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Should Do

My friends and I are once again in our go-to game: Minecraft. We have a server up and running on Feed the Beast Monster which contains like 100+ different mods and all sorts of crazy addons. The biggest problem I run into with modded Minecraft, especially with so many mods, is an overwhelming sense of having no idea what to do. I feel like there’s so much to do, and so many options, that I spin my wheels and almost do nothing because I can’t decide what I want.

I said to my friends, “I don’t know what I should do first,” to which one replied, “There is no “should do” in a sandbox.” Fascinating concept, and at first I felt like that was totally true and chastised myself. Now the more I think about it, sandboxes or every game for that matter need a ‘should do’ even if it’s a loose direction. Sometimes that ‘should do’ is a little hard to identify — that’s okay. Thinking over Minecraft, my ‘should do’ is gather resources and accumulate resources like electricity and power. In a MMO the should do is advance my character (whether a prescribed way or however I choose).

There’s a balance in there somewhere. Too much and it becomes a themepark leading you by the nose to every objective. Too little and it ceases to be gamelike. All of that said, I’ll err on the side of less ‘should do’ and more freedom any day. For me it’s all about having something to constantly work toward and achieve. Once I identify what that is, or I can create my own objective and it’s truly meaningful, I’ll play for years. As soon as that objective seems pointless, like a stopping point, or too easy to obtain, I’ll put it in the ‘why bother’ category and move on.

You know what’s great? Cross-buy.

I really appreciate how a lot of stuff on the Playstation Network supports cross-buy. Cross-buy is when you buy a game once and have it for use on multiple systems, so I could buy Game X on PS4 and also get it on PS3 and even Vita. Not every game on PSN supports it and not all games are always on every Sony platform, but it’s appreciated when it shows up. Actually I did mention two cross-buy games a little while back: Rogue Legacy and Oddworld: New ‘n Tasty.

I would love to see Nintendo adopt a cross-buy policy. Their account system is really outdated and has been for years, which has been the source of complaint from many players. What I find aggravating is the need to re-purchaseĀ  things like virtual console games. Back when the Wii came out I bought Super Mario World for 8 bucks or whatever it was. When the Wii U came out you had to purchase your stuff all over again. I think any game tied to your Wii was reduced in price to like a buck or two but that still seems petty. That’s actually another annoying aspect of Nintendo systems. Most of your content is tied to hardware so you are forced to do system transfers if you get a new system. For the 3DS they used to limit these to like 1 a year or something but fortunately they changed that. I do love Nintendo but they seem extremely slow at adapting to new technology and concepts.

One thing that you pretty much never see is cross-system cross-buy. Take Zen Pinball for example. Currently it is released on pretty much every platform imaginable and by now there are a crap-load of tables. It would be really awesome if your tables were tied to your account, but unfortunately it doesn’t work that way. It’s especially frustrated for anybody who bought tables on the Wii U since they all but abandoned the console outright. That’s pretty much what happened in my case so if I wanted to move over and start purchasing some of the new tables on PS4 then I would need to repurchase every table that I had on Wii U. That’s like over $30 in pinball tables. BUT… the tables are cross-buy within their respective brands so all of your tables on PSN are shared across PS3/PS4/Vita and Xbox 360/One. Still, it would be pretty sweet if you could hop onto Steam and access all of your tables when away from your consoles. A global account would be much appreciated.

Speaking of Global accounts, I think BioWare actually does something to that effect. I believe all of your content is tied to your BioWare account, or at least some of it, and is accessible across various systems. I haven’t tested this out between consoles like PS3 and Xbox 360 but I was able to access a majority of my content in the PC versions of Dragon Age and Mass Effect 2 after having previously played them on Xbox. I remember Keen and I thought that was pretty nifty at the time.

In general I would like to see a lot more cross-buy enabled products and overall it would be great if there were more cross-system compatibility. I’m not completely certain but I think I heard Keen say that the iPad version of Hearthstone uses your same account and cards and I think even lets you play with PC people. If I’m mistaken I’m sure he will probably edit that out. That’s pretty much the end of my ramblings.

A nostalgic roadtrip with Graev

super mario land gameboy

The other night I was doing my usual binge-watching of Netflix when I suddenly felt like pulling out my 3DS. I opened it up and searched through various virtual console games that I had purchased, and probably never played, until I finally settled on Super Mario Land. Ah, now that game takes me back. So with The Office playing in the background I proceeded through Super Mario Land at a steady pace. For those of you who might not be aware: Super Mario Land is an old GameBoy game. Most of it is exactly what you expect from a Mario game- Well, that’s not really true at all. SML is actually a whole lot different from regular Mario titles. You do run around and jump on stuff and hit blocks like normal but that is pretty much where the similarities end. You are trying to rescue Daisy (who turns into a bug for some reason), Koopa Troopas leave behind exploding bombs when they die, there are weird bug enemies, sphinx guys, creepy kung fu grasshoppers, rock dudes, rock riding, a submarine vehicle level, and an airplane vehicle level. It’s pretty strange but a lot of fun all the same. Also the Star Powerup music is the can-can song and that’s just weird.

I actually made it all the way through the entire game and only died a couple times. I sat there feeling pretty satisfied when it finally hit me: I’ve never beat this game before. I’ll always be reminded (especially by my family) of the time when I livedĀ back east in Massachusetts. My family would take weekend drives to Vermont and other places; point out leaves and various historical sites all around us. The joke is that while we were supposed to be taking in all of the sights I instead had my face glued to my GameBoy. They joke around and say that all I remember of living there was my Gameboy and that’s not entirely untrue. Some of the best games I ever played were on those car rides. Super Mario Land, Wario Land, Donkey Kong 94, Kirby’s Dreamland, TMNT: Radical Rescue, and so on.

So there I sat having just completed one of my favorite childhood games for the first time. It wasn’t even that hard at all, which is a lot different than how I remember things. I had this moment and feeling that things had come full circle and that my childhood was now, somehow, officially over. It was a strange and sobering experience and something that I entirely made up just now. Seriously though, it’s a fun game. You should check it out.

Graev Rant: What happened to licensed games?

aladdin snesA long time ago licensed games used to be pretty bad, like with E.T. on Atari. Maybe some were good, but I don’t really care because I was either not alive or just barely sentient at the time. Later on there was a golden age of licensed games on systems like the Super Nintendo and Sega Genesis. Disney games were almost always great and stuff like Aladdin, The Lion King, and various Micky/Donald games were just awesome. Ninja Turtle games like Turtles in Time and Hyperstone Heist were the shiz. There were Batman: The Animated Series games and even a few decent ones based off of the movies. I think a lot of these games were made by companies like Capcom and Konami which seemed to print gold with every game. Maybe that has something to do with it or maybe I just have a very poor and selective memory of older games.

There were also several great licensed games on later consoles like the N64 and PSX. The Spider-Man games were incredible. Unfortunately I think I just invalidated these while recalling Superman 64. But I’m sure you get the point here. There used to be a lot of quality licensed games. From there it got so much worse so fast to the point where people just wrote off any game based on a movie, tv show, comic, or book. Every now and then there was an anomaly like Chronicles of Riddick and Spider-Man 2 but by and large it was mostly god-awful crap that got churned out. I think this kind of game-mill mentality really hurt Disney’s game image but fortunately that seems to be getting turned around with the release of stuff like Disney Infinity.

I just used to really enjoy the idea of “getting the game after you saw the movie,” if you get my meaning. It’s kind of like the next evolution of buying all of the action figures after seeing a movie, which I imagine probably ends up being a lot more expensive. Nowadays new movies come out and I always keep an eye out for video game tie-ins with the hope that a gem might slip through the crack. Unfortunately they just don’t seem to make too many console licensed games these days. Which may be a good thing depending on your perspective.

But to answer my own question… What Happened To Licensed Games?

Oh, they’re all on phones and tablets. Fantastic.

This new console generation kinda sucks

xboxone-ps4It’s not fun to admit, but I’m pretty bummed out about our current console generation. There are a lot of factors contributing to creating this overall “meh” feeling. Obviously I can only speak for myself, and for every unsatisfied person there is likely dozens more who are happy. I feel like I need to vent a little bit about some of the really annoying aspects of the supposed “next gen.” You should probably note that there is a great chance that all of my info and everything I say is entirely wrong. Hey, I should get a T-Shirt that says that.

They don’t seem powerful enough

I totally admit that I am not a very tech savvy guy, which I’ve probably said before multiple times but I’m just putting it out there. The current generation of consoles doesn’t seem powerful enough to run next gen games. Getting 1080p and 60FPS seems to be an actual challenge and that’s pretty disheartening. Price points were really important for the PS4 and Xbox One and going over anything higher than $599 is a death sentence. Maybe trying to hit that $400-500 dollar mark wasn’t the best idea since they cant put a lot of power in it while still making good margins.

I’ve always been a huge fan of more stylized visuals over the gritty realistic stuff anyway. Maybe it would be better if more devs went in that direction rather than trying to shove as many light shafts, dust particles, and sweat drop bloom effects into a game as possible. Realistically console games will never look as good as PC games so maybe they shouldn’t try so hard to be what they can’t.

Remakes/Re-Releases out the ass

This is probably my biggest gripe and I’m pretty fed up with seeing remakes and re-releases of past generation games. Sometimes this is a good thing, like when it comes to a game like Wind Waker. That was all the way back on the GameCube and they gave it a pretty great overhaul and added in some new features. I don’t see anything wrong with revisiting older titles like that, especially since they can be hard to find. What really irks me is all of the PS3/360 games that came out so recently and are getting re-released onto the PS4/XboxOne. You can get some of these games for really cheap on last gen consoles but the re-releases are full priced titles most of the time. That really bothers me and I don’t know why anybody would pay potentially $50 more for a slightly prettier game. Kudos if that’s your thing but the real issue I have with all of these games is that it is usually stuff I have A) Already played or B) Had zero interest in last gen. So for me, and people like me, there aren’t a lot of new things to play and experience.

/End Rant

That pretty much covers all the stuff that I can think of that annoys me. It may be that my mood is just foul because I’ve had a really long and boring game drought this summer with only a few small oasis… oasises… oasi? bright spots in it. Luckily next month seems to be my salvation and I’ll get to enjoy Destiny and Disney Infinity 2.0 along with some other stuff. I imagine things will get even better over time but if they don’t I will probably be back here bitching away.