Thursday, December 15, 2011

Emotional Attachment to Virtual Adventure Seeking Avatars

**Strife's notes: This blog post contains spoilers for the 2008 game "Tales of Vesperia for the Xbox360. If you have any interest in the near future about playing this game and reading what seems to be a conclusion to a story arc or a plot twist, then skip this blog. I'll have another one posted up this weekend. This is more so a rant filled thrilling end to my all nighter of the game. ~Strife**

*Presses Start*

I am a story driven guy.

No matter what the game is, if a game has a pretty decent story, I'll play through until the end. If it has a great story, I'll play it religiously and won't play anything else until said game is finished.

Tales Of Vesperia is one of those games.

Let me go ahead and put out there that I love RPGs. Just as much as I love fighting games. A good RPG is hard to find and a great RPG is even harder. I love getting so involved with the characters and the experience. In a way, if a RPG is good, I get emotionally attached. Sometimes, it's not always a good thing.

Tales Of Vesperia is a JRPG that was released in August of 2008, and I'm just now experiencing the game for the first time. The music for the game is amazing, the graphics still stand up to today's standards and most importantly, The story (and events) aren't that bad. However, 14 hours in, I've run into a part that clashes with my emotional immersion. I've run into a part where Yuki (The Hero) is a man of questionable character. He breaks out of jail. He causes mischief. He beats up on the knights that are sent to capture them but never takes their lives. He saves people and generally knows right from wrong. Sounds like a guy to get behind, right? His snarky sarcastic take charge attitude really got me interested in him. So, like a good RPG, I'm involved with this character, right?


A good chunk into the story, you find out about a conspiracy that the head of a powerful council (Ragou)is doing to take over the lands and teamed up with people of less then stellar character to help pull this off. Now, of course, a boss battle takes place to fight the muscle of the two and defeat him. Ragou is captured and let go that night, due to some slick talking and pulling of his status. Here's where's things get tricky. Late that night, Ragou is on the bridge, talking and plotting his next move, and in a flash, Yuki appears and unsheathes his weapon. Ragou, unarmed and knowing no sorts of magic, pleads for his life. Yuki steps closer and when Ragou runs, he's struck down and killed. In cold blood.

I flash back to reality. Wait. That's totally NOT in that guy's agenda. He knows right and wrong, but killing someone who was unarmed? I know he was a dictator. In fact, there was an entire scene dedicated to what he's done. Stabbing in the back? I thought that was a total villain move. In total honesty, it was really close to me just turning the game off and walking away. I was so attached to Yuki that when something happened that seemed like it was out of character, it almost broke the game for me. It was that important.


In one of my favorite RPGs (one that we ironically did a podcast on), when the pretty big twist (If you've ever played it, you know which one I'm talking about) happens, I really did feel a sense of despair. At the end of it, I really did feel like we went on a time traveling adventure. None of the characters felt strange or did anything out of place. In one of the most popular RPGS of all time, a certain event was named the most shocking event in video game history. I knew grown teenage boys who cried when it happened. Heartbreaking indeed. In Dragon Age 2, There's a certain situation where if you make a decision based off your carelessness and lack of worry, someone departs the game in a pretty upsetting fashion. I really felt like I screw up royally and missed my noticeably missing character. I love being immersed in my games and almost to the point where I almost get mad when something happens that works for the game's sake but totally destroys anything that I imagined the character doing.

It's still sitting here paused. Granted, I could be totally off base. I could be making a big deal out of seemingly nothing. I'm unassumingly not that far in the game yet. However, that scene alone made such a deep impact on me that I have no choice but to continue and press start and hope that the character that I've been imagining playing out is the same virtual one on my screen.


Saturday, December 10, 2011

TCPS and The Internet

Specifically YouTube. You can listen and watch the podcasts on YouTube now! (Well, as soon as YouTube uploads and renders. If you've ever uploaded a video you feel the pain.) That's right, no need to download them from iTunes or Zune, or however you do it! Just wait for it to load in YouTube. Let it play int he background if it's an audio one. My point is you can get us on YouTube now, along with some more original videos that will showing up later this month, and more after the new year (when we aren't so busy working our retail setting jobs.)

Go ahead, click on the picture to take you to our youtube page. We do have some other videos there too. Let us know what you'd like to see. Click it. You know you want to.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Online Shenanigans

*Presses Start*

First off, Megan's on a roll, isn't she? Give her a hand! *claps*

Now to the good stuff.

Nowadays PSN and Xbox Live are a gamers second home. It makes you feel welcome. Accepted. Quaint. Playing online with millions of people across the world, making them all eat whatever you can dish out, it's a phenomenal experience that people around the world lose sleep over.

I can't stand it.

Now, don't get me wrong. I'm not a hermit, nor would I like my online systems disabled by any means. There are certain aspects of being online that I'm thankful for. I have friends everywhere that playing online is the only means of playing. However, I usually only play with friends. Not because I love my friends. Not because I love the netcode of the games.

It's because, by nature, human beings are assholes.

Playing online almost ruined my MVC3 playing because of the way people play (And still do) and it would get so frustrating and so ridiculous that the game that I waited to play for 10 years, I dropped in 2 months. It took a lot of convincing from friends to get back on the wagon and actually start playing, but now, I've limited it to just friends. I know we've all had that situation. Playing a game online just to run into that one person who needs to hit that instant win button. They make the game generally unendurable and maybe it's just my luck, but from Marvel to Madden to Modern Warfare, There's always that one.

On top of the online douchebaggery, The world wide web has never been the greatest place for competitive gaming. Some gamers will still get on with their dial up internet creating some of the slowest games ever. Lag is a terrible problem. It doesn't help the concentration when your game play looks like a slideshow. On top of all this, there are people to exploit this. Lag Switches are devices that temporarily disconnects you from the internet, and quickly connects you back. When happens, the person on the other end sees everything either in slow motion or catches the action in quick bursts, allowing the lag switcher to outmaneuver and do whatever is it to do to you to get the upper hand. It's a cheap way to get the win.

There's a ton more to talk about, like boosting, rapidfire, disconnecting, hacking, aimbots, exploits, etc, but then I'd be here all day. The main point that I'd like to bring up is there's nothing like having friends getting together and playing. Sure, I could play them online, but there's a certain feeling that you get when you've got your friends there. One of the best experiences I've had is getting friends together to play "X-Men Legends" when it dropped years ago. We were up all night, and then some. So much gaming. Same thing with Scott Pilgrim vs. The World. Multiplayer madness. Does anyone else remember Gauntlet? Get some friends and play some couch co-op! Go outside, make a friend so you can go back inside and be hermits. Besides, can you picture playing Mario Party 8 with a lag switcher? Geez.

Also, as a final note, back in May (or June?) , I made a post talking about Hollywood staying out of my video game movies. The post was sparked at the realization that they were making a Phoenix Wright movie. I blew it off, saying it was going to be dumb. The trailer was leaked on YouTube. I was wrong. It actually looks damn good. Go check it out. There's not many times I'm wrong about game movies. Hopefully, This will be enough to make me eat crow.


Once upon a TCPS Holiday Guide

The holiday season is rapidly approaching and lots of people are thinking about gifts. Whether it be the person who's going out to buy them or the person being asked (or pestered) by their family for gift ideas because they can't come with something right away and they go through the same thing every year, and they're forced to make a- Sorry. Point is, it's the holidays. So what should you buy or want? Well, I Could give you a few ideas, but let me just run through some of the things that came out recently, so if you haven't picked them up yet, and you feel that you can wait until present opening time, you have something to tell those pestering persons of interest. (Also, I live in the US, so everything I state is based on availability and prices here.)

While the Nintendo 3DS didn't recently come out, it did get some awesome titles for it recently, and that enough should be enough to go out and pick up the handheld. If you're feeling lucky, or generous go and pick up one of the special editions or bundles. The new Flame Red bundle comes with Super Mario 3D Land, while a new Pearl Pink version has shown it's pretty face bundled with Nintendogs + cats. Of course there is the Cosmo Black Legend of Zelda Special Edition 3DS, detailed with gold art on the outside and gold buttons on the inside, and bundled with The Legend of Zelda Ocarina of Time 3D. That's my personal favorite, but we've already clarified that I'm biased towards LoZ. You can pick all three of those up at your local GameStop(.com). (Please call ahead before you run in there saying TCPS told you so.) Walmart stores will have the Pink bundle, while you're local Target will be carrying The Pink and Red bundles. Both the Mario and Zelda 3DS Bundles will run you about $200, while the Pink puppy bundle will run you the regular price of $170.

But you're going to need something to play on your 3DS if you don't get a bundle! Well, just released is the new Mario Kart 7! Swim and Fly in this installment, and experience the fun that you know from the Mari Kart series. Also why not pick up some other Mario games, like Super Mario 3D Land, and the DS Mario games New Super Mario Bros, Super Mario 64, and many others. Not wanting to play as the courageous Link running around Hyrule in Ocarina of Time 3D? Got you covered. Do a freaking barrel roll in Star Fox 64, or spin dash into Egg Man in Sonic Generations. All of these games will run you between the sweet wallet spot of between $30 and $40. And don't forget to pick up those accessories for your games and handheld! You'll need a case to protect your pretty new 3DS, maybe a car charger, and a travel charging base if yo're gonna take it on the road. You might want to think about picking up a case to carry all of your games in to so you're not toting 10 to 15 big plastic cases with you in your bag. You'll need that space for the accessory to turn your 3DS into a controller for easier handling.

If we're gonna talk about Nintendo we can't forget the Wii. It's had some pretty good releases and so far the best selling release would have to be The Legend of Zelda Skyward Sword. This isn't just my bias talking, it's gotten some amazing reviews. Nintendo really took advantage of their Wii MotionPlus with this game, and it's paid off. Again, if sword fighting isn't your dig why not take a break and dance with Just Dance 3, or maybe some fighting in WWE '12. Maybe Spyro is more your likes and you want to pick up some Skylanders. It's all there for the range of $30 to $70.

I know, you're really interested in the other consoles, right? Xbox 360 and Playstation 3? Yeah, they've had some amazing releases, too. Like Skyrim. If you haven't picked it up, and you think you can wait that long, go ahead and put that at the top of your list. Then when you open the gift and thank the person who bought it for you, tell the rest of your family and friends goodbye while you immerse yourself in a game that's going to easily last more than 90 hours. It was nice knowing you. Don't want to disappear for quite so long? Yeah, I don't blame you, (even if it is a really good game.) Why don't you ask for the newest installment in the AC series with Assassin's Creed Legacy. I hear that Ezio is older and searching for something, something that may or may not have to do with Altair. Just a hunch, I'm not actually sure. *ignores blatant AC ad playing in the background* Don't forget about Sonic, he's not just on the Wii and 3DS, and of course Batman Arkham City. New DLC coming out for that one. Or maybe you're more of a FPS person, yeah we've got you covered there, too. Battlefield 3 and Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3. You're welcome.

We can't forget the exclusives, like Kinect exclusives, or PS exclusives. Looking for fun for the whole family? Pick up Disneyland Adventures, seriously, I'm almost 24 and I kind of really want that game. Of course you can dance with the many dancing games, like Just Dance (1,2 or 3) The Black Eyed Peas Experience or Dance Central. Want to just kick back, or kick something? Kinect Sports season 2 is out, or kick some alien animals with Raving Rabbids Alive and Kicking. And the one Playstation 3 exclusive game worth buying is the next installment in the Uncharted franchise, Uncharted 3: Drakes Deception. Perfect for any Nolan North fan. Seriously, that guys voice gets around. Did you know he was in Marvel vs Capcom 3? No? Well go get that game, too!

Then for you PC players, you can pick most of the games mentioned above. Probably through Steam. Assassin's Creed Legacy, Sonic Generations, COD: Modern Warfare 3, Battlefield 3, Skyrim, Batman Arkham City, Saints Row The Third, Lord of the Rings: War in the North, and many many more. You could also play some Terraria and Minecraft which just came out with their own releases! Minecraft is official people, and Terraria is 1.1! You should think about picking up Bastion also, and maybe look into Trine and Trine 2.

Whatever you play this holiday you now have some idea on what to those gift hounds, and what to pick up for those that just have too much on their list, or too little. Whether you're going to stop at GameStop, Walmart, Target or Best Buy, at least you're not going to go in blind. Happy shopping all! Thank you for letting TCPS add a little more confusion into the busy season of shopping.

Monday, December 5, 2011

TCPS 19: Jesse Cox in your ears!

We had the immeasurable pleasure of having Jesse Cox (voice actor and of Youtubes OMFGcata) on the podcast and this is what resulted. A talk about Games of the year, Final Fantasy, SWTOR, Dragon Age, Guild Wars 2, and some anticipations for 2012. Megan got to fangirl out, and she is a Very happy girl now.