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Wednesday, 17 October 2012 15:42

The End

A discussion of permanent consequence

Two X-Rays, one leering at my entrenched squad from the top of a defunct train, the other slinking about the benches and flower beds of the ruined subway. The aliens had set up a bomb in the Japanese rail system, and it was up to us, the stalwart soldiers of X-COM, to make sure that Shibuya didn't become a smoking, whitewashed memorial to the advanced technological might of the extraterrestrial invaders.

Published in Tekk
Thursday, 04 October 2012 07:39

The Zen of Dark Souls

How to love a game that hates you

50,000 souls.

Fifty-mother-frakking-thousand souls.

I stared in disbelief at the incredibly subtle 'YOU DIED' crimson across the screen like a neon slap in the face. Fifty thousand souls (the measure of experience in this game) plus 11 humanity - a good couple of hours of work vanished under the club of a fat, venomous troll. It was my own fault for being overconfident and pressing onward into the face of obvious danger and then spitting in the face of said obvious danger, which resulted in that same danger beating the crap out of me.

Published in Tekk
Wednesday, 26 September 2012 18:09

Presenting The Protomen

Gaming's best tribute band is barely a tribute

This world is full of people between the ages of 23-35, covering NES music in an attempt to hold onto the awesomeness that was 8-bit gaming. They pour themselves into their work, trying to recreate each and every note exactly as they remember it from their childhood, clad in their Transformers/She-Ra jammies as they explored these lo-res environments of imagination.

Published in Tekk
Wednesday, 19 September 2012 16:38

Theory of Relatibility

On fantasy visuals in a visual world 

I'm just going warn you ahead of time, by the end of this article, you are probably going to think I'm a:

  1. prude
  2. chauvinist
  3. sexually-suppressed mouse of a man, or
  4. a psycho on a soapbox
Published in Tekk
Wednesday, 12 September 2012 17:03

Pixelated Guilt

For the ones we can't save

I already knew going into this that this was about to happen and there was nothing I could do about it.

That really didn't make it any easier.

I was 14 when I first played 'Final Fantasy VII,' in the grand summer of 2002. Not only was it the summer I was introduced to pop punk (which I quickly upgraded to metal short months after), but it was the golden age of playing RPGs on my newly-purchased PS1. Free of the shackles of school for a few brief months, I played through 'The Legend of Dragoon,' 'Final Fantasy VIII' and, of course, 'Final Fantasy VII.'

Published in Tekk
Wednesday, 05 September 2012 15:51

Quad-Core Hipster Power Pro

A new MacBook put through the gauntlet

I finally broke down and joined the dark side. Citing high-demand professional needs, I broke the bank and invested in a new MacBook Pro. Now, surely you're all thinking that this computer (whom I fondly refer to as Wheatley and/or The Intelligence Dampening Quad-Core) was obviously going to raise my productivity to new heights at work.

Pfft. No. Gaming.

Published in Tekk
Wednesday, 29 August 2012 16:14

Top five series in gaming

5: 'Final Fantasy' 

Final-Fantasy

Whatever your opinion on the post-Sakaguchi/Umaetsu era, there is absolutely no doubt who shaped the RPG as we know it. During the 90s, Squaresoft (now Square-Enix) seemed to have an intricate knowledge of making a narrative that could pull you in and give you a personal connection with each character. The amount of emotion that was given to each and every one of their characters was evidence of the time spent making them individuals in their own right. The battle systems were sleek yet complex, and the added challenge of hidden bosses lurking the dark corners of the world made each experience both unique and familiar.

Published in Tekk
Wednesday, 29 August 2012 16:11

Papo & Yo'

The fifth-best game of all time that features getting inside cardboard boxes

'Papo & Yo,' the latest in the Mainstream Art Game canon, stars a boy who works his way through a surreal city along with a monster. There are puzzles, but they only serve to maintain a certain rhythm in the flow of the graphics. Challenges are limited to some simple switch-hitting and some simpler platform-jumping, and are simple enough that the inclusion of hint boxes in every other room borders on insulting.

And yes, the monster. He's only mechanically interesting at first glance. He follows along, led by the odors of coconuts and the sounds of frogs, both of which he constantly wants to eat. Never mind any ideas you might already have: All you ever have to do is get him to sit on a switch or fall asleep on some cardboard so you can bounce off him. He's the key to most of the game's locks - you just have to hop around and rearrange the rooms to get him to the door.

Published in Tekk
Wednesday, 22 August 2012 22:35

Quantum Conundrum'

This game's aesthetic is annoying. I mean, alright, it's cute enough at first - you play a kid going to visit his mad scientist uncle, who has managed to trap himself in some kind of pocket dimension in his eccentric mansion and is unable to remember how. At least it's the narrator that has amnesia this time, you might think cleverly. It becomes less cute when it degenerates into puzzle room, hallway with jokey dialogue, puzzle room (around hour two). Then the jokes start grating. Listen to the uncle make a crack about these kids and their crazy texting ('is English truly that difficult?'); wonder who the hell is laughing.

The puzzles are littered with sloppy decisions. I have a bunch written down, though they're in the Million Dollar Google Doc, and that's the kind of thing I only quote from in job interviews. Safe for work version: After the initial novelty of the dimension shifting wears off (45 minutes if you've never played a videogame before; 10 minutes if you've ever played 'Portal'), each puzzle is just a room full of locks and keys that you've stuck into each other before.

Published in Tekk
Wednesday, 15 August 2012 15:53

My empire of dirt

One man's decision to walk away from gaming

Some time ago, I contacted a friend of mine through the time-honored method of cellular text, inquiring if he'd like to partake in a match of 'Sins of a Solar Empire.' I was a little perplexed and intrigued when he responded with a very serious request for me to do something incredibly important for him, something that could very well define our friendship. With far more than a bit of curiosity, I agreed to hear him out, and he sent me one of the longest novels of text that I've ever received in this digital age.

My friend was incredibly upset with himself. He felt that he was wasting his life away whenever he played video games, that his need for entertainment was transcending his desire and ability to be creative. Whenever he immersed himself in a game for long periods of time, he would come out of the fog depressed and angry with himself for wasting so much time on something that wouldn't last. There was no way he could balance gaming with the rest of his life, and he felt that if he continued, he would wreck any possibility of being a productive member of society. In a move to distance himself from this kind of behavior, he asked me to keep him accountable and keep him away from video games.

Published in Tekk
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