Category:  Features

By Karen Rivera, April 11, 2014 0 Features, PAX East 2014, Staff Musings

As fans of videogames and nerd culture, the staff of Pixelitis has always strived to share the efforts of fans and people who dress up and enjoy their favorite fandoms. As such, we’ve taken steps to spotlight the hard work and dedication of cosplayers over the years.

But speaking for myself as an editor and photographer, it’s safe to say I’ve run into a few awkward conundrums involving cosplayers.

As the pool of gamers and people that participate in nerd culture grows by the day, there’s still a lot left to be said for respecting one’s space, especially as male or female cosplayers. Gender-bending cosplay is becoming more common, as I saw in NYCC last year. I value the expression put behind the amazing costumes, but just because the characters they portray are dressed a certain way does not make them targets for bigotry or sexism.

Since we’re here at PAX East, now might be a good time to discuss how we share our enthusiasm in a way that everyone can get behind.  (more…)

By Stephen Hilger, April 10, 2014 5 Features, Humor, Staff Musings

(Editor’s note: Following Tuesday’s major Super Smash Bros. reveal, our very own Stephen Hilger decided to channel Captain Falcon in what he believes would be the F-Zero superstar’s feelings on his glaring omission from the game’s roster. Think of this as a humorous editorial, rather than the ravings of a madman…)

To Whom It May Concern,

I debated for hours whether to address this letter to Nintendo, Namco Bandai, Sora Ltd, Masahiro Sakurai himself, the fans or my fellow smash bros, but since you’ve all stopped replying to my calls, tweets and Xanga messages, I thought I’d publish my thoughts for all to see.

Now reader, if you have the time, I’d love to show you my feelings

One question in particular bothers me:

WHY HAVE I NOT BEEN CONFIRMED FOR THE NEXT SUPER SMASH BROS?!

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By Stephen Hilger, April 7, 2014 0 Features, Postcard Review

(Editor’s note: In the Postcard Review, members of the Pixelitis staff write small, easily digestible reviews big enough to ‘fit on a postcard’ – hence the title. It can be about the whole experience or just a small piece of the pie. No scores needed.)

When Shadow of the Colossus first came out for the PlayStation 2, it was not immediately touted as the instant classic that it is today. It didn’t reach Citizen Kane levels of appreciation until at least a generation later.

But is Shadow of the Colossus one of the best games of all time?

While games like God of War revel in action and gratuitous satisfaction, Shadow of the Colossus is a very minimalist work despite its grandiose battles. There’s no urgency for the player to arrive at the next colossus fight, but exploring the world created by Fumito Ueda is an absorbing and rich experience. One might get frustrated at the game’s lack of direction, yet the game’s freedom makes all victories, failures, and discoveries feel organically unique to the player.

Really, I don’t need to sing the game’s praises past that. The graphics live up remarkably well, the soundtrack is captivating and the design of both the colossi and the Wanderer is top notch.

My only qualm with this game is the horse, Agro. I’ve mentioned how poorly this steed controls before, but I genuinely feel like Agro is the only thing wrong with this game. I do appreciate the realism the game tries to offer by causing the hero to often lose balance and struggle with his sword while on horseback, but there’s no reason Agro should control like unresponsive tar.

Otherwise, yea, the game’s a masterpiece.

By Pixelitis Staff, April 4, 2014 0 Features, Pixelitis Picks

The Year of Luigi may have sadly come and gone like dust in the wind, but that only means that there’s a ray of hope for a bright future for another hero in Nintendo’s roster.

Like many Nintendo fans, we at Pixelitis don’t think that Nintendo should stop at Luigi. Now that the underrated plumber got his shot at glory through releases like New Super Luigi U and Luigi’s Mansion: Dark Moon, it’s time to usher forth another Nintendo character that deserves his or her own chance at the spotlight.

But who should the year of 2014 belong to? Let’s get to picking.

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By Pixelitis Staff, April 1, 2014 0 Features, VGdrum

Barkley Gaiden co-creator Eric “CBoyardee” Schumaker called the title theme of The Chessmaster “the song that legitimized chess.” Laser Time Podcast referred to it as “the soundtrack to a vaudevillian ******ed character in a cartoon walking slowly down to the bus stop.” In other words, it’s the greatest videogame song of all time.

Join VGdrum The Chessmaster as he makes his triumphant return to YouTube with a videogame music drum cover of the bass-heavy title theme from The Chessmaster, one of the finest Super Nintendo tunes in existence.

The tune’s pacing is magnificent and its Seinfeld/Rugrats-inspired slap bass riff and soaring horn sections call to mind the uncertainty one may feel when playing an intense game of chess. Let your ears be pierced by the heavenly high-pitched keys.

Take a gander at The Chessmaster’s magnificence after the break, and be sure to shower him with your praise on YouTube and Facebook, lest he make an example of you, much like when he trumped Gary Kasparov and Deep Blue with nothing more than a row of pawns and a single bishop.

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By Stephen Hilger, March 31, 2014 0 Features, Postcard Review

 (Editor’s note: In the Postcard Review, members of the Pixelitis staff write small, easily digestible reviews big enough to ‘fit on a postcard’ – hence the title. It can be about the whole experience or just a small piece of the pie. No scores needed.)

Throughout Super Mario Bros.’ history, Nintendo has been constantly prodding at Luigi’s feelings of inadequacy. Finally, after a decade of being in Mario’s shadow, Nintendo threw Luigi a bone and gave him a starring role with GameCube launch title Luigi’s Mansion.

While this was certainly a nice gesture by Nintendo for the faded, lime-green plumber, Luigi now had the crushing responsibility of selling the GameCube. His game would ultimately get compared to Super Mario 64 and had the task of following the golden legacy of the Nintendo 64. No wonder he looks so scared on the box art.

Luigi’s Mansion was the first small disc I put into my GameCube, and while it didn’t set any legendary standards like Mario 64, it’s still a very fun game. I remember being blown away by the visuals. The mansion itself was full of wonderfully minute details. I remember spending hours vacuuming every nook and cranny to see what surprises were creeping up in the dust-filled corner.

The ghost-capturing concept was unique, and while the mansion was by no means scary, I was always on the edge of my seat. Though in retrospect, the giant baby ghost was kind of unsettling.

The game’s a bit too short, and I can’t fully recommend a game where the ‘A’ button simply lets you know how scared you are. But, if for some reason you missed this title and are brave enough to venture into the overlooked corners of the past, you might find some gold. Or dust.

By Pixelitis Staff, March 26, 2014 0 Features, Pixelitis Picks

Betrayal is painful. Everyone’s experienced it in some form throughout their lives, and it never ceases to be interesting as a plot device. Especially when you least expect it.

Some of us can still remember the first time we were backstabbed by a teammate who decided to uncheck their alliance with you during a match in StarCraft. That was the worst. But I digress, in this week’s Pixelitis Picks we are focusing on the game characters that we (and the in-game protagonists) were deceived by. 

These are our favorite “Et tu, Brute” moments in the games we’ve played, aka those times where we felt like we were being stabbed in the heart by the ones we thought we could trust.

The truth hurts sometimes.

Beware, heavy spoilers follow for Metal Gear Solid, Resident Evil, BioShock and Portal 2.

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By Patrick Kulikowski, March 25, 2014 10 Features, Staff Musings

(Editor’s Note: Patrick’s views are his own and do not reflect on Pixelitis as a whole, but we expect everyone to be kind and remember Wheaton’s Law. Also, this article contains heavy spoilers for Metal Gear Solid: Ground Zeroes and mentions of disturbing sexual violence.)

Leading up to the last week’s release of Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes, both Konami and series creator Hideo Kojima stressed that it would ruffle a few feathers with its grittier style of storytelling.

After playing through Ground Zeroes, it dawned on me that he really wasn’t kidding.

During a preview event for MGSV in Tokyo, Kojima said he was “already thinking about sensitive things” during the writing process for MGSV.

“If we don’t cross that line, if we don’t make attempts with what we want to express, if we don’t go beyond that, we won’t be able to achieve what movies or novels have achieved,” Kojima said. “It’s trying to go beyond what the original media was supposed to be. If we don’t go this far, games will never be considered as culture.”

And the nine-minute long E3 2013 trailer for The Phantom Pain gave us a glimpse into the controversial themes that we can expect: child soldiers, torture and ruthless executions.

While the release of MGSV’s prologue has given us an early glimpse into how dark the series can get, it was one moment of jaw-dropping, sexual violence that personally left me with chills as the credits rolled. (more…)

By Stephen Hilger, March 24, 2014 0 Features, Postcard Review

(Editor’s note: In the Postcard Review, members of the Pixelitis staff write small, easily digestible reviews big enough to ‘fit on a postcard’ – hence the title. It can be about the whole experience or just a small piece of the pie. No scores needed.)

Fighting games seem to draw a very polarized audience.

On one side of the spectrum, you have the competitive players who will spend days studying combos and placing characters into competitive tiers. And then you have the people that simply treat the controller’s buttons like a game of Whack-a-Mole, waiting to see what their character does as a result of their random button-mashing.

Oddly enough, Soul Calibur II rewards both styles of play.

Nowadays, I feel that some fighters are purposely hard to pick up and play in order to wane off button mashers. Randomly mashing attacks will get you virtually nowhere in a game like Street Fighter IV or Marvel vs. Capcom 3.

With Soul Calibur II, the game certainly plays better if you know what you are doing but the fighting commands are simple enough (horizontal slash, vertical slash, kick) that anyone can learn how to play properly simply through his or her own intuition.

More importantly, while I greatly enjoy the first and third Soul Calibur, the second installment is the definitive experience. Launching on all three systems (Gamecube, Xbox and PlayStation 2) was a great idea that was only further reaped by the guest character unique to each system.

While I could think of better candidates for Microsoft and Sony than Heihachi and Spawn, a game that lets you play as Link is doing something right.

By Maxwell Coviello, March 19, 2014 0 Features, Opinion, Staff Musings

Call the RPG genre what you will, but one can’t deny its penchant for playing with formulas and conventions.

RPGs, whether from the east or west, are all about what I like to call the three “E’s:” experimentation, exploration, and evolution. Some ideas tank, others often get stale and many succeed and take the genre in new directions.

While western RPGs have always felt mutable, not usually preoccupied with a linear world or “set” narrative, JRPGs are usually centered around story and character templates. Sadly these epic stories can get bogged down by two foibles: being “safe” in which we witness the sophomoric, trope-fiestas we’ve seen and played time and time again, and a failure to interweave an interesting story with player decisions.

Just because you have a nifty story doesn’t mean it must remain static and have no bearing on your choices and method of playing the campaign. We’ve already seen RPGs toy with the idea of having multiple endings based on character decisions and completion goals, but this is an idea that can go much further. There is so much room for experimentation between getting your protagonists from Point A to Point B.

Here are five ideas I’m throwing out at the internet on what JRPGs can do to make their beginning, middle and end all the more intriguing.

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