Wednesday, 23 April 2008

Limited Edition Blog Post - Read it while you can it will be here forever.

Being a transient insomniac does have its upsides; it gives me plenty of time to listen to the plethora of video gaming related podcasts available on the internet. Last night I decided to listen to the latest episode of CAGcast, the Cheap Ass Gamer podcast. In the podcast CheapyD and Wombat talked a little about Limited Editions of video games and it got me thinking.

It used to be that only a select few games would also have a limited edition, these, unlike their modern counter-parts were actually limited editions, there would be a relatively low amount of these games circulated and more often than not they’d be almost impossible to find after the day one release. In a stark contrast, these days almost every game that makes enough noise to attract even the smallest amount of attention is released with a not-so-limited “limited” edition, even the triple AAA titles follow along the same lines. The effect of this is that it takes away from the personal satisfaction gained from having a limited edition of a particular game and more importantly it makes you look like a complete idiot when you pull out Halo 3 LE to show off to friends or the internet at large, since everyone has it and it’s not particularly difficult to track one down it’s hardly noteworthy.

Looking through my stack of games I can only find 5 special editions; God of War 2, Shadow of The Colossus, Bioshock, Devil May Cry 4 and Resident Evil 4, most of these were purchased a little while after their initial release when the price had dropped, although I picked up Bioshock and DMC4 on day one this was mainly because the price difference between the standard and LE was insignificant, I just wasn’t interested in buying a limited edition of a game when nearly every other person on the planet had it, it makes me sound a bit pretentious and snobbish but if you think about it having so many that even months after the release of a game there’s a sizeable amount of them floating about defeats the purpose of having a limited edition. As I mentioned earlier most of the limited editions these days don’t have the “wow” factor they once had, and most people who buy these games either intend on keeping them for the memories (which will always be a little tarnished unless they bring it upon themselves to embark on a crusade to wipe out every other copy in an attempt to make their copy more valuable), or they get them to sell later, and considering the value is linked to the rarity of the item, they probably won’t get much for it.

The thing that makes limited editions impressive these days are the ridiculous prices, and it’s not usually the actual product that impresses, it’s normally the fact that you were dedicate enough (or stupid enough depending on how you see it) to pay the ridiculous price to get it, not everyone is that crazy, therefore you are one of few people insane enough to have the limited edition, props to you.

Even though I knew that companies put out Limited Editions because there are always people crazy enough to buy them even if they’re marginally different from the standard edition it still doesn’t explain why smaller companies with games that don’t exactly warrant a special edition do it, you can usually tell whether your product is going to sell well or not which logically should dictate whether or not to release a limited edition but that isn’t usually what happens, games that aren’t exactly poised for success still have limited editions. After thinking about it for a while I’ve come up with a theory, like all of my theories it’s farfetched and bordering on unbelievable, but that won’t stop me from talking about it.
It’s a well known fact that most retailers these days make their money from the used games market, whereas ordinarily a portion of the sales of new games revert back to the developers and publishers selling returned items as used game allows retailers to make money for themselves, this is one of the reasons that retailers aren’t too happy about the internet as a content delivery method.

This used games market is something that developers and publishers are also aware of, which is why I think they’re all too willing to release limited edition versions of games. I think that these limited editions are used as a form of guaranteed revenue, since most people who intend on buying a limited edition wouldn’t settle for a used limited edition it’s pretty rare to find limited editions in the used section or the bargain bin, for developers and publishers it’s ideal, keeping the limited editions around the same price as the standard edition is usually a compelling enough reason to pick it up, if these limited editions do sell it pretty much guarantees the money from it will come back to them, and also limits the money retailers earn from selling games used.

At this point I only buy the limited edition versions of games to support the developers, provided that they’re at a reasonable price that is. It’s too late to pick up the GTA IV Limited Edition but maybe I’ll get the Metal Gear Solid 4 version – let Kojima know that if he told me to jump off a building, by god I’ll do it, and do it well.


I not an arrogant person, you will rarely find me playing the 'I am awesome song' but that last post featuring various remixes using the BONK! and BUMP! sound clips from the TF2 Scout was mind blowing. However it wasn't enough to put out the burning fire of guilt scorching my insides (see below for relevance), I'm still unable to put out full length posts, however, I have been recommended Twitter, head over to the Twitter website to find out more about it, but for now all you need to know is I'll be using it to send regular updates - the burning...the flames are being quelled.

Sunday, 20 April 2008

Guilt post

I'm currently being overwhelmed by exam revision and dissertations, but my guilt for not posting anything to my blog is too much to bear, so here's something with minimal effort but maximum satisfaction.
This is the kind of thing the internetz was made for, Mario songs and Team Fortress 2....ENJOY!

Mortal Bonkat.....

Soulja Bonk - this song is utter crap and I pray everyday that I have the opportunity to meet Soulja Boy so that I may slap him in the face, give him a wedgie and send him home to read some books and do some homework, however, this remix..........epic

Sunday, 13 April 2008

Top 10 Video game openings

The video game - from its humble beginnings as a niche medium originating from a coin operated table tennis simulator that left pretty much everything to the imagination, it has now evolved into a multi-million dollar a year industry that is regularly seen pointing and laughing at a movie industry which has been crippled by a combination of pressure from the prowess of video games and its own mediocrity.
The video game industry has managed to keep the monotony that has dragged down the movie industry at bay through evolving to adapt and incorporate advancements in technology; these advancements in technology have allowed a progression in every facet of the medium, everything from the visual quality to the sound is given a yearly overhaul, as well as the audio visual evolutions gaming has now begun to encroach on
territory that has previously been the differentiating factor between games and other mediums such as movies, books and TV - Narrative. Constant changes in these fields keep the medium fresh and allow developers to explore new territory.

One of the biggest changes in games was the use of cut-scenes and introduction sequences; the quality of cut-scenes has increased in order to accommodate advancements in narrative, as well as this they are also frequently used as tools to establish setting or an atmosphere.
So for your entertainment I have compiled my personal favourite video game intros from over the past few years, enjoy;

10. At number 10 is the classic Street Fighter 2 intro, on the surface it's a very simple opening, two guys are having a fight in the street surrounded by a group of cheering people engaging in some good old mob mentality. However, on closer inspection this opening has some troubling racial undertones, the two fighters are clearly of different races, one is a white man (who goes on to deliver a one hit KO punch to the face) and the other is black or at the very least Hispanic (who uses his face to block the aforementioned right hand straight), as well as this the audience is comprised almost entirely of white people who cheer as the white guy knocks the black guy out, there are a couple of colored people in the audience but they look less enthused. Maybe I'm just reading into it to much - whatever.

9. Next up is the second and final fighting game to be included in this list, Soul Calibur. The intro is a typical fighting game intro, a short simple cut scene introducing the player to the various characters in the game, the reason I enjoyed this opening so much was the visuals, the FMV shows off the characters and a few stages in a beautifully rendered sequence. The orchestral music adds a sense of epic scale, something that isn't usually found in fighting games.

8. Final Fantasy VII was the one of the earliest games feature full motion videos, the opening cut scene starts off by focusing on a flower girl but later pulls back to reveal arguably the most important aspect of the game in terms of narrative, the city of Midgar. The introduction to the steam punk inspired city has now become iconic amongst Final Fantasy fans and gamers alike.

7. God of War is one of the few action games that has a story I actually care about and this opening has a large part to do with why. The God of War games are a no nonsense approach to story telling, although there is constant double crossing and backstabbing it doesn't attempt to weave these into a long winded philosophical tale of treachery and deceit, it gets straight to the point and the intro reflects that. The introduction draws people in by instantly immersing the player in the story, after selecting the difficulty it transitions seamlessly into the first cut-scene which is short and sweet, the excellent voice acting and great writing certainly help things along.

6. Traditionally Nintendo games haven't featured large FMV sequences, they instead focus on shorter introductory cut-scenes, however what I admire Nintendo for is their ability to instantly convey the appropriate theme and atmosphere using only the title screen, The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time is the perfect example of this. The somber mood conveyed by the Ocarina led music compliments the images of Link traversing Hyrule while occasionally stopping to show off the scale of the land. After a simple 1 minute introduction the player knows that this game is going to be epic.

5. The Half-Life tram sequence is basically legendary at this point, Half Life was one of the first example of good narrative in games and the opening sequence serves to further that cause, this is something that was intentionally put in to enhance the experience. The beauty of this intro sequence is that it is interactive, players are given the ability to move around as they please, however by restricting the movements to within the moving tram it essentially forces the player to look around the environment, which ultimately helps set the scene and establish an atmosphere - Genius

4. Chrono Trigger is the most epic game ever and is probably the best RPG ever. The opening sequence features the art stylings of Akira Toriyama, creator of Dragon Ball Z and music composed by Nobou Uematsu. The game was created by what is referred to as the 'Dream Team' which consists Hironobu Sakaguchi, Kazuhiko Aoki, and composer Nobuo Uematsu. Although I liked the opening from the original game I have to admit I prefer the remade version included in the Playstation release of the title, it's great seeing the amazing character roster animated in high resolution.

3. I could go on for pages about why this is a great opening sequence and babble on about cinematics and music but I'll keep it simple - Big Boss is BAD ASS!

2. Super Metroid is another shining testament to Nintendo's ability to instantly set an atmosphere, even today Super Metroid remains the most atmospheric video game ever, in my eyes even Bioshock doesn't come close. The first time I played this game I remember watching the title screen, it wasn't because i was enthralled by the colors and mesmerized by the music, but because the the combination of the atmospheric music and the creepy screeches of the Metroid scared the life out of me, I was hesitant in pressing the start button for fear of soiling myself.

1. At number one and in my opinion the greatest opening to a video game is Soul Reaver, not only were the visuals extremely pretty but the writing was extremely engaging and the music made the hair on the back of my neck stand on end. To this day I still find myself listening to soundtrack, it just doesn't get old.

Honorable Mentions:
Tenchu 3
Metal Gear Solid 2
Final Fantasy 8