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GameCritics.com Podcast Episode 57: The Games of Our Summer Vacation

Tim Spaeth's picture

The crew reunites and wastes no time getting back to doing what they do best: angering the Internet with a brutal dismantling of Bastion. Plus: Sexism in Ms. 'Splosion Man, the failures of L.A. Noire, the joys of Ghost Recon 3DS, and the magnificence of Lost Odyssey. We also debut our new movie segment, and if you like surprises, well, hold onto your wigs and keys, folks. Featuring Chi Kong Lui, Brad Gallaway, Mike Bracken, and Tim "Fresh Beatz" Spaeth.

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Category Tags
Platform(s): Xbox 360   PS3   3DS  
Developer(s): Mistwalker   Twisted Pixel   Team Bondi   Supergiant Games  
Key Creator(s): Hironobu Sakaguchi  
Genre(s): Role-Playing   Open World  
Articles: Reports   Podcasts  

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So glad you guys are back.

So glad you guys are back. You have been missed. This is definitely the perfect way to end my work week!

Podcast Intro

Love the podcast! Always listen through it. One question, though: where is the intro music from? I absolutely love it but can't think of a game it could be from...

I've already gushed about

I've already gushed about this game to Brad on Twitter, but it can't be stressed enough how great Lost Odyssey is. That game's ending will always stick with me, and I agree that the end of Disk 1 was really powerful.

Although the game could've used some trimming, I think some of those simplistic quests have more importance than you guys gave them credit for. Even if they seem silly at the time, such as the quest where the kids sneak around a city and steal a spaceship, many of those scenes ended up being what I thought about after completing the game. After a lot of more traumatic events happen near the end, the simplicity of earlier quests had some sort of "I remember the good ol' days, when we just chased dogs" effect on me. That could just be my interpretation, and I might be giving the game too much credit for that when in actuality it was just typical JRPG fluff, but I was surpised by how many of those little moments stuck with me.

That point aside, I'm really glad you guys talked about Lost Odyssey. That's what's so great about this podcast, you're not afraid to move away from current events and can proudly take time to talk about such a wonderful game that wasn't given as much attention as it deserved.

Podcast Theme

Chris Johnson [TechnologoDoom wrote:

]Love the podcast! Always listen through it. One question, though: where is the intro music from? I absolutely love it but can't think of a game it could be from...

Wonder no more, good sir: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-J0H5ah1G7A

And I just found this too: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=irsVSyoBkuo

Thanks! Oh, and a note on Bastion...

Excellent. Never played Silver Surfer, but Darn that is some killer chiptune.

Ok, but I want to put into my 2 cents on Bastion (since talking at my iphone doesn't seem to work when the podcast plays).

1) I understand the point that the "story" in bastion isn't really compelling as a story, or way to connect the player to the event. Show don't tell, as they say. However, as I've been playing it I haven't really felt that the unfolding events as they're narrated were meant as a typical story. In other words, I don't think Supergiant were really going for story as much as simple narration. What's the difference? Story would have a narrative, a beginning middle and end, etc. Narration on the other hand would simply connect linearly the unfolding events, sans narrative. To put it another way, I don't think Supergiant failed at something they weren't trying to do - counter to Dungoen Siege 3 which seems to have precisely the problem that they were trying...

2) Given everyone's clear enjoyment of the game systems and combat, I'd think that the quality of the gameplay (far superior to Deathspank, as noted) would elevate the game much more than the review seems to give it credit for.

3) To sum up, I rather think that, as it presents itself, it's a good-looking hacknslash light-rpg with a fairly creative narration system. Does it lack story? Sure. But I'm not sure Supergiant would disagree necessarly.

Anyway, this might just be a rehash of what was said on the cast, but being critical of other critics giving it a 90 or 100 is different than recognizing it's a solid game in its own right.

Bastion / Story

Chris - Agree with you 100%.

The narrator is serving the same function as a BioShock or Dead Space audio log -- telling you the history of this world without interrupting gameplay. It's delivered abstractly and non-linearly (just as the game world is abstract and non-linear) but having finished the game I could certainly tell you the story of the Calamity, the conflict between its inhabitants, the history of the kid, why [redacted] does what he does, etc. -- it's a complete story, just told in a non-traditional format. Indeed, when the game falls back on the occasional cutscene, or the "menu" at the end, it's a disappointment.

Here's what struck me most, though: the tone, because it's not one many games adopt: Bastion is sad...melancholy, really. Combined with the abstraction, it just *feels* unlike any other game in recent memory. (Maybe a little bit like Limbo? No, reading that back, that's not right at all. Damn, I wish I could delete sentences.)

Chi: You should play beyond the demo. I really think you'd appreciate how the story comes into being. Don't get hung up on that bartender thing; it's an anomaly.

Brad: Listen to your son.

All that said, Bastion didn't make me cry or anything. I didn't transcend time or space. I'm not typing this from heaven. I just wanted to defend the storytelling a bit more, because I feel like I fumbled that on the show.

I haven't listened to all

I haven't listened to all the podcast yet, but just wanna throw in my angle on the LA Noire debate. The only Rockstar game I genuinely like is Red Dead Redemption, so I have no reason to defend LA Noire in that regard, though the fact I'm saying Rockstar and not Team Bondi is perhaps one of the reasons why many gamers are underwhelmed by the game.

You see, I followed LA Noire's development very early on, and was always aware that the game wasn't going to be like GTA. Team Bondi, like their previous game, The Getaway, don't focus so much on optional content, but instead use open-world environments as a way to build atmosphere; the game is basically linear, but has a real world around it to add to the experience. Mafia II did the same thing, if you recall. To criticise it, then, for lack of optional content seems to miss the point of the game. Of course, I don't blame gamers for thinking it's a flaw, when Rockstar never made it clear LA Noire isn't supposed to be like GTA, but as someone who followed the game, I was always aware of what I was getting.

For me personally, I have no issue with an open-world environment that lacks proper content besides the main campaign. As long as it serves to help the narrative and setting, then I'm down with that. And for LA Noire it works fine. I enjoyed chatting with my partner while driving from crime locations, and felt I was engrossed in the experience.

All that said, while I defend the game on that front, I actually don't consider it superb. I admire what the developer's intentions were, and also appreciate having a game that is genuinely mature and intelligent and doesn't patronise me. However, it has many serious flaws, such as awful combat, clunky controls, and some major plot discrepancies, but "not being like GTA" is certainly not a valid flaw, in my view.

I really don't think Ms.

I really don't think Ms. Splosion Man is sexist at all, since it's pretty clear she's a parody character. If anything, the character of Ms Splosion Man is making fun of all the negative female stereotypes by embodying it. Splosion Man was similar with lines like "Get to Da chopper", but I'll admit to a lesser degree.

Games like Other M are more qualifying for sexist complaints, since Nintendo somehow expected gamers to take Samus' new emotionally weak and defenseless-unless-she's-with-a-man portrayal seriously.

Listened to all the podcast

Listened to all the podcast now, and thoroughly enjoyed it. A couple more things though:

- I was one of those guys back in the day saying how great Lost Odyssey was, and I still consider it the best 360 exclusive game. However, I don't like it for the same reasons as you guys - the core story, to me, is actually quite generic and unemotional. Now, I don't have children myself so can maybe see why you guys find that cutscene so powerful, but to me the game isn't particularly strong at having an interesting narrative. In fact, the real irony is that those written stories done by the Japanese author guy are absolutely superb, yet the game's story is nowhere near as good.

What I like about the game is the actual RPG side of things - it's solid at what it does, has enjoyable content, and a superb soundtrack. I just wish the developers had a better grasp of the game engine though, as the art-style can often be spoiled by texture and v-sync issues.

In any case, I'm looking forward to seeing what Mistwalker are capable of with The Last Story on the Wii. I'm not sure if/when it comes out over here, but from what I've seen it looks pretty good.

- On Bastion: I haven't played it, nor intend to, but I completely get Brad and Chi's argument about supposed "professional critics" gushing over the game. There's nothing quite more annoying than seeing people who are paid to be professional critics become all emotional and philosophical over something which has no merit to warrant such a response. Sadly, it happens often with indie titles, since many of these reviewers are only use to playing games like Call of Duty, and so when you throw a Braid or Bastion at them they go crazy. It's quite embarrassing. I'm just glad there are actually people like Brad and Jim Sterling in existence, or else I would have stopped reading gaming media years ago.

Anonymous wrote:

Games like Other M are more qualifying for sexist complaints, since Nintendo somehow expected gamers to take Samus' new emotionally weak and defenseless-unless-she's-with-a-man portrayal seriously.

While you're right to highlight Other M, I don't think the blame for any sexism can fall entirely at Nintendo's feet - it's Team Ninja who are the ones behind it. Not surprising, then, since they also make the Dead or Alive games, or, more specifically, Dead or Alive Beach Volleyball.

Other M was written by

Quote:

While you're right to highlight Other M, I don't think the blame for any sexism can fall entirely at Nintendo's feet - it's Team Ninja who are the ones behind it. Not surprising, then, since they also make the Dead or Alive games, or, more specifically, Dead or Alive Beach Volleyball.

Other M was written by Yoshio Sakamoto, a video game designer for Nintendo. He was one of the directors for this game as well. I'm not saying Team Ninja is guilt free, but the negative portrayal of Samus seems to rest on Nintendo's shoulders.

Sakamoto should be fired

Anonymous wrote:

Other M was written by Yoshio Sakamoto, a video game designer for Nintendo. He was one of the directors for this game as well. I'm not saying Team Ninja is guilt free, but the negative portrayal of Samus seems to rest on Nintendo's shoulders.

Anonymous is absolutely correct. Nintendo -- specifically Sakamoto -- is 100% to blame for the abomination of Other M. Read interviews with him (for example, Gama Sutra, or Iwata Asks). It's pretty clear that he believes that he reason people liked games like Metroid II and Super Metroid were because of the "dramatic moments" that involved Samus's feelings of motherhood. Of course, that's all nonsense. It was the arcade gameplay (platforming and shooting) combined with the exploration of a maze-like environment with deadly aliens that made Metroid stand out.

You can tell that Retro had an appreciation for the old Metroid games when they made the Prime series, and it shows in their sales. In contrast, as Sakamoto has evolved his vision of Samus having weak feelings, etc., (Super Metroid -> Fusion -> Other M), it culminated in Other M which has had pitiful sales. I played Fusion and definitely knew something was up with the extremely linear layout, restricted exploration, artificial environments, and ridiculous soliloquizing by Samus.

I stand corrected then. I

I stand corrected then. I didn't think one of Nintendo's own would do such damage to one of their strongest characters, but seems I was mistaken. =[

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