The Death of the Console

Call me old-fashioned, but I don’t see the death of the console as a realistic thing in the same way that I don’t see real handheld gaming dying.

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The New Tobacco: Video Games

It’s old and somewhat insignificant news, but Frank Wolf (VA) and Joe Baca (CA) of the US House of Representatives want to force all games not rated for Early Childhood to carry a “health warning label”, similar to cigarettes, that would read:

 “WARNING: Exposure to violent video games has been linked to aggressive behavior” Read the rest of this entry »


Google “The Pletteau”

One of the great perks to having any kind of website is being privy to the search terms people use to find you. They can give you a good idea of what posts are read often (Goon and Skyrim both being two popular terms here at The Pletteau) and what posts never are. They are also chock full of lawlz. For your benefit I have compiled the best here so that we may lawl together:

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Video Game Roundup

As I’m currently awaiting knee surgery, I have a lot of time to play video games. Here’s a sampling of the ones I’ve been playing over the last little bit, complete with a brief review.

Minecraft

Latest project.

I have put hundreds of hours into this game over the last year or so. The first time I played it was at the insistence of a friend; we had been drinking and I bought and downloaded it after we split at like 3:00AM. I could not for the life of me figure it out so I gave up and went to bed.

The next day I tried again. I punched down a tree. I built a house. And then it spiraled out of control. Right now I’m working on a super-fortress and adjoining city. Not only do I have lots of free time, but Minecraft has evidently made me insane.

If, somehow, you have not heard of Minecraft, check out the website. I don’t know if one can even review a game like Minecraft, but suffice it to say it is amazing. Basically, you mine things — like trees, or dirt, or rocks, or iron, or whatever. Some of these things you can turn into other things — you could make an iron pickaxe out of your iron, for example, and mine faster. Other blocks you can just straight up place — you can mine cobblestone and place it to make a tower, for example. There are incredibly few limits to what you can do — using things like redstone and pistons, you could even make simple machines (people having even created in-game calculators and the like). Notch recently endorsed pirating the game if you can’t afford it, so if money is an issue, do that.

Dungeons of Dredmor: Realm of the Diggle Gods

Werediggles of London!

Dungeons of Dredmor is probably my game of the year for 2011. It is incredible. Gaslamp Games, this tiny company, managed to create an amazing game that, while simplistic, manages to remain endearing.  I wrote a bit more of a comprehensive review awhile back and stand by what I said there. It is an excellent game, but it is ruthless. Honestly, the deepest I’ve made it without dying is level 4. The expansion pack adds fifteen levels and, to be honest, I don’t know how many levels there are in the core game. All I know is that even though I keep on dying, I need to keep on re-rolling and keep on playing.

Realm of the Diggle Gods, the expansion pack, adds several floors and some great skills, including the hilarious Emomancy, the awesome Big Game Hunter, and the seemingly overpowered Werediggle. The first grants you magic abilities or whatever and stuff, the second makes you a lethal killing machine (particularly against the “Animal” subclass), and the last lets you turn into a diggle, which is hilarious and fairly powerful. The guys seem to have redone a lot of the monsters and taunts, added features like portals that teleport you to alternate dimensions and levers that port you around the dungeon, added a ton of extra skills to the core-game skill trees, added a ton of new weapons, fixed a bunch of bugs, and made the game a lot, lot more fun — and that’s a feat, because, it is still one of the most entertaining games I’ve ever played. If you haven’t bought it yet, you can pick it and the expansion pack up at Steam for the low low price of $7.49 USD. It’s definitely worth it.

Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater

...someday you'll feed on a tree frog...

I cleared through MGS2 a few times and have turned my full attention to MGS3. I beat MGS3:SE several times on PS2, beat MGS3: Subsistence a few more times, and am working on it again, especially now that trophies are up for grabs. If for some reason you haven’t bought the HD collection and have never played either MGS2, MGS3, or MGS: Peace Walker, you should probably stop wasting your time and pick it up.

The HD edition of MGS3 looks quite a bit better than the SD version, and runs better, too. The addition of trophies is something I like: something that bugged me about MGS2 and 3 was that there were “challenges” that the game never really issued but that online communities were partaking in. And unless you belonged to these groups, you may have not known about them. You’d have to read strategy guides and message boards to even figure it out. Trophies/achievements are great because they do help give you a focus, something to strive for, and a way to prove you achieved what you did. As it stands, I’m working on the Peace Walker trophy (no-kills), the Markhor trophy (capturing every food item), and the Kerotan trophy, which requires a certain level of OCD that I am quickly approaching.

Final Fantasy VIII

I can't trust anybody, people will just abandon me, blah blah blah wah wah wah

There’s something about the Final Fantasy games VI-IX that makes them stand out. They each have their flaws, I think, but they’re all very entertaining. I’m working on playing through VIII — while I can’t stand the Squall/Rinoa romance because I’m not 16, it is nonetheless an excellent game. That’s all I’ll say, there.

Serious Sam

Why yes, I am firing several guns at once.

Transylvanilla alerted me to Indie Royale’s Serious Sam package yesterday. It’s still on. For several dollars ($4,46 USD as I write) you get Serious Sam: The Random Encounter, Serious Sam: Double D, Serious Sam: Kamikaze Attack, and Serious Sam: The First and Second Encounter. Serious Sam is an old staple of the shooter world, almost, but not quite, as legendary as Duke Nukem. SS features the same over-the-top, self-aware, corniness. They’re games meant to be fun more than anything else. There isn’t a real story at stake, and there is no characters trying for emotional attachment or growth or anything like that. They’re games about killing baddies — old school kinda stuff, in the vein of Eat Lead: The Return of Matt Hazard, which itself was a spoof of action video games… but Serious Sam does it much better (though Matt Hazard has one of the best trailers ever). It’s self-referential and self-aware, and well, just a cool video game — all of them. I’d recommend picking up the Indie Royal deal while it’s still up.

And rewatching the Matt Hazard trailers, I’d recommend getting that too. It’s fun.

Metal Gear Solid 4

This image says 1,027 words. More if you count contractions as two words. And count the bottom caption.

This is embarrassing. I only got a PS3 last September so maybe I deserve a bye on this, but I’ve only just beat MGS4. I hit a bit of a wall where I didn’t really want to play and took months off, but got back on and beat it. It starts off slow but right after the wall I hit, it absolutely picks up and becomes one of the greatest games ever and includes at least two of my favourite boss fights of all time.

Well played, Hideo. Well played.


You Probably Aren’t Special

You aren't special.

Since childhood, my generation has been told how special we are. How we all have unique talents and that we’re all perfect in our own way. Sarah calls it the “special little snowflake” methodology, or something like that. This, we’ve both concluded, is part of why so many of my generation — and a few of the preceding ones — feel so entitled.  Kids — and adults — these days are under the impression that there are things in life they deserve, like brand new iPhones or eating out every night or the newest video game or whatever. They rack up tens of thousands of dollars in credit card debt, and shrug. They pay the interest and by the next shiny gadget, sinking further in debt. I know too many of my friends who have terrible credit card problems. And it’s awfully sickening that one of the worst things to plague North American society is spending too much money.

The fact is, though, that very few people are special. An insignificant proportion of the population is genuinely good at something. Most people, I think, are competent enough at their jobs, whether it’s in middle management or at the drive-thru window. Some people are slightly talented and go further; they might be management (again), or they might be musicians, comedians, performers, whatever. The problem is that, from a young age, we’re told we can achieve anything. And sure, you can, if you have enough money, inclination, time, interest, and talent, but very few people have it. The fact is that the majority of people on this planet will achieve next-to-nothing in their lifetimes: they’ll live, they’ll have some snot-nosed brats, and they’ll die. That’s that.

All this, I guess, is what pisses me off the most about the Lana Del Rey / Whitney Cummings saga that’s been playing out. For those of you who don’t watch SNL (let’s face it: most people), Lana Del Rey bombed. If you haven’t heard of her, she is a hipster from New York who put a few songs on Youtube that tons of people liked — I’ll admit that, while I don’t like the songs myself, she clearly has some talent (even if that talent is warbling mournfully into a microphone, out-of-rhythm about hipsterystuff).

When I say she bombed, I mean she bombed hard. The interwebs were aflame with hatred about her and her performance. Many people then felt she was being let off too easy. The consensus was that certain media sites were giving her a bit of a pass because, let’s face it, she’s new and young. Well, this continued for awhile; Brian Williams of NBC went as far as to send an e-mail to his buddies at Gawker, who then promptly published the thing (which resulted in a hilarious, mini-scandal which basically involved Williams swinging his dick around). He called it — as many others have — “one of the worst outings in SNL history”. Here’s the clip: be warned, it really is bad.

Shortly thereafter though, out of nowhere, like a superhero, in swung noted comedian superstar Whitney Cummings. Cummings, for those of you who don’t know, is the extremely talented star of the NBC show Whitney (Whitney you may remember became the whipping-boy after the non-cancellation of Community). She, like the hero that she is, wrote a blog post about how the internet community was ruining this young woman, how we were taking out our anger and aggression on someone who didn’t deserve it, and essentially how ladies can’t get ahead with men criticizing them.

LOL!!!!!! THEY REALLY DID!!!!!!!!!!!!11111111111

Now, I’ll be honest: half of what I just wrote is a complete lie. Whitney Cummings is single-handedly one of the least funny human beings current alive to have lived. She is Godawful. Her jokes consist of either banal observations, her claiming what a nerd she is, or gross-out humour. It’s just not that funny. Maybe she’s funny, I guess, if you’re ten or your favourite show is The Big Bang Theory, but I’m not. Anyway, Cummings big thing seems to be, performing is hard work ok guys!?

I have many random thoughts. First, everybody calm down. It’s a little troubling that when a young girl fails at something that we keep kicking her why she is down. I get very protective of girls, especially young performers, because they live a hard, emotionally challenging, often physically challenging life where you are constantly given reasons to be insecure and have panic attacks. I totally get the stuff about her not deserving to be there and I don’t mean to insult musicians in any way if that’s how they feel obviously, but this is an opportunity to show us how hard being a performer is so maybe they can all be cut some slack. Flack?  I think we take our performers for granted. It’s super fucking hard to entertain people and it takes a lot of work.

I can’t really judge her performance. I am not qualified to do that since I’m very forgiving of performers because performing is FUCKING HARD. It takes a long time to get good, and even when you are good, you can be challenged by new venues and being televised, and cameras, and the uh…fear and terror of being slammed by critics and bloggers, plus if you are a woman you also get fashion criticism and if you’re a pretty woman you’re accused of having plastic surgery and if you’re not you’re “busted” and people blog about how they don’t want to fuck you…it’s not ideal. On top of that you have to deal with the self-hate and self-criticism that most performers and artists have.  So even when things go great for artists and performers, it’s still hard. So when it goes bad, it’s just the worst vortex of misery. If she fell on her face, she was there, she felt it, and her having lived it is punishment enough. We don’t need to keep bashing her unless it makes us feel better about ourselves which….isn’t an ideal reason to hate someone.

I don’t think it’s entirely necessary to point out the irony in Cummings talks about being “good” at performing when she is clearly not, so I really won’t. What I will do, though, is point out this: when you perform, whether it’s in front of five people or five million, you are setting yourself up to be judged. Being judged is one of the only reasons to perform. If you enjoy performing but aren’t good at it, you shouldn’t be performing. It’s like the opening episodes of American Idol: those shitty performers are on there purely for our amusement. They just aren’t good. They like performing, but that’s not enough. But I’ve yet to see someone, earnestly, come to the defense of those clowns with a good reason beyond Cummings’s claim of “performing is hard”. There are lots of things that are hard, and when you fuck up, you fuck up. That’s it. Trying isn’t always is never good enough. It’s like when Luke is bitching during The Empire Strikes Back to Yoda about how tough life is: do or do not, there is no try.

But what aggravates me the most about her entire post begins in the first paragraph: Cummings’s defense of her because she’s a young woman. First of all, she’s like what, twenty-five? That’s hardly young. In fact, it isn’t. Secondly, Cummings’s patronizing defense of Del Rey because of her gender (and their shared gender, obviously), makes me choke. Is Cummings saying we should give Del Rey a break because she is a lady? Really? I get that the performing industry still remains a bit of an old boy’s club (hell, most of the world is), but come on — let’s be real and drop the bullshit sexism.

I am intrigued by Lana Del Rey. She seems very odd and self-made and scrappy which I like. Her style is bonkers. She always looks so fresh and original. I think she’s from either Brooklyn or the future. Her stylist must be Baz Luhrmann. Her nails are fresh for life. Zoe Lister Jones showed me the video games video a long time ago and we were very smitten with her face and mystery and the cool video for it and legitimately good lyrics and song.  We were for sure annoyed by how pretty she was but we checked that nasty competitive shit right away because the song was cool. She earned for us to not objectify her and get petty. Because something about this girl brings out the petty in us. Her quick rise? Her pretty face? Something is pissing people off about this girl and I just think it’s an opportunity for us to learn from ourselves and grow. (LOOK AT HOW MUCH OF AN ADULT I AM NOW!)

I just watched the SNL performance and I think her rhythms are weird an odd and bizarre. She seemed nervous obviously. She moves in a very drunk-at-a-wedding-and-gonna-regret-it-in-the-morning-type way which is all I really need to be entertained. I’m not saying support bad music or that she deserved to be there or anything-not my call-I’m just saying lets make the punishment at least fit the crime. Let’s not blame her, let’s blame her managers for not making her wait until they knew she would not get nervous or kick it out of the park or not do whatever happened.

I’ll just offer a cursory glance at this crap above me here: I don’t find Del Rey particularly attractive or interesting, so whatever. I don’t think I am — or that most other people are, for that matter — hating on Del Rey because she’s pretty. I think it’s slightly ridiculous to claim that pretty girls have trouble getting ahead, and that’s what Cummings is suggesting.

The second paragraph is hilarious, because Cummings is saying we should take it easy on Del Rey because she’s a pretty young girl, but we should grill the shit out of her manager for booking the performance. First of all, if you’re a rising young star and SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE phones your manager and says, “hey, we have an open spot, does Lana want to perform?”, what is the manager going to say? “No, call back in like a few years when she’s a bit better, ok?”. No, of course not, don’t be a moron.

But it’s this attitude — Cummings’s attitude — of passing the buck and blaming other people for our own fuck-ups which is bugging me. My generation is an entitled bunch of sissies who don’t like working hard and love passing the blame, and Cummings’s post typifies that. Everyone acts like they deserve something, like the world itself owes them something.

Here’s the rub: no one deserves anything. No one pops out of the womb deserving this or that. You need to earn your way in the world: when someone hands you the gig of a lifetime and you fuck it up, you fuck it up, that’s it. Accept it and move on, that’s all you can do. Maybe things will work out, maybe they won’t, whatever. The fact is that very few people on this planet are special, very few are unique, very few are special little snowflakes.

Coddling kids (and performers, by the looks of it) by telling them they can achieve anything is a bold(/bald)-faced lie and, in the long run, doesn’t do much.


Metal Gear Solid Rising: Revengence: This Time It’s Personal: Part One

Well, Hideo Kojima’s secret was let out of the bag before the Spike TV VGA: Metal Gear Solid Rising is to be developed by Platinum Games (the Japanese developer responsible for Bayonetta) and not Kojima Productions nor Konami. The project, which has already seen two different lead producers (and not Kojima himself), may also get a new subtitle: Revengence (which may or may not have something to do with revenge). Whether or not it will be Metal Gear Solid Rising: Revengence or It will be called Metal Gear Rising: Revengence, and we can all assume with some certainty that revengence will be had.

Kojima previously assured fans that it would be a slightly faster paced game than the MGS series known for its “Tactical Espionage Action”, but by the looks of the new trailer (not yet online), things are set to speed up quite a bit.

Read more here.