Gaming

SlimKirby Reviews: Crash Bandicoot 2: Cortex Strikes Back

Hello everybody, SlimKirby here!

As you know, recently I played through Crash Bandicoot (1) for the very first time and had a very enjoyable experience. Because of that experience, I was also looking forward to playing through the rest of the original trilogy, which I had also picked up in addition to the first game, and since I made a review for the first game, I decided to also do reviews for the following two games as well. So here is my review of Crash Bandicoot 2: Cortex Strikes back!

Crash 2 Box

Crash Bandicoot 2, of all the Crash games I got to play when going over to my neighbor’s house (because I didn’t own any of them then) was the Crash game I was most familiar with. At the time, it just seemed like it was the more interesting title, as it was easier to play due to better gameplay mechanics and it just presented itself in a much better way. So whenever I went over to my neighbor’s house, it was a game I looked forward to playing, and if anything, it was kind of a shame that I never got to finish it because I don’t think my neighbor had a memory card, so I only got to see the first 5-10 levels on most of my sessions. It was still a very fun game though and I had good memories of it whenever I got to play.

After completing Crash 1 about a week and a half ago, I was really curious to see how the 2nd game would improve on the first one, and let me tell you, I was surprised to see how much it did. A lot of my concerns and problems with Crash 1 were addressed or remedied in the second game, and I think that’s pretty cool considering that the second game didn’t come out that long after Crash 1, and it wasn’t as easy to investigate consumer feedback as it is these days. Like the first game, you have two basic ways you can complete Crash 2. You can just play through the game and each level normally by grabbing the newly introduced pink crystal and beating each level and the boss of every area until you get to the end. Or, you could go the 100% route and collect all the gems, where much like Crash Bandicoot 1, you’ll have to go through every level in Crash 2 and break all the boxes in the area. Once again, I feel like the in-game reward for 100% isn’t as great as it could be, but after thinking about it, I think the reward in fully completing a Crash Bandicoot game is moreso how the gamer feels at the end of the accomplishment and not so much what the game presents to you.

Getting 100% this time around isn’t as stressful as it was in the predecessor. In the first game, you had to do the entirety of every level in one go, making sure you didn’t die and if you did die, restarting the level from the very beginning instead of starting at the checkpoints you get along the way. In this game, it’s a lot more lenient than that. For one, getting checkpoints will save your progress and you won’t have to start from the beginning anymore…in a majority of the cases. There are some cases where you will have to start over, but only in levels that have specific “no-death” routes, where a pad that leads to a new area will only appear if you make it to that point without dying. However, the game is still very lenient in that department as well, since once you make it to that point and ride the pad once, it will save that platform and allow you to die after the fact. In other words, the game isn’t strict about perfecting a level and any further perfection will be based on your own self-imposed challenges, which is the way I think it should be. Also, in general, the game just feels a lot more fair and should have less instances of sections that will just suck the extra lives away. There are still challenging parts of the game and I’m definitely not saying that the entire game is “Easy Mode” or anything, but it’s a fair challenge and has a very standard progression of difficulty when moving from the beginning to the end.

There are some things that Crash 2 does that are still kind of strange though. Like in Crash 1, there are colored gems that are offered throughout the game and in order to get some of the box gems, you will need specific color gems to reach alternate paths and areas in specific levels. Some of these gems can be found in alternate stage routes and death routes, but in some cases, the objective for the gem may not be entirely clear. This is especially true for the first level of the game; Turtle Woods, where in order to get the Blue Gem, you need to go through the entire stage without breaking a single box. I knew about this quirk from watching playthroughs of the game from other Youtube channels, but for a new player, this requirement may not be entirely clear and could send the player on a wild goose chase for something they are unaware of. There are also some stages that cannot be completed on the first go-around, but not because of a colored gem path, but because you need to warp to a hidden part of that stage from a later area’s level. Some of the warp points are obvious if you experiment in certain levels and pay attention to your surroundings, but considering this is the first Crash game that does this kind of thing, it’s kind of hard to know for sure what exactly you are looking for and when you are looking for it, so that could have been a little more clear. I think the N. Sane Trilogy remedies this problem by giving hints in the loading screen of the level, but that’s not so much the case for the original version.

It took me a lot less time and way fewer sessions to complete Crash 2 compared to Crash 1. While the first game took me an entire week (and then some), the Crash 2 experience only felt like a weekend, and even then, on my first night of playing, I came to the realization that one part of my 2-sided memory card was completely full and the game wouldn’t allow me to save until I turned off the game and deleted some save data. As a result, everything I did on the first night was completely erased and I had to start from square one the next time I played. I made a lot faster progress the next time, but it was still essentially a complete redo of what I had already done. By the end of the second night, I was more than halfway done with the game and made a big push on the following day to finish up the game completely; so really only 2-3 days to beat the game, which I think is pretty good considering it was my first full playthrough and with more than half of the experience being blind.

My only trouble spots in the playthrough came from very unexpected places…and I say that based on the horror stories of certain levels I’ve heard from other people who have played this game. For some reason, I couldn’t quite get the timing of the polar-bear riding levels down; which are automatic-moving levels that are based on timed jumps and movements while avoiding enemies and other annoying obstacles. For some reason I had a really hard time controlling the bear and lost a lot of lives in the process, especially on the secret level, “Totally Bear.” And on the level “Unbearable,” a level where you get chased by a giant polar bear while running towards the screen, I ran into an issue of missing 3 boxes by the very end of the level, which confused me because I was very thorough with investigating every nook and cranny of the stage, including the discovery of two hidden boxes that were off camera in a specific part of the level, yet even with those two “trollish” inclusions, I still managed to miss three boxes elsewhere, which just doesn’t make sense to me. On my second run through, I did it no problem and without missing anything, so I had to have blanked out something somewhere.

My biggest surprise was the level called “Cold Hard Crash,” a level that is notorious by fans to be the hardest level in the game. It has ice physics, a death route, the most boxes in any stage of the game, and an annoying gimmick that can mess you up if you don’t know the entire level well enough. Basically, in the death route, you have to make it to a certain point and then backtrack through the death route after activating a switch. Once you destroy the boxes that get activated by that switch, instead of exiting the level through the natural route, you have to keep backtracking to exit from the entrance pad and continue the level normally because the death route’s exit takes you to a much further part of the stage where you can’t backtrack to get back to the normal route, which sure enough has boxes on it. It’s quite the troll when it comes to playing the game for the first time and admittedly, it did trip me up as well. And to top it all off, in the bonus stage for the level, there is a box out of sight that you need to hit and there is just no indication that it is there. You just need to assume that something is up there and experiment until you make the discovery, which I am very sure was annoying for all of those individuals who did everything in the level perfectly and then reached the very end of the level just to see the box counter at 154/155. Anyway, as I was trying to get at earlier, I had heard horror stories about this level, but surprisingly, I did it relatively quickly and with not much issue. It definitely helped that I figured out the death-route gimmick very quickly and that I was aware of the troll bonus box, but still, I expected my life counter to melt away as quickly as an ice cube in the desert. “Piston’ It Away” was another level that I was expecting to be challenging, just based on stories I  had heard, but I also got through that one pretty quickly as well. I guess everyone just has different experiences in terms of what they struggle and don’t struggle with, huh?

So when I finished Crash 2, I was ultimately surprised at how quickly it had come and gone. On some level, it was a shame that it was already over, but after thinking about it, the game itself is probably considered to be pretty “retro” now, and over time, especially due to continuous play by gamers, older games will generally seem to be a lot shorter and faster to get through then more modern games that have better technology to work with and more content to sift through. Besides, sometimes it’s good to have a shorter game, one that you can breeze through after a few nights and then you can start fresh on the next one the following day, so it’s length is definitely not a negative. The experience did get me interested in starting the third game, so much that I actually tried to start Crash 3 on the following day. However, once again, I had memory card issues, and also figured that it was probably better to focus on getting this review done first before I started the next Crash game anyway. Since then, I have fixed the problem and have gotten a new memory card, so I’ll probably get to working on Crash 3 immediately, but as I said, I want to get this review done first, so this will be further elaborated on in the next review.

Overall, I consider Crash Bandicoot 2: Cortex Strikes Back to be a much better product than first Crash Bandicoot game. It presents itself very well, makes it playable and approachable for all gamers of every skill level, and improved on many things that were either lacking or problems I had with its predecessor. That final detail alone shows that the game had good production and development values and is something I can appreciate from the perspective of a gamer and a consumer in general. Looking forward, Crash 3 has some pretty big shoes to fill, but from what I’ve heard from Crash fans, I have a pretty exciting experience to look forward to, so we’ll have to see how that goes when I finish the game and post the next review.

Thanks for reading everybody, I will see you guys next time for whatever game I decide to finish and talk about next!

~SlimKirby

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SlimKirby Reviews: Crash Bandicoot

Hello everybody, SlimKirby here!

I am here today to present to you guys, for a change, a website article! It’s been awhile (not counting the Simpsons Retrospectives) since I’ve actually done some writing like this and this is something I would like to start getting into the habit of doing as I continue to complete games on my very huge backlog. Essentially, I’m going to be talking about a game I’ve recently beaten/completed, give my impressions of the different aspects of the game, talk about a few of my experiences, and just in general sum up how I felt about the overall experience.

Crash Box

Today; I’m going to talk about the Sony Playstation classic; Crash Bandicoot. This is a game I’ve been aware of since it initially came out for the Playstation all of those years ago. Although, I never personally owned a Playstation console, but rather it was my next-door neighbors that did. Because of this, I only got to play these games when I went over to their house, which honestly, wasn’t very often. It was during these visits that I got my first taste of Crash Bandicoot, and later, Crash Bandicoot 2. I remember the games being 3D platformers, but not in the same sense as Super Mario 64 and Banjo Kazooie, two other games I was more familiar with (because I actually owned them). They were 3D in the sense that the models were in 3D, and in most of the stages you could move in any direction, but the levels themselves were more structured like Sonic the Hedgehog and Super Mario Bros. Instead of going left to right though, a majority of Crash’s levels involved you moving forwards and backwards. This is why this series was generally known as the “Sonic’s Ass,” game, because your eyes were generally more focused on the behind of the character you were controlling. I found the Crash games very interesting and entertaining, for what little time I got to play them, but unfortunately, it wouldn’t be until 2017 (this very year) until I got to own my very first Crash platformer.

I got a Playstation 2 for Christmas when it first came out, and although Crash Bandicoot was on my radar, I was definitely interested in other games first. Final Fantasy VII was the first game I really “HAD” to own, and it was around this time that I got obsessed with Dynasty Warriors as well, so once I got too far down those rabbit holes, I kind of started forgetting about Crash. I did manage to pick up the game “Crash Bash” for Playstation 1, as it seemed like a party game, a type of genre I was also getting very into at the time, but this game was often considered an irrelevant spin-off to the majesty that was the Crash Bandicoot platformers and the other, better-received spin-off; Crash Team Racing. In the past year however, I managed to go on a bit of a Crash Bandicoot buying spree, picking up Crash Team Racing at Magfest 2016, Crash 2 and 3 at Magfest 2017, and then I found Crash 1 on Amazon for very cheap,which encouraged me to pick up that game as well, fully completing my collection of the original trilogy and generation of Crash Bandicoot.

I was heavily inspired to get these games for a couple of reasons; for one, after I discovered how awesome Ratchet and Clank was, it got me interested in a majority of the Sony platformer games, and naturally Crash Bandicoot was on that list as well. Second, after watching playthroughs of the Let’s Play channel, Super Gaming Bros., it got me intrigued to try the games for myself. And third, like I said before, even though it was brief, I did have a little bit of a history with these games and I think it’s important to own the games that you had some sort of connection with. I’m sure a lot of you guys are probably asking me why I bought all of the old games as opposed to buying the newly-released “Crash Bandicoot: N. Sane Trilogy,” which is basically a remade version of all three games for the price of one retail game. Well, I didn’t buy that for the sole reason that I do not own a Playstation 4 to play that game, so this was the only way I could experience them. I also do not have a PS3, so I could not buy the digital versions on Playstation Network either. Because of this, I was definitely playing the harder, more archaic version of Crash Bandicoot 1, but, I was still able to make it through the game, and I feel pretty good about it, so it doesn’t really make me feel bad or make the accomplishment feel any less meaningful. So now that I’ve gotten through all the set-up; let’s actually start talking about the game in question. I’m only going to be looking at Crash Bandicoot 1 here, but over time, I will probably play through the other two games as well and will more than likely be giving my impressions on them too, but let’s do only one game at a time here.

Crash 1 is often noted for being a pretty standard game to beat, but an absolute nightmare to 100%. And let me tell you, after playing through this game 100%, I can definitely understand why. The game itself is not very long. Most of the stages can be completed in approximately 5-10 minutes on an initial playthrough (and that’s best case scenario), and if you just try to speed through the levels without doing the whole “collect-a-thon” thing, assuming you don’t run into many roadblocks, I’d say you could compare a standard level of Crash to be about the length of a Super Mario World level. And with only 26 stages in the game, you could probably beat the entire game in a sitting or two. However, like I said, that’s assuming you don’t try to 100% the game. In every stage, there are a number of boxes. These boxes can contain wumpa fruit that you can collect to earn more extra lives, defense masks to give you more protection against enemies or obstacles, or tokens that can earn you access to a secret bonus level. If you want to get 100% in Crash Bandicoot 1, you have to break every single box in every single level. Now, that might not sound too hard at first, but Crash 1 had a very annoying tendency where once you reached a checkpoint in the stage, if you died at any point after that, any boxes you got to that point would be forfeit, meaning you would have to exit the level and start from the very beginning of the stage all over again. So you had to completely clear the level on that run without dying, and let me tell you, for some of the levels that exist in this game…that is easier said than done.

And to make some matters a little more annoying, some stages you couldn’t completely clear until you 100% completed another stage, and there is not really any indication of when that is, unless you make it to a certain part of that stage and see an illusionary gem platform. Meaning, if you had tried doing that stage 100% to that point, you’d realize that you had wasted your time trying to get through the stage without dying when you couldn’t even get the specific gem for that level yet. I’d say this is a very minor complaint though, as I personally just used a gamefaqs guide that told me when I could and could not have completed a level, so when I got to a level I didn’t have to worry about yet, I just breezed through it on my own pace and came back when I could actually do something. Honestly, I’d recommend for anyone starting out on this game, just try to get through the game first and not worry about the 100% conditions until later. Yeah, you may have to play through a lot of levels again, but it’s better to know what to expect in a stage before trying to deal with everything on a blind run through.

My first session of the game was pretty successful. I was able to get a couple of the clear gems without too much trouble and spent most of my time just trying to get used to the controls and the general platforming of Crash Bandicoot. Let me tell you, if you have played any other platforming game, or heck, any other Crash game for that matter, it will take some adjusting to this particular game’s mechanics. One of the most important things you should get a feel for is how Crash jumps, because precision and timing is a big part of this game’s difficulty. Learn the distance of Crash’s jumps, and then learn how to make shorter jumps and to take notice of Crash’s shadow when he is about to land. Once you get a feel for that, I feel like a lot of the game will go a lot smoother. In my following few sessions, I didn’t really make a lot of progress. I got into the habit of pretty much being able to get only 2 or 3 clear gems per sitting, but honestly, patience is another big part of this game as well, and as long as I was making progress, I feel like that is all that mattered in the long run. It wasn’t until session number five or six where I really started to go beast mode on the game. I had gotten the gem for two of the longest and most difficult levels (Slippery Climb and Sunset Vista) and that put me in a mindset of feeling like I had complete control over Crash when moving and jumping, and used those skills to give me enough confidence in what stages I had remaining. In fact, I was capable of 100%ing The Lab and Lights Out on my first attempts (after just normally beating them previously), and those stages are considered to be pretty annoying, just due to their normal gimmicks. I went from having a little over half of the gems (26 overall) to having all of them in that final session.

I did have some trouble with the final two stages I had to get the gems for though (Boulder Dash and Fumbling in the Dark). These two stages really tested my patience and pretty much feature my two biggest problems of the game itself. For one, even though it can be overcome by practicing and adjusting, the directional controls of Crash 1 are just very inferior to other platforming games of the time. They aren’t a big deal in most levels, where you are either in a 2D plane or 3D sections where you don’t have to move diagonally much, but in the level Boulder Dash, for example, you have to outrun a giant boulder that’s following you, forcing you to make split-second button inputs to avoid obstacles that immediately come on screen that you have no way of knowing exist unless you play the stage numerous times beforehand. In some cases, you need to move diagonally, to make the most of your movements so that the boulder doesn’t have time to catch up with you, but you have to be pretty close to perfect, which is really hard to do with a d-pad. If you aren’t perfect, the boulder is going to catch up with you at the very end and turn you into a Crash pancake. Even if it seems like you’ll be fine after a small flub-up, the farther you make it into the stage, you’ll realize that it wasn’t enough and are then forced to start the entire stage over again because “No dying allowed in Crash 1!” I had so much trouble with this level because of this quirk, and spent an hour just trying to get the gem, when in reality, it’s a very short one-minute level that shouldn’t have taken me that long. Fumbling in the Dark however, is just a very hard level that can screw you over just on the notion of getting a bad enemy or obstacle pattern. The level itself is shrouded in darkness and you have to use masks to light the way as you make it through the level. However, if you take too long and don’t make it to the next mask, your current mask will dim out and you won’t be unable to see the path in front of you, which will have enemies, obstacles, and the most threatening, bottomless pits that you can’t see at all. It’s just a very unforgiving level when it comes to the clear gem and creates artificial difficulty on a level that was already difficult to begin with.

Later Crash games remove the “no dying” gimmick, or at the very least, don’t make it as much of a hindrance. In those games, whenever you reach a checkpoint, all of your box-breaking progress gets saved, meaning you don’t have to restart if you die. There are some instances where you do, if the level contains a “no-death route” for example, but it’s not in every level, and just in general, I think it’s a much better way to handle this system. Unfortunately, because they didn’t do that for the first game, I do think the game suffers from that design quirk and can be a very unfriendly aspect of this game for anyone looking to 100% complete it. The biggest draw of the N. Sane Trilogy’s version of Crash 1 is that this is fixed to a very large degree, meaning you don’t have to worry about this annoyance anymore if you are playing that version (and if you do, it’s only for the six colored gems). However, people who don’t own PS4s, like me, will unfortunately have to play the original and go above and beyond if we want to 100% complete this game.

Perhaps the most disappointing thing about a 100% playthrough though is the fact that the difference in ending that you get is…kind of disappointing. If anything, the non-100% ending is better and is actually the canonical ending when moving on to the next Crash game. In other words, for the type of challenge that this offers the player, it can lead to the gamer feeling somewhat unrewarded with their efforts. With that being said though, there was definitely a huge feeling of satisfaction when I did complete the game and got the final gem. And knowing that I did it on the inferior and more difficult version of the game, made the victory even sweeter, so this decision didn’t bother me as much as it probably should have. I can understand other people feeling kind of annoyed with this fact though.

In conclusion, I think the game itself is good and it was a lot of fun for me to finally play through it 100%. Would I do it again? For the eventual Let’s Play, yes, but until I have a way to play the N. Sane Trilogy, I don’t see myself going back to this game for a casual playthrough anytime soon. The design quirks are a bit too iffy for my tastes and when you consider that the following installments fixed all of this game’s problems, they’re probably the more accessible and superior games of the franchise, and I look forward to making my way through them very soon!

Thanks for reading everybody, I will see you guys next time for whatever game I decide to finish and talk about next!

~SlimKirby

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SlimKirby Reviews: Yoshi's New Island

Yoshi’s Island on the SNES is one of my all-time favorite Mario games, SNES games, and video games as a whole. I played that game to death when I was younger and was super adament about getting through the game and finding all of the hidden collectables. Throughout the years, Nintendo has tried releasing a variety of different Yoshi games to build upon the success of Yoshi’s Island. While I do like most of these attempts, I don’t think any of them have been able to reach half of the enjoyment that I’ve had with the original. I always thought Yoshi’s Story was a little underwhelming and Yoshi’s Island DS just came up short of my expectations. However, in the last year, Nintendo announced that they were trying the Yoshi’s Island formula yet again in a new title, Yoshi’s New Island, an obvious attempt at capitalizing on the “New” formula that Mario has been using in his most recent 2D installments. However, despite the repetition and oversaturation of the New Super Mario Bros. series, they have still been some pretty high quality games, so I was curious to see how this game stacked up.

The story begins right after the ending of the first Yoshi’s Island game. It recalls the events from Yoshi’s Island and sets up the story at the doorstep of Mario and Luigi’s parents. However, when the parents take a look at their newborn children, they realize that there has been some mistake and that the babies do not belong to them; throwing all evidence of these two iconic brothers having parents out the window. The stork has made a mix-up and must now deliver the children to their actual parents. On the way, Kamek attacks once again, stealing Baby Luigi as Baby Mario falls down to a new place called Egg Island. Egg Island is also populated by Yoshis, so once again, the Yoshis must now take Baby Mario to Kamek and Baby Bowser’s castle, which also happens to be on the very same island.

If you played the original Yoshi’s Island on the SNES, this game will be very familiar to you. In fact, it works on the same exact engine. You work your way through every level in the game until you reach the end. Each level has its own gimmick or feature, and throughout the levels, you can challenge yourself to obtain all of the hidden items and collectables you can get. Whenever you get hit by an enemy or an obstacle of some kind (one that can’t one-hit kill you), Baby Mario will fly off of Yoshi’s back in a bubble and you must get him back before a timer reaches “0” (your star count). If you fail to get him back, or die through some other means, the screen will fade to black and you must start the stage over from the beginning or the last middle ring you touched. Midway through each world, you will have a battle with Kamek, which will usually consist of you bonking him with an egg, or using the battle arena to your advantage. At the very end of each world, Kamek will use his power to turn a small creature into a boss creature. Although it changes the formula, I do like this change for being something a little different, even though you would think that the Kamek battles will be tougher because he is kind of the main bad guy. In terms of difficulty though, it works, because the big bosses are generally a lot more difficult.

Although it is unrequired to beat the game, like Yoshi’s Island, you can also try and collect every red coin and flower in all of the stages, along with beating a stage with 30 stars as well. You will find that the challenge is actually made a lot easier this time though. In the original game, along with Yoshi’s Island DS, you had to collect all of these items in one go of the stage in order to record a perfect 100% score for that level, and when I said all of the items, I meant all of them. In Yoshi’s New Island, you have a bit of a buffer where you only need to collect a complete set of each collectable in order for it to count. So for example, if you accidentally get hit at the end of the stage and end up with only 29 stars, but you did collect all the red coins and flowers; if you finish the stage, you don’t have to collect the red coins and flowers again, just the stars. I think this makes the challenge a bit more fair for people who may struggle with these tasks and I do not have a problem with it. However, I do have a problem with the way you have to locate some of these items, because some of the locations are kind of ridiculous and random. Sometimes, in order to trigger a red coin or flower to appear, you have to step on specific locations of the stage. For example, in one stage you have to run under a mushroom for a group of coins to appear on top of the very same mushroom. Now, in most cases, some of these locations are pretty obvious and you will be able to spot out the spots pretty easily. However, there were some stages where I had to play through multiple times before I found everything, and in the cases of red coins, this means I had to recollect every coin on every attempt afterwards. This is why I recommend trying to beat the stage slowly at first, checking all locations and just exploring the level in general. That way, even if you have to redo the stage for stars, you can pretty much run through the entire stage without stopping for anything except the stars themselves, and most of the levels aren’t too long anyway. Also, whenever you restart from a middle ring, your stars will always go back to 10, not what you had when you made it there. This means if you die during a level and you want to complete the star run, you are better off just starting the stage over, which is why I almost recommend you just focus on red coins and flowers first.

I wouldn’t say the game itself is really that hard though. There are definitely some trouble spots, but I think they are all very fair challenges and the difficulty is consistent, or at the very least, not all over the place. I also appreciated the challenges of the secret levels (from getting all stars, red coins and flowers in an entire world) , but I will say now that some of the challenges could cause some frustration. If you thought “Poochy Ain’t Stupid” was a hard level, “See Poochy Run!” will make you want to hate the little doggy forever. And “Snow Go Mountain,” takes bullet bill jumping to an extreme where you start to wonder if Nintendo is trying to team up with Mario ROM hackers. It’s like I said though, the difficulty of just getting through the game is fair and and has a nice, linear progression, but the randomness of getting 100% on every level is what I think will cause gamers to get a little annoyed at doing a full (100%) playthrough. Also, remember the Super Guide from every single Nintendo modern platformer since New Super Mario Bros. Wii? It’s back, but this time in the form of Yoshi wings, that will allow you to hover through a level at your own leisure and comfort. As usual though, if you want the full experience of the game, you cannot use this feature at all unless you go back to that level and beat it the normal way, because you will not be able to fight the true final boss until then.

As I said before, not much has changed in the world’s of Yoshi’s Island, and while I think that is good for players who didn’t want a drastic gameplay change, players who expect an entirely new game will be a bit disappointed. Let me explain; Yoshi’s New Island is not a port or remake of Yoshi’s Island by any stretch of the imagination, but there are times that you will feel like you are playing one. A lot of the levels from Yoshi’s New Island are very similar, or at the very least, use extremely similar level themes from the original Yoshi’s Island. In fact, when I was going through World 3 of New Island, I found an extremely close parallel from each level that linked to a level of World 3 from the SNES game. “The Cave of Harry Hedgehog” is now called “Harry Hedgehog Labyrinth,” “Don’t Fear the Spear” features lots of spear guys like in “Jungle Rhythm,” and “Slime Drop Drama” really reminded me a lot of Prince Froggy’s Fort.” Now, like I said, the levels aren’t carbon copies or anything, but it really felt like this game took a lot of inspiration from the original…almost a bit too much. Almost to the point where it seems they just took the original game, updated the graphics, and just changed the rooms in every level. Does that make the game bad? No it doesn’t, but it doesn’t make the game very unique or interesting either, and if anything, I was a little disappointed that they played it so safe.

One of the biggest new features of the game are the huge eggs Yoshi can use in a few of the different levels. Whenever Yoshi encounters a huge shy guy, he can swallow the beast to create a huge egg that will allow him to launch throughout the room and collect goodies, being able to destroy boulders that would otherwise be indestructible. While this does seem egg-citing, pardon my pun, it is so under-used and undeveloped. That is literally the only use you have for the giant eggs and you can’t even take them out of the room or level you get them in. They are just a one-time gimmick that you may or may not use to get through a room, and that is very disappointing to me. There are also giant metallic eggs that pretty much have the same purpose, with the small addition that they will also allow you to sink and walk underwater. Again, you only use them in only a few levels, so they don’t really add a lot to the game. The only other addition I can think of is the revamping of the Yoshi transformations. The transformations are now limited to a single room that you enter via a transformation portal. Many of these transformations are completely optional with the exception of getting 100% on the level. The twist with these transformations is that they are all controlled by the 3DS’s gyro controls. Now, while I am not a big fan of being forced to use gyro controls in games, at least in this case, they are manageable and not a big part of the game itself. In fact, there is no penalty if you screw up the section, because if you run out of time, you have the option to try again with no penalty. Aside from that though, these are the only “NEW” things you will find in Yoshi’s New Island, and I think that is a bit of a letdown.

Another thing that was a huge letdown for me was the music. When I was kid, I absolutely adored the music for Yoshi’s Island. It was catchy, memorable, and the kind of music that you just didn’t mind if it repeated. In this game, a lot of the tracks that are featured in the game are remixes…remixes done with a kazoo-like instrument in the background. Before I got the game, I had heard rumors of the game’s horrific soundtrack, but I wanted to give the game the benefit of the doubt and at least see the kind of style they were going for. The moment I heard the “Ending Stage” theme, I swear, I don’t think I ever turned the volume bar back up again for the entire duration of the playthrough. That may seem a bit harsh, but it just murders the original arrangements of the songs, and not in a good way. Whether they were going for a specific style or not, it just didn’t fit the mood for Yoshi’s Island and that for me was something that kind of irritated me. As far as the graphical presentation, I don’t feel like it was butchered by any means, but it just didn’t excite me as much as the original, which was very vibrant and colorful. I think they were going for a more realistic, but still cartoonish, envirionment, and while I don’t think it’s necessarily a bad thing, it just didn’t have the same affect on me as the original did.

As far as the controls are concerned, I do feel like the game was able to capitalize on having very fluid motion and full control of Yoshi and Baby Mario. There was rarely a situation where I felt like a certain jump or movement was impossible, and I felt like Yoshi’s flutter-jump was actually the best it has ever been. There were times where I was able to make a jump that should have been impossible, but thanks to my creativity and using the environment around me, I never felt like I was screwed and I had the confidence to at least try something to save myself, and that is something I think is missing from platforming games.

As far as the entire game is concerned, it’s not a very long adventure and you should be able to complete it in a few hours, a time that may double if you decide to go for 100% in every level. However, getting 100% doesn’t feel as worth it as it was in the original game, and I think that’s a problem. It may just be the nostalgia talking, but I really don’t feel like I accomplished much in New Island by going for 100% completion…probably because getting 100% felt more like a chore I could easily just knock out in 3 very minimalistic playthroughs of the same level, as opposed to SNES Island where I was challenged to do everything in one go. I also may be a bit spoiled by achievements and unlockables that exist in other games, but I feel like the game could have at least given something to show for all of my hard work or something I could come back to and say that I was proud that I beat this game. A lot of people were also really turned off when it came to the game’s final boss and the game’s ending sequence. I’m not going to try and spoil very much, but I will say the final boss was not very exciting and the ending…well, let’s just say the ending didn’t exactly stir up any waves in Mario franchise…not that anyone should be surprised.

All in all, I wouldn’t say that Yoshi’s New Island is a bad game. It still caught my attention enough to finish the game completely and was a pretty solid platformer in general. However, if you played the original Yoshi’s Island, or even Yoshi’s Island DS, keep your expectations low because this game doesn’t do enough to break itself away from the mold that Yoshi games have already established. That’s why I was a bit more excited for Yarn Yoshi (or Yoshi’s Wooly World) because even though the yarn-gameplay was already used in Kirby’s Epic Yarn, at least the gameplay will be different for Yoshi standards. I did want to give this game a shot though after being a fond lover of the original game and although I was disappointed in some aspects, I wasn’t completely disappointed.

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SlimKirby Reviews: Super Mario 3D World

Hello everybody, SlimKirby here, and welcome to my website’s very first game review!

Today I will be taking a look at Mario’s latest adventure in the platforming realm, Super Mario 3D World. The game came out at the tail-end of last year and was first introduced not long before at E3 2013. When the game was first shown, I was excited because I was a big fan of Super Mario 3D Land on the 3DS and I was happy to see the formula being continued. It was also interesting to see the implementation of a brand-new and highly-unique power-up in the form of Cat Mario. Combine all of those elements with multiplayer that has made the New Super Mario Bros. series famous, and you have a very nice package.

Now, this game has actually been out for a few months now, but I finally got a chance to play it at the start of this month for my 24-hour Mario stream. Although my first experience was kind of weird, due to the effects of playing nonstop video games for almost 24-hours, for the rest of the week, I got to sit down and enjoy the game the way the game was meant to be enjoyed. I consider myself a very big Mario gamer, so I was really interested in seeing how this game would stack up to the rest. Remember, everything being said in this review is based off of my own personal opinions and experiences, and there is a very big spoiler warning in regards to some of the content I will be discussing. These are things you should keep in mind before reading on.

The story is a typical Mario plot that you’ve come to expect with any Mario game; the only thing worth noting is that this is one of the few games where Princess Peach does not get kidnapped. While watching fireworks outside of Peach’s Castle, our heroes meet the princess of the Sprixie Kingdom. She informs them that Bowser has kidnapped her people, but before she can give any details, the koopa king snatches her as well and takes her captive in her own kingdom, which has also been taken over by Bowser. Mario, Luigi, Toad, and Peach follow Bowser and must now rescue all of the kidnapped sprixies and save the kingdom once and for all.

Super Mario 3D World is a platforming game through and through. You make your way through various worlds consisting of multiple levels that you must navigate through and grab the flagpole at the very end of each stage. Unlike the 2D platforming we’ve come to know from Super Mario Bros. and Super Mario World though, this game focuses on using 3D linear maps much like in Super Mario Galaxy 2 and Super Mario 3D Land. Mario will not be going alone in this adventure though. The full cast of playable characters from Super Mario Bros. 2 has returned and you are now able to use them at your leisure.

Much like in Super Mario Bros. 2, each character has their unique advantages and disadvantages to their gameplay. Mario is the all-around average character that we all know him as; he can jump and far and is pretty quick on his feet, but he doesn’t excel in any one attribute. Luigi can jump the highest and even has a small bit of floatiness to his jump, but aside from that, his jumps don’t get very much distance, he is kind of slow, and his traction is actually pretty bad. Princess Peach is the slowest character around and doesn’t jump incredibly high either, but with her dress, she can float in the air and keep the same altitude for a short period of time. Because of this, she is actually in my opinion the easiest character to use in a lot of the most difficult platforming stages. Toad is not a great jumper at all, but what he lacks in jumping, he makes for in pure speed. In a jump-heavy game like this one, you would think Toad would be the hardest character to use, but you would be surprised to see how beneficial that speed of his can be. Despite their differences though, I wouldn’t say that any character is that much better than the other. There are some situations where some characters would be more beneficial than others, but you never feel like it’s an impossibility with any character…at least when you are just playing straight through the game. During my first playthrough, I just selected a random character for every level and let that character be the only one I used. Then if I had to go back through and unlock something, I would use a different one, just to get a little variety.

The levels in this game are very well-designed and feature classic Mario obstacles, enemies and platforming elements. You feel like you are playing a Mario game when you go through this adventure, but there are plenty of new experiences and implementations that make this experience fresh and unique. It does have a lot of similarities to other games of the franchise, but with the new power-ups and challenges, it doesn’t feel entirely repetitious either. Going through the levels to complete them is just one of the few challenges you will be offered in this game. Throughout the levels, there are also a variety of collectables to find and obtain that will unlock bonus features and awards during the game. Most levels will feature 3 green stars (replacing the star coins from the New Super Mario Bros. series) and a stamp to collect. Some of these objects can be found by just being observant and paying attention to how certain structures of a level are set up. If there is a platform that appears off the beaten path, chances are there is a green star or stamp in that location. Sometimes you may need a power-up to find what you are looking for as well. In fact, a vast majority of the green stars and stamps can be found by climbing up walls with the cat power-up. Like in Super Mario 3D Land, the challenge of grabbing the top of each flagpole in every level has also returned, but with Princess Peach (who can just float to the top) and the cat power (which will allow you to quite literally climb to the top), this challenge is very easy to master.

As for the power-ups you can collect, a vast majority of the power-ups we’ve seen in other games are here. You have the Fire Flower, the Super Leaf, and the invincibility Starman. The Boomerang Flower from Super Mario 3D Land also returns as well. New to the list though is the the Super Bell which is what allows Mario and his friends to wear the newly-introduced cat suits. While wearing the cat suit, you can directly attack enemies right in front of your face with a deadly scratch attack. You can also dash and run at a much quicker pace and when you jump, you can do a diagonal-dive attack which can also be used as a means for finishing long jumps across a wide chasm. The most useful feature of this new suit though is the ability to grab and climb up walls. This is very helpful for finding hidden goodies throughout the levels in the game and also as a means for recovering from mistimed jumps. As mentioned earlier, there is also no excuse for not grabbing the top of the flagpole with the cat suit because any normal jump onto the flagpole will allow you to quite easily climb to the top. Along with the Super Bell, there is also a cherry power-up that will allow you to duplicate yourself into a clone and control yourself and the clone at the same time. This power-up also stacks up so you can have up to five or six (at least) clones on the field at once. Keep in mind though, every clone is controlled through the same button inputs, so there may be scenarios where a clone may get off sync and die. It doesn’t matter which clone dies though, as whatever clone remains, after the death of the other ones, is the real deal. There are also a few other power-ups that exist, but they are very situational and level-specific, so you will not see them very often.

When playing this game, you can control your characters using the Wii U gamepad, a Wiimote, the Wiimote and Nunchuck, or the classic/pro controllers. I personally like using the Wii U gamepad as it allows, in my opinion, the best control of your characters and has a screen on the controller that allows you to look down and still see everything that is going on. Controlling your characters is definitely not bad or difficult, but I did have some issues in contrast to some other Mario games. One of my biggest problems was using the “dash” move. I feel like there is too big of a window for the dash move to start working and feel like it should be more instantaneous. Although I understand the reasoning for not doing it this way, it does make some sections kind of awkward; for example, when you are on a very small platform trying to make a big jump to another platform…there isn’t a lot of room to run on the platform, so you will often come up short on some of your jumps. This is especially true when trying to reach the the top of the flagpole without Peach or the cat suit. Although it can be managed and will take some practice on your part, some of these scenarios are very hit-and-miss, so if you fail, you will either have to do the entire level over again, or just a small part of the level again, which is kind of annoying.

Despite those problems though, I wouldn’t say the game is really that difficult or challenging. Although, the further you get into the game, the difficulty will certainly ramp up, and to be honest, some of the later levels can pose a bit of a challenge. Most of it though comes from the added goals of collecting all of the green stars and stamps, or getting to a certain point in the level with a particular power-up. However, the levels are quite short and there really is no penalty or disadvantage to losing all of your lives, so it’s the kind of challenge that you can attempt constantly with no cost to failing. It does feel rewarding though when you finally collect all the green stars or beat a level that took you over 10 or 20 tries to get right, and that is something I can really appreciate from this game.

When you beat the main game, you can be assured that your quest will not end there, because there are at least 3 more full-length worlds you will need to complete for the postgame. The main game features six worlds and two finale worlds. Afterwards, you have the 3 bonus worlds and a world that features the three most challenging levels of the game. The bonus worlds feature the toughest levels in the game, and a large majority of those leves are revisitations of older stages with a new feature or greater challenge, like doing the level on a shorter time limit or having platforms and spike traps moving at a much faster speed. You need to be ready for these challenges because they are quite literally the toughest parts of the game. These levels actually reminded me of Super Mario Bros.: The Lost Levels, where in some cases, the hardest levels were repeats of earlier levels with stricter contraints and tougher obstacles to overcome. To unlock the pennultimate world, you need to collect everything you are able to get at that point in the game, so you better have started collecting all the green stars, stamps, and flags. There are only three levels in this world, but they are quite literally the hardest challenges that the game has to offer and is well worth the amount of collecting you need to do to make it to this point. I should also mention that when you get to a certain point in the bonus world, you will also unlock a fifth character you choose in addition to your four heroes. This character has come from “galaxies” away to leave their footprint on the platforming world and has unique attributes like the other four characters.

If you want to be able to tell people that you’ve completed everything that Super Mario 3D World has to offer, you better get ready to play your heart out and collect everything like mad, because there is a lot to do if you want to complete the game in full. In addition to beating every level, collecting every green star and stamp, and touching the top of the flagpole of every level, you need to simply complete every level with all 5 characters. If you don’t have people to play with, this feat can take up to five full-length playthroughs of the entire game, which is kind of a pain. Now, if you have others you can play with, this can easily be done by using multiple characters at once because completing a stage with four players will count each character that each person is playing as for completing that stage, meaing you will only have to complete 2 playthroughs. A simple way to do this is to basically play the whole game with 4 people, and then come back later as the single person, play as the character that wasn’t used, and collect everything that wasn’t gotten in the multiplayer playthrough. Another reassuring point is that once you have collected all of the green stars, stamps and flags, you don’t need to worry about getting them again, so you can easily just zoom through the stages without having to worry about any of that extra stuff.

The final thing I will be taking a look at is the game’s presentation. For the most part, there’s not a lot that needs to be said about this game; itt’s another good quality Mario game. The environments look colorful and nice and are fun to explore. The music is great and catchy. The gameplay is easy enough for anybody to pick up and play without difficulty, yet still encourages them to want to get better to take on the later challenges of the game. Plus, with all of the collectables and five different characters to experience, it offers a lot of gameplay time and replayability to boot. I wouldn’t say it’s the greatest Mario game, and probably not the greatest 3D iteration of the series, but you get a good bang for your buck and a very memorable experience. The only things that hold back this game from getting a perfect score are minor control issues and the fact that a large number of levels/worlds feature miniscule repeat levels when I would have much rather seen unique and original content. In a way, this almost made the game seem a little unfinished, but that’s not to say the game is unpolished either. For what it offers; Super Mario 3D World is quite literally “the cat’s meow” when it comes to Wii U platforming games.

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SlimKirby Goes to PAX-Land!

Hello everybody, SlimKirby here, and it has been awhile since I’ve given you guys a proper update from my front. I really wanted and tried to give more updates, but there was just so much going on and I don’t really know where to begin! Thankfully though, only one aspect of this past month will be important to you guys, and that is the part I will be talking about in this post; PAX East 2014!

No Stranger to PAX

For those who have been following my channel for awhile, you guys should know that this wasn’t the first time I attended PAX East. I went to the convention back in 2012, and while I did have some good times, there was also some personal trauma that accompanied that trip. I’m not going to get into all of the details of what went down, but safe to say, I did make some mistakes that ended up ruining the trip for me. Because of that, and some valuable hindsight I received from a person who is very close to me, I didn’t even attend PAX East 2013. It was a personal decision I made and stand by, and because I didn’t go for that trip, I was able to save my resources for two trips to Europe in the same year; two trips that ended up being way more worth it. In 2014 though, I felt a lot more comfortable attending the convention, especially since I was attending event with my girlfriend and two very close friends of mine, and as a result, I was en route to Boston before I knew it!

The Dorkly Four

There was another big happening amongst the gleeful chaos that was PAX East. This was also the first time, in ten years, that FiyahKitteh (my girlfriend) was going to be visiting the United States. She lives in Germany and is not able to afford very many trips across the pond that is the Atlantic Ocean, which is a shame because a large majority of her friends live over here in the USA, so this was a very special trip for her as well. Not to mention, this was also her first American gaming convention, so I was very interested in seeing/hearing her thoughts and impressions. Alongside us, we also were attending the convention with Youtube users PowerToMario and ThePastaKing, both veterans of the Crystal Star Studio cooperative channel that I collaborated on for a few years. We had discussed this arrangement for months prior to the convention, had a very organized schedule of what we would do during the weekend (including what panels to attend and where we would eat our meals), and were even staying in the same hotel room. Also, as a group of four, we are all really close and have gone through many hardships together, often helping each other out during the course of those hardships. Safe to say, we were all looking forward to meeting and spending time with each other, and by the end of the weekend, I can safely say that we all got closer.

Underwhelming Chaos at the Convention Center

For months leading up to the convention, people were saying that this particular PAX East was going to be the biggest and busiest event so far, and my god, in terms of people, they were not kidding in the slightest. The show floor was packed and the League of Legends section alone had people stacked on top of each other like totem poles. Back in 2012 when I went, there was still a massive crowd of people, but at least I felt like I could actually move around without being pushed around by the people behind me. It also didn’t help that a lot of the stuff that I really wanted to see wasn’t present in the slightest bit, or if it was, not to the extent that I was hoping. This is why I say that the convention was chaotic, yet underwhelming at the same time. It was just a mess of people and booths and there just wasn’t a lot for me to personally enjoy. Because of this, kitteh and I actually left the convention center pretty early on Friday because I just wasn’t feeling it…in fact, it quite literally made me feel ill. The fact we had to walk (although it was more like rushing) to the convention center didn’t make it any easier either.

Saturday of Satisfaction

Saturday went a lot better than what Friday did. Friday just felt like chaos in every way, shape and form, and on Friday, the group and I at least had a general plan for what we were going to do and what we wanted to see. It also really helped to see Tommy (PowerToMario) in his cosplay (Apollo from Smite) all day because that guy really knows how to have a good time when he is in the zone, and he was seriously in that zone the entire time he was dressed up as Apollo. There were also a bunch of other really awesome moments that happened on this day, but I’ll get into them in the future sections of this article.

About the Panels

So not only was there an expo floor that had various booths featuring the latest creations from popular gaming developers and indie developers alike, but there were also panel discussions that were held in the various conference theaters throughout the convention center during the weekend. I will go ahead and say right now that I didn’t attend any of the huge panels like the RoosterTeeth panel or the “Thrown Controllers” event hosted by TheRunawayGuys. I actually attended panels that were more important and relevant to me and the type of work I do on Youtube. For example, the first panel I attended was called “Why No One Will Game With You,” a panel discussing the difficulty in finding gaming partners and groups for multiplayer games. This topic really spoke to my group and I because we are all really interested in the MOBA Smite and we’ve all had problems in finding people to play with so we could have a fully functional team that can cooperate and work together. I also attended a panel with kitteh about podcasting. We had done podcasts and discussions before, but not very frequently, and we have been interested in doing more stuff in that realm. The panel was very helpful in giving us information about what we should aim for and try to do when it came to making our podcasts a regular thing. We also attended a panel about pitching a gaming story to game developer. Although this was not necessarily in my realm of work, this was something Nima (ThePastaKing) was interested in watching and kitteh and I were actually more interested in watching another panel that was going on at the same time, but since it filled up before we could get inside, we decided to go with Nima instead, since the topic was kind of interesting. It was a good replacement though and was definitely not a waste of time, even in the slightest bit. Overall, the panels we attended were actually really informative and fun to listen to and can be a good way to relax after the unavoidable pain your feet will experience as you walk around for hours.

Meeting New People and Seeing Old Friends

Another big highlight of the weekend was getting acquainted with new people and becoming reacquainted with old friends. I had shared a room with Tommy when we attended PAX East 2012 and have spent several months with kitteh when I visisted her in Europe, so there were no surprises when it came to those two. However, this was the first time I met Nima though and meeting him was quite the thrill for me. He is honestly a really great person to be around and can be the life of the party when he is in that comfort zone, and he must have been really comfortable because for the life of me, I couldn’t stop laughing and having fun when he was around. We had played some games together during the event and he was always fun to play and compete with. He is definitely a guy I would love to spend more time with. Although I spent the majority of my time with those three, I did run into some faces from my past, including Natalie (MadameToadstool), Allison (Littlefu68), Autumn (GaiaCrusher9), Scott (scottman895), and Eric (ShadowMarioXLI). It was really cool seeing them all again and talking to them for a bit, as it had been awhile since I last had contact with them. I even briefly got to talk to Bethany (MadameWario), but it was quite literally for only a minute when we were leaving the airport on our return-trip home. It’s always a shame when people start disappearing from your life due to the different directions you will undoubtedly take, but it’s cool to see and talk to them again, even if it is for just a moment. As for other new people, I finally got to meet Kyle (Odinspack33), Alicia (Xenonia11), and Jamsie (Skinl3y19), but these meetings were so brief that it was almost kind of sad that I didn’t get to spend more time with them, especially Kyle and Skinley because they are people I would really like to work with and collaborate with on a regular basis on Youtube. Here is to hoping we will be able to hang out more during other conventions!

Making Days

One very important detail I left out of the Saturday adventure was a particular booth I got to visit. Frogdice, the creators of “Dungeon of Elements,” a game I have been showcasing on my channel every now and then, had a booth on display on the show floor. Because of this, I was determined to meet with them and see if they had anything cool in the works. I had been in discussion with Frogdice before, in fact, one of the reasons why I decided to show off Dungeon of Elements was because I was in a casual discussion with the president of the company after he told me that his daughter was a fan of my channel. After a bit of talk, he told me was an indie developer and was working on promoting his company’s game. After taking a look at it, I was honored to showcase it on my channel. At PAX, I got to meet him and his wife (who was the vice-president of the company) and give them one of my “merch-packs” to give to their daughter. I also stuck around and got to take a look at their newest game, Reign Maker, which looked pretty awesome. I’ll have to cover it on my channel someday, in some fashion. I also got to meet some other fans of mine who were looking forward to meeting me at the convention. I really only got to meet two people in this fashion, as I wasn’t there very long on Friday and Saturday I was all over the place. I hope you guys enjoyed the “merch-packs” though! =)

SlimKirby: The Cosplay

This was also my first attempt at “cosplaying,” but I’ll go ahead and say that my efforts were pretty casual as a first timer and there was nothing incredibly complicated about what I was going for. You see, the original plan was for me to go as a companion to accompany kitteh’s “Tenth Doctor” cosplay that she was wearing on Saturday. As a result, I didn’t exactly have to wear anything super complicated because the companions always wear very casual clothing. However, I got a pair of blue suspenders over Christmas to help with my pants falling down (after losing over 100 pounds over the last year, my pants are suddenly too big me XD), and whenever I wear a red or green shirt alongside these suspenders, people always tell me that I look like the Mario Bros. I took this opportunity to cosplay as Super Mario on Friday, but with a slight twist. Because I needed a red cap of some kind, and because “SlimKirby” wears a red cap as well, I did a double cosplay of both Mario and SlimKirby as I brought a pair of sunglasses too. To be honest though, the cosplaying didn’t do very much for me and almost seemed like more effort than it was worth. It could have been because my cosplays were very minimal in execution, but even then, I was pretty uncomfortable in extremely casual wear and would have much rather wore something else. On the flip side though, Tommy’s Apollo cosplay was completely badass, and I still have very heartwarming thoughts of kitteh’s “FiyahKitteh” cosplay that she wore on Friday. I have to say…that FiyahKitteh is one beautiful gal, especially when she is dressed up! =3

Overall Thoughts: The True PAX Experience

Now that I’ve covered a lot of of the small things that went on during my PAX adventure, how did I feel with the trip overall? Overall, I had an amazing time, but honestly, very few of the best moments could really be attributed to the convention itself. I honestly had more fun hanging out with my group of friends than actually attending the convention. In fact, the convention actually kind of took away from the experience because we were separated from our group for a large percentage of the time, and getting prepared for the convention and traveling to the convention ate up a lot of unnecessary time as well, especially on Friday (although Friday was a really weird day as it was). However, I think that is what ultimately makes the conventions as fun and as hyped as they are. It gives groups of friends a chance to meet-up and hang out at a place where they can embrace their inner-video game passions. The conventions aren’t really even that necessary as you can honestly schedule a cooperative trip amongst a group of friends whenever you want, wherever you want, but with the way these conventions are set-up, particularly for people like me, kitteh, Tommy, Nima, and the others, this is a perfect opportunity to meet up with everyone, do some networking at the convention itself with other gamers, and have everything going on at pretty much one place.

There were some really great moments at the convention though, don’t get me wrong; watching Tommy walk around like a rockstar in his Apollo cosplay. Meeting the president and vice-president of Frogdice was another moment that I’ll remember forever. Spending some quality time with kitteh at the top of the skybridge, looking down at the convention and watching life and time pass us by was also a really sweet, cool and memorable moment. And then, meeting some friends of mine from the past was also extremely awesome, being able to catch up with those who I have not talked to for what felt like ages! I can’t say that the convention did “nothing” for the trip, but there were definitely moments that stood out a little more for me.

The parts of this weekend that really stood out for me though were spending time with kitteh, Tommy and Nima; exploring the Boston area, playing video games in our awesome Jr. Executive hotel room, eating some really excellent food, and having some really awesome talks and laughs along the way. That’s the stuff that really stood out for me and were the things that made this weekend as awesome as it was. And you know, I think that is the beauty of the PAX conventions….by themselves, they don’t really do a whole lot, but the people you meet and you go with, that is what stands out the most. In other words, if you plan to go to a convention all by yourself and have no plans to meet up with anybody, I think it’s going to be really hard to enjoy yourself. I’m sure there might be a few people who will disagree, but at least for me, that is what it feels like.

What would I do for next PAX? Well, I would try to schedule a little extra time for me and my friends, maybe even an extra day or two that we can use just to enjoy ourselves and have a little more fun. As for the actual convention itself….I’d do a lot more street passing on my 3DS. Seriously, every year they give you more and more puzzle panels and more street pass games…it’ll take me forever to complete those at this rate. X_X

But seriously, I look forward to what future PAX conventions (and maybe just gaming conventions in general) will bring. But until then, this is SlimKirby, signing out!

 

If you would like to take a look at another PAX East 2014 perspective, you can check out FiyahKitteh’s summary of her trip and her favorite moments of the trip!

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Freemium Gaming: Too Smart or Too Greedy?

One of the most popular ways to play video games today involves the use of mobile devices. When I say mobile device, I’m not referring to handheld gaming like the Nintendo DS, 3DS, or even the Playstation Vita. I’m talking about iPads, touchpads, iPhones, phonepads, touchphones….basically any device that has a screen, a touch pad of some kind, and a million other apps that come along with it. These days, it’s almost a rule that every family member must have a device of this caliber, and if you don’t have one, I applaud you for not allowing the greedy hands of technology take you to their underworld.

Don’t get me wrong, I don’t have a problem with these devices. I wish they would stop upgrading to a new device every month, or at the very least, I wish all of these companies would join together on one front to just release one brand so we could cut the need to offer several choices of a very expensive device that is no different from any other one, but that is very unrealistic thinking. I think it’s great that mobile devices have come such a long way from what used to be the cell phone, and with the inclusion of games, the Internet, touch technology, and a variety of other programs and functionalities, the technology is quite impressive considering. The only reason why I do not own any of these devices though is the simple fact that; I already have a perfectly working cell phone, laptop computer, and a variety of different video game systems. Perhaps I could see the need after the very unlikely scenario that I would happen to lose all the aforementioned devices at once, but even more than that, I’m an individual that does better when functions are distributed to specific platforms and not all on the same one.

However, because this is a gaming website, I would like to focus on the games that are on these devices. And you want to know something, I think a lot of these games are really, really good. My favorite mobile game would have to be Plants vs. Zombies. I know the game initially came out for the PC and not mobile devices, but I think it’s a perfect example for what these mobile games are striving for. It’s the type of game that allows you to pick it up, play a few a levels and get a decent amount of enjoyment out of it, and easily put it down when you’ve had your fill. I’d much rather play this game on the PC or my Xbox 360, but I can see how and why it makes good, mobile entertainment. In fact, the sequel to Plants vs. Zombies was also only released for mobile devices, a move that actually made me very sad at first, until I found out about specific content in regards to the game. A lot of these games also fit into the puzzling genre, with games like Bejeweled, Peggle, a variety of different Tetris clones, and most famously (or should I say notoriously) Candy Crush Saga.

If you have a mobile device, or at the very least, an account on Facebook, you’ve probably heard a variety of things about Candy Crush. You may remember such classic lines like, “Your friend Tommy has beat Level 32,” “Tina has created a striped candy,” or “Mark needs some help in accessing the next level!” If you’ve seen these lines and have no idea what they mean, you have a friend that is addicted, or has been addicted, to Candy Crush Saga.

For those who are unaware, Candy Crush Saga is a puzzle game, developed by the indie gaming distributor King, that works pretty similarly to the game Bejeweled. You are given a grid with several blocks, or in this case, candy, and your goal is to achieve the mission objective by swapping/switching candy. Whenever there are three candies that are adjacent to each other (vertically or horizontally), the candies will disappear and any candies above the match will fall further down the board. You also can’t switch any candies unless they make a a match, requiring you to deal only with the moves you are given from the get-go, and not allowing for a lot of strategy in between. The mission objectives vary from stage to stage. For some stages, you need to get a certain amount of points before you run out of moves or get a certain amount of points before your time runs out. Other stages will require you to bring down specific items from the top of the board to the very bottom, or in other cases, collecting a set number of each color of candy before you run out of moves. Then there are my least favorite levels, the jelly levels, where you have to clear out all of the jelly on the board by making matches on all of the spaces that have the jelly markings on them. The game seems simple enough in concept, especially once you see it in action, but the recipe for difficulty is one that will throw you through a loop, particularly when you first leave the tutorial levels.

The fact of the matter is, every level is completely random in terms of what blocks you will get and what blocks will appear on screen once you have made a match. This means that you don’t necessarily have control over what happens after every move. There are some scenarios where you can look ahead and think, “Ok, well, I need to make a 5 candy match of purples, but I have to move this other purple candy over first so I can place it in the middle of these two sets of 2 purples,” and that’s all nice and dandy, but while you are moving the purple candy over, you run the risk of another match happening while you are setting the combo up, effectively ruining your progress. Plus, because you only have a specific amount of moves (or time) for each stage, every time you move one candy to set up a combo, you are effectively running the risk of your game getting cut short, and depending on a match, that may or may not give you enough resources/points to actually win. The game is based on luck so much that there are times where the game just prematurely ends because there are no more possible moves you can make, when you are right in the middle of an extremely good run. I see what the developers were going for, and honestly, it was a good marketing strategy for the casual crowd of gamers as it meant anyone could clear the levels without having to rely on huge Tetris Attack styled combos. However, this gimmick is also one of the most annoying aspects of the game for everybody in general, because it makes the later stages of the game almost impossible to complete and introduces the most controversial feature of these types of games, the fact that Candy Crush is a “freemium” game.

What is a freemium game, you may be asking? A freemium game is a game that is free to purchase and play, but only allows you limited content. However, in order to experience other aspects of the game, you need to pay money to actually use these features. In most cases, including Candy Crush, the entire game can be played without having to purchase anything, but you can use your own money to purchase items that can make the game easier. You could almost compare this to the “Super Guide” feature in newer Nintendo games, but there aren’t any negative implications to using the items. Sometimes though, the items may not be able to help you finish the level at all, requiring you to waste even more money to get more or finally manning up and cutting your losses before you spend every cent you own.

Now, for gamers who think it is stupid to pay money to get a small advantage that may or may not help you, let me remind you that it is completely optional to do so. Like I said before, the entire game can be completed without purchasing a single power-up, or spending a few extra bucks on getting some more moves. However, like I also pointed out, this game is incredibly difficult and luck-based, so for those who are passionate about reaching the end of the road, the idea of spending some of your hard-earned cash may not be so one-sided. Just imagine reaching the end of a very difficult level, a level you’ve spent days trying to beat, and the only thing standing in your way is one more match. However, you have just ran out of turns and it may be a long time before you even make it to this point again. This makes the decision to spend money a lot harder, but I feel like people are more prone to actually spending the money just to get it over with. They feel like, “I’ve been doing this level forever and chances are, I’ll never get hung up on a level like this again,” so the decision seems easy.

This just so happens to be King’s marketing strategy though, and to be honest, it’s quite good as it allows them to use that kind of thinking to their advantage and possibly end up making more money than they would if they put the game on retail. One aspect I forgot to mention is that there are more than 500 levels in Candy Crush Saga, and it’s a number that continues to grow as they make new levels and redesign old levels to be put into the “Dream World” mode of the game (which consists of level repeats from the main game with a new gimmick in play). Due to the luck aspect of the game, there really isn’t much of a difficulty curve. Whenever you start a new world, the first few levels are generally pretty easy because they introduce a new gimmick and want to make sure you understand how it works. After those introductory levels though, you are on your own, so you better be ready for action…those stages aren’t going to mess around. When I played Candy Crush, I got stuck around Level 80 for the longest time, but once I made it past that level, I didn’t really have any issues with a level until I was in the 300 and 400s, and even then, I wouldn’t say the levels have been much different in difficulty.

I guess I should also mention the fact that in order to progress to the next world, you must do either one of two things. The first thing you can do is get three of your friends to allow you access by asking for their permission. The next time they play the game, they will be given a notification that you are trying to unlock the next world, and if they aren’t jerks, they can give you a ticket. When you have 3 tickets, the next world will unlock and you can continue to play. The second thing you can do is pay money to get to the next world. Honestly, considering how many people play Candy Crush, you should never be in a position to pay money, so do not even consider that option. Just ask your friends…chances are, they have probably already done the same thing. Another gimmick is the fact that there is a system of “lives” for the game. If you fail a mission, you lose a life. If you lose all of your lives, you either have to wait until you get a life refill (every 25-30 minutes, the game gives you an extra life), or pay to get five extra lives. Once again, because chances are that you will be failing on the same level over and over again, there is no need to purchase lives. At some point, your lives will grow back and if you ever spend money on an extra life, and you lose that life, it’s the same as throwing actual money down the drain.

King has done this type of game design with a large variety of their games and safe to say, they’ve probably made more money than what the government of the United States even has at their disposal. Although I think the actual plan is evil and greedy, I can respect a good marketing strategy, and right now, this strategy is kicking ass and taking names. It tempts their consumers in wanting to see more of the game and because of how cheap it seems (you can essentially buy 5 extra moves in one level for $1), people will do it just for the sake of moving on and accomplishing a hard-fought goal. As gamers though, we need to watch out and be aware of what we are giving them in return. It may not seem like you are spending a lot when you do it the first few times, but that is what catches you off-guard and I can imagine people forgetting that the game is taking actual money in. For example, imagine spending $1 on every world of the game; after you get through all of the worlds, that one dollar per world can end up being the price of a Nintendo DS game, and that would just be a best-case scenario. There are packages that can cost up to $20, $30, or even $50 dollars, and at that point, people may just start using their power-ups just for the sake of getting rid of them. This is why we need to be careful. Candy can be an addiction for people, but so can Candy Crush.

As far as the actual game is concerned, I like Candy Crush Saga. It’s fun, it’s very addictive, there is “some” aspect of puzzle-solving, and it’s a game I wish would be more available on different platforms. Not going to lie though, if they do offer it, or a game like it, I would hope that the freemium stuff would not be included just for the sake of being able to play a game without the added desire to spend money when we think we need it. In fact, I think the game would still be a success even if it was in retail and with the freemium stuff removed. They could make the levels a bit easier (and a little less based on luck) and still offer a full-retail price. However, with how many people buying their daily addictions of Candy Crush power-ups, I think King is sitting comfy at where they are now and all of their employees must have some pretty nice beach homes.

King is not the only company making use of the freemium logic in their games, but they are definitely the “kingpins” of this new lane of gaming. In fact, Plants vs. Zombies 2 and the Facebook iteration of the PvZ series have also used this logic in getting gamers to spend no money on the game itself, but lots of money on all of the other bells and whistles. Is this logic just a phase or will it become a new gaming standard? I for one hope it’s only the former though because I feel this strategy actually devalues the actual game itself, showing that the game cannot stand on its own feet and relies on the power of purchasing for a gamer to have any fun with it, or in some cases, actually complete it. I also feel like King has gone a little “mad with power” due to the success of Candy Crush Saga, but that is a topic I would like to discuss another day. For now, I’ve said my piece, and now I am curious to what you guys think about freemium gaming.

Later Star Warriors!

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Twitch Plays A Meme-a-thon!

The Internet has exploded with lots and lots of new gaming trends, most of which consist of the newest hit games. However, there are some trends that are very unique and focus on older classics games. Today I am going to be talking about one of the newest trends, and unless you are a gamer who has been living under a rock, the chances are that you have probably heard something in regards to the streaming channel known as “Twitch Plays Pokémon.”

Here is a little bit of background for those who do not know a whole lot about this phenomenon. Twitch Plays Pokémon was started about a month ago when the channel was first created for the purpose of a social experiment. The idea was to create program a bot that would play through the game Pokémon Red, taking in movement directions and button presses from the stream users who were chatting while the stream is live. The idea was to see how well the stream users would work together and how long it would take them to get to the very end of the game. At first, the results were very successful considering the small amount of traffic and popularity the stream would have at that point, but over time it would get to the point where there would be almost 100 button inputs per second. Safe to say, this led to a lot of situations where the main character would either go way further than intended, or spend up to 10 minutes looking through the item menu. This also led to numerous controversies and hardships; like buying the wrong evolution stone when having very limited funds, or perhaps the most damaging, releasing a decently leveled-up starter Pokémon into the wild, amongst several others.

A lot of these hardships and decisions were warmly welcomed by the viewing public though, looking at the events as less of a crutch but more of a meme or trend of some kind. One of the most prominent jokes is the “Praise Helix” meme, where the main character, while battling or getting through a particular area, would just randomly go into the item menu and try to use the “Helix Fossil” item, an item which cannot be used directly in that fashion, nor can it be thrown away. In fact, another meme would be the evolutionary stone incident I spoke of a little bit earlier. The original plan was to obtain a Vaporeon by evolving an Eevee with a Water Stone. However, because the audience had a hard time actually purchasing the Water Stone, they ended up with a Fire Stone instead, prompting Eevee’s evolution into Flareon instead. As a result, when the group tried to release or deposit Flareon into the PC storage system, they ended up releasing several Pokémon, including their starter and another Pokémon that had been with them for a very long time. Because of this, Flareon was given the nickname “The False Prophet.” This has also prompted a variety of other nicknames, like Pidgeot who is more commonly known as “Bird Jesus” during the playthrough; given the name due to its extremely high level (from being around since the beginning of the game) and being one of the biggest factors in many of the game’s big battles.

Despite all the difficulty, after about 2 weeks of live streaming, Twitch Plays Pokémon Red was completed, a feat that was actually quite impressive considering the circumstances. Now, don’t get me wrong, I am aware that the game can be completed in speed run fashion (without glitches) in about a few hours, however, you have to realize that with the way this was set-up and organized, an extremely long playtime was unavoidable. For one, Twitch already has a very noticeable and recognizable delay in streamer-chat interaction. So as a result, the audience who is watching and participating is at least 15 seconds behind what is actually going on. Second, we can’t be ignorant of the existence of trolls, or people who exist for the sole purpose of throwing a wrench into the works. I think one of the clearest examples of this mindset is when the main character is in a very unfortunate position where there is only a one-square line in between a wall and a ledge that the hero can fall off of. If they fall off the ledge, they have to restart the entire walk and do it over again. And let’s be real here; there will always be that one guy who wants to postpone progress for his own hilarity. Twitch Plays did actually interfere a few times and implemented a few different features to help the game move along, but the features are still pretty damn exploitable and easy to manipulate and mess up. So when it’s all said and done, I’m impressed that that it actually took them half the amount of time I expected them to finish with.

Now, before I get into how I feel about all of this, I will say that I did not watch very much of the stream, nor did I actually get into it. I was introduced to the stream by one of my closest friends who had wondered if I heard anything about it yet. This was at the very start of the second week and they were at the Safari Zone, trying to obtain the necessary items to progress the plot. I wondered if this feat was even possible, considering you have a very limited amount of spaces you can move before you are thrown out of the place completely. After watching about ten minutes of the affair, I clicked away and went back to whatever I was doing before that. It turns out that they did beat the Safari Zone, not long after I clicked away, but I still never had the desire to watch. I guess you could compare it to the “Observant Gamer Complex,” a condition where you are watching one of your favorite games being played, but feel almost irritated that it’s not being done in the way you are used to, or just in a very inefficient manner. You rememember whenever your best friend would come over to play Mario games with you, but you sometimes wish you could just take the controller out of his hand and do it your way? That’s what this stream kind of felt like for me and just didn’t seem like a very good use for my time. Every morning after I woke up and every night before I would go to sleep, I did check in to see how the game was progressing, and most of the time, I was actually really surprised at the results. Most of the time, I did walk in to a major trouble spot, usually the character trying to battle the evil “ledge” or even trying to get out of a Pokémon Center, but whenever I left and came back, usually that part was accomplished or finished in some way, so progress was definitely being made. I was just never around for it, nor did I really have an interest to be around for it.

When it’s all said and done though, I have to give Twitch Plays Pokémon credit where the credit is due. For a social experiment, it has definitely done an amazing job. I wouldn’t say it brought this world together, nor did it achieve anything worth a Nobel prize, but it accomplished what it set out to do, probably in ways that nobody expected. There were definitely a lot of changes and implementations that strayed away from what the original design of the project was, but I don’t feel like it affected the teamwork atmosphere. Various sites and Google documents were created just for the sole purpose of this streaming channel in coordinating with other players, gamers, and participants to nail down a concrete plan of attack for every single situation. When the “False Prophet” controversy happened, everybody was already working on the next plan of attack. When an HM move Pokémon was released, like clockwork, people came up with a Plan B and were ready to aim for a different Pokémon to incorporate into the team. Not only in long-term planning, but strategies were also created in order to control the vast number of inputs being made all at once, making use of the 15-second delay and a nifty “Start” button trick that would allow the character not to move in the wrong direction if it seemed like there would be a case of that.

I also think that Twitch Plays Pokémon did a lot of good in the creativity department as well. Although many of the jokes and memes are silly and were created for the sole purpose of humor, I can appreciate the way that the community tried to embrace it. Pictures and art were created, stories and fanfics were made…it turned a two-week session (of what should be a 50-hour (very, very rough estimate) normal game playthrough) of running into walls and checking out helix fossils into a entity of its own, almost a movie or narrative of some kind, and that’s something I can really respect and appreciate, even if it’s not something I am terribly interested in.

One day after the completion of Pokémon Red, it was to no surprise that Twitch Plays Pokémon started working on another Pokémon game, this time Pokémon Crystal. As of the moment I am writing this post, they are currently in the Kanto portion of the game (the shorter “2nd half” of the game after the Elite Four), so they have made a pretty good amount of progress for being this far into the game after only eleven days, especially considering that the second generation Pokémon games are easily twice as long as the first generation. I’m not sure if this means that the viewers are becoming more in-tune with how the channel or trolls work, or if they have just gotten incredibly lucky with the entire journey so far, but you can’t argue with results and progress.

I should also mention that since the creation of Twitch Plays Pokémon, there have been a variety of other channels created for the sole purpose of trying this experiment with other games. I am not surprised by this development, but from the look of things, nothing is as popular as Twitch Plays Pokémon.

That’s all I want to say about the matter. If you guys are interested in the Twitch Plays Pokémon action, check out the live stream located here. If you are like me and not really interested in watching Red/Silver walk into a wall for several hours, consider checking out the Google Docs page which does a great job of covering all of the essential information, including what the current “goal” is, and a link to a page which keeps a very detailed and live status report on everything that happens throughout the day and is updated quite regularly (so that it never feels like more than 30, 20, or even 10 minutes to get an update).

Thanks for reading today folks and I will see you Star Warriors next time!

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Are We Sexist Enough Yet?

It seems that over the last ten years, gaming has taken quite the turn from the days of Super Nintendo, Sega Genesis, and even the Playstation 2. Games have become more casual and have given people of different age groups and skill sets the chance to pick up a controller and not be utterly confused as a result. I’ve seen people who have never even played video games before, and those who had no interest in the field, get somewhat enamored with this technology after playing just one round of Wii Sports Bowling. It’s a field that continues to grow in popularity, and with the ever-growing accessibility of this medium, especially with the inclusion of social media and mobile technology with gaming, I don’t see an end to it anytime soon.

I could go into a giant discussion over the casualization of video gaming, but I think that is a talk I will save for another day. My focus for this post is a a very specific, but also a very large, group of people that have become quite prominent during this particular gaming age. I am, of course, talking about the “Gamer Girls,” or to be more specific, any female that plays video games.

Before I go any further, I should probably call attention to the fact that I am aware that the prospect of a “female gamer” is nothing new. I’ve known female gamers to exist back when I was only two or three years old. My aunt is the reason I fell in love with Super Mario World (and thus got introduced into gaming), my grandmother played Sonic the Hedgehog 2 with me whenever I came to visit her, and a friend of mine’s mom helped me beat The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening when I had no idea how to obtain the Nightmare Key in Level 2. Even my mom, who has trouble learning how to operate any of the electronics in our living room, played Zombies Ate My Neighbors with me when I was a kid and apparently got really into it. For me, this isn’t really anything new. This only seems like it is such a new thing because it has become so accessible now, and not to mention the age-old stereotype that unless sewing, cooking, or jewelry is involved, a girl would have no interest in being a part of it.

This stereotype is extremely short-sighted and narrow-minded, but despite the few examples I gave, I will admit that compared to the gamers I grew up around back then, female gamers are definitely more vocal about their gaming hobbies now. Is it solely because gaming is so much more mainstream these days? I suppose that could be a reason, but unfortunately I cannot say for certain. As a fellow gamer myself, I am glad that female gamers are being more vocal about their gaming passions. I don’t think there should be any restrictions when it comes to gaming and who can play games. However, I do feel like there are some issues to how this identity is being perceived and utilized.

A very current example of this would be the Nintendo Girl’s Club, an organization started by Nintendo UK to focus on the female demographic of gamers. The establishment of this channel has met with quite a bit of controversy though, and while I feel like Nintendo UK didn’t have any malicious or wrong intentions, I have to say that I agree with the masses. I watched a couple of their videos and I felt a little uneasy, and I am pretty sure the reason isn’t because I am not a girl. First off, they were speaking in a way where it felt like their audience knew nothing about video games, and for a channel that has a pre-determined audience they are making content for, it makes the statement that girls know next-to-nothing about video games. They could make the argument that they are trying to get girls into gaming, but on a medium like Youtube, I don’t feel like non-gamer females, or non-gamers in general, would be browsing those sites unless they already had an intention in getting into gaming (which I think is a small percentage already). Secondly, the content posted on the channel is very specific in nature, as there are not very many games covered, and the ones that are shown are games directed for a more casual crowd. Many videos are guides for small aspects of Animal Crossing: New Leaf (a game that is very safe and neutral in its target audience), or videos for games like New Art Academy and New Style Boutique. With these decisions, it doesn’t really feel they have an idea of what games female want to play and are going with a very safe approach instead.

When it comes to gaming, I don’t really think anyone is truly unaware of what is going on. You grab and hold a controller, you press some buttons, you learn what they do, and if something doesn’t work out, you try something else. That’s the simple logic of how video gaming works. While I was watching the videos, it seemed like they were under the impression that females can’t comprehend anything and need to have every little step explained to them. Let’s face it, it doesn’t matter what gender you are, but I’d imagine that being one of the biggest peeves of all time; being told how/what to do when the instructions are pretty damn clear. Hell, even if they aren’t completely obvious to everyone, it could always be one of those natural reactions of curiosity and discovery for the individual. Who is to say they want, or need for that to be explained?

There was indeed a time where women, in general, didn’t have a lot of rights and were seen as the cook, cleaner, and/or child raiser. However, those times are ages past and I would like to think we have evolved past that stage now. I guess to be fair, for videogames it’s not much of a sexist issue, as girls were never restricted from playing videogames, rather they just didn’t play them as often as males. However, in that notion lies another problem. I almost feel like this whole thing is being looked at as a sexist subject when it really shouldn’t be. I can understand that entities, like the Nintendo Girl’s Club, don’t exactly help with the matter, considering that they undermine the intelligence and experience that females may have with gaming. As a result, I can see why female gamers, especially those who have been gamers for a long time now, are insulted by the Girl’s Club. However, can we really call this sexist, or would it fall under being misinformed? Honestly, I think it is more of the latter.

I see a lot of girl gamers who are almost up in arms about these groups, disliking how there seems to be a divide in the gaming world and how females are looked at as inferior gamers. Again, I can understand and respect these feelings of dissatisfaction, but at the same time, I am one of those individuals who feels that the only way to fix an inequality is to achieve an overall sense of equality amongst everybody. These female gamers don’t seem to be leveling the playing field, and if anything, they are just reinforcing the notion that they are different. Isn’t that normally how sexism gets started? Isn’t that how the Nintendo Girl’s Club even got started? I’ve seen these girl gamers go to extreme lengths to defend their identity as a gamer girl, and if they are passionate about gaming that’s great for them, but in that case, being a girl would and should not be a factor of that passion. Guys don’t identify themselves as “Gamer Guys,” so why should women have to be called Gamer Girls?

I could turn this into a cliché rant about how we need a neutral term like “Gamer Person,” or something like that, but honestly there is no need to because we already have one. United, we are Gamers. Race, age and ethnic backgrounds do not matter and have never mattered in the slightest and neither should gender. The sooner that companies like Nintendo UK start to see this, the sooner that groups like the Nintendo Girl’s Club will cease to exist, or perhaps to more neutral extent, they will redefine and alter their mission and their target demographic to appeal to a wider audience, in a more beneficial way.

I do remember the days where it was such an attraction for male gamers whenever they met a girl who was also into videogames. For me, it was never because they played games, but moreso because they had a passion with them that was similar to mine. In a way, you could almost say the same about people of the same gender as well. There probably wouldn’t be any “attraction” so to speak (unless you are into that kinda thing *wink*), but you would feel like you could connect with that person on a common level or subject. Over time, now that females are becoming more prominent with the gaming lifestyle, I think that is going to be way more common, and is perhaps what we need in order to achieve the equality I spoke of before.

In conclusion, I think we need to remove the “Girl” from the “Gamer Girl” name and just unite as Gamers once and for all. Being a female, as far as I know from my personal research, doesn’t really change anything on the gaming front. My girlfriend still likes hacking and slashing demons while playing Devil May Cry just as much as I do, my grandmother still enjoys playing Tetris on her old gray-brick colored Game Boy, and every single day on my Youtube channel, I see female Star Warriors participating in discussion just as much (if not more) than my male audiences. I’m sure there will always be female gaming groups out there who feel entitled to showcase their identity as females, and I’m not saying that they are wrong by doing so. Over time though, as this continues to become a more mainstream hobby, there just won’t be a need for that identity. Basically, this is not a post against them, rather a post in favor of breaking the boundaries now and finally uniting as one. After all, wasn’t that the goal to begin with?

And I think that is going to do it for my opinion on this topic. If you want to share your thoughts, feel free to leave a comment on this post. If you want to read another opinion on this topic, my partner in crime FiyahKitteh made a blurb about this too (particularly in response to the Nintendo Girl’s Club stuff), so check it out if you want to see another person’s perspective.

Farewell gamers and fellow Star Warriors!
– SlimKirby

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