Category:  Features

By Stephen Hilger, May 12, 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.)

Final Fantasy fans may be known to bicker over which game in the series is the best, but only one entry was so universally divisive as Final Fantasy VIII.

Cloud and friends may have tossed established Final Fantasy tropes, but Squall and Rinoa stomped all over them. Other than some recurring summons and enemies, there’s almost nothing Final Fantasy about this game other than its title.

Which isn’t necessarily a bad thing. I respect the game for departing from past entries. It’s just a shame the territory it plunged itself into wasn’t all that compelling.

The characters are weak, the story is a mess, and the combat system (while unique) is a bad mix of overly complicated and easy to abuse. Turning enemies into magical cards shouldn’t be the most effective way to level up.

For me, it’s really the cast that prevents me from loving this game. Even as a kid, I remember being disappointed that all the characters were humans from the same background. Almost every other Final Fantasy game has a rich and diverse cast of characters that make the fictional world seem bigger and more interesting. FF8 is stuck in its own bubble of teen angst and amnesia.

But at the end of the day, it’s still fun to play. The soundtrack is great, some plot points are interesting and the card game Triple Triad is disturbingly fun.

Also, I may be alone on this, but I love Zell. He’s the one character I rooted for. He’s cocky for no reason, which makes him all the more lovable.

Thanks for doing your job, Zell. You’re not a chicken-wuss.

By Brendon Bigley, May 10, 2014 0 Features, Super Brunch Force

UPDATE: The live show is now over, but you can still watch the recording below!

Have you ever woken up after a long Friday night and just want to have a rousing round table discussion about the goings on in the gaming industry?

In a half hour, Pixelitis contributors Mercer Smith-Looper and Brendon Bigley will be meeting up via Google Hangout to kick off a brand new video feature that we like to call Super Brunch Force.

SBF is a live, almost talk show-esque show that focuses on the previous week in gaming news and releases with the aid of caffeine and pastries.

This week, our two hosts will be phoning in to chat about the newly announced Pokemon Ruby and Sapphire remakes along with the open beta for the upcoming MMO Wildstar.

Tune in right here at 10:30 a.m. EST, and join the conversation by tweeting at either of them.

@mercenator / @brendonbigley

By Patrick Kulikowski, May 9, 2014 0 Features, Super Awesome Game Time

With news of a successor to 2003 PlayStation 2 rhythm darling Amplitude being kickstarted by Harmonix this week (as discussed in the Pixelitis podcast), we thought it was time to revisit the classic.

Join me, Patrick Kulikowski, as I set out to discover just how rusty I’ve gotten at the game, and whether I can stop myself from belting “BASELINE, BASELINE” over and over during that ridiculous Quarashi song.

Livestreaming will begin on the official Pixelitis Twitch page today, May 10, at approximately 8:00 pm EST and will go on for roughly two hours. We’ll have fools on the case and they might be giving me a baseline.

By Pixelitis Staff, May 7, 2014 0 Features, Pixelitis Picks

Like humans, every video game deserves to be loved.

Whether it’s the silliest JRPG or the bloodiest FPS, there will always be a person that loves playing it—even if nobody else does. Have you ever sat on the bus with your handheld gaming device and experienced someone looking over your shoulder, querulous about what exactly you are playing on there? How about having friends over and they notice that one lone PS game that you could have sworn you’d put away? Yeah, us too.

Here is a list of games that we feel fall into that category, and at this point we don’t care who knows about it.

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By Pixelitis Staff, May 7, 2014 3 Features, Staff Musings

After the much discussed Atari E.T. landfill dig proved a long debated urban legend to be true, we found ourselves wondering one thing:

Was E.T. really that bad?

Our own Stephen Hilger and Brendon Bigley decided to play the game and record their experience in an attempt to determine what ultimately caused it to become one of the history’s most maligned games and set off a major industry meltdown in the ’80s.

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By Mercer Smith-Looper, May 5, 2014 0 Features, Staff Musings

Celebrating nerd culture should be easy to do. Whether you’re a product of ’80s Saturday morning cartoons or a neophyte of console gaming, we’ve all had our own obsessions. That being said, some instead seem to forget that fact and opt to ostracize others for a laugh and a buck.

For those unaware, gatekeeping is the idea that anyone considered to be “other” or different from the overall group should be silenced. This is most commonly used in fandoms and gaming as a term to describe restricting someone’s access to a community based on whether they fit the “expected” image or persona.

A recent example of this is the controversy surrounding the “I like my fangirls like I like my coffee. I hate coffee” t-shirt produced by Tankhead Custom Tees for WonderCon a few weekends ago.

The company made a public statement on Facebook discussing the fanboy variant of this t-shirt, which seeks to perpetuate the issue. Not only is this behavior outdated, but also inexcusable.

‘’The fangirl/fanboy shirts can best be explained like this: fangirls/boys =/= fans. Fans are people who like and genuinely respect a fandom, and it’s creators. Fangirls/boys are like those creepy fedora wearing neckbearded bronies, or hetalia fanfiction shippers, who make us all collectively cringe in pain at what they do to the things we love.

No one should ever defend these kinds of people. Seriously, they make the rest of us look bad.’’

They make the rest of us look bad?! While the original t-shirt dealt primarily with the idea of females, it seems that the issue actually stretches much further.

Not only does this alienate the women and “fangirls” of the world, but also the populace of other lesser known or accepted subcultures.

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By Terry Torres, May 5, 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.)

Wild Arms 4 is the quintessential coming-of-age road trip JRPG.

Every Wild Arms takes place in a world called Filgaia. It was beautiful once, but it’s since become an awful wasteland, marred by war and calamity. It’s a setting fit for an ideological battle between the adults who seek to restore the earth they’ve ruined and the children who would inherit it.

On one hand are the playable characters, the teenagers on the run, each at a different stage of adolescence, stricken with naivety, insecurity, apathy, and fear. On the other hand are their antagonists, the government’s FOXHOUND-esque special forces, each defined by the pride and neuroses they’d earned in the great war.

In their encounters, questions about war necessarily become questions about age. What does one generation owe to another? Does the wisdom of age clarify or obfuscate? Is it for the young to carry on, or start anew?

WA4‘s linear model results in a constant and driving progression, every dungeon excellently paced. Skillsets and plot revelations come so quickly and coalesce so harmoniously that every character grows as naturally as the player’s understanding of the game’s systems.

Despite its melodrama, WA4′s conclusion makes it one of the most achingly realistic and sobering allegories of what it is to grow up.

In the end, growing old doesn’t automatically make you an adult. It just makes you old.

By Stephen Hilger, May 3, 2014 2 Features, Opinion, Staff Musings

(Editor’s note: There are going to be spoilers for Telltale Games’ The Walking Dead. Don’t say we didn’t warn you.)

The practice of creating an effective horror protagonist in games seems like it would be a hard one to balance.

If they’re too capable, all semblances of tension and fear go out the window. Make a character too helpless, however, and you run into a situation where it’s often hard to have fun playing as them.

That’s why in the second season of Telltale Games’ critically acclaimed The Walking Dead series, Clementine strikes a chord for so many people. She’s an 11 year-old girl trying to survive in a zombie-filled world. Thanks to her small frame, she can only do so much about any potential threat, but she’s nimble, quick and can handle a gun when needed thanks to Lee’s training in the first season.

It’s those facts, coupled with her constant teetering between life and death, that make her one of my favorite horror protagonists in games.

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By Patrick Kulikowski, May 2, 2014 0 Features, Super Awesome Game Time

If you’re like me and have nothing to do on a Friday night, then I highly suggest you head on over to our Twitch page tonight for a throwback livestream.

I’ll be livestreaming Rhapsody: A Musical Adventure, a quaint, melodious 2000 tactical JRPG for the original PlayStation. The game was published by Atlus USA and developed by Nippon Ichi Software, who you’ll know as the creators of Disgaea.

From what I’ve researched about it, it’s apparently got musical numbers, simple tactical, turn-based combat and an abundantly cutesy storyline.

I’ll be going into this one relatively blind, having only watched a video review of this game from the old days of X-Play. It should be fun, even if I’m not that big on musicals.

Tune in at 7:30 pm EST on our Twitch page. Who knows, maybe I’ll be feeling generous and give out a random, free PSone Classics (North American) download code.

By Brendon Bigley, May 2, 2014 0 Features, Initial Pixel

The best thing about From Software’s Dark Souls franchise is its willingness to let you know how terrible you are.

Yet despite this, fans of the series sprint headlong into the abyss, unfazed by death after death, hoping to create a memorable experience for themselves in the process.

In this introductory episode of Initial Pixel, Brendon Bigley seeks answers within the digital confines of Dark Souls II. What does mortality mean to the undead? If death is inevitable, what is the point of carrying on? Can dead people climb ladders?

Hit the video after the jump to join him on this existential and masochistic journey.

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