Wednesday, March 09, 2016

Weekly Link Round Up

What? You didn't think we'd leave you hanging after the mini Link Round Up on Monday, did you? The full blown version is here with all the good, and weird, gaming news of the week. Here's what we've found so far:

- For those who were not online yesterday, it was International Women's Day, and everyone was smacking it in our faces to remind us how awesome women are. (You know what would make it more awesome? Gender equality, removing luxury taxes on tampons and Maxi pads, and equal pay for equal work. Just saying...) Last year Art-Eater posted an article about the woman in Japanese gaming that influenced some of the biggest designs and characters that are a part of our history - and it was circling again yesterday. Fantastic read for those who want to learn a little more about our video game past.

- With very little fanfare and almost no notice, Amazon Japan will now ship video game hardware and software intentionally. That's a big deal, if you didn't know, even if the Engadget article seems less then impressed. Why? Imports are hella expensive. A number of games and consoles are limited to a Japanese or Asian only release and never make their way state-side. The FF13 JP PS3 console comes to mind (that looked a million times cooler then the NA version they gave us). Economic and production restrictions would not allow for these items to make their way overseas without a really hefty price on your wallet. But now...it's possible! There are restrictions still, but worth the hurdles: the items can only be bought from Amazon Japan. No third party sellers, so it has to be an item in stock in an Amazon facility. Shipping is a $10 minimum (which is very reasonable for an international order). And not everything will ship still (there are some country restrictions that they can't override). But for collector's, this is awesome. Imports made easier! Rejoice!

- It's not a weekly Link Round Up without a WhatCulture list. This time it's the 10 Most Hated Video Game Characters of All Time. Hate is such a strong word. And this list is kind of bogus. I'll agree with the Duck Hunt Dog because he was incredibly annoying when you cackled at your missed shots. Maybe Ashley from Resident Evil 4 for having to lead her around the game and keeping her safe (RE4 is one long NPC escort mission). But what happened to Natalya from GoldenEye 64? She was a terrible, annoying character! Not just in how she was portrayed, but awful game mechanics. This list needs a re-make. Badly.

- Maybe their second list, 15 Horror Games That Failed to Scare, will make up for it. Yep! We have 2 WhatCulture lists this week. And some of the titles on this list could quality more for it's gimmicky antics, less on the "scare" factor. I don't know if this makes up for the last list, but it's a start. You'll find "winners" such as Friday the 13th for the NES, Aliens: Colonial Marines, and Amnesia: Machine for Pigs. I don't agree with the addition of the Slender Man series or Five Nights at Freddy's. Those games have compelling, unique ways of alarming you with a refreshing take on the jump scare. Listing them at #2 and #1 is a disservice to their work at altering the horror game genre for the better. So...that's another list fail. Way to go WhatCulture. You were doing so well for a moment!

- GameZone marks out the 5 games that "need" a comeback/sequel. First things first, it lists 6 games. The writer needs to learn how to count - Jak and Daxter and Crash Bandicoot are NOT from the same franchise. You can split those up and make a list of 6. It's okay. Otherwise, the list is pretty darn good. This isn't about rebooting the series and remaking the original games, but adding content to it. Hard-core Beyond Good and Evil fans have been frothing at the mouth for a proper sequel to the cult classic. And I keep hoping to see something for Dark Cloud (it's dungeon crawling with building mechanics) even though it's decades old and long out of the minds of the developers. As long as these are not rebooted and it's a NEW game, I would be a very happy camper.

- If you're one of the hundreds of thousands of people descending on Austin for the SXSW Festival, next weekend you can get a preview of Telltale Game's take on Batman! Take lots of notes and report back. I want to know all about it.

- IGN India, and yes that is a real thing, created a list of 5 mashup games they want to see. Ignoring the fact that a Marvel vs DC mashup will never, ever, ever, ever happen, some of the suggestions are ho-hum. Too obvious. If I want a zombie cross-over, I'd rather take Resident Evil with Dead Rising (and hey, they are both Capcom games, so it has potential). Star Craft and Warcraft already have a crossover in the Heroes of the Storm MOBA, so that's moot. I'm not feeling the lists this week - little research and virtually no creativity. If you want a video game mashup to happen, go for something that's completely off the wall. Something you never expect because it might just happen. I would like to direct you to Kingdom Hearts. The super cereal company of Square with the kiddy joy of Disney. It shouldn't have worked, but it did. Beautifully. That's how a mashup should happen. Don't be afraid to think outside the box on this one. Like Doom and Care Bears. Just think about it, and let your mind explode with creativity.

- Greg Toppo is back with an interview with author, game theorist, and developer Jane McGonigal. She's a keynote speaker at SXSW this year, and is one of the foremost authorities on psychology and gaming. Her TED talk has been viewed over 5 million times - it's no wonder she'll be a keynote speaker. Take a few minutes to read the interview. Great stuff!

- Australia, for all of it's greatness, has some weird laws about video games. How they are produced, promoted, packaged, and a number of companies have to alter their products just to get them into the country. You'd think they were like China...and with their laws, sometimes they are just as aggressive about game content. But game developers will bow to the changes - Australia is a large market for gamers and the loss in revenue is not worth the fight. So what's up their butt this week? Apparently a Target store in Australia decided to take all of the R18+ games and change the packaging to plain white boxes, with the R18+ label and a warning "you must be 18 years or over to purchase." It's very similar to the cigarette laws in the country, plain packaging with no stylish company labels. Any labels need to include a gruesome image about the ill-effects of smoking.

Target has since issued a statement that the lone store took matters into their own hands and created the packaging. This wasn't a company-wide policy and the concern has since been corrected. According to Australian law, stores must have a display clearly visible to customers marking R18+ games, or cover the games with an R18+ label (that doesn't take up the entire box art). Most stores have an endcap or title card above that section - which is Target's current method. So no need to panic Australians. Your games are still safe and maybe, just maybe one day you'll actually get a Street Fighter that hasn't been edited.

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