Friday, October 1, 2010

My Biggest Silent Hill Nightmare is Another Shitty Silent Hill

The Silent Hill games are some of my favorite gaming memories. The PSone era Silent Hill had me shitting my pants every time I heard an air raid siren, and the plot was both goofy and suitably surreal. Somehow when I was younger I had no problem with all the backtracking, poor graphics, poor gameplay etc; I was too immersed in this town of personal torment and all its little secrets.

Fast Forward to Silent Hill 2. Do I even
need to say that it is my favorite game? It's my favorite game. Ever. It is still as entertaining to me to play and think about as it was the day it was released. The sheer weight of all the psychological metaphors, the town that was mysteriously crippled and yet familiar with it's visitors, and the abandonment of all that cult nonsense made the game into something that has yet to be recreated - the most unforgiving in-depth character analysis ever presented in a game. Not to mention the fact that the game never once relies on "jump scares" to get your attention. Instead, it slowly turns what you understand to be real on it's head; the building sense of dread at times so unbearable I found it difficult to progress for fear of what was going to happen.

The important part was the revelation that nearly everything anomalous James sees in the town is actually a part of his severely damaged psyche. Once you discover that **SPOILER ALERT YOU RETARDS** James has repressed the memory of murdering his wife, things start to become eerily meaningful. What I'm talking about of course, is motherfucking Pyramid-Head.

Ahh Pyramid Head. Perhaps the most iconic enemy in the survival-horror genre, fans immediately latched on to the mysterious figure dragging his 80 pound knife through our nightmares. This, unfortunately, causes problems.

You see, Pyramid head only makes sense in the context of Silent Hill 2. He is a physical manifestation of James' most base and violent sexual frustrations. He rapes shit right in front of you, is shaped like a penis, and attacks you with phallic objects. When you finally "kill" the two pyramid head bosses at the end of the game, they impale themselves and Leave James two essential items for proceeding to the final confrontation; a pair of eggs.

Did you get that? He literally defeats his sexual aggression - or at least his fear of it - and physically RECEIVES HIS BALLS BACK so he can, you know, PROCEED.

That is why when you see Pyramid Head in any other context outside of Silent Hill 2, you should be completely out-there confused. You should actually be saying something along the lines of "WHY IS JAMES' PENIS HERE RIGHT NOW."

Amidst the fandom, something got lost in translation. Pyramid head became intertwined with the games stupid, goofy, inconsistent cult sub-plot. He became fan service.

Now I can forgive the movie. They really did nail the visuals of Silent Hill. The scenery was all perfectly horrifying, the transformation from real to "otherworld" was a great technical feat, and Pyramid Head actually looked really really really cool. Movies are allowed this kind of thing. They are trying to take an old video game plot and make it accessible to a wide audience. In exchange for an inconsistent plot and some fan service, we got a fucking MOVIE. Good on them for trying as hard as they did to make the nonsensical cult plot work on screen.

At this point in the games, however, Silent Hill was kind of a paranoid schizophrenic. SH3 actually went back to the cult plot to provide us a game that was more combat oriented, fan-aware, and visually horrifying.Then SH4 came along and decided it was a Ghost story/slightly different cult story. It becomes increasingly clear that there was never really meant to be a canonical plot, and the the longer people spend trying to develop one the more crippled Silent Hill becomes as an IP.

Look at Origins, for example. Someone decided that the fans really wanted to see the beginnings of the cult. And maybe they did. I, personally found Silent Hill the most effective as a metaphor for the psychological problems of it's inhabitants. Silent Hill 2 did it so well, and left the potential for more visitors so open that I really got my hopes up for the future.

Well, it's the future. I am hella disappointed with the new games. Homecoming was a gut punch to anyone like me who thought SH2 was the high point in the series. The game became less psychological horror and more about knife fights. Having a physically capable character made the enemies much less frightening, and the appearance of Pyramid Head IS JUST WRONG OK I DON'T WANT TO DISCUSS IT ANYMORE OK.

I suppose there IS Shattered Memories to consider.... But I haven't played it yet! It looks like a promising experiment, but the pacing issues seem like a valid complaint. I'm sure I will come to begrudgingly love it along with the first 4.

So now we have Silent Hill 8 to be looking forward to. Or something. I mean, I guess I'm willing to look forward to it. The previews show promise. The graphics are suitably crummy, I'm sure the voice acting is terrible as always, and the main character is already shown as tied in with the town's more explicit horror-aspects. He's a prisoner, you see, and it appears that his "otherworld" experience is a claustrophobic endless series of cages! Awesome! And no Goddamn Pyramid Head. Yet.

Augh this is like expecting the next Weezer album to not suck. I JUST WANT TO BELIEVE IN YOU RIVERS CUOMO.

The point I guess I've been raving and rambling about is that when I see a new Silent Hill, I don't want it to be full of the same enemies and themes - they are supposed to be unique and meaningful in the context of their original games, and reuse simply devalues them. And holy hell I could talk about SH2 forever.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Your Console Sucks: A Guide to Getting Attention through Trolling

Gaylo. Xcox. Wii360. RRoD. Kinect is Garbage. Wii is for babies. I love the new Dante. Nintendo hasn't made a new game in 20 years. PC gaming is dead.

How easy is it to piss off gamers? Really goddamn easy. Here is my simple process for generating drama on your blog.

1: Find news demonstrating a Marketing advantage.
It doesn't even matter how old it is! Was the Xbox outselling for a while? WOW PS3 IS DEAD. THATS ALOT OF RROD'S TO HANDLE. Wii? MORE LIKE SIT ON MY DICK.

So easy to contort, not to mention media trolls are constantly spewing bullshit about one system or the other being better, worse, dead or looking impressive.

It works like this: The average gamer can only afford one machine to play games on. Cognitive biases show that we are bound to defend a purchase after having made it. Faanboys show us just how ravenous this can be. ONE INFLAMMATORY statement will have people either agreeing, defending, or arguing with each other until their fingers bleed.

2: (Game 1) is like a dumb diapered babies version of (game 2)

Replace this entire situation with trashing Halo in any way shape or form. Inside of console preferences, there are (mostly fps) games that people will argue about for fucking years. Never mind the fact that Call of Duty and Halo are almost completely different experiences, both having their benefits and drawbacks: Fanboys will take it as a personal attack.

3: Defend Stylistic Changes

Dante, anyone?
Fanboys are pretty allergic to change. Just look at all the complaints about the new DmC, or the upcoming Diablo III.
Not only are gamers thin skinned about changes, they will bitch and moan and rally themselves until, in some cases, companies actually fucking CAVE IN and do what the fans want. All over a little hair-color.

Anyway, the topic itself is tiring to think about, but the success rate is undeniable. try it for yourself! Go make some blog posts saying absolute inflammatory bullshit and strangers from all around will come to tell you how wrong you are.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Kirby's Epic Yarn has Gameplay Details Revealed - Still Cute as Heck

I've always been late to the game when it comes to the Kirby games. I only discovered his super Nintendo entries when I was balls deep into the N64 as a child. They were delightfully fun, although spinoffs made it clear that deviations from the standard side-scrolling Kirby formula don't work too well - at least for me.

So I am pretty much super excited for the new release titled "Kirby's Epic Yarn." Not only is it completely adorable, but it adheres to the classic side-scrolling secret-revealing formula. Nintento revealed that by collecting little buttons you can reveal other levels that are supposed to provide a greater challenge. But that is not the only thing in store.

Kirby, having been turned into a hollow yarn outline by some evil... Yarn Wizard?... can't suck in enemies the way he used to. Cause he's hollow! So instead you have a yarn whip utility that unwinds enemies and - excitingly - parts of the background, revealing who knows what. ALSO confirmed is a co-op mode where the other player is basically a blue kirby with a crown. Exciting!

I wish I had more details, but honestly I'm a little wrapped up in just how awesome the idea of a new Kirby game is. Is anyone else as pumped as me? Or are you concerned about the new Gameplay features?

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Asura's Wrath looks absolutely crazy

What to do when you're a God who's been stripped of his powers or some such act of betrayal? Well you go for balls-out revenge. Sound a little too familiar? Well don't fret; with a striking and unique art style being pushed by the Unreal engine, the preview reveals what looks to be a completely insane take on the Hack'n'Slash genre. I'm gonna be watching for this one!

Child of Eden preview literally the closest I've ever gotten to caring about Kinect

Oh, Kinect. I don't even know what to say about this wishy-washy motion control cash-in that hasn't been said before. THAT SAID (loal) the trailer for the upcoming Kinect release Child of Eden actually looks like it might even be fun. That is if I could tell what the fuck was going on.

See it in action

Blatantly reusing imagery from Rez and Flow, this game is seriously trying to pull at my heartstrings for attention.

...Not that I will ever own a Kinect. But if a friend does, they better have this game.

HD Remake of Ico/Shadow of the Colossus has me Wet With Anticipation

In case the title doesn't mean anything to you, Ico and Shadow of the Colossus are two games tenuously related in theme and plot, featuring an iconic art style that blew the minds of many a PS2 owner.
SoC especially was a game made of jaw droppingly awesome moments. You explored a vast, serene, largely unpopulated land in search of giant walking mountains that you then climb up and stab to death with a sword that hardly seemed big enough to slice bread with.
The sense of scale was perfect, and the way your puny main character was so easily tossed around by the Colossi really made you feel like you accomplished something when you took one down.

THE FUCKING POINT IS that these games are being revamped to hd quality for re-release (no word on yet if it will be a package deal or sold separately) and you seriously owe it to yourself to try one of the few games that I will safely define as "art". This of course is on the heels of the impressive looking "The Last Guardian" game which we have been teased with for something like a year now.

Devil May Cry Reboot stars scrawny emo Dante; impressive looking action

Despite whatever misgivings you might have about everyone's favorite half-demon badass getting a scenester make-over and a plot reboot, I think it is about damn time.
With the canonical plot making less and less sense, and having to constantly fit new threads in-between existing ones thanks to the horrible DMC2, I think a reboot is just what the series needed.
DMC4 was a little lackluster; becoming
bloated with its old systems and relying on repetition of levels to bolster it's relatively short campaign.

So this new entry simply titled "DmC" seems ready to challenge our expectations. Taking place in "Limbo City" developers seem to be trying to create a world in which the lines of good and evil are blurred. In case a half-devil in a town called limbo didn't explain enough theme to you, the TGS trailer begins with a quote from Hume.

I'm so glad I still have my philosophy beard on.

So what do you think? Necessary or lame pandering to the masses? I'm fucking excited, for one.
Click the link, ant tell me what you think!