Psychonauts

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Psychonauts

The other day I was looking back through the games I’ve covered so far on the blog, and it dawned on me that I have a very odd taste in games. Loads of people have been asking me when I’m going to cover classics like Sonic the Hedgehogand Sensible Soccer, but to be honest I’m more interested in writing about oddities like Doshin the Giant and Emergency Call Ambulance.

Psychonauts

 

That’s partly because odd games are a bit easier to write about of course. One of the most difficult posts to write so far was the one on Super Mario Kart – it’s clearly a fantastic game that had to be included on the blog, but how do you write something new and interesting about a game that everyone already knows everything about? I ended up going with the whole ‘which version of Mario Kartis the best’ angle, but I think I rewrote the whole post about three times before I was reasonably assured that it wasn’t incredibly boring.

psychonauts

But the main reason that I tend to pick odd games to write about is that I genuinely like them. Give me the choice between playing Katamari Damacy andHalo 3, and Katamari would win hands down. That’s not to say I don’t like the Halo games of course,  but in the end they’re just a more refined version of a genre that’s been around for nearly 20 years, whereas there’s just nothing like Katamari Damacy out there (except for its sequels of course).

But it’s not just originality that attracts me – a good story is a plus too. I’m not one of those people who just keeps playing the same games again and again (I’m looking at you Ian) – I generally just play through a game once and then move onto something else. But the game has to make me want to see what’s around the next corner to keep me playing, and story is a big part of that.

psychonauts

Dark Sector is a good example of a game that doesn’t quite get it right – the story is all over the place, to the point where the game would probably have been better off without a story at all (watching the developers painstakingly try to explain why some young man has ended up with an organic, psychically controlled throwing blade for an arm is excruciating at times). Not only that, the limited story available is delivered through incredibly dull, poorly scripted cut scenes that actually leave you even more confused about what the hell is going on rather than illuminating the finer details of the hackneyed plot (which mostly centres around the usual mad scientist/femme fatale/betrayed friend gubbins). Thankfully, the game was saved from utter mediocrity by the small spark of originality that is the glaive – the amusement to be had from lopping people’s heads off from a distance was just about enough to keep me playing to the end.

psychonauts

The wonderful Psychonauts, on the other hand, has an embarrassment of riches when it comes to originality and story. In fact, it almost goes too far in the opposite direction – basic things, like the controls (which are ridiculously floaty), seem to have been added in almost as an afterthought, such is the focus on telling the sublimely ridiculous story. I won’t go into the details of the plot here (you can read the Wikipedia entry for that), suffice to say that at one point you get trapped inside the mind of a giant mutated lungfish and lay waste to an imaginary city – populated by tiny little mutated lungfish.

Graphically too, the game is exploding with imagination, and the stylized characters and landscapes are totally unlike anything I’ve seen before in a game (think The Nightmare Before Christmas, but set in a psychic summer camp). Not only that, in a welcome change from the norm, the voice acting is absolutely fantastic, and the deadpan one-liners often had me (genuinely) laughing out loud.

psychonauts

Most importantly, the game kept me playing not because I was trying to collect 100 of this, that and the other, or because I was desperately trying to get some obscure, yet utterly meaningless ‘Achievement’ – I kept playing just because I couldn’t wait to see what happened next. Which is the way all games should be.

Are game reviews valid?

Are game reviews valid? by Honorabili

You might read a game review and be enticed to go buy or play a game but is a review really valid? How long did the reviewer play the game? Does it take into account replayability and updates over the life of the game?

The Quality Triangle
The Quality Triangle

I’ve written a bunch of game reviews but I often find myself with the dilemma of when I sit down and think about how effective the review really is. One of the reasons I created Obsolete Gamer is so that I can honestly review games in a reasonable and realistic manner. It’s really really hard to play a game that hasn’t come out yet or has just come out and play it like a crackhead non-stop to try to simulate having played it over a series of days and weeks. The problem with even doing that is that the game will still be new to me within a week timeframe as opposed to the game having been around in my collection for months. One would be more excited about a new game rather than an old one, unless it’s a really old game that was your favorite and you haven’t played in a while and you just found it because you lost it for some reason.

Planet Side cover
Planet Side cover

This question might not just apply to games but to maybe some movies or things like electronics and cars as well. Most reviews that just get mass produced will say this thing is “the next best thing since sliced bread and you must have it!” but they don’t take into account that for instance a car might have a defect that you will only see after owning it for a year or a game will get ruined by the 5th patch because they changed something that fucked up game balance and it will make people flee playing a game like a sinking ship. This especially happens for MMOs which are changing all the time. PlanetSide comes to mind, which a ton of my friends used to play when it was really, really popular. Your best bet it to read a game review by somebody that has the same tastes as you or to read a review written recently about an old game (like what we write here often, ahem).

A problem I have sometimes running Obsolete Gamer is that some reviews I’ve written, in order to keep them valid, I have to go back and play a game and update the review. One game that does this a lot to me is Nation Red, which updates like at least once a month, with new content added ALL THE TIME! I keep track of this for Obsolete Gamer but many sites will just pump out an article and just file it forever in its archives, never ever updating it again. In my book that makes those reviews useless. If you haven’t already checked out our game reviews do so in this section of the website.

Civilization 5 Crash
Civilization 5 Crash

So what’s the point of reviews? I see many as pieces of writing intended to get the reader to buy or play a game. Many get used to hype up the expectations of the potential and existing fanbase to a game or product. Some are genuinely written to try to warn people to stay away from a particularly poorly made game that would just be a waste of time and money for the player. Sure, I’ve played some games that have gotten bad reviews and found them somewhat more pleasant than this horrible picture the media painted for me. For example, I gave Elemental War of Magic a fair chance and actually it was sad that I enjoyed it more than Civilization 5, a game I had pre-ordered for $50 and now hate with a passion. The media crucified Elemental War of Magic because of its many bugs and shortcomings and yes even Stardock admits screwing up and it resulting as a flop but the difference here is that Elemental War of Magic got patched to the point where it’s very much enjoyable now but it still has a bad reputation as opposed to Civilization 5, which is PRAISED to be the strategy game of the year, although in my and in the eyes of every true Civilization game fan, it’s the biggest pile of shit ever made with the Civilization name. The game is months old and still has most of the bugs and missing features I mentioned in my early review of the game. It’s disappointing especially when they are still selling this turd for so much money. If you want to see this rage, visit the Facebook Civilization Page to join in on the fight!

Psychonauts Box, groovy huh?
Psychonauts Box, groovy huh?

This kind of hypocrisy has been around for many years, and not just in the gaming industry. Whatever has the biggest budget will get hyped up and up and some stuff that does deserve attention will sink into obscurity. Let’s look at small games though because it’s easy for people to say that Call of Duty or Halo or World of Warcraft are the best games EVER but let’s look at small games to see where the industry nailed it and where it dropped the ball. The industry rightly praised Plants vs Zombies and Trine and rightly so but it dropped the ball when it came to a classic gem like Psychonauts. You might say “Yeah, Psychonauts got famous later as a cult classic” but seriously, the people who made it needed the money from the game when it came out, not 4-6 years later! Most people pirated Psychonauts or bought it on Steam for $2 when they had its sale or even from Good Old Games. Think about how many people might have been laid off because the game didn’t do well when it was fresh.

Games are sort of like cars in the economic sense: they degrade in value over time. The money they make for the developer the most is earned when they are new and fresh. When they are on sale because they flopped or they’re old is marginal. The money the developer gets from ebgames or some other place selling you a used copy is NOTHING. I’m not saying go out there and buy every game because I do believe some stuff should have never come out and is not even worth downloading a pirated copy (a topic for another article), but if you do LOVE a game, whether you played it a friends house, got a demo, or are playing a warez copy, do try to buy it to pay back the creators and people whose life was spent writing that game. The economy is a democracy in the sense that you vote with your wallet. If you like the games made by certain authors and programmers and studios, keep them in business. Don’t you want your friends to do well?

Odium, a game few have played with like no reviews
Odium, a game few have played with like no reviews

I’m getting sidetracked, so going back to reviews, if you can’t find a good review for a game or a review at all, do a little research instead. See if there are people who posted information on forums regarding the quality of a game. Some stuff might be too new and small for people to review or it might be just really really BAD. Sometimes that’s a way to tell but sometimes the game might just be a lost gem that you have found. Give games a chance and don’t always go with what the mass media wants you to play. I don’t know how busy your life is, but try to not let people make a decision for you. This also doesn’t apply to just games as well but life as a whole. Discover something you will like. Try out a new genre if you’re bored of gaming in general or go out and do something else to get a new perspective. This might keep you from burning out on something.

Who knows what may happen? You might just find a game that becomes a new favorite of yours and you might end up like us writing reviews on them yourselves and websites like this one or maybe this one as well. ;] Just make sure that you honestly share your opinion on a game… To yourself be true and to others as well, if you can. Save people the aggravation of buying a lemon!

GOG Sale – Interplay Action-comedy Games

MDK1 Cover
MDK1 Cover

GOG Sale – Interplay Action-comedy Games

This weekend only, you can pick up MDK 1, MDK 2, and Giants: Citizen Kabuto for $4.19 each from Good Old Games. These are the finest action-comedy games made by the old Interplay (back when it was good and run by Brian Fargo!).

MDK 1 is a 3rd person shooter that is a ton of fun! You take the role of a janitor that works in a space station and this crazy scientist commissions you to get into this badass powerarmor, morphing suit and go down to the surface of the planet and blow up a bunch of asshole aliens. The game involves a shitload of bullets being fired, jumping, sniping, and gliding with your morphing suit. It is simply BADASS! On top of that, the game is hilarious.

This game came out in 1997 both on PC and Playstation 1. It was the first game I remember seeing from Shiny. The Good Old Games version of the game comes with the manual, hi-res wallpaper, the original soundtrack, and avatar.

MDK 2 is the sequel to the awesome MDK 1. It’s longer, looks much better, but it’s a lot like the previous game. Difference here is that you don’t just play as the janitor but also as the professor and as his doggie, which has 4 arms and can fire 4 guns (pistols, uzis, etc) at the same time. More boom boom! MDK 2 is also much, much harder!

The Good Old Games version of MDK 2 comes with the manual, hi-res wallpapers, the soundtrack, artworks from the game, the storyboard artwork, and avatar.

Giants: Citizen Kabuto is the last kind of game of these action-comedies that Interplay put out. There are three different factions to play in this game: space rangers which crash landed their ship in these world while drunk flying, a super-hot heiress to an evil sea kingdom that cuts everything apart with scimitars, and the Kabuto (a giant Godzilla-like monster that goes around terrorizing the citizens of these worlds). There is just so much variation of gameplay in this game that it is such a classic, since it is basically like 3 games in one, each of those being a great game itself. The humor in the game makes fun of other kind of similar games as well and some of it is pretty braindead in a good way.

Conclusion:

You will like these games if you like action games. You will like these games if you are a fan of games like Ratchet and Clank. If you like off the wall humor in games and want to blow shit up, you will also like these games. You will like these games if you like Psychonauts. You will also like these games if you like the game Armed and Dangerous.

Click here to go to the sale!

I only recommend sales for games that are worth owning and that are actually worthwhile. 😀

gog.com sale: all Majecso games 50% off today only

Psychonauts cover
Psychonauts cover

gog.com sale: all Majecso games 50% off today only

Our friends at Good Old Games are offering their entire Majesco catalogue for sale at a 50% discount. Now is a great time to pick up classics such as Psychonauts and the Bloodrayne series!

You can get Advent Rising, Bloodrayne, Bloodrayne 2, and Psychonauts.

Advent Rising is an action adventure game with its story by Orson Scott Card, author of Ender’s Game.

The Bloodrayne games are classic vampire action games which later got turned into horrible movies by Uwe Boll.

Psychonauts is one of my favorite games of all time. My review for it should be coming out this week. You play the role of a boy that’s trying to become a psychic and are involved in a conspiracy to take over the world. By Tim Schafer, our friend that helped bring us the Monkey Island games, Day of the Tentacle, Full Throttle, Grim Fandango, and recently Brutal Legend.

Bloodrayne title screen
Bloodrayne title screen

If all those games don’t interest you, you can buy selective ones for 30% off. It’s all for 50% off, or individual ones for 30% off.

If you opt to buy all of them, the total cost is $15.96.

Click here for the sale.

Psychonauts for sale on Steam for only $2

Psychonauts cover
Psychonauts cover

Psychonauts for sale on Steam for only $2

Psychonauts, Tim Schafer’s best game, only for $2 through Steam! This is one of the best platformer/puzzle games ever made. It’s one of my favorites! Must have!!!!!!

The link to get it is the following: http://store.steampowered.com/app/3830/