PS2 now an open platform


Kotaku reports that sony has dropped the requirement to submit PS2 titles for content approval, effectively making it an open platform. I don’t personally see myself using it since there are still the hurdles of acquiring development hardware and documentation, and if the rumors are true programming the PS2 can be an unpleasant experience.

It’s nice to see Sony take a step towards the free software movement with their retired consoles, though, even if it’s only to boost hardware sales on their part. They were also nice enough to take a stand against region-protection their games a while back so I’m hoping more companies follow suit in their hardware reasoning.

Posted on Oct 29/08 by Saint and filed under General game development | No Comments »

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At this time, I have completely forgotten when I first got Crush. I remember being intrigued by the concept and picking up a copy a long time ago, but after playing it for awhile it sort of became reduced to something I only bothered with during travels when the batteries in my DS went out.

Crush is a puzzle-platformer with the unique feature that you can anytime “crush” the 3D world into two dimensions and traverse the landscape as if it were flat. A great idea that is fun to play around with for the first few levels, but it soon becomes rather tedious, and as hinted at in the introduction Crush contains a really large amount of levels that take a long time to complete. Sure, it introduces new gameplay elements along the way but all in all it’s just increasingly difficult challenges to try and discern a path to whatever place you need to go by looking at the level from different perspectives.

Having recently played Braid I might be a little spoiled with non-repetitive puzzlers, but playing crush I often felt like a lot of obstacles where there just to make the game longer, not more interesting. And while the game’s platforming isn’t bad by my standards, it’s not really on par with action-based platform games so when it throws time- or precision-based challenges at you it often becomes a question of luck rather than skill – annoying since the sometimes sparse checkpoints force you to replay a large part of the level that pose no challenge once you’ve figured it out. I might have thought the game to be less repetitive if the story and art direction where any better, as it is now the artwork is interesting for awhile but more or less the same throughout the entire game, and while some might like the story I found it uninspiring and the characters uninteresting.

Some time into Crush I lost interest as there wasn’t anything that left me wanting more – no promise of new and interesting gameplay challenges or new things to see and no intriguing story to unravel. Since then I’ve only really played it on trains and airplanes when in the need to kill time, so perhaps it is unfair of me to say now that I didn’t care much for it – I liked it for a short time when I first started playing, after all. I have said that I prefer games that don’t overstay their welcome, but on the other hand – if I think a game is getting tedious, is it my fault for not simply putting down the game and enjoying what was, or should the game be blamed for not providing some sort of progress and conclusion without tedium? If you’re okay with growing tired of games before they’re over, Crush is for you. If you’re a completionist like me, it’s not.

Posted on Oct 18/08 by Saint and filed under Reflections | 1 Comment »

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World of Goo

World of Goo

Though I am in Tokyo at the moment, I’ve managed to squeeze in enough hours to play through World of Goo since those of us who preordered got our copy more than a week ago. It also helps that it’s not very long, or rather, like Braid it doesn’t overstay it’s welcome. I hope this is trend carries over to mainstream games as well.

So, World of Goo. A game with a deceptively simple premise – use the living goo balls to build a structure that reaches a pipe where the remaining balls can escape. click a ball to pick it up, release to drop it again. As with any good game with a simple premise, World of Goo challenges you with new types of obstacles in the terrain, like turning wheels, wind and spikes that destroy goo balls, and new types of goo balls that react to these obstacles in different ways.

Like Braid, World of Goo doesn’t ever really give you the same puzzle more than once, but a rare few stages contain needlessly many repetitions of the same moment so you can still grow tired of it occasionally. Also, while I don’t really mind the game being short it seems that most new elements only appear in a single stage, and it seems that more puzzles could be constructed by mixing them together without making the game repetitive. The biggest nitpick, though, is that it can be hard to select the exact ball you need – especially when speed is of the essence, and the game inconveniently enough declines you possibilites to undo your latest action when it is most needed.

… But the fact that one of the things I’m griping about is that I want more of it is pretty telling, I guess, and World of Goo is indeed a very good game.

Posted on Oct 14/08 by Saint and filed under Reflections | No Comments »

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Sense of Wonder Night


Gamasutra has a recap of the TGS 2008 Sense of Wonder Night, the event that was created with the ambition of bringing unique game concepts to light. While some of the concepts were little more than good ideas and not working games, the ideas themselves are still interesting.

Reading the recap is a better way of learning about the games than actually being at the event was, as the sound setup was poor and you could hardly hear anything the translator said if you weren’t sitting in the front seats. I left halfway through it, and missed the most interesting games it seems. More on TGS later.

Posted on Oct 14/08 by Saint and filed under Gaming culture | No Comments »