20 Minutes in Rapture: Day 2

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“Altruism is the Root of all Wickedness.”

The nightmare that is Rapture continues. Today I was introduced to Little Sisters and Big Daddy’s. The Little Sister exists to harvest ADAM; the Big Daddy ensures that the Little Sister carries our her job. Whoever created this ecosystem from hell is surely mad. I have no doubt. Continuing past the theater, I wrap around some corridors only to find that the entrance way to Neptune’s Bounty (where Atlas’s family is) is blocked off. Atlas tells me to proceed to the Medical Wing. Figures.

Dispatching Plasmid junkies seems to be the order of the day in Rapture. A bolt of lightening from the hand here, a bonk on the head with the wrench there. Splicers electrocuted before they can ever touch me. I like what the Plasmids enable me to do. In fact, I find myself loving my new found powers. Whenever I run out of Plasmids, rendering me unable to shoot bolts of lightening from my hands, I find myself in a frenzy. I want power. I want to feel what it is to be a god. Perhaps that sentiment is why Rapture is eating itself alive. I don’t care. I crave the power of the Plasmid.

Heading toward the medical wing, I am treated to another video featuring the infamous Andrew Ryan. I think that the guy was paranoid. After witnessing Plasmid junkies trying to break through a window and kill me, I quickly make my way through vault-like doors to the Medical Wing.

Thoughts so far:

  • Interesting how the game makes the player crave power (aka the Plasmid).
  • Sound design is phenomenal!
  • Is BioShock the tale of the classic question of whether man is basically good or evil?

Join me next time as I continue to explore the depths of Rapture.

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20 Minutes in Rapture: Day 1

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“They told me son your special, you were born to do great things…”

Recovering from a freak plane crash, I swam through the wreckage and fire. Screams of those drowning filled the night. Gathering my senses, I noticed that there is a lighthouse looming in the darkness. What luck! Climbing up the stairs that lead to the lighthouse, I am struck by the oddness of what I am seeing. Why is this 1920’s art deco style lighthouse out in the middle of the mid-Atlantic? Entering the lighthouse, the lights suddenly come on to reveal a huge banner.

The plaque below the banner contains a quote from a man named Andrew Ryan. Sounds like a nice guy. Further investigation of the lighthouse reveals a bathysphere. Inside, a shiny control switch. To flip or not to flip? Knowing that my adventure was at a standstill, I flipped the switch. Dive! Dive! Dive!

As the bathysphere dove deeper and deeper into the sea, I am treated to an in flight video. Andrew Ryan, as he introduces himself, tells of his wish to be alone. Seems he was teased in school. So, he created an underwater city named Rapture. Rapture, an under sea city of dreams; a utopia dedicated to the unbound man.

“All Good Things on this Earth Flow into the City.”

The above quote quickly turned out to be a lie as I arrived in Rapture. The bathysphere settled into what looked like was once an underwater transit hub. The hub station looked like a scene from a war movie. What has happened here? I didn’t have long to ponder. Suddenly, the bathysphere was attacked by what I am told is a Splicer (a love child of Edward Scissorhands). Atlas, speaking over a service radio tells me to take him along for the ride. Having almost died by splice, I see that I have no choice but to trust Atlas, for now.

Nightmares Come True

The plane crash was only the beginning. Slowly trekking through the decaying Rapture, I learn that Atlas wants me to help him rescue his family. Part of me doubts that such a family exists. Oh yeah, I have also been introduced to something call Plasmids. Plasmids are the preferred drug of Rapture. Atlas tells me that the Plasmids made everyone go mad. Great! I have no clue why I tried one…although shocking Rapture leftovers (citizens) has proven to be quite fun.

Thoughts so far:

  • The sound design and atmosphere of the game is incredible.
  • So what if I am a bit freaked out. Right? Right?!?

Join me next time as I continue to explore the depths of Rapture.

Monster Hunter Tri Bundle

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Nintendo announced today that Monster Hunter® Tri will indeed be bundled with the Classic Controller Pro and priced at $59.99.

Monster Hunter Tri has made a huge splash in the Japanese market, and we’re confident the bundle with the Classic Controller Pro will give fans in North America plenty to get excited about,” said Steve Singer, Nintendo of America’s vice president of Licensing. “Gamers of all kinds enjoy playing games on Wii. Monster Hunter Tri delivers an incredible new experience on Wii, while the Classic Controller Pro gives players even more control options for their favorite Wii games.”

The new Classic Controller Pro includes a second row of shoulder buttons and ergonomically friendly grips. The Classic Controller Pro plugs directly into the Wii Remote™ controller, and until now, has been available only in the Japanese market.

The Classic Controller Pro will be compatible with more than 450 Wii, WiiWare™ and Virtual Console™ games. The Classic Controller Pro bundled with Monster Hunter Tri will be black, while both black and white versions of the controller will also be available separately at a suggested retail price of $19.99. The game will also be available without a controller at a suggested retail price of $49.99.

For full press release click here.

The hunt begins this April.

Podcast Spotlight: Retronauts

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A trip to nostalgic beach is often the order of the day around JohnnyBGamer. 1up’s Retronauts, with host Jeremy Parish, provides an insightful podcast that fills that nostalgic need. Discussing games of the bygone era, Retronauts explores the early days of the gaming industry. From the highs and lows of the Atari to the golden age of Sega and Nintendo, Retronauts never fails to deliver an informative and entertaining podcast. For those wishing to revisit their childhood video game memories, this podcast is for you!

Just subscribe already!

Give them a listen (link will open iTunes).

CozyQuest

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–   Cozy Quest   –   Version 1.3   –   25.3MB  –

Press Start:

The Fair City of Felrona awaits, as players traverse the mythical lands of Eluna in search of fame, fortune, and loot. Developer Nils Munch’s CozyQuest, is an iDevice attempt at what is usually a PC exclusive, an MMO.

The game starts with a simple character creation screen where the player selects:

Character Class –

  • Priest – Healing
  • Merchant – Crafting
  • Mage – Magic and rainbows
  • Warrior – Tank

Name – Finally, a chance to name your character what you’ve always wanted to be called!

Race –

  • Thull – A race known for strength and endurance
  • Mekkel – A people of nomads and bards
  • Aran – Known for being strongwilled and their craft with swords
  • Pesha – Honorable/ Peace loving/ Pocahontas’s cousins
  • Toran – The Romans of Eluna/ Spartans

Character created, you find yourself off to Elgarz the Alchemist, who is in dire need of Strangleberries. Sure, no problem. A place with a name like the Dark Woods shouldn’t be all that bad, right? Right?!?

Ideology/ Worldview:

Enter the Felrona Chapel to choose your faith:

  • Shaim – “The god of purity and rebirth. Make of the Pesha race.”
  • Karosh – “The god of despair and destruction.”
  • Amala – “The iron god. Stands for craftmanship and strong will.”
  • Tordo – “God of strength and hate. Make of the Thull race.” Known in the real world as Satan.

The gods in CozyQuest serve to offer the player buffs and random gifts. Note that they can be abandoned at will. However, this means that money donated to that particular god will be lost. Lack of devotion has its costs.

Other mentions of religion:

  • The Thull race have a mountain god named Akarak
  • The Aran race is known to be religious

Interaction/ Gameplay:

Touch the screen over, and over, and over again! Gameplay in CozyQuest consists of grinding out levels in order to level your character. Standard MMO fair minus playing with other players. However, one can chat with other players in the Salty Siren Tavern. Exciting!

In the End:

In May of 2009, I wrote:

In its current state, purchasing CozyQuest is like signing up for an app beta test. With content being added to the game daily, I do not see this beta environment as a problem. The core game is in tact and running smoothly. The quests are interesting and well thought out. CozyQuest is an investment at this point. Before purchasing, you need to ask yourself this question: 1) Are you willing to invest $4.99, in developer Nils Munch, to see if he can realize his creative vision?

Nearly 9 months later, CozyQuest is like a ship that is slowly sinking. Not quite the disaster I left in mid 2009, CozyQuest still feels rough around the edges. Sure, developer Nils Munch has added multiple character slots and a core game/ graphical upgrade. This makes CozyQuest now run smoother and look prettier. However, one of the core complaints that I originally had has not changed:

  • Quests are repetitive. In order to level, quests have to be repeated multiple times. This repetition of quests gets old by the time you’ve clicked through the same quest for the 20th time.

At this point in the apps life, the gameplay featured in CozyQuest is not enough for anyone to warrant a purchase on their iDevice. CozyQuest (link will open iTunes) will always be a creative vision that has yet to be reached. Perhaps one day.

A glimmer of hope amongst an otherwise spoiled game/app

– Level of Impact –

Medium: Does not require large amounts of time to play.

The Cold War is Over: Part 1

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Despite what you may have been taught in school, the Cold War did not end in 1991 but ended in 2009.

During the height of the Apple App Store Gold Rush, I worked on a side project entitled Cold War Fruit. The website/ blog was dedicated to iPhone/iTouch app news & reviews. While I enjoyed the six months I spent mixing Cold War history with Apple apps, I did not forsee the anger and frustration that was on the horizon.

Having bought a first generation iPod Touch, I was able to enjoy the same benefits that my friends with iPhones were enjoying. Checking mail, surfing the web, and playing the latest apps were suddenly intertwined in my daily life. I wondered how I had ever lived without an iPod (the Touch was my first iPod). This small wonder of a device went everywhere with me and still does.

When the second generation iPod Touch was announced, along with the iPhone OS 3.0 upgrade, I suddenly found myself segregated from the rest of the Apple populace.  One of the touted features of OS 3.0 was Bluetooth wireless gaming. Bluetooth = awesome! Right!?? No. The first generation iPod Touch did not have Bluetooth!. In a single hardware upgrade, Apple managed to kill my enthusiasm for everything Apple. So, I decided to quit focusing so much on the Apple App Store and instead go back to an older project of mine, JohnnyBGamer. I was finished with Cold War Fruit. The Cold War was over.

This is my first in a series of thoughts on iPhone/ iPod Touch gaming. Be sure to check back soon for more!

Unnecessary Checkpoints

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Growing up, I lived in a valley that was hedged in by foothills and mountains. The south end of the valley featured a Border Patrol Checkpoint. Set up to combat illegal aliens and drug smuggling, the checkpoint was situated roughly 70 miles north of the Mexican border. Unnecessary? Politics aside, I think so.

Recently, I have been playing through Dragon Quest IV: Chapters of the Chosen on the Nintendo DS. As the games title insinuates, DQIV is broken into chapters or side stories. The first 5 chapters focus on what turns out to be the support characters. Chapter 6 unites the support characters with the hero of the game, you.

Dragon Quest IV marks my first entry into the Dragon Quest series. While I have enjoyed the 20+ hours I have spent in the game so far, I do have a minor gripe, the unnecessary leveling checkpoints.

20 year old gameplay mechanics aside, Dragon Quest IV commits the sin of the invisible wall. Every few levels, these invisible checkpoints force players to stop and grind (level up) until they are at a sufficient level to proceed in the game. Dungeons, monsters, and bosses are some of the most common level checkpoints found in the game. While I know that this is a common RPG mechanic, I have never been so aware of it. Perhaps this is due to the age of the game? I’m not sure.

Grinding is one of those bite-the-bullet game mechanics. Properly instituted within a game’s design it can be a mechanic that one barely notices. While I am enjoying the time spent with Dragon Quest IV, I can’t help but wish that a more organic type of leveling system be created. However, I do find some sort of twisted comfort in level grinding. The old and the familiar, right? Until next time.