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Ever since Super Mario's 30th Anniversary last month, I've wanted to write a celebratory blog ranking my favorite games in the Super Mario franchise. It sounded like a simple affair at the time, but a faced a conundrum - what games should be included in said list? After all, there are hundreds of Super Mario games in existence across multiple genres - is it even fair to compare games of radically different types, like Paper Mario and Mario Kart? Even if I were to limit it to just platformers, what games should be included in the list? Should spin-offs like Yoshi's Island, or Wario Land be included?Then, Game Informer recently published a rather superb ranking list of their own, deciding for themselves the 18 Mario games they considered to be main-series ones and comparing them accordingly. It's a really fun read, so you should be a good sport and read it before I flagrantly emulate their idea.
The Legend of Zelda series holds a special place in many a gamer's heart. On top of the surreal and imaginative faces you meet, places you explore, and dungeons you comb throughout the franchise's many games, there are countless unforgettable items the player obtains to strengthen themselves and progress through the game. Over the past nearly three decades, the series' various protagonists have amassed all manner of awesome weaponry and gadgets. Arrows embedded with the power of light that can kill enemies in a single hit... Two extendable claws that can be used to shoot through the sky as if you were Spiderman... Tunics that allow one to breathe underwater like a fish... Part of the wonder of The Legend of Zelda series lies in the awesome toys Link collects in his many adventures.
When designing a sequel to a video game, the developer's goals should be clear - capitalize on what made the original a success, introduce new and compelling gameplay mechanics, and remove what wasn't well received about the original. However, making a sequel to a visual novel is a bit of a trickier affair, as the experience tends to be reading walls of texts and becoming engrossed in a compelling narrative. There isn't an abundance of "gameplay" to improve upon in the typical visual novel. The issue than becomes crafting a story and accompanying character arcs that usurp those of the original, which is often easier said than done, especially if you're dealing with a franchise whose stories are as golden as Ace Attorney's.
I'm on to you Capcom. The Great Ace Attorney, known in the Land of the Rising Sun as "Dai Gyakuten Saiban" is the newest installment in the Ace Attorney series, and the first spin-off the franchise has gotten since 2011. It's a large shift from the usual Ace Attorney fare story-wise as the protagonist is actually Phoenix Wright's distant Japanese ancestor, and as such the game takes place in the late 1800's. Moreover, later in the game players meet Sherlock Holmes and investigate a myriad of cases alongside the timelessly popular "consulting detective."
There is a foolproof recipe for crafting the perfect crime fiction. The most important ingredient is compelling characters. If you don't care for the players involved - the suspects, the victim, the witnesses, and the ones piecing together exactly what happened - you've already failed in telling a good story. Other important elements include shocking but believable twists and turns, atmospheric music, and having the details of the crime itself be mysterious.
As time passes, memories fade. It's inevitable, and try as we might to cling to the thoughts we cherish, they'll naturally and gradually dissipate the longer we go without exposure to whatever it is we're trying to remember. This is particularly true with video games - remove someone from even their all time favorite game for a year or two, and the feel of combat, spoken dialogue, and even bits of the story will likely be forgotten with the passing of time. However, something we gamers seldom tend to forget about our favorite video games are the specific moments within them that evoked a strong emotion, whether it be joy, sadness, fear, or loneliness.
No matter how you look at it, music has become an incredibly integral part of the video game experience. Unsettling music, or the lack of music at all, can increase the immersion and tension of a horror game. Fast-paced, upbeat themes can make a mundane action game suddenly become exciting and invigorating. And slow-paced, dreary music can make a somber moment in a video game all the more peaceful.
The witness is lying and you have the evidence to prove it. You've stayed silent and listened to their testimony, patiently listening as they methodically stated their case on why your client is clearly guilty. But they slipped, and you caught them red handed. Without giving it further thought, you belt out the first word that comes to mind as loud as you can - OBJECTION! - and proceed to expose the witness' mistake and begin the fight for your client's innocence.Such an occurrence is a common one in Ace Attorney, and the amount of perjury that goes on in that game's universe is simply astonishing. Yet the euphoria of catching a liar in the act through logical thinking is a feeling that never grows old. Piecing together a witness' story in Ace Attorney and discovering how their lies contradict the evidence never fails to be a thrilling experience, and its moments like these that make the series as a whole so distinct. Without a doubt, the colorful characters that take to the witness stand across the Ace Attorney series are unforgettable, and whether they have poor memory, are covering for someone, or are the real killer, the tense cross-examinations with them add much needed player interaction to the visual novel franchise, and comprise some of my favorite moments in gaming.
Mainstreamers clamor for the return of many mundane things, ranging from the Half Life series to Elvis Presley. Hipsters on the other hand, with their thirst for all things artistic, and appreciation for overlooked gems, have yearned for something much greater - the return of the ever (un)popular Hipster Tuesday series!
As I perused my archive of blogs, desperate to find a new idea and overcome a nasty case of writer's block, I came to a strange realization. Despite my ardent love for the Ace Attorney franchise, I've written criminally few articles about the franchise, limited simply to one that acted as a "beginner's guide" to the series, and another where I shared my thoughts on the crossover with the Professor Layton series.Never before have I truly shared what makes this series so special for me - never before have I payed homage to the brilliantly woven stories and character arcs, intriguing mysteries, or glorious soundtracks that made me fall in love with a visual novel saga of all things. It's time to right that wrong.
A little over a year ago when I first joined Game Informer Online, I eagerly opened up the blog editor, excited to begin my writing journey, one I began in an effort to learn more about the game industry and improve as a writer. However, as I stared at the blank editor, my enthusiasm began to waver, as the realization I had no idea what to write about sank in.
Disappointment. Disheartening. Disillusionment. These are the only three words I can think of to describe my feelings after viewing Nintendo's much hyped up "Digital Event" at E3 yesterday morning. For the third year in a row, Nintendo has opted not to have a traditional live press conference in front of an audience, but rather a pre-recorded 51 minute Nintendo Direct-esque presentation. While such a decision eliminates the possibility of a screaming (or booing) crowd making new reveals much more exciting (or disappointing), I feel this is a choice that could have worked in Nintendo's favor this year, as they could have cut out the fluff typically seen when company executives talk about video games, and solely focused on fleshing out details on existing games, and revealing plenty of new ones.The problem with the Digital Event then, was that it was overflowing with fluff, largely discussing details about games we already knew existed, and revealing a trivial number of titles (only two of which wereWii U games!), several of which left a sour taste in the hearts of Nintendo fans. But what exactly went wrong? Many had high expectations and hopes for the broadcast, as Nintendo set the bar high with a surprising mini-Nintendo Direct last week, and a Smash Bros. presentation but three days ago that seemed to get smaller news-bits out of the way in preparation for big reveals.