Tactical Espionage Average

27 06 2008

Welcome back, faithful Finkites. I suppose you’re wondering where I’ve been lately. Well, like most of you, no doubt, I have been engrossed in what could easily be described as a video game for the PSThree, Konami’s latest blockbuster, MGS Solid IV: Patriot’s Guns.

Knowing that this game was going to be incredibly popular, I decided that I would have to play it for myself. I took some time off of work so that I could camp out outside a local video game store to insure that I would be the first person to get it. I camped outside for two weeks prior to the game’s release and for a whole week after its release date waiting for copies to arrive. It wasn’t until then that I learned that “Games Workshop” doesn’t carry video games. They only stock things like tiny, metal dolls and, I don’t know, train sets or something. Needless to say, I was extremely disappointed that this so-called “Games Workshop” doesn’t consider video games to be games. The Fink had some strong words that I thought about saying to the store’s manager, I can tell you that much.

After packing up my camping gear, I went into the GameSpot on the other side of the mall and secured my copy of the game.

Now, I have never played any of the previous MGS Solid games as I am not a fan of first-person shooters. After hearing that this sequel was played in the third-person, I knew that it was time to dive in! I was surprised to find that the game is very similar to Walt Disney’s classic laser-disk arcade game, Dragon Slayer. In MGS Solid IV, much like that old quarter muncher, you simply watch a movie and press the occasional button to choose the next path. It’s not the most involved style of gameplay, but it does help create the illusion of an interactive movie.

I enjoy a good story as much as the next fellow, but I must admit that I had some trouble following the one presented here. Let me see if I can explain this to you. Warning! There may be some spoilers from this point on. Consider yourself warned (by that bolded word that says, “Warning!”).

You control a soldier named Old Snake, who is apparently the father of Solid Snake, the hero of the previous MGS Solid games. Old Snake is dying because he has robots in his body, but before he dies, he decides to go on one final mission to kill his brother, who is an evil cowboy. Old Snake lives on an airplane with his friend (?) Hal Otacon. Together, they have a young daughter named Sonny, who enjoys cooking eggs. There is a lot of deep thoughts and symbolism in this game. I believe that the eggs represent either rebirth or cholesterol.

Along the way, Old Snake learns something that I couldn’t really follow. It was something along the lines of him being a clone of his brother or his brother is really his father or that he was his brother’s father and that his brother was a clone of him. Something along those lines. Either way, he also meets his mother who doesn’t like to zip up her top. I would be quite uncomfortable hanging out with my mother if she insisted on dressing in that fashion.

I’m also not sure where Solid Snake is during all this. Maybe a sequel will reveal the answer to that question.

There’s an interesting crossover with the Mortal Combat series. The mighty thunder god, Raiden, makes an appearance in this game, but for some reason he’s now a robot ninja, much like Cyraks and Sektor. Raiden performs some impressive martial arts here, but sadly, none of his patented fatalities.

Old Snake also befriends a ragtag group of mercenaries known as the Rat Pack. One of the Rat Pack members, Akira, defecates a lot, which causes the female of the group (I believe that she’s Old Snake’s daughter) to fall in love with him. It’s a very touching story about how love can bloom anywhere–even on a battlefield.

A lot of people are calling this game a masterpiece. I’m not so sure. It’s pretty clear that the game’s creator, Video Kojima, has an epic story to tell, but it was just too darn confusing to follow. The other big problem is that as a game, there’s not much to it. As I mentioned before, you don’t really control the game–you simply press a button or direction when you’re prompted to. The rest of the time, you’re just watching a movie.

Oh, yeah…there was a smoking monkey in the game, too. It was probably a robot.


How Nintendo Murdered Video Games

1 06 2008

For the longest time, Nintendo was known to video gamers everywhere as a company that made video games. Lately, however, Nintendo has been focusing on winning the hearts of grandmothers by creating what has come to be known as “not-games.” These “not-games” look an awful lot like actual video games–they can be found at stores that sell regular video games (such as Venture or Montgomery Ward) and they come on the same types of discs and game tapes (when referring to the Nintendo NDS titles). Despite appearances, though, these aren’t even games at all!

“Not-games” don’t let you do things like shoot people, drive cars, punch mice, have lasers, or shoot cars. Instead, they make you do things like math, cooking, laundry, subtraction, babysit, or Su-do-ku. These are things that you have to do in real life. Why would you want to do them on your Wii system? Nintendo has been pushing these “not-games” for a while now, but it looks like its indifference to the real video gamer has finally taken its toll.

Enter We’re Fit, the latest “not-game” from Shigeru Miyamoto, president of Nintendo and creator of Radar Scope and Devil World. This game actually forces you to exercise, which is completely crazy. If I wanted to exercise, I’d go outside. Doesn’t Nintendo realize that everyone’s Wii-motes are caked in Cheet-os dust? Give us wrestling zombies; not some workout dude telling us to do push-ups! The package even includes a special exercise board to hooks up to your Wii-mote so that you can exercise better, but that is obviously a cheap gimmick to try and confuse the consumer, just like Robby the Robot for the NES Entertainment System.

It would seem that the Video Game Fink isn’t the only person whot would rather be electronically entertained by his Wii than do yoga with it. I decided to do a little test, so I called up several stores to see if they even bothered to carry this “not-game.” At each store, I would ask them if they had any copies of We’re Fit, and every single time the answer was “no.”

Do you realize what this means? Retailers are so sure that gamers don’t want to play We’re FIt that they’re not even bothering to stock it! All of these stores must have lost a ton of money after buying all of Nintendo’s “not-games” only to watch them sit on the shelves. Well, this was the last straw, Nintendo! Both the customers and the retailers have wised up to your tricks, so it’s pretty unlikely that you’ll ever sell another “not-game” like this. it looks like you should have “exercised” better judgment when deciding to create a casual market. I doubt that it will “work out” in the end. “Pilates.”

GTA4 has Controversies!!!

22 05 2008

Everybody knows that the extremely popular GTA series is a spin off of the equally popular Grand Theft Auto games that originated on personal computers several years ago. Between the GTA titles and its self-titled music game, Rock Star has been making an awful lot of money these past couple of years.

Now, GTA4 (or GTAIV as it’s known in Italy) is thieving people’s money as crowds of people flock to their local video game story to purchase it. As these purchases are mostly voluntary exchanges of currency for the product, it’s technically not thieving. Still, that was a very clever way to explain that the game is selling well if you don’t stop to think about it.

The Video Game Fink is a lot of things, but a player of GTAs is not one of them. I have a natural aversion to playing any game with an overly complimentary adjective in the title, and knowing the the GTA games are derived from a series that considers itself “grand” was simply too close for comfort. This same aversion allows me to enjoy Mario Kart Wii, but I may never learn why people seem to enjoy the plumber’s “super” adventure through the galaxy.

Despite this quirk of mine, I convinced myself that “GTA4” is far enough removed from “GrandTheft Auto to give it a shot, if only for the sake of you, my readers. I had heard a lot of news reports about how these GTA games allowed the player to enjoy sexual relations with a prostitute (or “hooker” for you Floridians) and then murder her to reclaim the virtual money you paid for her services. Smart business, perhaps, but horrifying and immoral.

Imagine my surprise when I discovered that prostitutes were not the only people that you can murder in that game! Indeed, I had to take the life of quite a few non-prostitutes before I was even allowed to try my hand at prostitute-killing (or “hookercide” for you Montanans).

If you enjoy murder, then GTA4 should be right up your darkened alley. Personally, I don’t see what all the fuss is about. There are several games that allow you to kill people; why must this be the game that the media jumps on? Probably because its predecessors were such braggarts. Besides, the game is rated M for “Must be a Grownup to Play,” so any arguments about the corruption of youth is moot.

And with that, I must now return an e-mail to a Namco PR representative. They still are not accepting my explanation as to why I’ve not yet reviewed that copy of “BeautifulKatamari that they sent me.

Rock Rock the House

16 05 2008

Music game lovers rejoice!

Last night, Konami held its annual Gamers’ Day in San Francisco, the city that never sleeps. Little did the company know, but they had invited the VG Fink into their show. Only I can provide the true story of what went on in the sweltering oven that was the small club that the event was held in.

I would have loved to have talked about this last night, but Konami made everyone sign an NDA before entering the show. If you’re not familiar with this “in the business” term, NDA stands for “No, Don’t Alaborate (to your readers).” It basically means that we can’t talk about what we saw until Konami tells us that we can. Otherwise, Video Kojima gets very sad.

The big announcement at the show is that Konami is creating a new music game called Rock Rock Revolution, a spin-off of its popular Dance Revolution series. This new game plays almost exactly like the popular music game, Rock Star, which is, of course, created by the Rock Star, the same people who gave us the Grand Theft Auto and GTA games. The big difference between RRR and Rock Star is that there are two more drums in RRR than in Rock Star. So if you really like drumming in Rock Star, then you’ll like this game two better. You also can’t sing in Rock Rock Revolution, but who ever does that? You look so silly doing it! What if your neighbors saw you? Could you live with that? And put on some clothes when you play these game. Have some dignity, man.

Here’s a screen shot of Rock Rock Revolution. Apparently you can play as some sort of drumming cowboy.

Boom Blocks is for Squares

13 05 2008

Since I just started my blog, I figure that I might as well post my first review. Now, I’m not going to waste your time with long review rants like you see on sites like IGN. I don’t have any ads to sell, so I don’t care about getting page views. You’re getting my opinion fast and hard, just the way your mom likes it.

Actually, no. Your mom’s probably pretty nice. I’ve never actually met the woman, and that was uncalled for.

As you may remember, Electronic Arts turned into EA many years ago when the company’s founder, Trip Hawkins, decided to create the 3DO and make everything have short names made up of numbers and letters. Ever since then, EA has been know for making sports games like John Madden Football and Quidditch World Cup. For EA’s first non-sports game, the company has decided to create a puzzle game called Boom Blocks.

In a move that is destined to bring Silicon Valley and Holleywood even closer together, Boom Blocks was programmed by the famous director, Stephen Spielburg, who you will remember as the director of the second segment of Twilight Zone: The Movie and the man who played the director in Austin Powers in Goldmember. After being out of the programming game for so long, it’s nice to see Stephen back doing what he does best. You may remember that he also infamously programmed the notoriously bad E.T. game for the Atari 2,600. That was the first video game to be based on a movie, and it was so bad that Atari went out of business.

Despite that early failure, Stephen must have been taking programming lessons because Boom Blocks is fantastic. It’s been getting a lot of praise from the media, and it’s easy to see why. When you control the game with the Wiimote, it feels just like you’re playing Jenga. Only without the threat of splinters or fire and with costing $50 instead of $13.

This game has been getting a lot of perfect reviews like 10s and A+s, but no game is perfect. Despite those obvious oversights, Boom Blocks is still a great game. It also has penguins in it.