Tom Towers joins the Endless Backlog Podcast as a special guest. Hosted by Gagan, Episode 103 is an attempt to make the smugingest podcast ever. Even if this dream-doubles team doesn't succeed, smugness and hubris go hand in hand, meaning that failure is literally impossible.
Coming out in but 12 days as of writing (which will be first, Hollow Knight or the next episode of the Game Under podcast?), Hollow knight is apparently shaping up promisingly. Read Aarny's first impressions here.
- Tom Towers
Knowing nothing about Hollow Knight going in - besides that it was a Metroidvania - I was extremely surprised that a hand drawn 2D game could evoke the gloomy and utterly depressing atmosphere of From Software’s Souls series.
The parallels between the games don’t stop at the aesthetics, as Team Cherry - a three man team based in Australia - took inspiration from the Souls series’ intertwined levels that are filled with hidden shortcuts and secret treasures. While exploring the caves below the city of Dirtmouth, I found myself facing many locked doors, initially unreachable platforms and giant enemies, who, in one case, inadvertently destroyed a section of wall which led to hidden treasure. On your travels you meet an array of colourful characters who provide you with the lore of the world and, when you eventually reach the surface, will provide you with essential tools and abilities used to navigate and conquer the chasms below. You buy these tools and abilities through coins collected from fallen foes, treasure chests, and various mineral deposits scattered throughout the decrepit caverns.
Insectoid enemies are the norm, and while the combat starts simple, it requires some relatively precise dodging and, judging by the way the game was progressing, will eventually get more complex. Outside of the bugs, there is a nice variety of humanoid-insect hybrid enemies that attack in different ways, including one that charges head first with a deadly spear on his head. There are also, of course, various bosses and mini-bosses within the depths which provide a great challenge. When you die, you are stripped of your coins and your body splits with a dark spirit. To reclaim your wealth you must return to the dark spirit and destroy it. It’s an interesting twist on the Souls series’ bloodstain mechanic.
This is all brought to life by a hauntingly beautiful hand drawn aesthetic, which is coupled with a sparse and ambient soundtrack that encapsulates the isolated, foreboding and hollowed ancient world you explore. Characters and enemies are distinct and colourful enough to never blend in with the desolate backgrounds.
I’m really surprised at how much I enjoyed the Hollow Knight Sneak Peak, considering it was an added bonus in this month’s monthly Humble Bundle. I’m greatly anticipating the full game, especially since it ended just as I started getting really into it.
You can pre-order Hollow Knight at http://hollowknight.com/ which is coming early 2017 on Steam (PC, Mac & Linux) and the Wii U.
Yes. Just like THAT! Woah, sick hyperlinking dude. Yes I know. Episode 93 of The Game Under Podcast. This episode we start examining the state of so called triple A development and start with Naughty Dog's Uncharted 4.
You'll hear analysis you will not hear anywhere else, so even if you are not interested in Uncharted 4 you will have an enjoyable hour or so listening to the unique perspective fo Tom Towers, and to a lessor extent, Phil Fogg.
Thanks for listening.
- Phil Fogg
Not only does it features "oral" in its title (which is a word that sounds like "aural"; Phil Fogg's favourite descriptor for reviews on the show), but also because it's one of the few pieces of long-form writing in videogames that deserves its reputation as being good, not simply long.
The key to successful videogame criticism is verbosity. Even popular "short" videos on YouTube, such as Game Maker's Tool Kit, work on the principle of taking a subject that may be covered in a few minutes, then finding a way to wax lyrical verbosity for ten or more minutes about it instead.
But the development of Final Fantasy VII and the impact of its success on SquareSoft is a subject substantial enough that it actually justifies tens of thousands of words of commentary.
In this footage Kevin Cloud, one of id's original creative team, proves he is the master of the no-blinking competition for not blinking for 121 seconds (first blink at 10 seconds, second blink at two minutes and eleven seconds). That's over two minutes without blinking. The average adult human blinks ten times per second, which means that Kevin Cloud saved over 20 blinks in the first 2 minutes of this video. Outstanding.
This is the kind of video game Journalism that keeps you listening to the Game Under Podcast.
- Phil Fogg.
I'm about a third of the way through Sukeban's Game VA-11 Hall-A: Cyberpunk Bartender Action, which many have compared to Papers Please, my GOTY of 2014. I'll cut to the chase, this "ain't no" Papers Please.
Which isn't to say there is not something noteworthy of the game. So not to spoil future impressions, I'll say that if you like the Trauma Center franchise, this game is right up your alley.
As with that series, beware that there is more text than gameplay, and at times you will feel like you are playing a clicker if you are prepared to skip the copious amount of text.
More impressions in a future episode of The Game Under Podcast.
- Phil Fogg
3 January 2017
The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission today fined Valve $3 million for breaching Australian Consumer Laws relating to false and misleading statements to consumers relating to their return policy.
Valve, which had a reported revenue of $3 billion USD in 2015 and has over 2.2 million Australian customers, "...formed a view …that it was not subject to Australian law…and with the view that even if advice had been obtained that Valve was required to comply with the Australian law the advice might have been ignored” according to Justice Edelman, who determined the penalty. He also noted that Valve had ‘contested liability on almost every imaginable point’
In addition to the fine, Valve must also publish information about Australian consumer rights on their website, implement a compliance program for their staff and system and cease making their representations to Australian consumers immediately.
For more information: ACCC Website
Game Informer's podcast typically publishes a weekly panel of their review staff talking in the usual prescribed format. Ocasionally they go above and beyond, as they did this week when, "Ben Hanson interviews Gary Whitta, Double Fine's Tim Schafer, Emma Westecott, Robbie Stamp, and Infocom's Steve Meretzky about sci-fi comedy writer Douglas Adams and his work in the game industry."
Even if you have no interest in Douglas Adams it is both informative, touching and entertaining to listen to (I have not watched the above video format). I hope you get something out of it as well.
- Phil Fogg
Danny O'Dwyer's, Patreon-funded, documentary series, NoClip, covers the development of single games with extensive interviews with the creators. His best work so far covered Rocket League, his most recent interview series covers the development the 2016 re-boot of Doom.
It is a game that surprised both myself and co-host Tom Towers, and one we will likely discuss in an upcoming show.
- Phil Fogg
For the first time in a long time I find myself justifying a purchase.
Last week I bought a Game Boy Advance SP, as seen above. I already have one of course, and it is certainly the dopest form factors for the GBA (though the micro has a better screen). This one came with 15 games that I do not already own, which was the main selling point. Forget the fact that those 15 consist of two Catz games, two Bratz games and two SpongeBob games. It was a chance to get another GBA SP and 15 games I don't own, so my choice was rational (right?)
When President of the Candid Collectors' Union this purchase would not have been anything even worth commenting on, because back then one would buy a game if it was a game that had not yet been added to the collection, without question or judgement. This is the first such purchase in years that has drawn me back to those times, and I am experiencing a blend of exultation and mild regret. Yes I have the games, but toward what end?
Many reviews for the Game Under Podcast audience I am assuming.
- Phil Fogg
Hmm, what could it mean?
For some reason I have recently decided to always have a new game coming from Ebay at all times. This is like reasoning that one must always be drunk, except slightly less expensive (for the record I have not formally come to this second conclusion at the time of writing). Since I now must always be receiving new gifts, I was on Ebay last week and saw the Megaman Legacy Collection for the PS4, which includes Megaman 1 through 6. It was a reasonable price, and although I am officially the world's worst 2d Platformer I decided to get it. Even though my PS4 is constantly ejecting discs. Again.
So I got it in the mail today, and I realised, "Wait a minute!, this feels familiar". Racing to the library, (with a brief visit to the beer fridge), I perused my PS2 section and found Mega Man Anniversary Collection, which features Megaman games 1 through 8! EIGHT! Plus two bonus games! That's, mathematically derived, four additional games over the game I just bought.
So the moral of this story, folks, is don't go collecting 3,000 video games. The secondary take away is that I guess Mega Man at some point became Megaman. Thanks Obama.
When there are no new episodes of the Game Under podcast, what is there to listen to, really? The Endless Backlog podcast, sure, but what if you've listened to all their episodes? Then there's literally only two other options, Sup, Holmes and the Bithell Games podcast.
The former is a series of interviews conducted by Jonathan Holmes who, amid being born, getting fat, tired and bald, found the time to interview some of the luminaries of the indie gaming world, from Jonathon Blow to Zoe Quinn. But the best introduction to his work, I think, is his interview with Lorne Lanning.
Lorne Lanning, co-founder of Oddworld, has no qualms about openly criticising his contemporaries, swearing and making reference to other mediums or—gasp!—the world at large, regardless of the context of the interview. This makes him the perfect subject for interviewing. Yet this completely normal—in the gaming world eccentric—way of speaking often brings out the worst in the interviewer, compelling them to interrupt him, change the subject, or attempt to appear as well-versed in the subject of which he speaks by making contrived references of their own to related articles they've read.
Jonathon Holmes simply lets the man speak or, when relevant, is willing to join in to keep the conversation going by using for reference his own personal experience and opinions—or his own interpretation of outside sources.
- Tom Towers
Phil Fogg here, and since I've been summoned from the grave to contribute something, I'd absolutely endorse the Bithell Games podcast. Number one, they put up a show on a regular basis, which I've always believed is key to the success of any podcast, it certainly holds true for us.
Secondly, like our podcast, they always keep things concise and on-point resulting in a podcast that is a short, crisp presentation of well-constructed thoughts. Beyond that though, what Bithell Games Podcast provides that you cannot get anywhere else is an insight into how a small development house is run, with interviews with all types of people who are never usually given voice in games enthusiast publishing. Beyond that, Mr. Bithell, (and the other host), are charming enough fellows to listen to.
- Phil Fogg
*Specifically, produce new episodes. Which isn't actually true of Sup, Holmes. - ed
I had a couple of different ways to go with this review, I went with the one that provided the greatest challenge to me, which was to set aside the baggage so I would not have to unpack it.
Due to an annoying checkpoint marker I had to play the last third of the game twice, which may have also given me a unique perspective on the experience, having seen not a dash of variation between the two playthroughs. In any case, here it is.
After reading a top-secret essay by my co-host Tom Towers on Cibele, I downloaded the game and played it for a short while. I think my meta-meter broke.
Which by no means is a denigration. I mean, I am about four minutes into it and I've forgotten I am playing a game inside a game, and am just playing a game. Which is a lot more involving than the other game I started yesterday Ryse: Son of Rome.
Looks very promising, some more updates soon.
- Phil Fogg