Category Archives: Games

Toys R Us: Memories, Intentions, Causes


You’ve probably heard by now that the death of Toys R Us is pretty much official now. After some time of news of bankruptcy and all that, it’s closing all its stores in the United States and United Kingdom. Maybe you’re reminiscing about the times you had in Toys R Us before you started buying everything online. Looking back and looking into the death of the retail giant however can reveal some interesting information.

Like a lot of people, Toys R Us used to be a staple of my childhood shopping and I have vivid memories of what it was like during the 90’s. It’s a Toy store but also a lot else — basically a Wal-Mart for “fun” stuff. I just now remembered Toys R Us is the first place where I started buying the Sonic the Hedgehog Archie comic I followed for about 20 years until its cancellation last year. But for many, Toys R Us was, for a time, a pillar of video games. Continue reading

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The Nintendo Switch Is Mostly Getting Ports. That’s OK. (Part Two)


After the Nintendo Direct in January I said that the Nintendo Switch mostly receiving ports of games from other systems was fine. It still is after this week’s Direct. In fact I’m satisfied with this direct because Nintendo announced the Switch was getting some ports I’ve been waiting for (and there’s at least one other I hope gets announced later).

What we’re seeing now is really a shift in the purpose dedicated handheld gaming systems serve alongside a shift in how third party game developers operate. If you didn’t complain about all the ports for the PlayStation Vita, you can’t really complain about the ones on the Switch. Continue reading

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The Last Demon’s Souls (For Real This Time)


Twice before, Sony Computer Entertainment said it was shutting down the servers for Demon’s Souls, but this time it actually happened. I managed to get a little bit more time with the game in before the online features at its core were shut down on February 28th. It’s still my favorite Souls game, and is still arguably my top PlayStation 3 game. Playing it this pats week just reinforced my feelings about why it’s unique, even apart from its sequels, the Dark Souls games. Continue reading

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“Games as a Service” In Itself Isn’t A Problem

Elite Dangerous Horizons

As the debate goes on over loot boxes, microtransactions, and the general strategy of “Games as a Service” that the gaming industry is employing, I’ve started to ask myself: “what is actually working?” This brought up an important distinction to make, that making games serviced-based in itself isn’t the real problem some are complaining about, it’s how those services are monetized. Continue reading

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On Duolingo (And Other Free Online Language Education Tools)


For nearly a year now I’ve been using the popular language-learning program Duolingo, and since it technically treats itself as a game, I thought I should go ahead and put a few words about it down here. For anyone curious, I don’t think Duolingo on its own can replace entire language courses, but it still makes for a very good first step and individual part to a larger experience. It’s also not the only decent free online language-learning tool. Continue reading

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The Faithfulness And Artistry of The “Shadow of the Colossus” Remake


Shadow of the Colossus is one of my top games of all time. It’s my “desert island game.” I’ve probably completed it close to 20 times and closely examined its art over the decade plus since its original release. So of course I had the special edition of the PlayStation 4 remake pre-ordered, but I was also one of the people more anxious about how faithful a different art and development team would be to the original 2005 PlayStation 2 version.

Many video games get remakes because of the inherently technical nature of the medium and industry. Most people think that with most games simply tossing in more silicon, adding finer details, and implementing more realistic lighting will always improve the experience. Colossus in particular is known as a game that was let down by the hardware of its time. The PS2 version runs sluggishly, and it fakes a lot of visual effects that aren’t suppose do be possible on the PS2. Arguably it’s exactly the kind of game that needs a remake.

Colossus however is also mostly known for its art direction and atmosphere. It was distinct in 2005 and remains distinct today. It’s a very delicate thing that wouldn’t be easy for an entirely different group of people to maintain while adding details with a system two hardware generations and a decade removed from the original version.

There are even a few articles out bringing up some good points about the act of even trying to add detail to a game like Colossus: One from USGamer alleges that the PS4 version looks too much like other video games now. Another from Eurogamer (same parent company) alleges that adding a bunch of detail turns the PS4 version into an inherently different experience that can’t erase the original.

Before my PS4 copy arrived from Amazon I went back through the PS2 version for the first time in years (on a standard definition CRT in fact). After a single run through the PS4 game, I think I half agree with the aforementioned articles. There is a push and pull between the two versions, but the PS4 version makes some significant achievements even as its own game. Continue reading

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The Problem of Side Quests in Open-World Games


Open-world games really need to stop doing that thing where dozens of side quests and collectibles pop up as soon as you open the map. This is a well-discussed issue, but all the games I’ve been playing recently really highlight the differences between how some open-world games handle side content, and what the main problems with these games are.

I’ve been playing Yakuza 5 for a while, I recently started getting further into Horizon: Zero Dawn, I finished the main story of Assassin’s Creed Unity recently, and I started a new game in The Witcher 3. I guess I’ve also been playing the extra difficulty mode in The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild on and off. In Horizon I’m pretty much just blazing through the main quest, as I did in Unity, but in all the other games I’m getting pulled into the side quests. Continue reading

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Xbox Game Pass, The Business of AAA Games, And Singleplayer Games


The big news this week seems to be that Microsoft’s future first party video games will be included in its Xbox Game Pass service right when they launch. People immediately took this to mean Microsoft is going full Netflix. One long-running Austrian retailer has even gone so far as to de-list Xbox One consoles for fear of the platform eventually going completely digital. I don’t know about that last part, but everything else here makes perfect sense for Microsoft. It’s just another solution to the current problems facing AAA games. Continue reading

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Nintendo Labo Looks Like The Next Wii Sports And Wii Play


Nintendo’s new Labo thing pretty much looks like another attempt to get back on the motion control horse. It’ll be interesting to see how developers and users respond to it on the Switch compared to the Wii and Wii U. Continue reading

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The Nintendo Switch Is Mostly Getting Ports. That’s Ok.

This week’s slyly teased Nintendo Direct tells us 2018, like last year, will see the Switch’s software library bolstered by ports of already-released games from the Wii U and other systems. Normally this is a sign that a platform isn’t getting the latest games or any exclusive third party developer support, but these ports are being welcomed on the Switch which says a lot about the platform itself. Continue reading

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