Friday, June 13, 2008

Friday Celebration #9

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Live from Times Square

1:00pm I show up at Virgin Records in Times Square. Kojima begins signing in 11 hours. Unfortunately, about 100 people decided to get here earlier.

1:30pm I am, in fact #119. The guys on my left and right are from Jersey. But I don't hold that against them.

2:00pm Cheap Chinese food is being fetched. I'm so hungry! Sweet and sour chicken is just what I need.

2:30pm About 15 people have asked me what the line is for. I'm always the one people come to for help, directions, and clarification. I must have a target on my forehead. Or maybe I'm just un-intimidating.

3:00pm We're passing the time watching episodes of Naruto. This is a new thing for me, but I'm giving it a try for the sake of a fanboy friend.

3:30pm Still watching Naruto. Some of the Jersey guys are hilariously insulting XBox and its lack of diverse titles. "It's all FPSs." Oh good grief. This is why Sony is going to win. Blind, undeserved devotion.

4:00pm A guy went by pulling a palette of boxes (or something) and actually broke two huge pieces off. And left them on the sidewalk. With huge nails sticking out. I miss this city.

4:30pm My pretty white MacBook is getting gradually coated in NYC street dust. Battle scars.

5:00pm Naruto is putting me to sleep. It's a great show, but I'm tired! Time to wake up with some web surfing or something.

5:30pm Woman #36ish just asked what we're waiting for. The guys next to me answered very politely and with tons of enthusiasm. Her response: "It's a guy thing." Sure warms a girl's heart!

6:00pm The guys in front of us were kind enough to shift up a bit so that we could avoid the raw chicken meltdown happening at our spot. Apparently, someone delivered some bad chicken.

6:30pm Indulging one of my fast food weaknesses: McDonald's Oreo McFlurries.

7:00pm Metal Gear fan alert #1: someone has inflated a condom in the hopes of starting a balloon pass down the line. The pass didn't last long, but someone used a sharpie to adorn the condom balloon with a pretty amazing sketch of Snake. Now they're gathering autographs from folks in line. That'll make for a strange keepsake of the day.

7:30pm Metal Gear fan alert #2: hilarious. A guy in a cardboard box.

8:00pm Back to more Naruto. I can see why people like this show. It's neat that they make you care about nearly everyone except Naruto, who is pretty annoying.

8:30pm Metal Gear fan alert #3: a guy wearing a large boa is walking up and down the line. Unsurprising if this were a guy in a feather boa. Maybe less surprising that it's a man with a snake around his neck?

9:00pm I'm walking the line myself now... just to stretch my legs. Spirits seems to be pretty high, maybe because the hour is finally getting nearer. The front of the line seems to have gotten a little bloated. I hope we don't have too many people jumping in front of us.

May as well watch more Naruto to pass the time.

A huge cheer went up as a towncar with darkened windows went by with police escort. One guy swears he saw Kojima inside. It's probably just a random NYC VIP, but it's good to have things like this to raise everyone's energy and everyone's spirits.

10:30pm Metal Gear fan alert #4: Our first full-fledged cos-player is making the rounds up and down the line. He's done up in 100% camo, face paint, and gear. (Well, no firearm that I can see, but still a good effort.)

11:00pm The troops are getting restless. I started as #119 and now appear to be around #200. Some people in front of me are causing trouble with some suspected line-cutters. There will be chaos if some of the people who have been here all afternoon don't get a signed copy.

11:30pm There's some anxiety in the crowd about getting in, but I think everyone will be fine. They've promised 300 signed copies and there's no way there could be 300 people in front of me.

12:00am They've started to let the first group in!! They seem to be pretty organized (suddenly) and I feel solid about my chances of getting in and meeting the man! There's tons of cheering and yelling and excitement!!

12:30am We're inside and the line is still pretty substantial. They have the MGS4 trailer playing on one TV every two feet. Kojima is sitting at a table on a raised platform. I've bought my copy of the game and just had my picture taken with the voice actor who plays Otacon! Also had him sign the game. What a nice guy. I got the impression that he's just here because he lives in NY and is taking in the big event. Really nice guy.

1:00am I've got the goods! Signed by the American voice actor for Otacon, the Japanese voice actress for Raging Raven, and Mr. Hideo Kojima himself. I'm no Sony fangirl, but I'm utterly in awe of this man's accomplishments. Definitely worth the wait.

1:30am Saying goodbye to new friends. Michael bought the limited edition MGS PS3 (his second PS3) and has all three autographs on the console itself. Unbelievable. He's like a celebrity now, with people in line taking pictures of his console. My silly autographed game seems like a cheap trinket in comparison. But I'm still a happy gamer.

Friday, June 06, 2008

Friday Celebration #8

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Welcome to the Criticism Industry

My first review is up over at Game Positive. I have to tell you that I'm very proud to be a part of the site. I think they do an excellent job generating quality content.

When I played Penny Arcade Adventures, I was taken aback by the incredibly high quality of art that this game represents. And I'm not talking about "ooh these environments are pretty," I'm talking about the artform that is game design—the feat that is creating a seamless, compelling, and elegant game experience.

I can tell you right now who will not enjoy this game: people who are offended by vulgarity, people who expect engrossing adventure puzzles, and people who want high action. But what happens when someone creates a game that doesn't mesh with your taste, despite achieving its goals with perfect execution? The problem with the Penny Arcade game is that hard core gamers are disappointed by the simplicity of the gameplay. And a lot of casual gamers can't stomach the game's humor.

This is a complicated issue, so I'll only say this: I think a reviewer's job is to tell you whether a game succeeds at what it is attempting to do and whether what the game attempts is something that you might like. The Penny Arcade game is not for everyone. But if you read my review and it sounds interesting to you, I think you will find that this game deserves higher than an 8.4. It may be a "niche game" in terms of humor and gameplay, but the niche is served flawlessly.

Lost Odyssey got mediocre scores because the industry is no longer impressed by turn-based combat. Viva Pinata received a tepid response because it looked like a kids' game and was actually a complicated affair. The Penny Arcade game features vulgar, dry wit and uncomplicated action and adventuring. But all three of these are brilliantly executed pieces of art. How do you put a numerical score on such a feat?

Excerpt from the review:
The artist/writer/industry-satirizing duo of Mike Krahulik and Jerry Holkins have finally taken the designer seats to create a game based on Penny Arcade - the phenomenally successful web comic and blog that you probably already know about if you're reading this review. Enter Penny Arcade Adventures: On the Rain-Slick Precipice of Darkness: an action-adventure hybrid that combines clever writing and a brilliant comic art vibe with world exploration, quasi-turn-based combat, and saving mankind.

Continued at Game Positive...