kickassia, to medieval in the form of Suburban Knights and then To Boldly Flee? Well...

Wednesday, 1 October 2014

Suburban Knights: When a sequel isn't really a sequel

What's the first rule of a sequel... more often then not its keeping the same theme as the first film. One year after the release of Kickassia, the Channel Awesome team bring out a new film that... somehow connects to Kickassia (in other ways besides mentions). The hunt is on for a power of old, time to delve into fantasy with Suburban Knights.

Disclaimer: I know its not the cover, I couldn't find a good image of the cover