Discussing Ludonarrative Dissonance

-by Dylan DiBona

There’s a concept very specific to video games, Ludonarrative Dissonance.

Ludonarrative Dissonance: When a gameplay mechanic in a video game betrays a thought or motive explained in its narrative.

A good example would be Grand Theft Auto IV, in which Russian immigrant Nico Bellic comes to America to escape a life of crime. The player, even in the first second of gameplay, can drive around killing people and committing terrible crimes.

Freedom is what we value in video games, especially in sandbox games like GTA. But is it worth completely erasing the emotional progress of a story? There are teams of writers trying to produce something great, but when gameplay can contradict or even tarnish the value of a story, we have a problem.

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Charming, kindhearted man during story, ruthless mass-murderer during gameplay.

We’re talking about a medium that couldn’t exist without its interactivity, so of course we have to value gameplay over even the strongest of stories.

I’d like to discuss if we as consumers get too caught up on any example of Ludonarrative Dissonance.

Developers like Rockstar clearly don’t care about the condition, since the freedom of a sandbox game doesn’t allow for many “laws” given by the story. Even Naughty Dog is at fault with their Uncharted series; what’s interesting is in Uncharted 4, there is a trophy titled Ludonarrative Dissonance. The company is not only aware, but Neil Druckman (director of Uncharted 4 and The Last of Us) had this to say about the idea:

“Because we don’t buy into it. I’ve been trying to dissect it. Why is it that Uncharted triggers this argument, when Indiana Jones doesn’t? Is it the number? It can’t be just the number, because Indiana Jones kills more people than a normal person does. A normal person kills zero people. And Indiana Jones kills a dozen, at least, over the course of several movies.”

Perhaps Druckman isn’t the only one in the gaming industry with these opinions. The consumers could be the one making too much of a fuss about the small things. This is Uncharted after all, the game series where you can fall out of an airplane, climb mountains with your infinite amounts of stamina and survive hundreds of gunfights.

If we are the ones making something out of nothing, can you blame us? We want our medium to be taken seriously. In the world of sports, we would be hockey aka #4 (behind football, basketball and baseball). The gamer is a very passionate person and in most cases want their games to garner the same level of respect as a piece of cinema. It’s not too much to ask for our games to make sense, right?

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Of course you could take the concept of Ludonarrative Dissonance too far. In the Mario RPGs, you can have conversations with obviously sentient Goombas. So in the platformers, is Mario just murdering these innocent creatures for no good reason?

There are the occasional airtight pieces of entertainment, but most mediums require us to stay in a place of suspensed belief. It is fiction after all.

To me, Ludonarrative Dissonance is no small issue, and it should be avoided if possible. I could easily be deterred from something if it just makes no damn sense. Don’t get me wrong, I love the occasional nonsensical craziness like Uncharted, but if the idea of forsaking a narrative for gameplay ever became a mainstream idea, then I would seriously think we’re taking a huge step back for our medium.


So what do you guys think about the idea of Ludonarrative Dissonance? Does it matter? Is it a big deal? Let me know down below and I’ll try my best to reply! As always, thanks for reading.

100TH ARTICLE: How Was the First Half of 2017?

-by Dylan DiBona

Another day, another celebration! After recently hitting one hundred followers, I am currently writing my one hundredth article on this site! I was watching an old IGN podcast and one of the questions they answered was “How do I get a job in gaming journalism?” Their answer; “Do it every day.”

So I took that challenge and here we are, one hundred articles. I hope my topics stay fresh for you readers; sometimes I wonder just how many topics I can write about when it comes to video games, turns out a lot.

2017 was really the “rebirth” for my page. My daily blogging schedule pulled more people in and ensured within me my passion for writing about games. So it’s only fitting that I look back on what 2017 brought to us in the world of gaming. More specifically, the games I was looking forward to per system. It just so happened that my most anticipated video games of 2017 came out in the early months. So let’s discuss  them alongside any other game I purchased this year.


Persona 5

The fifth entry in the Persona series was not a let-down. In fact it was a genre defining title, the first JRPGs had seen in a long time. We’re talking gorgeous oozing of aesthetics within the art style, music, menus and more. We’re talking social commentary within the story, and most importantly we’re talking about making friends and strengthening bonds. Never have I seen a new entry in a series blow the older games out of the water so much. Persona 5 easily breaks into the category as one of my favorite games ever made, and with the power of hindsight it only gets a higher and higher place.

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The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild

I’ve spoken about this game extensively, especially in my Five Best The Legend of Zelda Games article.

It’s amazing, it’s freedom, and it’s wonderment.

I didn’t like it quite as much as Persona 5, but this game alongside P5 are absolute gaming history. If you want to see my review on Breath of the Wild, click here. Or here for my Persona 5 review.


Fire Emblem Echoes: Shadow of Valentia

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Fire Emblem is the only series I know where the game can actually beat you, and not vice versa. Because of my quickness to action, I had a few teammates die, and I’ve decided to take a break after twenty-one hours of playtime. Within those hours I adored the strategic gameplay, retro throwbacks to the original game this remade, and genuinely interesting story. I’ll go back to it one day because I love it in its own way, but this ranks at the bottom of my most anticipated trio.

Now how about the games I didn’t plan on buying months before in advance? Did I get any surprise hits this year?


Horizon Zero Dawn

Unfortunately genre burnout is a thing; after seventy-two hours in Breath of the Wild, I grew weary of giant landscapes and fighting monsters. I really enjoyed my short time with Horizon; after going towards niche or retro games, it was oddly refreshing going back to a more typical and modern game with designs similar to Assassins Creed.

I’ll be going back to Horizon soon for it’s stunning landscapes, great story and simple combat.


Yooka-Laylee

As a huge Banjo-Kazooie and Super Mario 64 fan, I had to get this game. It received lukewarm reception from critics, but for fellow fans and myself, I loved it. It was charming and fun, but most importantly it was exactly what was promised in its Kickstarter campaign.

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My review is here.


Emily is Away Too

I won’t say anything because my review drops tomorrow, but it’s good. Like really good.


And so that wraps up every game I bought that released this year so far! There are still a lot of experiences to look forward to in 2017. Let me know what you guys think of this year in terms of gaming. Like I said in my 100 followers post, thank you so much for sticking with me, it means the world to me.

Castlevania Aria of Sorrow Review [GBA]

-by Dylan DiBona

As stated in my Super Castlevania IV Review, I’ve been dipping my toes into the world of Castlevania in preparation for the upcoming Netflix show. Now most fans use two terms to differentiate between two types of Castlevania games:

Classicvania: A linear action-oriented platformer with high difficulty. [CastlevaniaDracula X]

Metroidvania: A platformer more open to exploration. Borrows elements from Metroid while elaborating with RPG-like elements. [Symphony of the Night- onward]

So far I had only played Castlevania I, II, and Super Castlevania IV. Those would all fall under the “Classicvania” term. When I first picked up Aria of Sorrow (often considered the 2nd best in the series), I wasn’t sure what type of game I was buying. So how was my first experience with pure Metroidvania?

Story (1/2):

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Immediately noticeable is Aria of Sorrows emphasis on narrative. This time you don’t play as a Belmont, but as Soma Cruz, a foreign exchange student who is studying in Japan. On the night of the first solar eclipse in a very long time, Soma decides to go to Hakuba Shrine to watch the event with his friend Mona. During the eclipse, Soma, Mona and small cast of other characters are dragged into a mysterious castle. This happens to be none other than Dracula’s lair, which was sealed inside the eclipse in 1999. Soma is told by a man named Arikado that his powers have awakened, and so Soma explores the castle in attempts to leave with Mona. I’ll get back to the narrative soon.

Gameplay:

A smile lit onto my face in my first few minutes of playing Aria of Sorrow. As an avid-RPG lover, I was excited to see things like HP pop up when I hit enemies. Soma also had a handful of stats to manage (the usual Strength, Defense, Luck, etc.) By finding new weapons and armor, these stats would either go up or down. Sometimes you may find yourself sacrificing a stat like Luck to give a big boost to Defense. Everything played like a more modern and looser version of it’s predecessors; no more sticky stairs or small jumps. By exploring the castle you can find new powers which will allow you to do things like hover, double jump, slide and more. These powers give you access to new areas of the castle. It’s not a new concept, but it’s fun to wander around and see what doors your new abilities can open up.

Another welcome addition was the concept of “Souls”. Sometimes when you defeat a monster, you’ll obtain their soul and be able to use their attacks. In my experience I found it to be random on when you can take a soul, which would make it annoying to go after them all. And quite possibly the biggest positive change- the difficulty wasn’t ridiculous. Because of stats and a multitude of attacks, tough enemies and bosses can become much more manageable with a correct set of gear.

All in all, I vastly preferred my time with Metroidvania gameplay instead of Classicvania gameplay.

I think I should note that I’m familiar with the 2D Metroid titles, so this style of game isn’t new to me, but the RPG aspects are.

Presentation:

From the logo itself, it was apparent to me that the color palette in the game would be fitting and unique. For the series, it was pretty unique with bright blues, greens and of course red. I’m a sucker for good sprite work and this game had some nice stuff to show off.

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The music was catchy too, with two tunes in specific sticking around in my head. Like I said in my SCIV review, I’ve always loved the Gothic vibes of the series, and this entry didn’t disappoint; the monster designs are probably the best I’ve seen for Castlevania. I kind of wish they gave Soma some eyes on his sprite, but other than that the presentation was solid.

Story (2/2):

Okay so I don’t like being a stickler for stuff like this, but the story in this game is pretty horrible. You meet about six people in the castle, have an initial conversation with them and then keep exploring. Sometimes you’ll see them again, but the game and Soma insists that these people are your “friends” (in one case enemy), when in reality we haven’t spent anywhere near enough time with them to justify that claim. Soma would say something like “Graham is a scoundrel!” and I’d have to try and remember who Graham even was.

I didn’t receive the true ending, which you unlock by finding three hidden collectibles and using a specific soul set on the final boss. I looked up the ending online, and it seems interesting, but certainly not good. I felt nothing at all for these characters, the most being the main antagonist who was just some confused weirdo. Every aspect of this game, except the story was great.

Castlevania Aria of Sorrow is a appreciable game.

I am excited to dive into the other GBA and DS titles since I hear it was a golden age for the series. I may play one more game, but one thing I know I’m definitely doing is reading Bram Stokers Dracula. Yes, Castlevania has gotten me very much into Gothic lore.


Any big fans of Castlevania here? What do you think about this game? Which style of game do you prefer? Let me know down below and I’ll try my best to reply. As always, thanks for reading.


Confused on my review score? Click here for an explanation!

Why Do You Play Video Games?

-by Dylan DiBona

Back in the earliest days of interactive entertainment, video games existed for one reason; challenge. Whether it be by sparking competition with your best friends for the high-score, or trying to “beat” the game by completing all it had to offer, gaming was always about was some sort of contest. Quickly, once gaming became a thing you could do at home, the idea of points and high-scores started to take background. Now it was always about beating the game and seeing those credits. Then with the birth of genres like JRPGs and Visual Novels, stories were a main focus of playing (especially for the latter). Now we have games like Stardew Valley and Minecraft, where you can’t even beat them, you simply play to keep playing. You can pull aside ten people and ask them a certain question and I’m positive you’ll get a wide arrange of answers. The question?

Why Do You Play Video Games?

As a child, a game had to have a compelling enough storyline for me to see it through. it didn’t have to be complex or deep. Take Pokémon for example; being a kid who is of age to get Pokémon and explore the world to be the very best, that was enough for me. Games like Mario at the time, were not. I loved games like Kingdom Hearts for giving me epic tales. The cutscenes were my favorite part of those games while growing up. For my earliest of years, story was my reason for playing video games.

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It was really around the time I got into Nintendo that I realized that video games, at their core were about the interactivity between game and player. If I wanted to pop a disc into my PS2 and do nothing while getting to the end, it might as well be a DVD. A game couldn’t be a game without interaction aka gameplay. I started seeking out all types of gameplay. Platformers like Mario and Super Meat Boy are some of my all time favorites, RPGs like Fallout 3 and Oblivion gave me hours of joy. I’ve gotten into stuff like Fire Emblem, a chess-like RPG that younger me would’ve yawned at.

I like to play games in “marathons” now. I binged almost every Zelda once I got a Wii U and 3DS combo. I played most Mario’s in a row, and even the 2D Metroids. I’m now on a JRPG fix and want to binge play Dragon Quest games before DQXI hits the U.S (if it even does). I realize that objectively, gameplay is the most important factor in a video game. Bayonetta 1 has an over the top and borderline incomprehensible story line; did that stop anybody from rating the game 8/10 or 9/10? No, because the action-packed gameplay was near perfection at the time. Did The Last of Us get all those 10/10’s because of its story alone? No, sure the emotional tale of Joel and Ellie helped give the game an extra point or two, but it was the mix of strategy, action and suspense that gave Naughty Dog all that love.

I’m getting off track, but even though good gameplay is more necessary then a good story in order for a product to be successful, I can safely say that it’s absolutely reasonably to play games just for the stories.

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The reasons for playing video games can be endless. Maybe you want to be number one ranked in the world for Overwatch, or perhaps you only play games with amazing soundtracks. I think we can all agree that gaming with no motivation is absolutely no fun. I’m currently in this little dump of emotion where I’m not super motivated to play or beat games. Maybe it’s “gaming burnout”, a topic I should cover soon, or maybe it’s something else.

I play video games to experience gameplay translated through unique worlds and characters. What do I mean? For example, I’ve already beaten Dragon Quest, what’s the point of playing Undertale when it’s another solo-party turn-based RPG? Through their different worlds, stories and a few gameplay differences, the two titles are actually very different. I like to see how every developer interprets a gameplay style. I won’t lie, sometimes I need a game with a great story to help motivate me, but that’s great in itself too.

Whatever your reason is for playing video games, keep it up.


So guys, what is your reason for playing video games? Let me know down below and I’ll try my best to reply! As always, thanks for reading.

Five Best Legend of Zelda Games

-by Dylan DiBona

Other than Breath of the Wild, I’ve tried to stay away from talking about the Zelda series in my articles. I could easily over-saturate my blog with countless Zelda pieces, but I wanted to use restraint so when I actually did talk about these magnificent games, it meant something. And with this blog being a result of a vote by you amazing readers in celebration of hitting one hundred followers, this article may be the most meaningful I’ve written. The Legend of Zelda is my favorite series in all of entertainment, but which games take the absolute top?

I don’t take this task lightly, and I certainly didn’t jump to any decisions too soon. In my eyes, here is the pinnacle of video gaming:

5. Ocarina of Time

It’s already a controversial list if Ocarina of Time isn’t number two or one. To be frank, I was never as smitten with this entry as most people are. I understand its historical context and importance, but we’re getting to the point where we have so many good Zelda games, that I just feel that Ocarina’s greatness has certainly been topped.

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One thing I will always credit this game for is its universal appeal. It’s like a movie you know anybody can enjoy. The controls are simple, fun and when mixed with certain item combinations, addicting. The story, puzzles and dungeons are timeless. It really says something when a twenty-one year old game stands so strong to this day, Ocarina of Time is the quintessential great video game.

4. A Link Between Worlds

Another Zelda game I was never big on was A Link to the Past, one that often rivals Ocarina for the title of best ever. I like it, but I always felt enemies did a tad bit too much damage, and the game never bothers to direct you on where to go.

“Oh the third dungeon is over here? But I can’t get to it! Guess I have to explore Hyrule for hours to get a certain item just so I can get actually enter the dungeon. No thanks.

When I heard that A Link to the Past was getting a remake/sequel, I was skeptical. Luckily the gaming world was blessed with A Link Between Worlds, an endlessly clever and cute 2D Zelda game.

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I always liken this game to an arcade version of the 3D console Zeldas. If you like Ocarina of Time or Twilight Princess and don’t mind the camera perspective changing, then this game is for you. Not only can dungeons be done in almost any order, Link has an ability to merge into walls, and items are rented or bought at shops instead of found in dungeons. It really feels like the classic SNES game but covered in a modern coat of paint. Most fans try to separate the 3D Zelda titles from the 2D, and more often than not the latter is looked upon as the lesser group, but A Link Between Worlds matches 3D console quality. Never have I thought a Zelda game to absolutely dominate the series in dungeons, seriously ever dungeon here is the best throughout the 2D games.

I’ll never forget staying up until midnight on a Thursday night just so I could download this game from the eshop and play thirty minutes of it before school, then thinking about it all throughout Friday and playing it all weekend. This is a stellar Zelda game (it puts up competition for my #3 spot), and quite possibly the pinnacle of 3DS gaming.

 3. Breath of the Wild

As you may have been able to tell from the last paragraph, this is where the list gets a little bit emotional, but don’t worry, my opinions aren’t skewed (I have some nostalgic Zelda games not even on this list).

I don’t believe there’s a word in the English dictionary that describes the level of genuine excitement and anticipation I had for Breath of the Wild. The game was an enigma until a few months before it’s release, and everybody online was talking about its greatness. I ordered it on Amazon but they screwed up my release day delivery. So I did what any fan would do, I biked a mile in forty degree weather just so I could get the game on day one. Video games that I’m excited for come out often, but Zelda games, oh boy, Zelda games don’t come out too often. It was like a holiday mixed with a birthday and combined with a solar eclipse, and what did I get when I popped that seminal game into my Wii U?

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Wonder

I received wonder. In the beginning when you hear the mysterious girl say “Link. Wake up Link” and you get that iconic moment of the hero overlooking the entire world, pure goosebumps. This game really flirted with the idea of tradition while throwing tons of it down the tube. The Zelda series has been held to this high standard of tradition for years and until now it was really hard to define what that tradition was. Was it the fantasy setting? The green clothes? Link? Ganondorf? Hyrule? We’ve gotten games without those before and they’ve worked, but if you handed somebody Breath of the Wild and they had no clue what it was, they probably wouldn’t know it’s a Zelda game. It took me all one hundred and twenty shrines, and seventy-two hours to finally realize that I was indeed playing a Zelda game. It’s not totally perfect, I wish there was a tad bit more music but overall Breath of the Wild may just be the most free game of all time.

When we think of freedom within games our minds may jump to sandbox titles like Grand Theft Auto V, in which you can kill citizens and drive forever. Let’s face it though, after the initial ten hour mark, unless you’re doing the story or playing online, GTA becomes a repetitive scenario- kill some people, get five stars, drive around. Isn’t mindless repetition the absolute antithesis of freedom? In The Legend of Zelda Breath: of the Wild, there is no repetition unless you manually hunt for it. Cooking and item management can become repetitive sure, but those are minor gameplay elements that take seconds, it’s not the entire essence of the game. Want to climb that mountain? Go for it. Want to fight that giant enemy? Do it. Want to soar in the sky for a while? Okay! It’s free, it’s open, and when I put on the Tunic of the Wild after seventy two hours I realized, it’s Zelda.

2. The Wind Waker

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Okay now we’re getting into some good memories of mine. Time absolutely slowed to a halt while waiting for The Wind Waker HD, it’s the reason I bought a Wii U. When I finally played it I was overcome with emotion, it was like being a child again. The colors, the music, the spirit, it was all there times one hundred. I’ll never understand how hardcore Ocarina fans can hate this game, because this is the sequel to Ocarina– not Majora’s Mask. Picking up after Hyrule was flooded in order to stop Ganon, Link must travel a colossal ocean and prevent evil from rising again.

For a while, this was my favorite game ever made. I beat it a second time right after my first playthrough, I studied the sea and genuinely wanted to know everything about The Wind Waker. It really feels like the middle child between older Zelda titles which gave the player more freedom, and new Zelda titles that want to hold players hand (excluding Breath of the Wild). It may not have as much freedom as the newest game, and to be honest I don’t know if Wind Waker will stay above it for too long either, but there’s a charm to this game that hasn’t been repeated. It’s simply magic.

Honorable Mention

Link’s Awakening: A great little Game Boy game that was really the first entry in the series to break away from story traditions. No Princess Zelda, no Hyrule or Ganondorf, it’s all about Link and his journey. I wish I could put this game on this list for being a joy to play, and also being the first game in the series to really hook me in. It’s still worth playing to this day.

 

1. Majora’s Mask

With the last two games I spoke of scope and freedom. This game does the absolute opposite. The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask has been my favorite game ever made for the past four years.

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When somebody hands you a copy of this game, they’re not actually giving you a video game. They’re really giving you an ornate digital wind-up music box. The only problem with this music box is if the song reaches its last note, the world ends. It’s up to you to keep winding up that box and solve the puzzles within it to fix that last note.

I really do consider Majora’s Mask to be a digital wind-up toy with endless personality. Majora’s Mask and Breath of the Wild are tied for least “true” dungeons in a Zelda game, with both only having for. Unlike the newest entry, each dungeon in Majora is absolutely unique in terms of aesthetic and puzzles. A kid can pick with game up and love being the hero, saving the day. But an adult can pick this game up and read into all the emotional depth and complexities within the characters and game design. I keep finding more and more things I love about this game when I look back onto it. Much like with Wind Waker, I beat this game a second time right after my original playthrough because I knew there was so much I had yet to see.

By the time you get all of the transformation masks, you have four unique characters to play as. I like staying in human form a lot when it comes to combat, but some players may prefer being Zora Link for the majority of their time, while others may stay as Deku Link. The game stays dark and exciting throughout the twenty-hour playtime, it’s thankfully the smallest world in a 3D Zelda game, but it’s given enormous amounts of iconic characters, dialogue, moments and music. I struggle with defining perfection, but this game is so far the only one to have it down pact, I love it.


So there you guys have it, my five favorite Zelda games. Thank you so much for sticking with me for 100 followers. Here’s to many more articles and discussions. Do you agree or disagree with this list? Let me know down below and I’ll try my best to reply!

Five Best Gaming Communities

-by Dylan DiBona

In an online world where most gamers are represented by people of lesser morals who are vocal on social media, it’s hard to forget the people who are truly kind and loving. Sometimes a game or series can bring people together like a family so they can enjoy something together, and that’s beautiful.

Before anybody may berate my list, I want to list a couple of things:

  • I am not a PC gamer.
  • I don’t play too many online games.
  • These games/communities I list, I have come into contact with or am a part of them. For example, I hear the Kerbal Space Program community is great, but I simply wouldn’t know because I don’t play the game.

Thank you so much for one hundred followers and voting for this article. I hope you enjoy!

5. Five Nights at Freddy’s

Weren’t expecting this, right? Every now and then a game will pop up on Steam and soon every YouTuber is making videos on it. Five Nights at Freddy’s was that game a few years back and all over summer vacation people were making videos and starting threads trying to uncover the sick mysteries of Freddy Fazbears Pizzeria.

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When the second game was suddenly dropped on Steam by creator Scott Cawthon, the internet exploded over the games many gameplay differences and expanded plotline. It went on like this for about another year as Scott released a new game every few months. One of my favorite YouTubers, Markiplier, always jumped on these games immediately and it was a joy to watch him play and see everybody trying to decipher the story. 2014 was truly a special time to be a FNaF fan.

4. Super Smash Brothers

Just to be clear, I’m not talking about the people who still fixate on Melee, I’m talking about the entire spectrum of the Smash series and community. I’ve been to two tournaments, even hosted one and I have to say, nothing brings a couple of guys and gals together like Super Smash Brothers.

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There’s something about choosing your favorite characters from your childhood video game series, or even trying to represent an outsider series like Street Fighter, in an all-out fighting match. What’s so cool about Smash is that there aren’t really any combos you have to memorize, you make your own combos; people share these combos online along with tips for every character. It’s also interesting to see how every player has their own unique way of playing Smash. For instance, at one of the tournaments I attended, I saw a man playing Sonic (not a very loved character) with a horizontal wiimote (not a very loved way of playing), and he did great! Every time he did a specific combo, he would snap his fingers, which was odd but I love seeing everybody’s quirks for specific characters.

I do think they take the whole competitive aspect too seriously, but the Smash Brothers community is a really great family to be a part of.

3. Early Minecraft

There’s really only two groups of people who still play Minecraft regularly, the stereotypical obnoxious children, and the truly dedicated players. Before Minecraft had all these crazy rules and mechanics, it was a simple game about exploring and building. Little things were discoveries like making a fishing rod and reeling in that first catch.

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It was a game like none other because nothing was explained, you’re just dropped in a field with nothing and have to literally build yourself a solid foundation. Questions flooded the internet, and the bravest and most curious souls had the answers. Imagine being one of the first people to discover The Nether, and being able to share your discoveries. I’m talking back before the days of hunger bars and enhancements, that’s the Minecraft I love.

2. Pokémon

Can you even deny the hype that emerges every time a new entry in the Pokémon series is announced? I think I can safely say that in the modern era, Pokémon is one of the most nostalgic video game series ever. Because they’re usually spaced out every two or three years, even adults may say “Hey, a new Pokémon game” and pick it up. I went to a midnight launch for X and Y, and not only was the line diverse, they were all kind.

Sure some of them take things too seriously like when they call certain monster designs “pure trash”, but you get that with every community. I love that Pokémon can be enjoyed by guys like me who just want to play the story and catch a bunch of creatures, but also by competitive people who breed for IV’s and shiny Pokémon.

I think it really says something when something that was a part of so many peoples childhoods is actively kept active in their adult lives. I’ve met kids in high school who were nice and spoke fondly of the series, and online I see helpful posts everywhere. It’s a nice community to be an active member in and I hope to do a better job at that soon.

1. Stardew Valley

If you wanna talk about sweet and kind gamers, don’t look anywhere else but Stardew Valley fans. Stardew Valley is all about going to the country, relaxing and all things zen. With that theme, and the ability to be any skin color (even pink, blue and green), and marrying both genders, the game speaks of openness and love. And the fans take that wholeheartedly.

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The first time I heard about Stardew Valley was in a news story about people pirating the game. Supposedly these people loved the game so much, they felt bad for stealing and decided to buy it. People on Reddit were even buying extra copies of the game and giving them to people who couldn’t afford it at the time. Where else do you hear about this type of thing? For weeks I read up on helpful threads and posts about how to better my farm and romance certain ladies. I love Stardew Valley and its community.


I know its not a very traditional list, but as primarily console gamer, these are the best communities I’ve been a part of! Let me know your favorite communities down below and I’ll try my best to reply! As always, thanks for reading.

Five Things Nintendo Must Do At E3

-by Dylan DiBona

Being my favorite company of all time, I love to see Nintendo succeed. Unfortunately, yet again they’ve opted out on having a big press conference and will announce their new projects on a Nintendo Direct. Don’t worry, I’m not going to praise the company endlessly, I can easily call them out on the stupid things they do. They seemed to have fixed their failure of the Wii U with the Switch, so how can Nintendo continue to fix themselves while serving the fans?

1. More Evidence of Third Party Games

Ever since the Nintendo 64 era, Nintendo hasn’t been on the best of terms with third party gaming companies; that’s why the Switches launch line-up was such a big deal. Don’t make it a one time thing though, show us proof of dedication from the third parties; what’s Sega working on, how about Capcom or even Bethesda? Make the Switch feel less like just a Nintendo system and more like a gaming system.

2. Super Smash Bros 4. Deluxe

I think part of the reason a Mario Kart 9 wasn’t made is because 8 was such a fantastic entry in the series that all it needed was some new content and boom- you get an amazing game once again. Smash Bros 4 is pretty much the perfect Smash game, don’t change the physics or anything; just give us more maps, more characters and trophies to collect. It may not garner too much hype at first but it will surely draw in people like me and my friends.

3. Bring Back Obscure IPs

Unlike the past two companies, Nintendo is constantly thinking of new series to join the already gigantic family. We have ARMS coming and Splatoon 2 pretty soon, so what should Nintendo do with their series?

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Bring back the series that have sadly fallen into irrelevancy. People have been clamoring for a new F-Zero, Metroid, Golden Sun, Kid Icarus, Mother, Advance Wars and so on. The list of dead Nintendo IPs might actually be able to match the list of current Nintendo IPs. With the Switch bridging the gap between console and handheld, something like Advance Wars and Golden Sun could work perfectly. Zelda and Mario will always be the best selling, but Nintendo is ignoring hundreds of thousands of fans per series they ignore, why?

This may just be the biggest and best move Nintendo could make

4. Talk about Breath of the Wild DLC

I can’t remember the last time a single video game became such a cultural hit like Breath of the Wild. YouTube videos are still being posted daily on the game, fans and critics applauded almost everything about it, and it really is all that good. Nintendo announced two DLC packs before the game dropped and one of them is due pretty soon.

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The more interesting DLC Pack (2) doesn’t drop until holiday season. It’d be nice to get some news on what’s being added to arguably 2017’s Game of the Year. Fans adore the story so a little tease of what’s happening to Hyrule would undeniably hype people up.

5. Of Course, Show us the New Nintendo Games

It’s an easy one but hey, it works every time! There’s a new Fire Emblem coming out and also Fire Emblem Warriors (a sequel to the successful Hyrule Warriors). It’d be nice to get some news on those games and maybe something about a new Animal Crossing or Pikmin.

More specifically I’d love to see Nintendo back up their repeated claim of 3DS support lasting into 2018. I want to see Detective Pikachu again, I’m praying the remake of Radiant Historia makes it to the west and I want to see if anything else has yet to be announced officially. Supposedly a Mario & Luigi: Superstar Saga remake was leaked, it’d be great to see something on that.


Any die-hard Nintendo fans here? What do you think they should do to really make the Switch their next big success? Let me know down below and I’ll try my best to reply. As always, thanks for reading.

Five Things Sony Must Do At E3

-by Dylan DiBona

Unlike Microsoft, Sony puts up tough competition for being my second favorite video game company. With that being said, it’s a little tougher trying to decide the five best moves for the Sony at this E3. Not only are they dominating this generation of gaming, but I have to stay as objective as possible and not put entries based on my personal desires. So what can keep Sony on the top?

1. Keep the Exclusives and the News Coming

Sony has a lot of promising exclusive titles coming up and it’s important to not only keep them coming, but to give the fans updates on how progress is on development. They should let everybody know how Naughty Dog is handling The Last of Us II, if Spider-Man is even close to releasing, etc.

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There’s already been so many, and maybe it’s the glutton within me speaking but it never hurts to have more. Give us a few more games to be excited about in these final two or three years of this generation.

2. Spyro HD Trilogy Announcement

Nostalgia sells, a lot. Despite my personal weariness of remasters and remakes, I’m excited for the Crash N Sane Trilogy and I think if Sony wants to fully jump on the PlayStation 1 loving hype, they need to give the same treatment to Spyro. Spyro and Crah are like peanut butter and jelly,  except they should never meet up (remember that dumb GBA crossover?).

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Although both series have had games on other companies systems, they’re both correlated with Sony the most. No mascot should be brought down to being just one in a million Skylanders toys. Look at the Final Fantasy VII Remake reaction, bringing back old-school gaming is working beautifully for companies.

3. Announce a New IP

This is the same entry I put on my Microsoft list and not because I think Sony is lacking in the IP department, I just like seeing new ideas! I like knowing that Sony isn’t okay with what they have and that they want to keep things fresh and exciting.

4. Don’t Announce New Hardware

Probably my only complaint with Sony is their love of making new hardware. The PS4, PS4 Pro, Vita, VR- Sony relax. Not only is it tiring, it’s insulting to dedicated fans when newer versions of the same system keep being released. You’re already killing it with the console market, put your focus on hardware towards software.

5. PS1/PS3 Games on PlayStation Store

The only major slip up of the PlayStation 4 is the lack of backwards compatibility. I want to play games like Ni No Kuni or the Shadow of the Colossus HD remake but I can’t. It may be unrealistic to have the PS4 emulate an PS3, so at least give us PS1 games like you did last generation; I don’t want to spend thirty dollars each on every JRPG exclusive to the original PlayStation.


As far as I’m concerned, Sony already won and all they have to do is keep the games coming and work on a few small nitpicks of their current systems. So, are they any die-hard Sony fans here? What do you think they should do to win this years E3? Let me know down below and I’ll try my best to reply, as always, thanks for reading.

Five Things Microsoft Must Do At E3

-by Dylan DiBona

I’ll be blunt, I don’t care about Microsoft in the video game industry. After supporting them all last generation and loving the Xbox 360, I just don’t see a need for them in the console marketplace, and especially in the software marketplace. But alas, they’re Microsoft, they have tons of money and can hire all sorts of geniuses to dig them out of their third place spot in the video game world. So what five things can win them the hearts of fans again?

1. Only Tease the Scorpio

There are these insane rumors that the untitled Project Scorpio console from Microsoft will be ridiculously powerful, the best console ever made. It’d be a terrible idea for the company to officially announce the new system, give it a release date and all the rest. This would give Sony a chance to sit back, analyze competition and make a PlayStation 5 that will win next gen as well.

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Microsoft needs to say “Hey, don’t worry. We’re still working on our behemoth of a system and it’s going to be amazing.” Maybe give us a title to hype the crowds up, just don’t jump the gun- make Xbox One buyers feel like they didn’t throw their money away by giving them some more games first.

2. Announce A New IP

Let’s be honest here. Nintendo equals Mario, Zelda, Pikmin, Smash Bros, Fire Emblem– the list goes on. Sony equals Uncharted, The Last of Us, Crash Bandicoot (I can say that again!), Ratchet & Clank, and again the list goes on. Microsoft equals Halo, Gears of War…oh, that’s basically it. There may be a few one time exclusives for an Xbox system like Sunset Overdrive, but Microsoft still hasn’t even come close to competing in the exclusive IP area.

Microsoft needs a new series, a new cast of characters that can really draw people towards their system. Enough with these gray shooters, give us a truly new and unique product.

3. Reveal At Least Three Exclusives

Even though I brought them up in a somewhat derogatory fashion last segment, one-time exclusives aren’t bad; and the Xbox One needs more of them. Part of the reason the Sega Dreamcast is still a loved and sought after system is because of its interesting exclusive games.

So Microsoft, where are the exclusive titles? Try not to shoot too high like with Scalebound, just give the people fun.

4. Announce a New Halo

It’s been two years since Halo 5 and Halo Wars 2 just dropped earlier in 2017, it seems likely that a Halo 6 announcement will happen, and you know what? That’s great. Nothing hypes up the Microsoft players like a new Halo; it may seem like an easy move (and it kind of is) but it certainly works in everybody’s favor.

5. Cuphead Release Date

5. Prioritize Xbox Live Arcade Again

Okay I won’t lie, this one is a bit personal; the only exclusive I’m interested in from Xbox is the digital only game Cuphead and it’s has been in development limbo forever. Part of my best memories from the Xbox 360 era were the digital games, Castle Crashers, Super Meat Boy, Apple Jack, Minecraft– just release Cuphead already!

Microsoft needs to bring back the amount of focus and love to the digital marketplace that they once had. Maybe the Xbox One can be looked back on fondly if it had a strong digital exclusive library.


Any die-hard Microsoft fans here? What do you think they need to do to win this years E3? Let me know down below and I’ll try my best to reply! As always, thanks for reading.

 

The Confessions of a Save State Abuser

-by Dylan DiBona

I was like anybody else; I used some save states on the classic Mega Man games, so I wouldn’t have to redo entire levels when I lost all my lives. I tried to keep my use of them ethical and correct. But the harder the games I played, the more I used them. Suddenly I was making save states every ten seconds, my gameplay was constantly being interrupted. It’s true, I am a save state abuser.

It’s not often that most video game players from all different brand loyalties can form a collective opinion. Save states are cheap, that’s what they’ll tell you.

I agree with the sentiment mostly. Older games like on the NES or SNES really extended their longevity by proving to be a challenge to the user. Some like me would argue that this forced the player to not only learn the game but get better at it. Unfortunately for an older gamer, there’s less time for something like this. Spending a few hours on one stage may be no problem for a teenage on summer vacation, but for an adult spending his handful of hours of free time? No.

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Why it’s Cheap

For those who don’t know, a save state is when you suspend any time of gameplay you want. You can then keep playing the game and if you die, you can load the save state and skip over harsh death penalties. The very definition oozes cheapness and being unfair. You’re technically not playing by the original rules. Mega Man gives you three or so lives to complete a stage and a boss- those are the rules. By using save states you can ignore those rules by giving yourself infinite chances at any point of the stage.

Imagine playing Monopoly and right as your friend lands on your fully upgraded property, they “load a save state” right before they’ve rolled the die and roll again in attempts to pass your property. It’s not fair.

Defending Save States

Some like me would argue that a lot of retro games had an artificial sense of length due to unjustified difficulty. I’m not interested in that sense of length, I just want to play a good game.

A save state is not only a good way to save time, but it’s also a good way to get familiar and learn a game. Say you’re playing Super Mario Bros 3 and you’re unfamiliar with Bowsers attack pattern. By using save states you can learn his patterns and become properly equipped to fight him.

In most cases I try to keep my save state uses fair, only using them in areas I genuinely believe there should be a checkpoint. Some games do push me over the edge and constantly force me keep clicking that cheating button.

Let’s be honest, who here has played a retro video game and has at least thought “this is bullshit”? Almost everybody. Save states allow you to build a bridge over that frustration while allowing you to still enjoy the game.


Any gaming purists here who hate save states? How come? Let me know down below and I’ll try my best to reply. As always, thanks for reading!