Monday, November 21, 2011

Chrono Trigger on iOS: Choices in Typeface

So, Chrono Trigger is getting an iOS port. I saw one of the screenshots from it, this one:

And immediately realized that whomever's porting this game is making a really huge, awful decision about the typesetting and font choice. Full disclosure: I'm a graphic design student, and I know on the internet, people tend to get fed up with graphic designers constantly screaming about fonts and how terrible Comic Sans is, etc etc. A lot of the time it comes across as getting worked up over something meaningless. So what I'd like to do is offer some explanations as to why this is such a bad decision, and some alternatives.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

The Complete Kirby Horoscope

I've noticed that people who play Kirby Super Star (including myself!) tend to stick like glue to a power and identify with it. So, just for fun, I wrote up the KIRBY HOROSCOPE--an analysis of your personality based on your favorite power. I tried to be specific, so this won't work for everyone, but I have heard from some of my friends that it's surprisingly accurate.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Threads of Fate: A Mini-Analysis

Taken from this Formspring question. I liked it so much I decided to preserve it here.

What's your favourite aspects of Threads of Fate? How were you introduced to the game?

My favorite thing about Threads of Fate is how Squaresoft consciously chose to make the game cozy, intimate, and self-contained. They didn't try to push the game too far or make it too grand in scale; it's centered around the tiny port town of Carona, whose population is so small that everyone has a unique name and personality. You can see all the people you interact with in that town, even some of the villains, just hanging out when they have some downtime. The player becomes really attached to these characters, and the characters, by the way, are great--sweet, helpful, funny and sometimes wicked.

It also does something that Deadly Premonition does. Namely, it pretty much waits on the player to progress the plot when they're ready to. It doesn't often take control out of the hands of the player. You're practically always free to mess around in the town, revisit old areas, do sidequests (and there are a bunch of sidequests!), etc.

I wonder if Square-Enix could make a game like that nowadays. It seems really far removed from their current "make everything as huge and incomprehensible as possible" policy.

Sunday, July 31, 2011

Design & Color: Pu·Li·Ru·La

Let's talk about a beautiful game.

Taito's Pu·Li·Ru·La is an arcade beat 'em up known mostly for its bizarre imagery and badly-translated dialogue. It's well-known as having great graphics, but discussion of those graphics tends to begin and end with "look at how wacky this is! Oh, Japan!" Pu·Li·Ru·La has been one of my favorite arcade games for years, so I'd like to make it the focus of its very own Design & Color post: there are a lot of beautiful details that can get lost when you're zooming through this short and easy game.

Screenshots taken mostly by myself, although I did nab some (noted below) from the Hardcore Gaming 101 article too.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Authority figures in cactus games

I originally wrote this in October of last year, which is why it says "cactus released Dear Agent the other day." Also, the term "player" is used also to refer to the player-character of their respective games, as most of them have no names.

cactus released a new game, Dear Agent, the other day. It's a sidescrolling platformer, super low-res (which makes it a little hard to play/read, but I think it works), with destructible environments and a focus on conserving ammo and manipulating lava flows. It reminds me a little of his earlier game Krebswelte, although one thing it has that Krebswelte doesn't, and many other cactus games do, is an authority figure giving you orders. In this case it's the agent's father and superior, a man in a leather gimp mask who gives the agent orders, urges them to "remember your duties!", and signs off with an eerily intimate "hugs and kisses..."

It's an interesting spin on the idea of the unseen boss giving you orders by phone, especially when you consider the other authority figures in cactus games--many of which communicate to the player in a similar fashion, and almost all of which have nothing but disdain for the player themselves.

Monday, June 13, 2011

The Best of Formspring

I originally posted this as part of a Best of Formspring collection on Livejournal. I've transplanted most of the relevant games-discussion ones here. 

Featuring: thoughts on background art in 2D games, Sonic Fan Remix and the "redesign trap," programming for beginners, mechanics vs. narrative, and (my personal favorite), thoughts on good "random" humor in games.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Design & Color: Sonic the Hedgehog (Part 1 of 3 & Knuckles)

Design & Color, this time about the Sonic series! Part 1 of 3 (& Knuckles), unless we decide to go further and do CD or something, but I never did play that very much. Brought to you by myself and the ever-wonderful gsilverfish, and aided by The Sonic Scene's amazing screenshots section.

Design & Color: Deadly Towers

(Originally posted on February 28, 2011 at my personal blog.)
[Note: about half of these screenshots are taken from Youtube, with others taken from StrategyWiki and the game itself. If you have higher quality screenshots of those, I'd really love it if you could throw them my way!]

As a followup to my last Design & Color post about Kirby's Adventure, I'd like to examine a game which is just about the polar opposite of it. Kirby's Adventure was almost universally beloved and propelled a still-running, successful franchise; Deadly Towers is almost unanimously reviled, with many people first learning of it as Seanbaby's Worst Nintendo Game of All Time. There are a lot of reasons for this, but they aren't important: I come here not to bury Deadly Towers, but to praise it.

Final Fantasy VI: Characters and Story

(The images in this post, while totally irrelevant to the rest of the text, are from the incredible romhack Awful Fantasy. Originally posted on December 13, 2010 at my personal blog.)

The day we had that killer7 conversation we also had a REALLY LONG conversation about FF6, how it works and how it doesn't, and why we love it despite its problems. We approached that game from a lot of angles and talked about it for a really long time, so this will probably be equally as long and rambling.

Disclaimer: I haven't played FF6 in a long time. I've been playing through the Awful Fantasy romhack of it recently, but yeah I should probably go back and replay the original sometime soon if I'm going to talk about it like this.

killer7: Linear Movement, and Why it Works

(Originally posted on December 12th, 2010 at my personal blog.)
I was talking with enigmaopoeia yesterday or the day before. I was going off of this formspring question I answered recently, about the divide between mechanics and narrative in games. I mentioned Suda51 in there, and I started thinking and talking with her about whether or not killer7's mechanics--things like "hold X to move forward in a predetermined path, hit Triangle to turn around"--serve its story well. killer7 is a great game, but a lot of people who played it seemed to struggle with it adopting such unconventional movement method for a reason that wasn't immediately discernible. Couldn't you just make it a free-roaming control scheme, maybe with a fixed camera, like Resident Evil?

Kirby's Adventure: Design and Color

(Originally posted on November 2nd, 2010, at my personal blog.)

[FYI, this article was written before Kirby's Epic Yarn was released. Also, big thanks to Kirby's Rainbow Resort for having such an amazing selection of Kirby's Adventure screenshots, and to Mobygames for a couple others.]

I spent an evening playing Kirby's Adventure on Virtual Console recently. I grew up with the game on an NES cartridge; I'd played Kirby's Dream Land first and wasn't too enthralled, but Kirby's Adventure was one of the games that dominated my childhood. I didn't realize it at the time, but this game's design sticks out like a black sheep from the rest of the series: not only does it have a sophisticated and evocative color palette different from anything else on the NES, but many of the level motifs (such as the many buildings and castles) are surprisingly detailed and concrete--not exactly what you expect from a series that is now defined by marshmallowy, candy-colored vistas.

Ritualism in Games

(originally posted on March 13, 2010 at my personal blog.)

I've been thinking a little bit about ritualism in games--the repetition of a set of actions for symbolism or meaning that, if not "written" into it from the beginning, is ascribed to it as it is performed again and again. Rituals are performed, and so ritualism defines the doing of something, not aspects of the environment (although rituals are often performed in certain environments). So when I say "ritualism" I don't mean "the fact that all the Mega Man games look the same," but I do mean "the fact that you always have to go through a boss corridor in Mega Man before you get to the actual boss."