Tags: shortwave gamin’

It’s as if millions of voices suddenly cried out in terror and were forced to do a dance minigame

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So in post from io9 of an off screen video taken by zoomin.tv I got my first taste of “Kinect Star Wars” beyond the Jedi battle mode. When shown at E3 over the last couple years it seemed well OK. Since the dawn of motion controlled games I think many nerds like me has held on to hope saying  “holy shit we are gonna get the best Star Wars games now!”

Those hoping though for a hardcore motion Star Wars experience though will probably have to wait a bit longer. The latest from the galaxy far far away is a mini game collection for the Kinect. That doesn’t always have to be a bad thing. “Happy Action Theater” is a hoot with the right group of people. But from what I’ve seen in the video there is the Jedi mode (where on rails you slash at droids and use hand motions to push them and such), Podracing (pretty self explanatory from what I’ve seen holding your hands up and pretending to race), a Rancor mode (where one takes the role of a Rancor and just stomps around and breaks stuff, perhaps best played to Limp Bizkit’s Break Stuff) then last and probably least there is a dancing game. It comes reminiscent of  “Just Dance” and “Dance Central.” Cards show on the the side of the screen and you do your best to match them. You take the avatar of slave girls in Jabba’s palace and most notably of those Slave Leia.

For me that’s just not the experience I want to have with a Star Wars game. In fact it just feels kind of weird. I don’t want to take the role of an enslaved woman having to dance for her captors. Not only that but I imagine dancing to the cantina music will get grating after a while, exploitation aside. I’m a big fan actually of  “Dance Central” but I would love it if the Kinect which can do some really cool things was pushed in even more new and innovative ways.

Of course this isn’t a game necessarily made for me. The older Star Wars fan still hanging on to fandom after years now mainly content with poking holes in things just can’t always expect everything to be made for us and that is actually OK. Older fans like myself have to keep in mind there is a different generation out there of Star Wars fans, and their Star Wars is much different than ours. We care about the dark depressing side of things and analyzing it to death and they may actually not mind Jar Jar.

Currently the Star Wars game for my demographic is the Old Republic, which is a good. It would be nice to have something more arcadey and on consoles to scratch that itch. Who knows though? The Jedi abilities in this may scratch that itch I’ve been waiting almost six years for. However, it’s too bad when my reason for playing something has moved from interest and hope to morbid curiosity. Developer Terminal Reality (of Bloodrayne fame and the recent Ghostbusters game) is doing their best to appeal to a wide range of fans with this game but clearly I may not a young enough padawan to probably get much if any enjoyment.

However we will find out how strong the Force is with Kinect Star Wars when it lands April 3rd 2012 in the US.
Source:  io9

Dear Sir or Esther Will You Play My Game? The Dear Esther Review

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Sometimes you will feel like indulging in a Michael Bay adventure other days to keep up some culture maybe you’ll pop in Fellini’s 8 1/2 . Dear Esther by thechineseroom is like an art house film in game form. Chances are a good amount of the audience will walk out annoyed and some will walk out smug with witty retorts such as “oh you didn’t get it did you?”This first person non shooter available now on Steam is destined to garner both of these kinds of reactions.
Dear Esther began its life as a Source mod from a project at the University of Portsmouth. Admittedly I hadn’t played the original incarnation from about four years ago but it seemed to get enough attention that they got help from the Indie Fund to finance the project. Given the level of involvement from all these different areas of the industry it’s a nice moment showing people coming together to help fund and publish more of the artistic sides of video games.

In Dear Esther we are the narrator, well we may be to be honest it’s not really all that clear. We speak directly to Esther in a poetric prose which sounds great coming from the seemingly well trained voice actor.  Things as we have found out didn’t end too well for Esther or any of the other about two people the narrator mentions. As you wander through the island you see reflections of the things that you say in the environment. There is no picking up, no “use” button, no directly interative means of the sort. In fact even your flashlight isn’t controlled by you.

The game looks great though. Source has struggled to stay afloat as graphics have progessed the last few years but the vistas here as well the small touches along the way (weeds, stalagmites, graffiti) all come together to make journey a nice looking feast for the eyes. The score by Jessica Curry can be minimal for most of the time but when it builds its effective and keeps you engaged. Thinking that things could pop out at any moment even if they don’t.

Much like To The Moon much of what happens is hard to construe as a game. This however is a step ever further than that. The story is abstract but I can say that it kept me going. I completed all of the game’s four chapters in one sitting totally around 2 hours.  An experience which is walking around an island may not be for everyone. I think that  these kind of games coming out are important. As an industry it continues the escalation of video games as something diverse and beautiful. Thechineseroom did a great job using environmental storytelling much like Portal did before. If you want a calm thoughtful experience give it a try.  Those thirsty for blood will not be satisfied by the slow moving prose and exploration . There isn’t too much more reason to return though I am curious if there are story bits  I have missed along the way. I can say though during my walkabout I was completely invested. There were times shadows moved in the distance, my curiosity was peaked and I was visually and audibly engrossed. Releases like this make me happy games are evolving and we need benchmarks like this along the way.

Thechineseroom online

http://thechineseroom.co.uk/

I Feel Your Pain Gabe – The Waiting for the Vita is the Hardest Part

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The latest Penny Arcade comic has Gabe doing exactly what I am. Waiting. I preordered my Vita and have two games (wipEout and Uncharted) sitting there with nothing to do for a week. Reviews for both have been pretty mixed (ending up with about 78 or so Metacritic) but really I just need to have it in my hands to stop those SD cards (or whatever they actually are) from beckoning to me. More updates when the Vita actually gets here until then “The Waiting is the Hardest Part” by Tom Petty will be on repeat.

Yup, thanks Sony this is my week

Just 6 more days. 6 more days.

Please be good.

Listen Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers – The Waiting

Comic source:

http://penny-arcade.com/comic/

Under the Crying Moon. A To The Moon Review

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It’s finally happened! Alex has gained access to Adam and Tigs’ fortress of solitude and man does it smell funky in here. Now without further ado here is my Shortwave premiere, a review of To The Moon for PC! Thanks Adam and Tigs.

If you saw me when I was done playing To The Moon from Freebird Games I would have claimed I was cutting an onion or I just stubbed my toe while thinking of the end of Old Yeller. OK maybe it isn’t all waterworks but it is refreshing how the PC indie devs can find ways besides detached action or flashy graphics to pull one in to a game and this is a gem of an example of that.

Again the term “game” still has to be used lightly. What designer / composer Ken Gao did was create a tableau for the story and all the weepy feelings associated. The elements that can be construed as gameplay for most of the experience are point and click pixel hunt style for the exploration with very few puzzle elements.

But it comes down to the story and that’s what matters. You follow two employees of the quasi futuristic Sigmund Corp Dr. Eva Rosalene and Dr. Neil Watts. One is uptight the other is a video game referencing slacker! Uh oh! OK that premise could be a terrible ABC sitcom but in reality together they do a mix of reverse Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind with a twist of Eternal Sonata. In layman’s terms they take someone who is dying and make their last wish come true at least virtually in someone’s noggin. So these virtual make a wishers journey into the head of a dying man named Johnny to fulfill his dying dream  to (ready for it?) go To the Moon! Over the rest of the 4 – 5 hour long journey you have to figure out why and how that’s going to happen. Working backwards through his life you piece together the puzzle and what comes is something I found truly unique.

A sad old man and a lighthouse, now lighthouses will make you cry

The art and music really help tie the package together. It’s presented similar to that of a mid 90s pixilated RPG with drawn scenes used occasionally for some key plot moments. They all look great and while there is no voice acting it would probably feel out of place with the retro look. Music plays a big part throughout the story with reoccurring piano pieces punctuating scenes. I found myself revisiting the soundtrack over the following days and meditating on those particular moments in the game. They are very pretty and from my untrained eye well composed for the situations to bring us in the sadness party.

Not everything is perfect. What puzzles do exist are not challenging, really at all. This way there is no barrier between you and the story but I think having more of a feeling of agency in what happens or making things happen could have made it even more rewarding. An element of choice besides what character you control in specific sections could have been a possible route to take but again this was their story to tell and that’s what they did, with little other frills.

That option to "pass" with the soccer ball is not as active as you think it woud be.

If you are looking to go into a game and have guns blazing this won’t be the right experience for you. To The Moon resides somewhere special for me though. Sure it ends up little more than a pixilated movie. But it’s a good one. It has the rare ability to care about the characters and want to accompany them on the journey.  Just pack a hankie.

B+

Buy To The Moon direct from Freebird Games!

http://freebirdgames.com/to_the_moon/