Category:  Staff Musings

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 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 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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By Stephen Hilger, March 18, 2014 0 Features, Opinion, Retro, Staff Musings

For all intents and purposes, a story’s protagonist is one of the most important pieces of the narrative puzzle. In games, that distinction carries even more weight, as everything the hero experiences, so does the player – what they see, hear, feel and do.

In the time spent playing, the player is the hero.

Over the years, playable characters have evolved from dots on the screen to the three dimensional characters we now know and love. But what makes us love them? What invests us in their desires and makes us want to guide them there with our controllers?

Ultimately, the necessary qualities that make a successful hero depend largely on the game, and even then, taste in character is subjective. While Mario is the perfect candidate for his happy platforming games, some people might opt for Leon Kennedy as their knight in shining, horror-filled pleather.

That being said, there are traits that make a bad hero; not in the sense of their morality, but in their ineffectiveness.

For example, I’ve recently been playing a hefty amount of Square Enix’s Bravely Default, and for a game developed by a company known for compelling stories and gripping characters, I’ve been taken aback at how bland some of the heroes are.

Considering that particular Japanese role-playing game is more than 60 hours long, characters are very important. I don’t want to ride an airship with just anybody.

Rather than simply dispensing rage, it’s probably a good time to take a step back and attempt to objectively analyze what makes a good hero and what exactly about some of the cast of Bravely Default doesn’t stack up.

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By Maxwell Coviello, March 5, 2014 0 Features, Staff Musings

I had several nits to pick when it came to the relationship between Rinoa and Squall in Final Fantasy VIII, otherwise known as the Twilight of Final Fantasy romances.

For all the problems with FFVIII’s coupling, however, Final Fantasy as a whole is a series known for some of gaming’s most beautiful and memorable romances.

Even during its humble beginnings, Final Fantasy has relied on its character development to help drive the story. There’s something about exploring the themes of love in a fantastical setting that helps make characters feel so much more grounded in reality. Here are a few examples of Final Fantasy romances that actually worked.

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By Patrick Kulikowski, February 26, 2014 0 Features, Staff Musings

Square Enix’s choice of platform for the newly-announced Rise of Mana should honestly not come as any surprise to the series’ fans. Nevertheless, I can imagine Mana fans are ready to cast Level 8 Gem Missile on this game.

Reading through comments on Kotaku, I’ve already picked up on irritated responses to the new game, including “Square Enix just refuses to act right where this series is concerned…” and “Saw the title and knew with 100% certainty this would be the standard pay to win bullshit.”

But should we be so quick to cast judgement on a game that was just announced? Despite my own misgivings about JRPG series going the way of mobile platforms and the whole free-to-play, micro-transaction-laden model that Japanese game publishers are wiggling their way into, there are some details from Rise of Mana’s debut trailer that left me feeling – dare I say it – cautiously optimistic.

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By Maxwell Coviello, February 14, 2014 1 Features, Staff Musings

I’m about to become very unpopular with fans of Final Fantasy VIII.

Now, I actually like Final Fantasy VIII. I think it took risks on its leveling and stats systems; risks that paid off. And for the most part, its story is fairly inventive and unique: a futuristic spin on Harry Potter that follows a group of gifted youths in a mercenary academy trying to fight off the threat of an evil sorceress.

But the game’s biggest claim to fame is with its increased focus on romance. The key players in this romance are Squall, a withdrawn swordsman with a chip on his shoulder, and Rinoa, a spirited young woman at the forefront of a rebellion. Over the course of the game, Squall and Rinoa fight alongside each other, surmounting obstacles both human and supernatural, and then end up falling in love.

I’m about to show you why their love story was total bullshit.

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By Patrick Kulikowski, February 7, 2014 1 Features, Staff Musings

A bombshell of a news story came out of this week that undoubtedly surprised fans of Resident Evil and Onimusha alike. One of the series’ composers, Mamoru Samuragoch, didn’t actually write any of the music.

Samuragoch (birthname Samuragochi), who was originally thought to have composed the soundtracks to both 1998′s Resident Evil: Director’s Cut DualShock Ver. for PlayStation and 2001′s Onimusha: Warlords for PlayStation 2 and Xbox, has recently admitted through a spokesperson that he had actually hired a ghostwriter to do his work for more than 15 years. The composer has been hailed as “Japan’s Beethoven” by Time Magazine back in 2001 for his purported hearing loss in the late 90s.

The story gets even juicier when the ghostwriter, revealed to be Takashi Niigaki, publicly questioned Samuragoch’s supposed deafness.

It’s important to note that some online publications are erroneously reporting that Samuragoch had hired Niigaki to compose Resident Evil: Director’s Cut. In actuality, it was the 1998 DualShock version of the Director’s Cut, which features a vastly different soundtrack from the original 1996 release of Resident Evil and its subsequent 1997 Director’s Cut.

Allow me to show you just how different it is.

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By Stephen Hilger, February 4, 2014 1 Features, Staff Musings

The official Super Smash Bros. website confirmed last week that Lucario shall be returning for the fight, for better or for worse.

Lucario first appeared in Super Smash Bros. Brawl and essentially replaced Mewtwo in terms of style and aesthetic. I was surprised to see that Lucario was confirmed this time around; I figured they would replace him with an equally stoic/quasi-psychic Pokémon from the latest generation. That being said, Lucario does play a small role in X and Y and is one of the lucky few who can mega evolve. I imagine Mega Lucario will be his final smash transformation.

While I have no strong feelings on Lucario’s confirmation, I’ve begun to have some qualms about how the Super Smash Bros. updates are being handled.

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