How Nintendo Fucked Up

Posted in Best / Worst, Blog, Games, Hardware, Resident Evil with tags , on March 5, 2017 by slateman

Just four years after launching the Wii U, the system is effectively dead and Nintendo has shipped its last title for the platform. My Wii U collection now includes the free game I got with the system, a pair of Mario games and its swansong, the new Zelda game. The system was a gift given to me several years ago and beside the plumber’s usual excellent games, (already catalogued here) the only game I wanted was Zelda. It was scheduled for 2015.

Its delay was due to new hardware, there is simply no doubt. And that hardware has arrived. But I’m not spending $300 for a system to play Zelda when the last system was supposed to do so. But that’s OK. I have the option to play on my Wii U. So let’s.

But oh! my Wii U has decided to stop outputting audio. Now that’s not Nintendo’s direct fault. I mean, I didn’t really use the system that much, but hardware fails. I get it. But hey, I have this second screen. I could turn the volume up on the controller and maybe use it for a map or inventory screen. But oh no. Despite the second screen being about the only selling point on the console in its four miserable years, Nintendo opted not to utilize it at all for Zelda. Why? The Switch, surely. Can’t have the old system doing something the new system can’t, right? Screw you, fans! Buy the new hardware! And to answer the inevitable question, yes, I can play the game on the Wii U controller because that’s precisely why I bought a 55″ TV.

So, whatever, the Wii U is dead. Let’s look at the Switch. The future of gaming, certainly! Wait…did I hear that version of Zelda runs more smoothly when in handheld mode? You buy a new piece of hardware that only outputs the latest-and-greatest in 900P and it can’t do so smoothly? In the year 2017? Yup…so the best experience of Zelda is to play it on a handheld, 6.2″ screen running in 720P? What the fuck?

Now, the console itself is reasonably-priced. For a system that only outputs in 1080P and as a portable only has maybe 3-4 hours of battery life, $300 is the max price, really But the pricing on everything else is ludicrous. $70 for a pro controller? It was difficult to swallow when the 360 and PS3 introduced wireless controllers and they cost as much as a game…but $70? And what about another set of Joycon controllers? $80??? And what is this news of the controllers losing sync? So, if I want another set of controllers, my bill just went up nearly 1/3 of the price. And if I don’t want to hold them like miniature chopsticks, it’s another $30 for the grip? $110? Prices will come down, certainly, right?

Oh and as of this writing, save games are tied to the system, so you can’t back them up or transfer them? WAT? Only 32Gb of internal memory? Voice chat has to be done via an app on your phone? The list of WTF just grows inexplicably. No virtual store yet either. Wait, you can’t get new games or old games up and running properly for your launch? I love new HW, but I am not enthusiastic about this at all. It just feels like an awful lot of money for another system that’ll just have 5 games on the shelf. Barring some wonderful third-party exclusive, a thing Nintendo hasn’t hooked me on since Resident Evil 4 over a decade ago, give me one reason (whose name isn’t Mario) to get this system. Metroid? I’ll believe it when I see it.

Just a little disgusted on how they’ve handled the demise of the Wii U, the entirety of Zelda and the hardware of the Switch. I don’t doubt it’s some sexy-ass tech. But they screwed over Wii U owners and Zelda fans alike. Guess I’ll go play Breath Of The Wild on my 854 x 480 controller. Whatever.

Breath Of The Wild: Let Us Begin

Posted in Best / Worst, Blog, Games, Lists with tags on March 3, 2017 by slateman

Despite the entire world thinking Zelda is the best thing ever, I only ranked it #7 of the best gaming series ever. That’s still impressive, no doubt, but that leaves a lot of room to grow. And the reasoning behind it being so low on the list? Let’s look at the history, shall we? Moving backwards, the main entries:

2013: A Link Between Worlds: Brilliant and wonderful
2011: Skyward Sword: OK – Never beat it.
2009: Spirit Tracks: Trains?
2007: Phantom Hourglass: Never touched it
2006: Twilight Princess: Got stuck in the middle. Lost interest.
2004: The Minish Cap: Spectacularrrrrr
2002: The Wind Waker: Got to the end, didn’t love it.
2001: Oracles Games: Always wanted to play
2000: Majora’s Mask: Never had interest, I know, I’m missing out.
1998: Ocarina Of Time: Remember the day I got that game. Classic.
1991: A Link To The Past: Legen…dary.
1987: The Adventure Of Link: It was bad then, it’s worse now.
1985: The Legend Of Zelda: My favorite back then. I knew it all.

That’s an awful lot of games and an awful lot of…”so-so”. I don’t care if it’s blasphemy to say so, but I only truly loved a handful of Zelda games. But the good were outrageously good. And that’s why I’m giving Breath Of The Wild a chance. It looks enormous, but nowadays, that’s not always a great thing. I’m just hoping that’s a perk and not a detriment.

So, wish me luck as I embark upon yet another Hyrule adventure. I can only hope it’s one I complete and maybe moves Zelda up on the list. That’s a tough one though.

Release Dates: 2017 Edition

Posted in Best / Worst, Blog, Books, Games, Lists, Movies, Music, Street Fighter, Tolkien, Uncharted on March 3, 2017 by slateman

The usual ‘post so I can check back and remember’ release-date listing! This is for my interests only, really. I should mention it’s been a good start, with a great Kreator record and a solid outing for Overkill. RE7 was a spectacular game as well. However, I’ll be honest, I don’t see 2017 as being a tremendous year. There’s no major music on the horizon and movies??? That’s kind of frustrating. Surely something will be announced at E3, right?

Today: The Legend Of Zelda: Breath Of The Wild
07 Mar: The Americans (Season 5)
29 Mar: Proof Set 2017
14 Apr: Dimmu Borgir – Forces Of The Northern Night
16 Apr: The Leftovers (Season 3 – Final Season)
30 May: House Of Cards (Season 5)
01 Jun: J.R.R. Tolkien – The Tale Of Beren And LĂșthien
23 Jun: Emperor/Slayer in Norway
xx Jul: Bloodline (Season 3)
31 Oct: Stranger Things
15 Dec: Star Wars: Episode 8 – The Last Jedi
xx xxx: Marvel Vs. Capcom Infinite
xx xxx: Uncharted 4: The Lost Legacy

Other Shows?
–Taboo (Season 2?)
–Westworld (Season 2 – 2018)
–The OA (Season 2 ordered)

Emperor: Anthems In Norway!

Posted in Best / Worst, Blog, Music with tags on February 15, 2017 by slateman

A ticket has been secured. I am going to see Emperor reunite to perform one of the best albums ever in its entirety…In Norway! Its only a few hours north of me and I haven’t a clue how I’m actually getting to the place, but who cares? The show will be held in Frederiksten Fortress, a 17th-century fortress which was the site of no fewer than a half-dozen Swedish invasions! Oh, and I suppose it’s worth mentioning that SLAYER will be playing as well. (listens for someone yelling the band name in the distance.) It will be my 10th time seeing them, but let’s be honest: Emperor. Anthems To The Welkin At Dusk. I cannot explain this excitement. I hope to get a shirt this time around. :) So psyched!

Resident Evil 7 Speedrun Guide

Posted in Blog, Games, Guides, Resident Evil on February 3, 2017 by slateman

After completing the excellent RE7, I decided a speedrun was in order. And in order to successfully complete one, I need a step-by-step guide. However, no text one exists yet! Why not make one? So, here it is. My 12.5 hour initial run was followed up by a 3-hour race which is fully detailed below. It’s a niche thing, but for trophy/achievement hunters, this will likely be useful.

Resident Evil 7 Speedrun Guide

Mini-Review: Kreator – Gods Of Violence

Posted in Blog, Music, Reviews on January 31, 2017 by slateman

Barring People Of The Lie and a brief interest in the band in the late ’90s (I saw them in March of ’96, the night I met Bobby Gustafson and Sid Falck!), I never got into Kreator. However, with buzz about their new album and a little spare time on my hands, I figured why not test out the thirty-year-veterans. Gods Of Violence, the title track, astonished me. It was riffy, catchy and heavy. The harmonies were great and the double bass kicked in right when it needed to! Opting to listen to the whole album, I was pleasantly surprised to find the whole thing is solid! The production isn’t quite what it could be, but beyond that, the album has everything I love about metal. Solos and fills and screams and riffs and clean sections and fast songs…as ineloquent as that comes across, it surmises how thus far (one month), it’s the clear Album of the Year!

With utter certainty that crown shall be bestowed to another, but for now I’m thoroughly enjoying a band I never thought I’d be listening to. Maybe at 20, but not at 40! This is a spectacular record and I’m so happy I decided to check ’em out. Kick-ass!

What To Play: 2017 Edition

Posted in Blog, Games, Lists, Metal Gear Solid, Resident Evil, Street Fighter, Uncharted, Ys on January 30, 2017 by slateman

It’s time again. Today I want to look at what’s coming up in 2017 much as I did in 2016 and also in 2015. Unsurprisingly, there are a few 2017 titles that were slated to come out last year. In Zelda’s case, we were waiting for that one way back in 2015! Regardless, a quick glance at what this year has to offer is enough to warrant genuine excitement. And let’s not forget the already-released and highly-praised Resident Evil VII! Unlike prior years, sadly, I haven’t access to GameFly and so my gaming will be greatly reduced from yesteryear. Things are also crazy expensive here in Sweden. RE7 cost 600kr which is almost $70. However, even with that number size, several of these truly feel like must-own titles. Few actual release dates so far, but that’ll change. Let’s get to it!!!

Ys Origin 2/21 Not A Priority
Horizon: Zero Dawn 2/28 Interest Piqued
Zelda: BotW 3/3 MAX
Tekken 7 6/2 Hmmm…
Battle Chasers: Nightwar TBA If the price is right…
Crackdown 3 Q4 Need an XB1 first!
God Of War TBA Could this be good?
Marvel Vs. Capcom: Infinite TBA Genuinely Psyched
Metal Gear Survive TBA Zero expectations
Red Dead Redemption 2 TBA OMFG
Super Mario Odyssey Q4 Need a Switch first!
Uncharted: TLL TBA A Must Buy
Ys III: Lacrimosa Of Dana 2017? Out in ’16 in JPN, Localize, please!
Final Fantasy XV n/a Do I have the time?
Sherlock Holmes: TDD n/a My wife and I loved the last
Overwatch n/a I should play this, right?
The Witness n/a I’d like to try this

Mini-Review: Resident Evil VII – Outstanding

Posted in Best / Worst, Blog, Games, Resident Evil, Reviews on January 30, 2017 by slateman

“This is terrifying.”

I uttered those words no fewer than three times during my still-incomplete playthrough of Resident Evil VII. And that fear was due not to not only events or monsters. It was the darkness. It was the eerie sound. It was the jump scares as well as when nothing at all was happening. The tension this game builds is stifling. RE7 is an unbridled success by excelling in its audio, video, gameplay and story and for accomplishing what it set out to do.

From the compelling opening sequence to the tiptoe moments throughout, the game is crafted with care and meticulousness. Every room is beautifully detailed in its grotesqueness. The lighting, more important here than in almost every other game, is spectacular. As I huddle, scared to death of whatever is lurking in the next room, the sounds are as remarkable as the visuals. My breath, every step, creaky floors, creatures behind me…each is a requisite part of the immersive nature of RE7 and all add up to convey a tension I’ve rarely felt in gaming. The story, while absurd in its premise, is the perfect vehicle for such a tale. It moves forward at a steady pace, allowing you time to breathe and explore but always retrieves you to that state of unease.

While RE4 is still considered a major success, what is largely forgotten is how needed it was. After RE3 and Code Veronica, the series needed a change. And after RE4 brought an action-oriented focus to the namesake, 5 and 6 expanded upon that formula until yet again a change was necessary. Whether RE7 is a glorious return to the series’ roots or just a mostly-unrelated survival horror game isn’t the point. The series needed a shift and here we are. I, for one, am happy there’s no Wesker, no Redfields and no Raccoon City. While my last few hours may tie things together, I have thoroughly enjoyed this game, RE or not.

And reviews seem to agree. How rare is it that the first, the fourth and the seventh main entries into any series are so widely-heralded as a massive success? Each has a different vantage point, take on horror and yet all three are Resident Evil. Considering how many times I’ve beaten 1 and 4, I have a feeling a speedrun of RE7 is in my future. And I can’t wait.

Resident Evil VII: They’ve Done It Again

Posted in Best / Worst, Blog, Games, Resident Evil on January 24, 2017 by slateman

I may have only just posted a list of the best moments of my gaming history wherein not one but two were dedicated to Resident Evil. But update that list I must because after today, the official launch day of Resident Evil VII, a third entry is a must.

Of course, that means we’ll descend into spoiler territory. But I’m only the first half hour in.

So when I find the love of my life locked in a cell, of course I release her. But rather than going back the way I came…clearly a better choice would be to follow this deranged girl. One thing leads to another and she’s gone again. But when she returns, the events that transpire truly were among the most impressive I’ve ever experienced in gaming. No doubt about it.

First she comes at me and attacks me. I am without weapons and I don’t really even know which button to press but press them I do, frantically, trying to get this woman off of me. She stabs me in the hand, it’s insanity. She wakes up from her zombie-like state and then knocks herself out.

Second she wakes from her self-induced slumber and performs some ninja handiwork, smashing me through walls and now, with a trusty axe, I strike her down…killing my videogame wife. Tragic indeed. Until…

Third she disappears, resurrects and comes at me brutally. She nails my left hand to a wall with a screwdriver. I press buttons trying to get out. I have to do something. This is friggin’ madness! And what then? She chops that hand off with a chainsaw. OMFG!!!

Fourth, because that clearly wasn’t enough, she bursts through a window and slices me in half, belly up, with said chainsaw, thus ending one of the most dramatic gaming sequences I can ever recall.

That entire thing impressed me the way few games have. I’m 40 now, feel like I’ve seen it all. But as that sequence ended, I was aghast…mortified, shocked and pleasantly surprised. The intensity can be rivaled by few games in memory. I don’t know how I would react to this in VR. And while I know the rest of the game simply cannot live up to that, it’s shown me that Resident Evil has morphed yet again. So far, I like what I see! Please don’t tell me there’s a fifth encounter!!! :D

Star Wars: Episode VIII: The Last Jedi

Posted in Best / Worst, Blog with tags on January 24, 2017 by slateman

Pondering that I vividly recall seeing Return Of The Jedi in theaters makes me marvel at the fact that 34 years later, Star Wars is not only good again, it’s conquering the world again. I only truly tasted the spectacle as a child, whose beautiful memory was marred utterly by prequels. And that memory somehow survived the dark years of SW wherein a vast majority of it was neither cool nor good. Now, after unbridled successes of Episode VII and Rogue One, this poster just excites and entices. We pore over meanings of The Last Jedi. Is it singular? Plural? Who is it? And then the questions turn back to The Force Awakens. Who is Snoke? Who was the old man from the beginning? What precisely did Kylo Ren do? (and what is J.J. Abrams going to do about the unfortunate and untimely death of my childhood love, Princess Leia?)

Regardless of how this movie turns out (it’ll be great), I find it amazing that Star Wars is reaching an entire new generation…again…but this time without the bitter taste of Jar Jar Binks, cheesy Anakin or midichlorians. I cannot wait for December to roll around. This ride is spectacular and one my kids (ages 5 and 9) will remember just as I did. There’s nothing better than that.