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The formula for a good game

Call of Duty 4

The great film director Howard Hawks once said that "A good movie has three great scenes and no bad ones." Lately, I've taken to pondering how this sentiment might apply to video games.

When I think about big cinematic games like God of War, Resident Evil 4, Call of Duty 4, and Metal Gear Solid 4 (damn, that's a lot of games with "4" in the title), I think the formula holds. These are all games that, for me anyway, never really had any bad parts, and had at least three great segments that really stand out in my memory. I can still vividly recall fighting the giant hydra, clashing knives with Krauser, getting hit by a nuclear blast wave, and riding a motorcycle through an eastern European city. I'm a sucker for games that give me only a few amazing moments, even if the rest of the game never rises above being merely not bad.

Quickie: Study examines benefites of DDR for people with disabilities

Dance Dance Revolution

West Virginia was the first school system in the United States to incorporate a video game (Konami's Dance Dance Revolution) into its physical education curriculum. Now, West Virginia University, ResCare Home Care and the Special Olympics are conducting a study to see if the series has benefits for people with disabilities. According to the very small blurb I was able to find, "Participants will play the game three days a week, for eight weeks. If it is successful, the Special Olympics may consider making 'DDR' a competitive event during its annual games."

What do you think: God Hand

Please post your thoughts and impressions on God Hand here and we will discuss your comments in an upcoming episode of our podcast. Thanks!

God Hand

Man vs. Man: Kanji Tatsumi's sexuality in Persona 4

A young man in profile with long, silvery-blond hair and a black jacket and pants. He's looking up, and off into the distance.

In Sexuality and Homophobia in Persona 4 from Gamasutra, Samantha Xu examines the tension between Persona 4's "rough-and-tumble teen" Kanji Tatsumi and his flamboyant alter-ego:

Kanji is feared by the locals and maintains a confrontational machismo toward the other characters throughout the game. He is a loyal son and employee at his family's textile shop, and it's not until the debut of his alter-ego Shadow Kanji that we are made aware of his inner sexual turmoil.

Xu looks at how homosexuality is viewed in Japanese culture and interviews people at Atlus USA who worked on Persona 4, game journalists and Sex in Video Games author Brenda Brathwaite. Brenda likes many things about Kanji's portrayal, but one thing she dislikes is "the game's juvenile nature in dealing with his sexuality."

 

 

Gaming pet peeves

Metal Gear Solid 4

In an effort to prepare for Metal Gear Solid 4, I've recently been playing some of the earlier Metal Gear Solid games. And while it's been really fun for the most part, it's also brought to mind some of my gaming pet peeves, not just related to MGS but to games in general.

What triggered this for me was being reminded that MGS doesn't allow the player to pause during cut scenes. I was at the end of MGS2 when I suddenly found the need to pause the game. I think I knew at that point that I couldn't actually pause, but I had no choice but to try. So I hit the start button and suddenly the game fast forwarded to another section, apparently bypassing a whole bunch of end-game exposition. As a result, I had to reset the game, load my most recent save, and fight a whole bunch of enemies and go through a long boss fight just to get back to the cut scene that I missed. It was absolutely maddening, and it baffles me that the developers wouldn't include such an obvious feature, or why any developer wouldn't include that feature, especially in a game that is so heavy in cut scenes.

Game critics: Are you experienced?

Street Fighter II - Stephen Totilo's nemesis

Two articles touch on the subject of experience behind a game critic. The most recent example is MTV's Stephen Totilo not being adept at basic moves for Street Fighter II, a heralded and historically important game series.

As video games mature, so does its criticism. Totilo and N'Gai Croal bring a certain air of legitimacy in the mainstream media that many other writers in the industry lack.

However to maintain a level of balance and fairness, a critic needs to be very well rounded.

Doing a hurricane kick in Street Fighter is as basic for a gamer as what a film lover would do in citing a movie like Annie Hall or Citizen Kane.

Sure a gamer need not necessarily need to grow up in that era, or be heavily involved in the culture.

But imagine if a movie critic knew nothing of Annie Hall? Or Raging Bull? Imagine a videogame critic not even knowing how to do the most basic move in fighting games?
As long as the critic is forthcoming about it, I don't think any credibility would be lost.

However, and more importantly, I would know who to trust less.

Lego Batman Review

Why so serious?

Lego Batman

HIGH Getting to be The Joker is probably a dream most comic fans have—Lego Batman allows you to cross it off your list of life goals.

LOW Being stuck in an area for half an hour, unsure of how to progress because the game's awful platforming mechanics had me convinced that the jump I knew I needed to make (and failed at multiple times) wasn't the correct one—and it turns out it was.

WTF Killer Moth? The Mad Hatter? They really scraped the bottom of the barrel for some of these villains.

Shin Megami Tensei: Persona 4

Game Description: Shin Megami Tensei: Persona 4 is a console role-playing game (RPG) for Sony's PlayStation 2. Persona 4 takes place in a rural town named Inaba where mysterious murders occur whenever there is fog after heavy rain. The town has a television channel that airs only at midnight called Mayonaka TV, during which it is said that one can see their "other half" while staring at the screen. After hearing about a recent unsolved murder, some characters realize that they had witnessed the murder victim while watching Mayonaka TV. Chronologically the sixth installment in the Persona series, Persona 4 is a suspenseful countryside murder mystery with multiple twists and turns in the plot that will have you guessing all the way to the end.

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