The Late Game: Watch_Dogs (WiiU)

When I am not able to review a game within the first two months after release, but still want to review the game, its review ends up in The Late Game. Games that get reviewed in The Late Game may be three months old, three years old or thirty years old. Of course I won’t be able to tell you how people experienced the game when it was initially released… well… I could… But so does Google. What I am trying to achieve with The Late Game is tell you whether you should still play that three month old or thirty year old game today.


PS_WiiU_Watchdogs_PEGI18 Developed by: Ubisoft Montreal

Publisher: Ubisoft

Original Release: May 27th 2014 (PS4/PS3/XONE/X360/PC)

Release on Platform: November 21st 2014 (WiiU)

Personal Play Time: 22 hours; March 2015

Bought @ Amazon.co.uk for £23,04 on January 19th 2015  

I could hardly imagine a better [sic.] game to start The Late Game with than Watch_Dogs on the Nintendo WiiU. Not only was I playing the game almost half a year after it was released on the platform, it also took the game about half a year to make the jump from almost every imaginable system out there to the WiiU. And before you start thinking that this review will be all about halves, you’re only half right about that. No, I’m not scoring it a 5 out of 10. Nor did I play the game half through. Yes, the game is only half as good as Ubisoft’s marketeers had made us want to believe. But that’s mostly because they promised us the world, and we only got Chicago.

By M.C.J.F.

Your not so neighborhood friendly Aiden Pearce

Watch_Dogs is not a bad game. Not even on WiiU. There I said it. It does come with its fair share of problems, but let’s keep those for later and start with a quick word about the game’s story. Aaah, not so much later then…

You play as Aiden Pearce, the masked vigilante who is not as neighborhood friendly, nor as radioactive as some of the other masked vigilantes out there… Although using your cellphone as much as he does, cannot be healthy either.

WiiU_WatchDogs_02_mediaplayer_large

Aiden is not a very likeable character. Not just because he hacks random people’s bank accounts, or steals other people’s cars… who may or may not have just lost a family member to cancer (no joke!) – which you get to know by profiling them with your cellphone -, or because he has no sense of humor whatsoever. But because the main reason why he does what he does, why he kills who he kills, is because he wants to punish the people who he holds responsible for the death of his niece.

Read that last sentence again. Yes, who he holds responsible. Because no matter how you look at it, the main reason she died was because of Aiden himself, though it takes him a bloody long time (the entire campaign to be exact) to figure that out. No, that was not a spoiler. Not really. You will come to the same conclusion yourself during the first hour or so of the game.

Aiden’s lust for vengeance is what drives the story. Gangsters who get in the way have to die. Police officers who get in the way have to die. Even journalists who want to reveal his identity… have to die… Only once will you get to choose whether a person needs to die or gets to live, and that’s after the credits role…

But what about political intrigue, sabotage, double crossings? Oh, they’re all there, but their main purpose is to flesh out the story a bit. You never get the feeling that something out of the ordinary is happening. What do you mean politicians are corrupt? What?! They’re going after Aiden’s family? Noooo… Those thing… are just… impossible!

Competing hackers are introduced as quickly as they are killed off again, just to provide some filler (here’s looking at you Act IV!). And when something does happen to a person for whom we should feel something, I felt nothing. Why? Because Aiden just says he’s sorry about what happened without as much as a twitch on his face. Also, the fact that said person had not been around for a while in the main campaign didn’t help either.

It’s a shame really, because apart from Aiden, most characters are pretty interesting, with occasional partner in crime (and take crime as literally as you can) Jordi Chin being the king pin of the cast. Not that we get to know a lot about him, but the way he talks, the way he walks, it just make the ladies (and myself…uhum…) beg for more. Now, I know this is a very fan boyish thing to say, but when they release Watch_Dogs 2 or Origins, or whatever they’re going to call it (you know it will happen sooner rather than later) I would want Jordi to be the main character instead of stick-up my a** Aiden.

Aiden’s the name, hacking’s the game… rhyming’s lame

By now I probably should have mentioned what kind of game Watch_Dogs is… It’s a sandbox game. You can steal any car, bike or boat that you want in order to move more swiftly across the city (in this case Chicago). You have a plethora of weapons at your disposal to shoot innocent or not so innocent people. You can enter a few different shops and buy weapons, gadgets and clothes. And if you’re a bad boy the cops will come and chase you. Yup, sounds and plays very much like any other game in the genre. What mainly distinguishes Watch_Dogs from genre master Grand Theft Auto, is the lack of humor. Well that and the fact that you get to hack almost every electronic device in the city.

The entire city of Chicago is controlled by a Central Operating System, i.e. ctOS. The system is also the city’s biggest weakness, since hackers seem to be able to infiltrate it quite easily. With a simple touch on his cellphone’s touchscreen Aiden is able to control traffic lights, get money from ATM’s, hack people’s cellphones, open bridges, block roads, scramble communication devices, hack camera’s, remotely detonate explosives or even blackout the entire city. WiiU_WatchDogs_01_mediaplayer_large This hacking system is what makes Watch_Dogs an enjoyable experience. Doing what you’ve done in several other games before Watch_Dogs becomes far more interesting when you get to control your surroundings as well. Cops chasing you? Just open up a bridge seconds before you cross it. Follow up by using a blackout device to make sure they can’t trace you again. Want to take out an entire gang of criminals stealthily? Hack into their HQ’s camera’s, locate every single one of them, kill any of them by luring them to nearby devices that can explode, finish off the rest with your arsenal of guns and explosives.

Using every hacking trick at your disposal is great fun. It’s a bit of a shame that you do not have all of these hacking options from the get go, but have to gradually unlock them. Of course, it’s completely understandable that you become more powerful by levelling up. Heck, that’s one of the main mechanics behind almost every game coming out today. But most games also manage to find a decent balance between unlocking more and more abilities and increasing difficulty incrementally. While this is true for Watch_Dogs campaign missions, I found that police chases in open world Chicago were more of a hassle in the beginning of the game, than they should have been.

There are no bulls in Chicago

Chicago itself is portrayed quite nicely. Parking your car in Pawnee and gazing at the city skyline while listening to Rage Against was a great experience for me, but cruising through the Windy City itself felt lackluster sometimes. Not just because the driving controls need some getting used to on the WiiU gamepad, but also because I didn’t see a single person wearing a Chicago Bulls jersey. Come on! Okay maybe that’s nit-picking, or maybe I wasn’t paying enough attention when someone in a number 23 or 33 jersey did cross my path.

What the developers did include, are no less than one hundred Chicago city hotspots which you can check into and learn about. Great stuff if you’re willing to take your time to locate all of them…

… Which I wasn’t willing to do.

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Unlike with Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag for WiiU (i.e. that other big open world action game by Ubisoft) I didn’t feel the urge to complete all of the side missions nor trace all of the collectables in Watch_Dogs. It is hard to explain why, but after the 20 hours of gameplay the main campaign had to offer, I just had enough. The progression bar in the game tells me I haven’t even finished 40% of the game, but I’m okay with that. I did try a few of the side missions, but they just couldn’t convince me to keep playing. They’re not bad, mind you. So, maybe it has more to do with me thinking that saving citizens or stopping crime wasn’t something Aiden would do if it wasn’t for me helming the controller. Or maybe it was because I wasn’t as invested in Aiden as a character as I was in Edward Kenway (i.e. the main character of Assassins Creed IV). Maybe it was because I had just recently invested too much time in other open world games. Maybe it was because I sporadically had to do a hard reset of my WiiU system because Watch_Dogs sometimes locked up my console. It’s probably a combination of all of those reasons.

What distinguishes the WiiU version from the other versions?

Apart from its platform specific set of bugs, glitches, freezes and frame rate issues, Watch_Dogs supports Off-TV Play on the gamepad, which is always a plus. I didn’t really use the option though, because of my personal preference of playing HD games on my HD television, instead of on a sub-HD screen – I do think using Off-TV play is great for smaller games like the latest Mario vs. Donkey Kong or virtual console games from the NES, SNES, GBA or other era.

When not in Off-TV Play mode, the gamepad displays an interactive map of Chicago. Normally I’m a big fan of not having to go through any menus and being able to directly look at the map on the gamepad, but that wasn’t the case for Watch_Dogs. It’s heavy focus on action, made me want to pause the game at times to mark my way on the map. This was less of an issue for me in games like Assassin’s Creed or the Batman Arkham series, which are action games as well, but aren’t as frantic as Watch_Dogs is.

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All in all the gamepad specific features feel like a bit of a missed chance. Just like the main character in the game, you always have a touchscreen device in your hand while playing. Something tells me that could have led to a more immersive experience.

Whom should play this game?

If you like action games, but don’t own a PlayStation 4, Xbox One, or gaming PC, you should definitely check it out on WiiU. It is not the best game in the genre, nor is it technically the best port, but apart from the child friendly Lego City Undercover, there’s simply no other option available on the system.

The game mechanics are really fun when you have all options unlocked, and the story (while not great) will give you reason enough to get through some of the more repetitive missions. Even if it’s only to see Jordi’s smirk once more.

Watch_Dogs as a series has great potential. Potential which doesn’t always translate into good gameplay in this first game, but which does bode well for the eventual sequel. Just… don’t get your hopes up of ever playing that sequel on your WiiU.

7 out of 10

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Game Review: Mario vs. Donkey Kong: Tipping Stars

Mario vs Donkey Kong - Tipping Stars Box Art Eu WiiUDeveloped by: Nintendo

Publisher: Nintendo

Release: March 20th 2015

MSRP: €19.99

Bought @ Media Markt Wilrijk for €16,99

Sometimes you buy a game on Saturday and finish it by Sunday… and that’s okay. This is what happened to me with Mario vs. Donkey Kong: Tipping Stars. I bought it Saturday afternoon, played a few levels, put it down, thought it was fun enough, picked it up again Sunday morning, couldn’t put it down anymore and finished the main world levels by midday, tried to create my own level afterwards, failed at it miserably, turned off my console and went out on a social call.

By M.C.J.F.


It’s a puzzle time, woohoo!

I have really enjoyed my time with Mario vs. Donkey Kong: Tipping Stars so far. It’s a puzzle game. It’s not a hard game. Not by a longshot. But it’s short levels do (mostly) require you to think ahead and be quick on the draw while playing. Just like in previous Mario vs. Donkey Kong games (not counting the first one, which was a breed of its own, and much more like 1994’s Donkey Kong for the original Nintendo Game Boy) you have to safely guide mini-Mario toys, as well as mini-Toad, mini-Pauline and mini-Peach toys, from point A to point Door by influencing their surrounding environment with the stylus.

Mario vs. Donkey Kong Tipping Stars (1)

The challenge? Once one of your toy figurines starts moving (because you tapped on it with the stylus, or because it was touched by another toy) it never stops. At least, it doesn’t stop until it has reached its goal, is brutally ripped apart by a Shy Guy or blazing fire ball, or, just like a lemming, has plunged itself into whatever abyss you weren’t able to bridge in a timely fashion – purposely or unpurposely, depending on how psychotic you are.

The last level of each world spices things up a little. In these levels one of your mini-Mario toys becomes cursed by a monkey and starts moving on its own accord, looking to create havoc. When it touches one of your other mini-toys it’s Game Over. So you will want one of your mini-toys to whack it with a hammer before that happens, lifting the curse in the process – aaah, if only real life was as simple as that.

Monkey curse

 

It’s a MORE puzzle time, woohoo!

Mario vs. Donkey Kong: Tipping Stars  is the kind of game of which you think beforehand that you’re going to play a few levels of when you have half an hour to kill and end up playing for several hours in a row, saying: ‘oooh just one more level… but now I’m at the final stage of this world… and now I want to know what the next world looks like… but that first new level was so easy.’

You and I will be able to play a few levels of it whenever we want to kill some time though, and that is because the game doesn’t really start before you finish it. Indeed, there are a lot more levels to enjoy than the initial 48 which comprise the story mode – which isn’t more than a gif before level 1-1 and a gif after level 6-8 to be honest. After you beat level 6-8, you unlock the first of two extra worlds, comprising another 8 levels each. There are also 24 bonus levels which you unlock by perfecting the main, extra and already unlocked bonus levels. And then there’s the option to create and share your own levels with the outside world.

Community

Now, before you say that you aren’t interested in user generated content, because… well… oftentimes it isn’t all that good (here’s looking at you Infamous 2!), know that you will not only find user generated content behind that scary “Community” button, but also  official Nintendo content shared by the director of the game. Yes, Nintendo has promised to release two new levels every week for the next 50 weeks. That’s a lot of extra content, and at the time of writing, three days after release, already six official extra levels were available.

 

It’s a… creating time, woohoo?!

Creating your own levels is a puzzle game in its own right. The creator mode is intuitive enough. You start with a level template and select different traps to bridge, what you would want to bridge them with e.g. springs and conveyor belts, enemies to whack or avoid, coins to collect (it is a Mario-game after all), mini-toys to safeguard (including mini-Luigi and mini-Donkey Kong toys not seen throughout the main campaign!) from a list and add them to the template with simple stylus taps and drags. Before you get to finish your level and share it with the outside world, it has to work though (here’s looking at you once more Infamous 2!), and that means you will have to be able to clear the level yourself, grabbing all the coins to get a perfect a score… which is trickier than you think.

At least for me it is.

Creator mode

I can’t see myself creating that many levels, let alone sharing them with the community, but those who do can get even more out of Mario vs. Donkey Kong: Tipping Stars. When people play and like your levels, they get a chance to tip you with stars (hence the name of the game). With these stars you can buy more tools and skins to make your levels even more intricate and interesting. You also get stars for playing and perfecting (community) levels, but when you aren’t really planning on creating your own levels, you only get to use these stars for tipping… which is less of an incentive than actually getting something in return (Miiverse stamps don’t really count, do they?). Though one could argue that you indirectly get fun new levels by tipping and encouraging the right people.

It’s a cross-buy, woohoo!

The game offers a lot of content, but only for those who are willing to spend more time with it after the credits role. Depending on what type of gamer you are then €19,99 might seem a somewhat high price of admission. You can get the game for €10 though, because when you buy a download-code for WiiU or 3DS (it’s on both systems) you also get a download-code for the other system. Because it’s an extra code, and not limited to use on the same account, you can easily share the game with a friend who owns the other system. I played on the WiiU and gave the 3DS-code to my wife.

Cross buy

Are there advantages for playing the game on one system or the other? The game is exactly the same on both systems; also meaning that the game doesn’t make use of the WiiU’s added raw power. The graphics are fine. The music as well. But it is clear that not too much attention was given to these aspects during development. The visuals and music very much resemble what was already achieved on the Nintendo DS in 2006.

For those who thought they would get to enjoy the series in HD on WiiU for the first time, think again. What you get on your television screen is a small square box surrounded by a frame filled with stars, clouds or whatever icon comes with the level theme. The larger levels might just fill up the screen, but that just creates another problem. Because you aren’t as zoomed in on the action as on the gamepad, it can sometimes become difficult to spot what your mini-toys are actually up to – even on a 50 inch television screen. Clearly, the game is meant to be played on the gamepad or the Nintendo 3DS. So while I had my television switched on during my first play session, I didn’t bother to turn it on during my second session.

Clouds

Whom should play this game?

Woohoo! No. No. No more woohoo’s! If you really can’t get enough of the woohoo’s, however (like me), this game is definitely for you. Also if you like puzzle games like Lemmings and previous Mario vs. Donkey Kong games, you should probably pick this one up as well. It might not be the best you’ve ever played, but it is really enjoyable none the less. When you’re a creative spirit who has always wanted to make his own Mario vs. Donkey game and share it with the world, now’s your chance… again. Though the level editor has been around in the series since 2006, the sharing options, tipping mechanic and Miiverse integration make for it being the best editor the series has offered to date.

7 out of 10

Book Review: Tomb Raider The Ten Thousand Immortals

Ten Thousand Immortals

Written by: Dan Abnett and Nik Vincent

Publisher: BradyGames

Release: October 20th 2014

Edition: Kindle

Bought @ http://www.amazon.com/Tomb-Raider-Ten-Thousand-Immortals/dp/1465415475

Tomb Raider: the Ten Thousand Immortals is a novel. It is also a sequel. Not to a novel, but to the 2013 videogame called Tomb Raider… which rebooted the long running series of videogames not for the first time, but already for a second time since we were introduced to it and its tomb raiding protagonist, Lara Croft, in 1996.

With nine videogames in the main series, two spin-off games in the Lara Croft &-series, several mobile games (among which a pretty decent Nintendo Game Boy Advance game), two motion pictures (staring Angelina Jolie as Lara Croft), several comic books, etcetera, etcetera, it is not an exaggeration to say that the authors got a lot of history to work with – pun intended. Indeed, ancient and occult history are not just the series main staples, the series itself can also be described as historic in its own right. Lara Croft is not just any videogame character. She is a bloody icon. Well… Not actually bloody… Only in that one scene… And she does usually spill an inane amount of blood…

Anyways, how authors Dan Abnett and Nik Vincent were able to turn Lara, one of the pioneering characters of 3D-videogaming, into a two-dimensional character is… interesting to say the least. And when I say “interesting”, I actually mean that it is completely beyond my understanding.

Would the book have been a sequel to the first 1996 Tomb Raider game, the authors may have had somewhat of an excuse. Back then, though she was obviously rendered as a 3D-model,  Lara could be considered somewhat of a two-dimensional character, especially with her pointy… extremities being such a defining trait. Back then, Lara did not bleed when she (elegantly) jumped down from  a several meters high cave opening, she never called for help, and never hesitated to pull the trigger.

She was a beautiful, stone cold, killing machine.

Tomb-Raider-original-game

In 2013’s reboot, however, we saw a very different Lara. A Lara who did bruise after falling, who desperately cried out for help when in need, who got sick after shooting and killing her first fellow human being. We were introduced to a very human Lara. A Lara who had only just become part of a treasure hunting crew in search of the lost kingdom of Yamatai, who had friends, who had a family. And most of all, who had a reason for surviving the ordeals she was presented with on the isle of Yamatai – which, of course, they found. There was a life she wanted to get back to. A place she wanted to get back to.

Home.

tomb_raider (2013)

Tomb Raider: the Ten Thousand Immortals is supposed to continue the story of this human Lara and should get us excited for the upcoming videogame: Rise of the Tomb Raider. But it doesn’t accomplish what it sets out to do.

Yes, we get to know what happens to Lara and her friend and flat mate Samantha “Sam” Nishimura after they get home from Yamatai. No, this is not the Lara we learned to love in the videogame.

Her confrontation with the ancient and immortal Sun Queen Himiko and her followers on the isle of Yamatai affected Lara with PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder) and paranoia. An interesting premise. But one which goes very much unexplored. PTSD is mainly used as an excuse by the authors for making Lara flounder whenever there’s a loud, random, noise. Paranoia is used for creating tension in otherwise very mundane situations that shouldn’t have been given the amount of attention they were given in the first place, e.g. train rides, subway rides, turtle rides… scrap that last one (though that one might have been interesting). In the end (spoiler alert!) we read that none of Lara’s persecutory beliefs are illusions to begin with. She is always being followed. Creepy, right? But far from a decent look into the effects of paranoia on the psyche.

Sam, who is not only Lara’s flat mate but also a descendant from Yamatai, is even worse off than Lara after returning from the accursed island. She does not suffer from PTSD, like Lara, but after waking up from an unexplainable coma, thinks she is the Sun Queen herself. Doctors are puzzled, obviously, because they cannot think of any medical explanation whatsoever for Sam’s behavior.

Lara knows what’s going on though. After all, she was the one who thwarted the ritual that was going to turn Sam into the latest vessel for Himiko’s undying soul in the videogame. To save Sam from the clutches of Himiko once more, Lara goes on a worldwide hunt for the Golden Fleece, which is said to have healing powers. Of course, Lara isn’t the only one interested in the Fleece. No less than three other parties are after the Fleece as well. And they do not back away from violence.

Of course, they don’t.

Ares and his ten thousand immortals (including Hydarnes and Xerxes) are the main antagonists, but it is never really explained why they are looking for the Fleece as well, and… being what they are… why they do not already have the Fleece in their possession to begin with. Their characterization is flat, just like the characterization of most of the other antagonists. Worst off are Frink and Peasly. They are the emotionless (and selectively immortal) bodyguards who aren’t all that bright. They are stereotypes. They seem to be stolen from the discarded script of a 90’s B-movie.

Thank God there are some interesting characters that aid Lara in her quest for the Fleece. Jonah and Reyes, the other two surviving crew members from Lara’s expedition to Yamatai are… Eeerrr… What do you mean they aren’t mentioned in the book?

Okay fine. We don’t need them for the story.

Lara’s other friends… Eeerrr…

She has no friends?

Okay… Cool…

Family?

Nope.

Colleagues?

Nah.

But there is this girl she meets on the train to Oxford and instantly becomes her friend, and this other random girl on the Greek island Anafi that is really helpful, but doesn’t deserve any further contextualization other than that she wants to go to the UK one day and knows a lot about maps…

Sigh…

So instead of the human Lara who had both feet firmly set in reality from the 2013 game, we get another Lara who can hardly be described as human. Not because she is a stone cold killing machine, but because she has no ties to the world that surrounds her. She has no job. No family – though her father is mentioned on occasions. No friends. Well… one friend, but she doesn’t talk to her on account of her thinking she is the Sun Queen…

In the end, there is not a lot that ties this book to the 2013 videogame. Yamatai, Himiko and Sam are mentioned, but remain in the background. Lara isn’t the person we got to know in the videogame, and the other characters aren’t mentioned at all. There’s very little exploration, there’s no tomb raiding…

Tomb raiding

So should you read this book to get a better understanding of how Tomb Raider (2013) leads into the upcoming Rise of the Tomb Raider?

Probably not. Going by the ties between Tomb Raider (2013) and The Ten Thousand Immortals (2014), chances are small that any of the characters from the book are going to make it into Rise of the Tomb Raider. And even if they would end up in the new game, you wouldn’t have missed much since they are represented rather shallowly.

Any redeeming qualities?

The Golden Fleece is a more than decent MacGuffin. The historical link between the story of Jason’s quest from Greek mythology and Colchis (part of current day Georgia) is interesting enough, though the authors do not make any connections that aren’t mentioned on Wikipedia. Chances of Lara’s quest for the Golden Fleece being mentioned more than superficially in Rise of the Tomb Raider are very slim as well.

Are we excited for Rise of the Tomb Raider?

Yes. But the book has very little to do with that. On the contrary. If Rhianna Pratchett’s involvement hadn’t been confirmed yet, it would have made me very wary to say the least.

Rise of the Tomb Raider

Whom should read this book?

Die hard fans that cannot wait for Lara’s next adventure and do not mind clumsy writing.

1 out of 5

Rest in peace Terry Pratchett

I was first introduced to the works of Terry Pratchett in the waiting room of my opthalmologist at the age of 10, which seems to be as good a place as any. There was a game magazine there, in that waiting room, which no one ever read apart from me. Every time I went in for another eye exam, I picked up the magazine and went straight to the end of it. Why? Because at the end of that magazine there was the walkthrough section, and in that walkthrough section there was a walkthrough for this game called Discworld II: Missing Presumed…!? It looked like a cartoon. I loved cartoons.

I still do.

One of the screenshots in the walkthrough was that of an old man sitting on a wooden weel on top of a giant pole. That image never left my mind, and even though I didn’t have money to buy the game at the time, nor the means to play it, I knew that one day I would.

wooden weel

In the end I did buy Discworld II. Four years after I had first seen that screenshot. I loved it, even though it wasn’t an easy game. I loved the world it was set in, I loved the humor, I loved the characters… I loved all of it.

It did take me another two years to figure out that the game was based on a long running series of books though – around the time I discovered this little thing called the Internet.

From the moment I found out about Terry Pratchett’s writings, I read about five to six of his books every year. I have not read them all… Yet… Even though I own almost all of them. I’m savoring them.

Terry Pratchett is my favorite author, has been ever since I first saw that screenshot – even though I didn’t know it at the time. He has helped me through the best of times and the worst of times. His Discworld is my favorite place to escape to. My favorite place to enjoy a holiday.

I’m sad to see sir Pratchett leave this world so soon, but I’m sure Death will take good care of him whatever afterlife he may end up in.

Rest in peace, good sir.

You will be missed, but your dreams will endure.

[Long read] Why the PlayStation 4 needs Puzzle Bobble

The year is 1997. An eleven year old kid walks into his local movie rental store. He is nervous. His right hand keeps hovering near his jacket’s breast pocket. There’s a lot of money in that pocket. It’s not just in the breast pocket, of course. The money’s in the wallet in his pocket. Eleven thousand Belgian francs to be exact, about two hundred and seventy-five Euros.

The kid did not steal the money from the movie rental place. How could he? He just entered it. No, he earned that money. How did he earn it? By being a kid, of course, and saving up his weekly allowance of a hundred francs (two and a half Euros), the money he got as a birthday gift or as a gift for any other holiday, and the money he made from his shady money lending practice (which we will not discuss further!).

It took the kid a hefty amount of time to save that kind of money. And today. Today he was going to spend it. All of it. He was going to buy a Sony PlayStation. It was not going to be his first videogame console. He already owned a Nintendo Game Boy and a Sega Mega Drive. But those two he had gotten from his relatives, and hadn’t been very expensive to begin with – the second hand Sega Mega Drive, for example, had only cost his mom 500 francs, or twelve and a half Euros, and had only been in his possession for a few months prior to his decision to buy a PlayStation. This new console, however, was going to be his and his alone, though he would allow his brother to play on it as well… for a price.

A console without games is just an ornament that attracts an insane amount of dust, but the kid didn’t have any money to buy an actual game to go with his console. That’s why he played the demo disk that came with the console over and over again. After months of extra saving he was able to buy his first game though. His game of choice: Bust-a-Move 2: Arcade Edition. It is also known as Puzzle Bobble 2, and is a spin-off from Bubble Bobble. Why did he buy that specific game, and not… oh… I don’t know… Tomb Raider, Crash Bandicoot or Resident Evil to name some of the lesser known titles released for Sony’s PlayStation by that time?

Because he had played Puzzle Bobble on an arcade at the local sports center and had loved it. He wanted to relive that experience. He wanted to shoot colored bubbles. Would he have loved to jump on boxes with some rabid bandicoot more than shooting colored bubbles? God, yes! Puzzle Bobble 2 on the PlayStation didn’t turn out to be as fun as his memory of Puzzle Bobble on the arcade had let him to believe it would be. But… there’s no way to argue with nostalgia.

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Heck, the kid let nostalgia blind almost all of his later decisions to buy a game console, even though by that time he wasn’t a little kid anymore, and should have been more wise. He bought a Playstation 2 for Final Fantasy X because he had loved Final Fantasy VII, and was disappointed (though not by the console). He bought a Playstation 3 for Final Fantasy XIII because he had loved… Final Fantasy VII, and was disappointed (though not by the console). He bought a Nokia N-Gage for Sonic N, and was disappointed (yes, also by the console).

Nostalgia drives sales. That’s why I just bought an NTSC-GameCube for one game: Baten Kaitos: Origins, a game which was never released in Europe, though its predecessor Baten Kaitos: Eternal Wings and the Lost Ocean was. I had loved the original Baten Kaitos. I had loved it so much that I was willing to buy a console exclusively to be able to play its successor… Nine years after its initial release… But still…

I haven’t bought a PlayStation 4 yet. I know I will. I know I will let nostalgia blind me once more, and hopefully I will not be disappointed this time around (here’s looking at you Final Fantasy XV!). I’m waiting for that one game.

I’m waiting for my next (gen) Puzzle Bobble.

[Blip] PS4 to remain un-Uncharted in 2015

Directors Bruce Straley and Neil Druckmann just stated on the Playstation blog that Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End will not release on Playstation 4 this year – nor will it release on any other console, of course. The release date has been moved to a tentative Spring 2016. Sheesh… and this only two days after my 2015 Most Wanted (Pre-E3 edition)-list (https://makeaccountlater.wordpress.com/2015/03/09/2015-most-wanted-pre-e3-edition/). Thanks a lot, Sony!

2015 Most Wanted (Pre-E3 Edition)

(5) Tokyo Twilight Ghost Hunters (PSV/PS3): Tokyo Twilight What Now? I understand your confusion. This certainly isn’t the next Grand Theft Auto, Call of Duty, or Final Fantasy. Heck, I’m not even sure it can actually be called a videogame. It’s a visual novel by the guys who gave us Deadly Premonition, which… did not have great gameplay, but did have a more than decent story, great characters and took place in an amazing setting (interactive Twin Peaks anyone?). So it is completely understandable that these guys decided to make their next game gameplay-light. The title? It might be difficult to take any product that has Twilight even near its title serious in this day and age, but I can assure you: there are no glittery vampires involved in this one. Or… are there? *Evil laughter*

European release date: March 13th

(4) Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End (PS4): Will this game convince me to buy a Playstation 4? It just might. Some years ago I bought a Playstation 3 to be able to play Uncharted 2: Among Thieves (my bundle of choice), Final Fantasy XIII, and… Brütal Legend (don’t judge me!) Since we will probably have to wait for Final Fantasy XV until next year, and because chances for a new Brütal Legend are rather slim, Uncharted 4 will have to be stellar to convince me though. Presentation wise, it will be stellar. Gameplay wise, it will be s… similar to the previous ones. Story-wise… meh. Not quite convinced yet. In his newest adventure, Indiana Jo… I mean… Nathan Drake will team up with his long lost brother, whom he thought to be dead… They look for… Let’s just stop there for now. Anybody else think the brother might turn out to be the bad guy, only to turn good just before he dies?

European release date: late 2015

(3) Danganronpa: Another Episode (PSV): Whomever says the Playstation Vita is dead… does not like to play niche Japanese games. Danganronpa: Another Episode is the third game in the series, but while the previous two games were visual novels, this one is a third person shooter. Meaning that this time around your only means of escaping will not be killing one of your classmates and surviving the class trial. This time you get to shoot stuff. Not just any stuff. Playing as Komaru Naegi (sister of Makoto, the main character in Danganronpa 2: Goodbye Despair) you will have to shoot down a whole lot of psychotic robot teddy bears who are black on one side and white on the other (i.e. Monokuma’s). Sounds whack? It is. And for those who are less shooter apt (like I am), you will also be able to play as the powerful Genocide Jack. Yes, the creepy serial killer girl with the snake tongue from the first game is back as well.

European release date: fall

(2) The Legend of Zelda (WiiU): Do I really have to explain why this game is so high up on the list? It’s the first Legend of Zelda-game in HD for Pete’s sake! Link: check! Bow and arrow: check! Open world: check! Horseback-riding: check! Zelda: Eeerrr… she’ll probably be in this one as well. Truth is, we haven’t seen that much of the game yet. I still believe it will release this year (unlike Final Fantasy XV), but chances are it might slide to next year. This year’s E3 will show us whether we’ll be in Hyrule by Christmas or not, though whether I’ll be ready for it or not will mostly depend on how much time I’m going to sink into the number 1 on my 2015 most wanted (pre-E3 edition) list.

European release date: late 2015

(1) Xenoblade Chronicles X (WiiU): First there was Final Fantasy VII for the original Playstation. Then there was Fallout 3 for the Playstation 3. On the third day God gave us Xenoblade Chronicles for the Nintendo Wii, and he saw that it was good. More than good actually. It was amazing. The first Xenoblade Chronicles is not only regarded to be one of the best Japanese roleplaying games of the previous generation of consoles. It is also my favorite game of all time. Expectations for its HD follow-up are… high, to say the least. The new game will boast an even larger over world with even bigger monsters to fight, will give us the chance to cross said world in mech-suits, and generally promises to be the biggest sci-fi opera/fantasy RPG to date. Plus, the trailer that revealed Monolith Soft’s mysterious game (X) was actually Xenoblade Chronicles X, also revealed the Nopon race to be in this game as well. Meaning we’ll probably get to be called the ‘heropon’ once more. Cannot wait to spend a 100+ hours on this game!

European release date: June 26th, hopefully (if the Italian Amazon leak was correct); late 2015, probably