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We've seen some interesting, if not wholly distasteful, trends in the industry the last 5 years. We have seen day one DLC (which most agree is silly), on disc DLC (again, locking out content you technically already paid for), DRM (attempting to prevent pirate players from playing), and naturally some always-online talk (which most agree is a silly concept). All of this is done mostly because of one simple factor: People pirate games... and they pirate a lot of them. While it's most rampant on PC's, consoles themselves are not inherently left out of the equation.

Personally, I can't deny that I have never pirated a game. I have, just once, and at the time I felt my reasoning was justified. It was a game lacking a demo, and I felt entitled to "try before I buy". To many pirates, this is a logical excuse we use to reason with our own self morals. Of course, this is but one of the reasons pirates have for stealing games. The problem with every excuse out there becomes the fact that none of them actually truly morally justify stealing a game.

Bobby Kotick, the CEO of Activision, has garnered a somewhat perplexing bonus over the past couple of years. According to an article on Joystiq, he has earned a total of $64.9 million in compensation over the past 5 years (approximately $8 million of that for 2012), primarily stemming from stock awards. What's odd about this consistently enormous compensation is that Activision's stocks haven't really been increasing in value; they're just sort of "sustaining."

I'm not a business man, but I'd assume that usually you give huge bonuses for stock awards when your company's stocks are rising in price, not when they're just sitting still like Activion's have, for the most part, for the past several years.

Narutendo and I are taking a break from the Zelda discussions to talk about another popular franchise with some big announcements recently; Pokémon. Now, we recorded this before the whole Mewthree fiasco, so unfortunately we don't address that at all. We also end up talking a lot about the series as a whole; we both have very strong feelings concerning the series, and we are VERY vocal about them.

That being said, there is a lot to consider with this new generation; this is their chance to take off in a very different direction, but should they? The games have been selling like crazy, despite what jaded gamers like us say. What do you think? Has the series soured or improved over time?


Nintendo is known for making bold steps in the industry, but most of that has to do with the hardware they release. A handheld with two screens? That can’t possibly work! 150+ million sales later it’s shown that yes, it can. Motion controls and simplified controls! You’re crazy Nintendo. 99 million in sales later says that actually, no they weren’t. 3DS? No one likes 3D Nintendo! 30+ Million in sales over two years. Not too shabby.

Of course, the outlier right now is the Wii U, of which Nintendo hasn’t fully turned around yet, but let’s give them a bit of time to see how that plays out. History points to it being just fine in the end.

The industry itself is broken right now. Games that sell millions of units aren’t successful or wholly profitable. Every year the big three show up to E3 with many hopes and dreams on the line, only to be dashed when we see the next Kinect game, or see a spell book game with the PS Move, or an emphasis on cable television. Even the mighty Nintendo has faltered, with broken promises (E3 2011) and poorly targeted software (ending E3 2012 with Nintendo Land).

As I sit here playing Fate/EXTRA and the new Soul Sacrifice demo on my Vita, it occurs to me that the PS Vita has very few games, but we all know that, I just didn't know it was this bad. Since beating Persona 4 Golden, Gravity Rush, Uncharted: GA, Touch my Katamari, I still struggle to beat ACIII: Liberation because of how average it is.

I am finally realizing just how few games there are for the small handheld, even a year after its release. I purchased the Vita mainly for those previously mentioned 5 games (They're all good games) but in the end my Vita has become nothing more to me than a PSP with a bigger screen as I notice I have 14~ PSP games on the memory card. It's not good and I'm a tad disappointed. But enough about that. 

I've only bought (or was given) four systems in my entire life and it was all for one single game. The first was a Game Boy Color, obviously for Pokemon Red (Which is insanely pricey now), my second was the N64 for Ocarina of Time, the third was a Wii for (you guessed it) Twilight Princess, and the fourth (Once again) was a 3DS for Ocarina of Time 3D. I've never been upset with my choice to purchase a system for a single game because the game is usually high in replay value. So what I want to know if you've ever purchased a game system for just a single game and if you did, were you satisfied with your decision?

Nintendo’s policy with digital downloads has always been less than favorable. When a concerned aunt of a young Nintendo 3DS owner wrote to Nintendo concerning their the digital content owned by users with lost systems, a customer service representative reaffirmed their policy.

… I was wondering, should I lose or have my 3DS stolen, is there any way to retrieve the games that I’ve purchased on the eshop? I am curious about your policy on this, and especially when so many young kids play 3DS and could potentially lose them. I know on the iphone and PSP, you are tied to an account to which you can retrieve your games. How does it work for Nintendo? Should I be worried about buying my little nephew eshop points?

Customer service representative from Nintendo of America: Thank you for writing. I’ll be happy to answer your questions regarding virtual content on the Nintendo 3DS. All virtual content downloaded on the Nintendo 3DS is tied to the system itself. As our warranty doesn’t cover lost or stolen game cards and systems, if this were to happen regardless of your games being virtual or you owning the physical copies, they would not be covered for replacement. …

Of course, this policy is incredibly outdated. Head inside for more!

So, several years late to the party, I've discovered the glory that is The Protomen. For those of you who have yet to bite the fruit of knowledge recently brought to my attention, The Protomen is a band known for their rock opera, which tells a dark, Orwellian story based off Megaman. Sure, it sounds great (Though I vastly prefer the sound of Act 2 to Act 1; Act 3 is on its way!) but the real glory is the depth of the story and characters they've interpreted--so much so that reading the lyrics along with the music is highly recommended. Listen to it all here.

It got me thinking; what other games could really benefit from a fan project to tell a story through a huge musical endeavor? We've already seen glimpses of what could be with Majora's Mask in the opera, Majora, currently being developed by a fan. Surely, different stories are best told through different genres of music; it would be a bit strange to hear somebody screeching as Link and Zelda, for instance. An opera really does fit the characters of Majora's Mask, and Bulteau is showing he's more than capable of doing it right.

So what about other franchises? Personally, I'd love to see the stories of Ico and Shadow of the Colossus told through a symphony. I don't think words would be too fitting, although some operatic segments between Ico and Yorda in seperate languages would be pretty powerful. Heavy Rain could be incredible performed in the style of a musical like Next to Normal; not necessarily the atmosphere, but the same lyrical style.

Of course, The Protomen also explored original stories through their music; especially with Act 2, where they told a prequel with Wily and Light. What if the well-known, but never played Imprisoning War from The Legend of Zelda was told through music instead? Military chants, songs of hope and that overriding destruction, placed in a minor key...can somebody start making this now, please? Or what if the tale of Samus' origins with the Chozo was explored in a rock opera? Get a powerful female vocalist and a good writer, and it could beat out Harmony of a Hunter as my favorite Metroid music project.

I could go on for ages about these ideas; what are some of yours? And, coincidentally, any of you want to work on some of these with me? I promise you'll only do 90% of the work.

P.S. If you only have time to check out a few Protomen songs, totes listen to The Stand, The Hounds, and Father of Death. Just...man. And Vengeance. K? K. Also Light up the Night.

I love me a good RPG, especially ones like Persona, Kingdom Hearts, and Pokemon, but what I don't like is level grinding, especially when it can take hours upon hours to get to the level you need to be at. I encountered such a case a mere 12 hours into Devil Survivor, and it ain't pretty.

Devil Survivor is a pretty hard game when you're under-leveled because you can't use any items meaning you need to use your MP wisely and if you don't have enough, you're screwed. Beldr is a level 30 boss that is easy enough to beat, but the problem is he continuously summons demons until you beat him and you'll probably be out of MP by the time you get to him. To make matters worse, the summoned demons are hard to beat even with MP to exploit their weaknesses and if they get close enough to Beldr, they'll heal him. So even at level 25 and easily defeating other level 25 demons, you're probably going to want to grind till you're about level 30, but the problem is that enemies don't offer up enough EXP in free battles, so i'm forced to grind for hours till I can beat him. It's almost as bad as Final Fantasy III's end-game boss which is nearly impossible to beat when you first meet them, leaving you to grind for hours (some say about 10+).

Multiple games, especially older ones, are notorious for using Level Grinding as a way to make games longer, but it's not always the best way to go about it and they sometimes cause us to avoid a game entirely despite how engaging it is. So I want to know, what do you think is the worst Level Grinding experience you have ever encountered? Was it Grinding to beat Red in Gold/Silver? Or was it grinding to beat a certain boss in Borderlands? Tell us in the comments!

Both of these terms are important aspects to many video games, and have been almost since the dawn of gaming itself. Violence, in one way or another, is ever present in most of the games we play. Be it Mario stomping out Goombas, Link attacking well... anything, or killing virtual people in games like Call of Duty: Violence is an ever present part of the video game culture that we all enjoy on various levels.

Another intricate and ever more present aspect is story. It drives players to want to complete certain tasks, it gives motivation, and more importantly it can touch us on a personal level in a way that sometimes can't be conveyed in a movie.

Neither one of these aspects is required to create a compelling experience – as an example, something as simple as Minecraft is technically a video game and it doesn't rely on violence or story in order to create a fantastic product.


I struggled writing the title for this piece due to one major factor: I personally really like Mr. Iwata. I haven’t met the man, but from what we have seen publicly he is just very likable. He’s a CEO that cut his own pay when sales dipped. He’s very honest in an industry where many talk out their ass. He does developer interviews in Iwata Asks and spurred the Nintendo Directs – both of which I thoroughly enjoy and have been nice additions for the fans.

However, in many ways Iwata has a bit too much of Miyamoto in him. He’s a fine idea man with some nice concepts, but too often he finds himself apologizing for mistakes he has made. Grant it, he is pretty good at rectifying his own mistakes over time, but the fact he has continually made them is certainly a problem.

After what feels like a decade of waiting from being broke, I finally picked up a copy of Shin Megami Tensei: Devil Survivor: Overclocked, a spin-off of, well, the Shin Megami Tensei franchise. I haven't completed it yet, but I'm thoroughly enjoying my time with the title, I like it much more than the actual Shin Megami Tensei games and equally as much as its sister spin-off series, Persona. 

Sometimes spin-offs just manage to outdo their parent franchises and they can appeal to a much larger audience than them as well. Mario Kart, Metroid Prime, Rune Factory, and even Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance are all highly notable spin-offs that many people love dearly despite their departure from the core franchise's gameplay mechanics, story, or even universe. They're loved by many and some have even been successful enough to become their own sub-franchise, sometimes even outdoing the main franchise.

So tell us, what is your favorite video game spin-off franchise and why do you like it so much? What do you like about said spin-off franchise the most and if applicable, does it outdo its parent franchise in any way?

Later this month we are getting a rather important update, the first of two this year, that address several things wrong with the Wii U's Operating System. The one later this month, thankfully, addresses the load times. Dropping them from a sad 22 seconds to a much more reasonable 6 seconds. That's a rather large leap! It is known at this point that several aspects of the Wii U's Operating System were developed by different companies around the world. In 2012, all of these aspects were put together to create the Operating System we see today. It is very likely it may not have been finalized until shortly before the consoles went into production.

This naturally left the console lacking several key things out the gate, such as Nintendo TVii, and when TVii did launch, it still lacked all of the boasted features. Today, it still lacks the promised TiVO support (of which I got a TiVO receiver just because of it). The Wii U still lacks a key aspect the Wii brought to us for the first time: A proper virtual console. You would think that's a rather important feature to have out by launch, considering that it is a money maker and could really help give some value to the console even if it lacks new games. I mean, come on, toss in GCN titles and suddenly we have the cream of the crop.

However, I have an alternative theory, and it will likely never be proven true or false, but it happens to make a lot of sense. Yes, the Operating System as we know it was simply tossed together before production, but it was hardly rushed in the traditional sense. Rather, the entire backbone and concept for the Operating System drastically changed at an inopportune time. What caused that change? Everyone's favorite whipping horse lately: EA.

         

Rising indie developer AckkStudios is developing an upcoming game called Two Brothers, an action RPG designed to feel like a classic Game Boy game. We at Gamnesia had the chance to speak to Andrew Allanson, who served as the producer and leading composer and on the game's staff, about a wide variety of subjects. Areas of focus in this interview including the design of the game, challenges introducing gamers to Two Brothers' new ideas, and the relationship between plot and gameplay. Read the full interview to see why you should be as excited as we are excited about Two Brothers.

You've probably heard the question before, but are games art? From a development aspect, yes, but it's more of an applied art like pottery than actual art. They are a product first and foremost and we rarely look at the artistic nature that went behind its production, but we're talking about games that are art first and games second.

Games like Grand Theft Auto, Lollipop Chainsaw, and even Splatterhouse aren't games we look at and immediately think "That's art!" But we don't necessarily look at more fantasy oriented games like Final Fantasy, Disgaea, and The Legend of Zelda and think the opposite. It's usually those standout games that try to look beautiful in a new way gamers aren't accustomed to, be it in its visuals or the way it delivers its story and gameplay, that make us view it as art like Journey and Okami.

I recently completed my first playthrough of El Shaddai, an easily underrated (and hard) game, and it's probably the only game I've played that's even close to being "classic art," next to Okami of course. Like a lot of classic art it focuses on religion, being almost completely based off The Book of Enoch, while taking many creative liberties to create a unique experience, but I'll talk about that more in a future article. But I want to know, what do you think makes a game art and what is your favorite "Art Game?"


I've been waiting days to cover this story because I wanted to better frame my approach. See, 3.4 million copies of a game are some pretty lofty numbers. Sure, maybe that's a poor number for say, a console Zelda release, but it's still a profitable number. Tomb Raider's original popularity may never be matched, but since the 90's the franchise has been pretty pathetic in sales numbers, failing to even top 1 million.

In comes a highly touted and well reviewed reboot of the whole franchise. It moved 3.4 million physical copies across all platforms, the most the series has moved since the 90's. In addition, if you add digital sales, you're likely looking at a number north of 4 million total sales. That ranks it as the 3rd best selling game in the series and probably when it's all said and done, potentially the 2nd best. That, to me, seems like a very successful reboot. The fans are raving, the critics are raving, people bought the product, and things seem fine.

Until we find out that Square lost money on the project. So much so they themselves called it a failure. So, what's wrong?