Wednesday, July 21, 2010

New Column and Some Monkey Island Love

I'm sorry it's been so long since my last blog post, but things have been hectic. I went to E3 which I meant to write a lot about, but instead found myself exhausted after the convention, Disneyland and Magic Mountain (not in that order). Long story short; E3 was fun, Disneyland was moreso. Epic Mickey looks to be a happy medium, but still no substitute for actual being there. Okay, now I'm getting weepy over Disneyland withdrawals so moving on...

The big news is that I've stopped writing Challenging Conventions at TGR (nooooo!!), but started writing its spiritual successor, Defying Design, at GameSetWatch (yaaayyy!!). Think of it as Challenging Conventions 2.0. The first edition is about what makes a game scary as well as suggestion on how to make current more action focused horror games scarier.

Other than that, I've been on a big Monkey Island kick. While I was buried deep in announcements at E3, Tales of Monkey Island was released on PSN unbeknown to me. I'd always wanted to play it, but I didn't have a PC up to snuff and heard lackluster things about the price-hiked Wii port. Stubbornly, I held out in hopes of an XBLA or PSN port and over half a year later my prayers were answered. The PSN version looks great and runs like a dream. Better yet, it's a great game in its own right and while it has its flaws, it improves upon the series in a few meaningful ways. I'd tell you what they were, but may save that for a column;) Just know that despite its lackluster first couple chapters it gets better and by the end I cared about the cast more than I ever have before. Ultimately, it's a worthy chapter in the saga and the first traditional adventure game I've played in over a decade that I'd consider a real return to form for the genre.

So enamored was I that I picked up the special editions of Monkey Islands 1 & 2 and am playing through them now. I had some issues with the presentation and interface of the first special edition and found myself regularly switching between old and new, but so far I'm really blown away at how well they've adapted Monkey Island 2. The new look is lush and vibrant, and the animations smooth. The voices and music are top notch as well and I love what they've done with the interface. I'm only a few hours in so far, but color me impressed!

I also played Limbo and reviewed it for TGR here. As you can tell from the review I liked it quite a bit, but found myself perplexed and befuddled by the end. It's either brilliant and I'll prove myself a philistine for not getting it, or it really does have no story. I look forward to discussing interpretations with others upon release (which is today. Go out and buy it!).

Anyway, here's some other stuff I've written lately:

Challenging Conventions # 16: Bite-Sized Gaming This was my final CC piece. It was about how most of the games I got excited about at E3 were digital downloads which tend to be cheaper, smaller, and exhibited a greater degree of creativity. On a side note, I think a lot of people were disappointed by E3 this year (where was The Last Guardian?!), and while there was no huge new game that got me excited (Zelda was particularly disappointing) I walked away feeling like I'd seen a lot of great stuff particularly from the downloadable market. Forget Kinect and move, this is the part of the industry that has me most excited.

Note: Forgive me if I don't update again soon. I'm moving house in a couple weeks, so I'll be pretty busy and without internet access for a few days.