Saturday, March 15, 2014

Bravely Default- The New Old School

There was a time, long ago in a different era, when Japanese role playing games were king. They had the best stories, the best graphics, the best everything. The times have obviously changed. It's no secret that JRPGs are in something of a decade long rut. Recent additions to beloved franchises like Final Fantasy and Dragon Quest  haven't been the smash hits they once were. While there have been a few decent releases over the past few years, nothing quite recaptures the magic of the classics titles from an age long past. Square Enix's new Bravely Default comes closer to recapturing that magic than anything seen for the past ten years.

Bravely Default wouldn't be a JRPG without the genre defining basics. The game has the familiar turned based combat, the random encounters and epic boss battles. Fans of Final Fantasy will be right at home from the first encounter. But what makes Bravely Default fun and interesting is the little things it does different; primarily the brave/default system. In any given fight, each character has BP, or Brave Points. One BP is spent per each action and you gain a point at the start of each turn. You can also choose 'default' which is basically 'guard' and earn extra BP. It's less complicated than it sounds.Say it's the start of the fight, you can choose to have a character attack four times, but then that character will have negative BP and will have to wait a few turns before they can act again. Certain attacks cost more than one BP. A risk reward situation.

Monday, April 22, 2013

Shin Megami Tensei: Devil Summoner: Soul Hackers Review

Sometimes you come across a new game that makes you think; 'man, twelve year old me would love this.' It's not that you don't like it or that it’s boring or anything; it's just that the game has bad timing. I've spent the last few days playing Atlus's new 3DS title Shin Megami Tensei: Devil Summoner: Soul Hackers and one thing's for sure; twelve year old me loves it. Its simple turned based combat, the fact that it’s a first person RPG and its sometimes fatal random encounters would have kept me playing well past my bedtime.  

But I'm not a tween anymore and haven't been for over a decade. Since then, my tastes have changed and videogames have come a long way. Many of the elements I would have found commonplace or enjoyable years ago, are now the most frustrating parts of Soul Hackers. The main reason it feels so dated, and why it seems so suited to younger version of me, is that the game originally came out in 1997. The 3DS version is the first time it's been officially released in English. 

Monday, August 20, 2012

People will talk: getting lost in sensationalism

As long as videogame journalists talk to videogame developers, there will be controversy and sensationalism. That statement should be expanded; as long as journalists talk to anyone, there will be sensationalism. Let’s expand that one more time, as long as PEOPLE talk to PEOPLE there will be sensationalism and everything will be blown way out of proportion and things said will be taken out of context and did Jenny really say that about Peggy?

People will talk.   

That said, Ben Kuchera, the man in charge over at the Penny Arcade Report, makes some good points about the way the media interacts with game developers. Let’s rewind; Mr. Kuchera’s article, Sexism as inclusion, racism as criticism: why the press and developers have trouble communicating, is about two developers saying sexist and racist things. In his article he talks about the potential conversations we missed by over sensationalizing recent controversies, specifically the comments made by John Heming way and Alex Hutchinson.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Meager Means Minefield: Game Dev Story

Have you ever wondered how videogames are made? Well, let me tell you. First; assemble a team of game writers, a sound designer or two, a bear, a mysterious masked man and a coder if you really feel like it. Second; give each person a computer and an energy drink. Third; members of your development will catch on fire and pound on their keyboards while little numbers appear above their heads. And that’s where videogames come from.

Monday, August 6, 2012

More Marvels of Geekery

The internet is truly amazing place; it connects us, informs us and allows us to engage in a global community. It's a place for business, philanthropy and entertainment. It is truly phenomenal, a place where one can find, and buy, true marvels of geekery. And now: panties.

Your Path is Blocked by Snorlax Underwear
Snorlax just gets in the damn way.

Friday, August 3, 2012

Super Mario: How Nintendo Conquered America. A Book Review

Digital Punch and Pie is not exactly the best place to come for book a review; the main reason being that I am hardly literate. Another big motive for me not to review books here is that they are, by definition, not videogames. Along those same lines, the written word has only recently been made digital and tends to have little to do with digital punch and/or pie. While I like to read (I love me some Italo Calvino), books aren’t my area of expertise, but I’m going out on a limb and reviewing Jeff Ryan’s SuperMario: How Nintendo Conquered America.

In his 2011 book, Jeff Ryan takes a closer look at the past of a fat Italian plumber and the company behind him. He examines the rise of the videogame industry, the rebirth of Nintendo as a game company, introduces us to Mario’s fabled creator Shigeru Miyamoto and guides us through the history of one of the largest companies in Japan. While chronicling Mario’s rise in the western world, he maintains a fun, pop-cultured fueled tone.

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Star Wars: The Old Republic will be 'Free to Play'

For anyone who has spent any time playing Bioware's MMO, and has seen the declining in-game populations and server mergers, the news that Star Wars: the Old Republic will be going 'free to play' this fall comes as no surprise. People have predicted that Bioware would drop the subscription fee since the first few weeks of the games release.

Over the past few months, the MMO has been hemorrhaging  players, dealing with near empty servers and Bioware's SWTOR studio has had massive lay offs. The game has not be doing as well as expected, there's no question about that. What's up for debate is whether or not going to the 'free to play model' will help.