Archive for the 'Video Games' Category

Nintendo Power publishes final issue

November 30, 2012

After 24 years of publication, the final issue of Nintendo Power will hit newsstands on Dec. 11.

The artist for the cover, Leslie Levings, released the cover for the last issue after it was leaked by a suit at Future Publishing. On its own it seems like a great piece of art. When compared to the first issue (on right) it seems to be a fitting homage to go out on.

original

The final cover arrives in time to advertise Mario’s latest game New Super Mario Bros. U.

When Nintendo Power announced it would be closing its doors at the end of the year, I was greatly saddened. It was one of the longest-running games magazines in the country. It was continuously published since 1988. It began as a bi-monthly product that spun off of the Nintendo Fun Club newsletter. The magazine began monthly publication in 1990.

In 2007, Nintendo contracted the brand out to Future in an attempt to give the magazine a more independent point of view and less like the thinly veiled marketing ploy.

The end of the magazine comes during a time of turmoil for the US magazine industry. Magazine sales fell almost 10% in the first half of 2012. Even Newsweek is ending their print publication at the end of this year.

It is unfortunate that Nintendo Power couldn’t continue their reporting through digital publications similar to Newsweek. But Power staffers were distributed to other Future properties including GamesRadar and MacLife magazine.

Nintendo Power subscribers who have a subscription that extends past their final December 2012 issue will receive a refund for remaining value of the subscription.

Capcom Uses Cannibalism to Promote Resident Evil 6.

October 21, 2012

On Setp. 29 Capcom presented an event called Wesker & Son Resident Evil Human Butchery to promote the Oct. 2 release of the game Resident Evil 6. The pop-up art installation was held in the renowned Smithfield Meat Market in East London.

 

Wesker & Sons featured actual meat being shaped into human body parts. Available for purchase, these consisted of such items as peppered human & lemon sausages, J’avo caught human thigh steaks and pots made of red and green herbs.

At the heart of the concept it broadly has all of the elements of a good PR/marketing stunt. It’s trendy. It has a vague, albeit strained reference to the product and it definitely got attention. All proceeds of the grotesque meat sale were reported to be donated to the Limbless Association, a charity for those who have lost limbs.

Whatever the truth behind the circumstance the idea certainly worked. They got loads of attention and plenty of free press, which in this is kind of the point. But it is never a good idea to adopt the tenant that any press is good press.

I think what offends me the most is the travesty they committed to the prosciutto (bacon’s forgotten cousin) by transforming it into the shape of a human arm. Just to be clear, Capcom defiled bacon (to an extent) to look like man-meat, sold it for human consumption and gave the proceeds to a charity for people who had lost their arms.

It just reminds me of a quote from Serenity, “Eatin’people…Where’s that get fun?”

Before the Capcom bashing commences for their tasteless (pun intended) PR stunt, they have some of the best video game IPs in the business. Street Fighter, Megaman & Resident Evil are forever classics. But some of their recent business practices haven’t been fan favorites. Capcom released slightly different versions of the same game within a few months: Street Fighter IV/Street Fighter IV Arcade Edition and Marvel vs. Capcom3/ Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3. There was also the paid on-disc DLC for Street Fighter x Tekken and Ashura Wrath that saw a backlash from customers and video game journalist.

These are poor marketing decisions that Capcom has learned from. Reportedly the on-disc DLC on Resident Evil 6 will be free. But I am still not sure that this promotion for the game was fully though through.

Using cannibalism to promote Resident Evil 6, a game about a zombie outbreak seems unfeeling and more like a move that a faceless uncaring corporation would make – like Umbrella Corp.

Via: Eurogamer

Still shell-shocked from Final Fantasy 8 OST

July 26, 2012

A song that I always make sure is on my iPhone is “Liberi Fatali”, from the Final Fantasy VIII Original Soundtrack (FF8 OST). The song is a Latin choral piece composed by Nobuo Uematsu.

“Liberi Fatali” roughly translates as “Fated Children.” The theme is echoed through the story of the video game. Personally, I did not play the game until the release of the PlayStation 2, but I played through the opening 20 times to hear the opening song.

The song has personal relevance not related to video games. Back in 2000, a roommate of mine was running a Dungeons & Dragons (D&D) game and incorporated music into his tabletop gameplay. Whenever “Liberi Fatali” played it meant something bad was about to happen.

The group of people we played with had different work hours and weren’t available at the same time. So the game was run in multiple tiers and players played at all hours of the night. There were many occasions where I was woken up in the middle of the night to “Fithos Lusec Wecos Vinosec” blaring from downstairs. I would have to run down stairs and start rolling dice in a sleepy blur in an attempt to keep my friend’s D&D characters from dying.

To this day, I still have a Pavlovian reaction to the song if I didn’t actually play it myself. Several years after I had retired my dice and stopped playing D&D, my sister was playing the game on the PlayStation Portable (PSP) with the music turned up. I instinctively ran into the room before I realized what I was doing.

I was shell-shocked. My sister was startled and threw my PSP at me because I scarred her. I may have PTSD.

“Fithos Lusec Wecos Vinosec” are all made up words and have no English translation, though if you cared to know, “Fithos Lusec Wecos Vinosec” is an anagram for “Succession of Witches” with the word “Love” left over. I didn’t learn this until several years later when I finally looked up the lyrics. My understanding of Latin is about the same as a canine’s understanding of algebra. I originally thought the song started out like:

Feeeeed us

Muuuuusic

Feeeeed us

Innocence!

I still play it occasionally at work just because of the emotions it invokes. It always gets me pumped and ready for action. I also like to play it because it is a choral piece that many musicians and conductors I work with haven’t heard it. They must have been practicing while I put 80+ hours of gameplay into this game alone.

It gives me an excuse to talk about my love for video games and how they are sometimes genuine works of art, despite what Roger Ebert says. To be fair, he has apologized since his original post.  It might have had something to do with the 4500+ comments on his blog.

Background

In the fall of 1999, Final Fantasy VIII was released for the original Playstation. It was developed and published by Square (now Square Enix). The music was scored by Nobuo Uematsu. Thirteen weeks after its release, Final Fantasy VIII earned more than $50 million, making it the fastest-selling Final Fantasy title of all time until Final Fantasy XIII, a multi-platform release. The game shipped 8.15 million copies worldwide as of 2003.

The Playstation2 was released in 2000. The last original Playstation game was published in the fall of 2004.

“Liberi Fatali” has been performed worldwide. It was performed by the London Philharmonic Orchestra, The Twilite Orchestra in Jakarta, Indonesa and Royal Stockholm Philharmonic Orchestra.

Distant Worlds: Music From Final Fantasy is a concert tour featuring music from the Final Fantasy has performed “Liberi Fatali” several times in the past. Its next performance is December 7, 2012 and features The Chicagoland Pops Orchestra and Chorus, conducted by GRAMMY Award winner Arnie Roth. Please see their website for details.

Keywords: Final Fantasy VIII, OST, FF8, Video, Game, music, soundtrack, Nobuo, Uematsu

Bechdel test on video games

July 19, 2012

In my Race & Gender in the Media course this week, I was introduced to the Bechdel test.

The Bechdel test is credited to Bechdel’s friend Liz Wallace and appears in a 1985 strip entitled “The Rule”. One of the characters says that she only watches a movie if it satisfies the following requirements:

1. It has to have at least two women in it, who

2. talk to each other, about

3.  something besides a man.

In class, we saw a clip from Feminist Frequency which added one other stipulation to her evaluation of movies: it had to include a full minute of dialogue between the two women.

I am still unclear if this actually means it has to be a continuous minute of dialogue between the two female characters or if the total has to add up to 60 seconds.  I sincerely hope it is the latter because I don’t think I want to watch any film that has huge chunks of dialogue without an action break. (I will be at tonight’s midnight showing of The Dark Knight Rises. My opinion on this is rather skewed. I am a blockbuster junkie). But this particular rule shouldn’t be applied to video games since the action breaks are not the same as a motion picture. Most video games have long pauses in dialogue and poor camera angles. Take nearly any video game’s cut scenes and cobble them together into one video and it makes for very boring watching (Xenosaga is the first that comes to mind).

This week, the Gamelogical Society posted a list of 15 video games that pass the Bechdel test. I would like to add my own list of video games that meet this requirement. Please remember that Bechdel herself notes that her test is no indicator of quality, and that plenty of movies that pass it aren’t worth watching. This is also true for the games in my list and in no way are an indicator of quality. Plus, I am only including games I have actually played. Coming up with this list is more difficult than I thought. I had a hard time finding an Xbox360 game that passed the Bechdel test unless the protagonist was female. Most of these games give the player the option to create their character and choose the gender. Some of these franchises include: Fallout, Elder Scrolls, Mass Effect, Saints Row

1. Final Fantasy X-2 (2003, PS2)

Final Fantasy X-2 is the first direct sequel in the renowned RPG series. The story takes place two years after Yuna defeated Sin in Final Fantasy X, and follows Yuna’s journey to find her lost love. X-2 features an all-female led cast. The main characters were fitted with a Charlie’s Angels-like motif (which can be painful to watch at times).

2. Persona 3 Portable (2010, PSP)

This one is a bit of a cheat because Shin Megami Tensei: Persona 3 Portable is an enhanced remake of Persona 3 for the PlayStation Portable.  The most noticeable difference from the original is the player would now have the option to play as a female character (previously male was the only option). This selection alters some aspects of the story: the first Persona gained by the Protagonist, Orpheus, has a different appearance; Igor’s assistant in the Velvet Room, Elizabeth, can be replaced with a male equivalent named Theodore.  The gender choice also alters some aspects of the Social Link stories. Again, this one is a bit of a stretch because all of the dialogues with the Protagonist and the female characters are one sided. The character you play as does not have any speaking lines, but the other characters respond to you as if you have said something. I include this in my list because playing as a female protagonist changes the game play and character reactions to create a different story than the original.

3. Fatal Frame II: Crimson Butterfly (2003, PS2)

Twin sisters Mio and Mayu Amakura are visiting the spot where they used to play as children and follow a mysterious red butterfly deep into the woods. The two girls are led to a village shrouded in fog. While it seems abandoned, the twins soon realize that the tortured souls of the dead roam, forever reliving the day of the failed ceremony that trapped them in this state. For most of the game, the player controls Mio who is searching for her lost twin. Her only weapon is the “Camera Obscura,” an antique camera with the ability to take pictures of the ghosts and exorcise them. Cut scenes show extended scenes with the twins in conversation. *NOTE: This is probably the scariest game I have ever played in my life. It is difficult to doa full review on it because I was hiding under a blanket for most of the game.

I had never considered the topic of female equality in games before the classroom discourse. I am very aware that most video games are geared toward adolescent males. Most depictions of females are highly sexualized and do not fairly depict females by any stretch of the imagination. Gaming trends are changing quickly as more females are becoming visible players.

In a report, entitled 2011 Essential Facts About the Computer and Video Game Industry (here) the Entertainment Software Association (ESA)  revealed some new numbers about female gamers, including their growing presence in the gaming audience. As of 2010, 42 percent of the gaming audience is female, up from 40 percent the previous year. And, interestingly enough, turning the whole “video games are for teenage boys” stereotype on its head, women 18 and older make up more of the gaming audience than boys 17 and younger.

-this post was also used as an assignment for JOUR 4250 (Race/Gender and the Media)

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