Inside deserves all of the praise: an intentionally vague reaction post

My favorite games are heavy on the story. They’re mostly narrative-driven action or RPG games, with all of the fancy CGI cut-scenes and extensive dialogue. But every once in a blue moon, a game can come along and tell a story without saying a word.

A lot of people are casting Inside as their early game-of-the-year pick, and I’m in that company.

From the very beginning, you’re thrust into a world with no direction. There are no tutorials to be found here. No on-screen guides to tell you what objects you can and cannot manipulate. You’re as helpless as the in-game character, just trying to absorb the surroundings and figure things out along the way. In an era where a lot of games feel “dumbed down,” so to speak, Inside doesn’t.

And the game never lets up. It’s a puzzle-platforming hybrid, introducing new mechanics just long enough to toss them out for new ones. Again, with no hints. You’ll probably die a lot throughout the course of the game, not in the monotonous-slash-frustrating Dark Souls way  — you likely won’t die two-dozen deaths in one location  — but simply because you haven’t figured out where you’re supposed to go in a new area, especially if an enemy is in pursuit. Learning how to progress isn’t time-consuming, but it’s satisfying, nonetheless.

And that story. Whoa. Again, there is no dialogue in the game. The entire story is told using the gameplay and the atmosphere. Both do a spectacular job. Inside is the kind of game that will have you Googling theories as to what it all means, because you’ll be both intrigued and disturbed when you reach the credits. I’ll mention nothing — I’d prefer you experience it yourself.

tl;dr Inside is an experience you, as a gamer (on Xbox One now, and on Windows July 7), should have. I don’t do numbers. I do whether you should play it or not. You should.

This guy is really good at Mike Tyson’s Punch-Out!!

On Twitch and YouTube, he goes by the name Summoning Salt. Over the past several days, this speedrunner has been trying to overtake his own Mike Tyson’s Punch-Out!! world record of 15:31.66.

Last night, he did it. The new world record is now 15:12.14.

As someone who loves (but isn’t very good at) MTPO, the clip above is truly something to behold. Who knew that every single opponent in the game can be downed in the first round, many in under a minute? As it turns out, each match has a recipe to follow. Punching at a certain time, ducking or moving in a certain way — these bring on actions from your opponent that put you in a better position to win, and win quickly.

Is it foolproof? Unfortunately, it isn’t. There is some randomness thrown in, so a player can still be tripped up, even on a seemingly perfect run. But sometimes, the game will accidentally offer up a gift, too, like an extra star for an uppercut. The embed below is Summoning Salt’s “victory lap” of sorts — running through the game one more time while he explains where he got lucky and where he didn’t. If you geek out on this kind of thing, it’s definitely worth the watch (skip to about 02:45).

Watch live video from Summoningsalt on www.twitch.tv

For the Sake of Gaming, Let’s Hope Nintendo Watched the News Today

The battle for next-generation supremacy began last year at E3, and it continues today. Unfortunately, there are only two participants: Sony and Microsoft.

After the debacle that was the PS3 launch, Sony worked hard to please gamers over the course of that console’s life, and with the launch of the PS4. Microsoft, the darling of the last generation, got a bit full of itself with the launch of the Xbox One, but today’s announcements show the company is committed to righting its wrongs with that console.

The odd company out is Nintendo, a company that seems unwilling to help its own cause.

Like the Xbox One, the Wii U is bundled with a fairly expensive accessory that isn’t all that necessary for gaming on the system. Like Microsoft, Nintendo claims the Wii U Gamepad is a major selling point; a “differentiator.” And, like the Kinect, the Gamepad has shown small flashes of brilliance, but it’s mostly been underutilized and has added to the price tag of a system that is more expensive than it should be.

Microsoft, whose Xbox One is outselling the Wii U substantially despite having only been on the market for six months (compared to the Wii U’s year and a half) made tough decisions in order to play for first instead of second. I have no doubt that we’re going to get a better next-generation contest as a result. But it could be a whole lot better if Nintendo were playing for first itself, instead of being satisfied with a distant third.

Perhaps today’s move by Microsoft will change Nintendo’s mind about dropping both the Wii U Gamepad and the console’s price.

Does Nintendo Deserve to Die?

I’m a fan of Nintendo. For that reason, I want the Wii U to be a success.

Part of me can’t wrap my head around the idea of Nintendo developing games for third-party platforms, because I look at what that did to the once-proud Sonic the Hedgehog franchise. It ruined it.

Another part of me feels that the industry needs that third player in the game to keep things interesting.

But Nintendo just isn’t doing itself any favors. The company has stubbornly gone its own way on many occasions when the industry and its consumers went another. The company balked at high-definition in 2006. It still hasn’t put together any kind of meaningful online multiplayer system, despite the original Xbox debuting one back in 2002.

And now the company has the Wii U, a home console that lacks both an identity and a healthy third-party library. Outside of developing more first-party titles and releasing them every couple of months, there’s not a whole lot Nintendo can do to add games. Moving more systems would get more developers interested, but Nintendo refuses to drop the console’s price any lower.

Mario Kart 8 comes out in May, and I assume that the company sees that game as its Titanfall; the game that will finally get Wii U consoles flying off of store shelves (a year and a half after release). If that doesn’t happen, though, look out.

Xbox Live ‘Games with Gold’ vs. PlayStation Plus ‘Instant Game Collection’

Both Microsoft and Sony offer “free games” with their respective subscription services. Microsoft’s Xbox Live has Games with Gold, and Sony’s PlayStation Plus has the Instant Game Collection. When discussing the two, you usually see the same arguments for each side.

Xbox fans will say that Microsoft lets you “own” your free games, even if you cancel Xbox Live. They’ll say Sony is merely “renting” games to you.

PlayStation fans will say that Sony is offering higher-quality titles.

Both sides are correct — sort of. What the Xbox fans are missing is that “ownership” isn’t ownership when it comes to digital games.

Yes, you can keep your Xbox games and play them after you’ve canceled Xbox Live. But you’re merely licensing a digital copy of that game. You don’t own it. You can’t resell it. You can’t let someone borrow it. And should something happen to your Xbox 360 a few years down the line, you might not get that game back. It’ll be as though you never had it.

Let’s say that, in five years, both your Xbox 360 and your PlayStation 3 bite the dust. If the servers are pulled offline for both systems, you’ll have zero digital games. It doesn’t matter if you “rented” them or if they were “given” to you.

This is why I believe digital copies should be priced way lower than physical copies. And it’s why I don’t place a lot of stock in owning digital games.

Instead of thinking of it as “renting” versus “owning,” ask, “which will provide me with the best experience?”

Personally, I’d rather be playing AAA titles.

What the PS4 Does Right That the Xbox One Does Wrong

This.

ps4-digital-code

One of the biggest complaints from Xbox owners (both on the 360 and the One) is that digital games are too expensive. It’s a legitimate beef. Buying digital means you can’t resell a game or let a friend borrow it. So why are digital titles sometimes more expensive than their physical counterparts?

As far as the Xboxes are concerned, the answer is pretty simple: Microsoft is the only company selling digital games. There are no competitors, so the company has no motivation whatsoever to lower its prices.

Sony, on the other hand, allows other retailers to sell game codes. If you don’t like Sony’s price on a digital copy of Killzone ($59.99), you can buy it from Amazon instead ($43.01).

When asked about competitive digital game pricing in a Reddit thread, Microsoft’s Larry Hryb stated that it is “on the agenda.” Should the company need some direction, it should look no further than its biggest competitor.