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Showing posts from August, 2011

Twenty Years of SNES Ignorance

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As has been well documented here at toomanywires, I grew up SEGA. In my formative years, it was understood by everyone who mattered (i.e. my friends) that you must choose either Nintendo or SEGA. Your choice of console let everyone know exactly what you were about, as did your wrestling preference - WWF or WCW - and which channel you watched when you got back home from school - CBBC or CITV. Its interesting to note that the GameBoy was exempt from such divides, as everyone had one regardless of their allegiances. Besides, children who could convince their parents to buy six AA batteries twice a week were few and far between, so the Game Gear remained little more than a curio amongst my classmates.

While some of my friends, and the majority of gamers across the pond, were enjoying Super Nintendo, I was investing time in my SEGA Master System and then the Mega Drive/Genesis. While it was a relative non-event in Japan, and was unable to maintain its early lead in the US, in Europe the M…

Monday Spotlight - Age of Empires

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I’ve never been one for PC gaming. I love the convenience of an ever-ready console, the comfort of my sofa and the glow of my oversized HD TV. Sitting at my desk and staring at a significantly smaller screen just doesn’t appeal, and feels far too much like work. I appreciate the performance advantages of a PC, but the thought of modding and constantly upgrading a gaming rig brings me out in a cold sweat. If my PC starts playing up, I give it a swift kick and threaten it with a screwdriver. This is about as technical as I’m willing to get.
It probably won’t surprise you to learn that I have played precious few PC games. I have enjoyed a couple of city-building sims, such as Sierra’s Pharaoh, and Final Fantasy XI succeeded in ruining my life for two solid months. Being a huge FF fan at the time, I couldn’t bear the thought of missing out on a numerical instalment, so we made the necessary upgrades to our home PC and I wasted an entire autumn decorating my abode and loitering with ever…

The Allure of Final Fantasy - Part 2

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Last week I wrote about my relationship with the Final Fantasy series. I may not be the super fan I once was, but FF still appeals despite my tolerance for whiny, overly-emotional and ineloquent characters not being what it once was.
In my first post, I touched upon two of the reasons why I hold FF in such high regard: memories and moogles. Today I'm going to explore some further elements that are, or have been, key to the allure of Square-Enix's blockbusting franchise. They are crucial to my desire to play and continue to wax lyrical about the series, even in the face of increasingly diminished returns.

Location, Location
Final Fantasy is full of wondrous worlds, brimming with interesting and beautiful locations. When I think about my favourite games in the series, often the first thing that comes to mind is one of the distinctive and lovingly created locales that I have spent hours exploring. Balamb, Gold Saucer, Galbladia, Lindblum, the tropical villages of FFX, Rabanastre; F…

Finish What You Started

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My parents always tried to enforce the "no dessert until you've finished your dinner" rule, though it was often in vain. A staple of parenting, it is an internationally recognised form of bribery that coerces children into eating their greens before stuffing their faces with cakes, ice cream and other tasty rubbish. Although my days of bowing to the wishes of the brussel sprout police have long since passed, I've retained this childhood lesson of finishing what I start and have since applied it to gaming.

Although I sometimes play multiple games side by side, I rarely start a first playthrough of a narrative driven game before finishing the last. There can be no Crysis 2 until I've cleaned my plate of InFAMOUS 2 and no Portal 2 until I grimace through the far less palatable LA Noire. I do make exceptions with trophying, second playthroughs and smaller downloadable games, but I almost always finish one game before starting the next.

I like to get the most out of m…

Musings of a Gamer VI

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Unfortunately there is no Monday Spotlight today. I had a topic ready to go - Sonic Team - but I just couldn't find the time to research and write the post. Having the mother of all hangovers yesterday didn't help matters either. The Spotlight should return next week, time and alcohol tolerance permitting.
1. Parkour and Motion Sickness
Last week I picked up a copy of Mirror's Edge for the wallet friendly sum of £5. I love its unique style and the first person clambering is wonderfully executed. Its really satisfying once you build up speed and are able to tackle consecutive obstacles in one smooth movement. EA did a great job of recreating the balletic and free-form moves of parkour and it allows the game to shine. Unfortunately, due to the unsteady, first person person perspective I can't play Mirror's Edge for more than twenty minutes without feeling dizzy and nauseous - a problem which I know is shared by other gamers.
Motion sickness aside, my main problem with M…

Gamescom 2011 - Round-up

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Gamescom snuck up on me yet again this year. It wasn’t until I saw industry-types posting pictures on Twitter of German beer and bratwurst that I remembered that this is the week of Europe’s biggest video game show. Being post E3 and pre Tokyo Game Show, it is easy to overlook Gamescom, but over the last two or three years its had a steady output of big announcements, new trailers and demos, even stealing much of TGS' thunder back in 2009 with the unveiling of the PS3 slim and a number of high profile games.

Thus far (there is still one last industry day remaining) there haven’t been many surprises at the Euro-centric show. We've had a couple of new announcements, but mostly we have just learnt more about already announced games.
If anything major occurs today, then I'll be sure to either add it here or in a later post. But for now, in no particular order, here is a round-up of some of the bigger stories of the last two days.
Resistance: Burning Skies
Announced and shown dur…

The Allure of Final Fantasy - Part 1: Moogles & Memories

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Finishing the last big game of the summer - InFamous 2 - and still a couple of weeks away from the next release of interest - Resistance 3 - I have found myself struggling for something to play. In an effort to get my nightly gaming fix, I started looking back over my PS3 library to see if anything jumped out. Aside from some trophying, nothing really appealed, so I looked a little further back and, for the briefest of moments, rediscovered my once voracious appetite for all things Final Fantasy.
I decided that now was the perfect time to re-live some of the glory days of Square-Enix's world famous RPGs. I quickly loaded up FFVII from the XMB, sat back and sabotaged the Midgar Mako Reactor for the umpteenth time. The next day I stumbled upon a £5 copy of Mirror's Edge, a game I’ve been meaning to catch-up with for some time, and downloaded Outland; thus my brief return to vintage Final Fantasy was shelved.
I have been a fan of the series since first discovering Final Fantasy VII…

Monday Spotlight – The PlayStation 2 Launch

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Each and every Monday I take an in-depth look at one video game topic. This can be anything related to games and the industry, from individual titles and consoles to developers and prominent figures, and everything else in-between. All related topics are fair game and I will offer some history, commentary and insight for each. Check back each Monday for a new spotlight, and click here for past entries.

Sony took the world by storm with their maiden console. The PlayStation routed its more established competition - Nintendo's N64 and the Sega Saturn - and became the unquestioned king of the home console. The fledgling machine would shift north of 100 million units worldwide and became a byword for home console gaming, featuring a number of high profile exclusives from Final Fantasy to Gran Turismo.
The PlayStation was so good that I, a devout SEGA gamer, decided to sell my Saturn, games and peripherals just so I could join the swelling ranks of PlayStation owners. As much as I'd…

Routines & Gaming Ruts

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I am a creature of habit. I like to organize the things I enjoy in my free time into a set routine, and woe betide anything or anyone who dare interrupt it. Over the last year, increased responsibilities have eaten into my spare time, so I like to make sure that I can make the most of what I do have and ensure that I can fit-in the things I enjoy.
Being the dangerous loose cannon that I am, I tend to throw caution to the wind and avoid routine at the weekends. However, on weekday evenings there is a set time slot for blogging; surfing the net, which usually follows the order of hotmail - twitter - my blog - ESPN - Kotaku - 1UP - checking online game retailers - freestyle surfing; exercise; studying Japanese, which often involves me laying on the bed for 15 minutes with a text book covering my eyes; rubbish TV and of course playing video games.
I do not adhere to this routine because I fear the world will implode if I don't. In fact, most nights I will have to jettison at least one…

Starved for Attention - Overlooked Games

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Today I'm going to look at some titles that slipped under the radar, were forgotten before their time, or sunk by overly critical reviews. Later in the week, I will return with some examples of over-rated games, that were lifted above their station and, in my opinion, given far more credit than they deserved.
Some games just don't get the attention they should, and the reasons for these oversights are as varied as the games themselves. The examples below include lower profile entries in bigger series, games that were released at the very beginning or tail-end of a console/generation, titles with a limited release and others that were overshadowed by similar, more visible games. What they all have in common, however, is that they are well worth your time, despite what you may have heard to the contrary. 

Lost Planet 2
Lost Planet 2 was the victim of its own hype and pre-release success. Tantalizing details and impressive co-op demos had consumers eager to get their hands on Capcom…

Monday Spotlight – The Legend of Dragoon

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Each and every Monday I take an in-depth look at one video game topic. This can be anything related to games and the industry, from individual titles and consoles to developers and prominent figures, and everything else in-between. All related topics are fair game and I will offer some history, commentary and insight for each. Check back each Monday for a new spotlight, and click here for past entries.
I was a huge Final Fantasy fan during the PlayStation 1 era and the early years of the PlayStation 2. I still do enjoy the series, and list a number of entries amongst my favourite games of all time, but the prospect of a new FF does not excite me as it once did.

I first experienced the series with Final Fantasy VIII in early 2000. I sunk over one hundred hours into that adventure, maximizing my stats and attempting to complete every side mission and gather every collectible, and have since replayed it three or four times. I quickly sought out a platinum/greatest hits copy of FFVII and w…