RSS Feed

Tag Archives: Video Games

Review: Pokemon Snap

pokemon-snap

By: Iris the Keyblade Master

Ah, Pokémon Snap, the only Pokémon-related video game that I ever got to play when I was a kid.  It was made for the Nintendo 64, but it’s also currently available on the Wii U Virtual Console.  I recently bought a copy for my N64 and found that it still held up for me as an adult.

First, I told myself that I just wanted to test the game out to make sure it still worked.  About twenty minutes later, I had furiously headed back to the Beach level to prove to Professor Oak that the size in my pictures was NOT “so-so!”  It’s one of those games that is so simple and yet so addicting at times.

Unlike other Pokémon games, you don’t get to capture, train, or trade any of the wild Pokémon that you find in the different levels.  You take pictures and send them to Professor Oak, who then gives you points based on its size, position, how many of the same type appeared in the shot, etc.  (And boy, does he have high standards for “size!”)  However, to get to the next level, you must complete a variety of objectives.  Sometimes, it’s a matter of taking a certain number of pictures of unique Pokémon.  Other times, you need to trigger something special within a level to get to the next one.

Additionally, certain Pokémon won’t appear without the help of tools that Professor Oak gives you throughout the game.  And sometimes the ways to get new Pokémon aren’t so obvious.  For example, there’s a Charmeleon that walks around a lava pit towards the end of the Volcano course.  If you knock him into the pit with an apple treat, he’ll evolve into Charazard.  This interaction increases the replay value of the game, since it encourages you to go back and try new tricks to find hidden Pokémon.  (Side note: it’s also worth mentioning that because it’s an older game, you won’t find any Pokémon that came after Mew. Mew himself doesn’t even appear until after you’ve unlocked the final level.)

Technically, the player character has a name, Todd.  But like Link and the early Final Fantasy heroes, you get to pick what you want to call him.  He doesn’t have much of a personality in the game beyond, “Oh boy, let’s take a lot of pictures of Pokémon!” but it works.

Pokémon Snap is a fun, colorful game.  I love the different environments that you get to view through Todd’s safari vehicle.  Hopefully, some day, Nintendo will make a sequel.  They could really make it work by including the other generations of Pokémon, and maybe add new features, i.e. editing your pictures or getting to explore open world settings instead of following the same track.

If you like the Pokémon series, but never got around to trying this game, then I recommend checking it out if you still have your Nintendo 64 or access to the Virtual Console.  It’s a lot of fun!

Influential Female Characters: Princess Zelda

zeldahyrulewarriors

I know a lot of people who love Princess Zelda. Why wouldn’t they? She’s beauty. She’s grace. She’ll punch you in the face. Well, that is all dependent on which incarnation of Zelda one is playing, that is. She has evolved and changed with every version of The Legend of Zelda that has been released.

Despite her name being in the title of of the games, Princess Zelda is not the main character. The main character is our own pot smashing Link. In every game, we have a different version of Link. Usually he is saving or aiding Zelda. Then why name the games after Zelda? Because there would be no need for Link to be adventuring if not for Zelda.

Yes, she starts off as a damsel in distress, but in many of the newer games, Zelda handles herself fairly well. Also every Princess Zelda is chosen by fate, though often also a member of the ruling family,  to be charged with the Triforce of Wisdom. So, basically, she is a boss with all the wisdom to rule and a chosen one to boot. So yes, her name should be in the title of all the games.

In the first Legend of Zelda game, Zelda is not even seen until after Link defeats the big boss. However, she guides him throughout the game. Zelda usually has some form of psychic powers, including telepathy and sometimes premonitions. She is always very wise and fair in her judgement, which makes her a wonderful ruler. It, however, does not seem to be able to help her evade being captured.

zelda_lyre_3_ss

Zelda’s age and appearance depend largely on the game and Link’s age. Sometimes she is a child, a teenager or a young woman. Usually she has blonde hair – though sometimes brown – with blue eyes, pointed ears and long dresses. There are a few times where she wears boots and pants. Normally she looks very much the picture of a princess. She is always proficient with music.

Her role in the games also varies depending on the game. In earlier games she was normally a damsel for Link to save. There are times when she even wields Link’s blade. In some games, she has her own sword. Other times she has a bow and arrows.

zelda

She is a kind ruler. Zelda tends to be forgiving of those who have wronged her. However, if you hurt someone she cares about, *coughLinkcough*, all bets are off. Her relationship with Link changes from game to game. Sometimes they seem to be together romantically by the end of the game. She does always seem to care about him and his welfare.

I like how feminine she is. I like how she is always strong, but not always in the way of having to physically fight. Zelda does everything within her power to protect her people. At the end of the day, Zelda is a really interesting character. I think it is important for her strength of mind to be something for gamers to look to as a positive trait as well. Sometimes we push away characters like Zelda because they are not always physically strong. That is is a mistake. Zelda has a lot of positive qualities that we can look to and emulate. 

Here is to Princess Zelda, the chosen princess of her people and overall boss!

Always keep sparkling, friends!

A Fan’s Perspective of the PewDiePie Scandal

pewdiepie-smarter-featured_750x400_acf_cropped

PewDiePie has been in the media quite a lot lately. Now that it’s starting to simmer down, I thought I’d give my two cents. As a fan of PewDiePie as well as a fan of his network, RevelMode, which hosts most of my favorite YouTubers (such as Markiplier, JackSepticEye and KickthePJ), I feel I have a well-rounded scope of the situation.

For those of you who don’t know, Felix Kjellberg (AKA PewDiePie) runs a very successful YouTube channel (he has over 50 million subscribers). He pioneered the whole Let’s Play side of YouTube. If not for PewDiePie, there probably wouldn’t be YouTube Gaming and Real Women of Gaming probably wouldn’t have our own channel. He has also raised millions of dollars for many different charities around the world.

That being said, what PewDiePie did was unacceptable. Pewds is known by his fans as a man who tries to push boundaries. He’s constantly making points about the media or about society, which is what drew me to him in the first place. He has a tendency of going too far in order to make a point, but he’s never gone so far that he had to suffer actual consequences… until now.

In an effort to make a point about how some people will do anything for money, he went on to Fiverr (a website where freelancers can sell their services for $5) and paid Funny Guys $5 to display a message that read “Death to all Jews” in one of their videos. Once Funny Guys actually displayed this message, PewDiePie reacted to it by saying he didn’t think they would actually do it.

Because of this stunt, both YouTube Red and Disney have dropped the YouTube star. PewDiePie’s show Scare PewDiePie was also cancelled, effective immediately. Rightfully so.

Do I believe that PewDiePie himself is antisemitic? Not even a little bit. I think he’s a normal, dumbass guy who takes things too far to try to get a laugh. He went about it all wrong. He could have had Funny Guys write anything on that piece of cardboard, instead he tried to be controversial and it backfired.

PewDiePie released an apology video in which he stated he will accept the consequences of his actions, but not before blaming the press for blowing it out of proportion. In a way, yes, the press did make the situation worse. For example, The Wall Street Journal went through his videos and took a lot of his content out of context to make it seem as though he’s been antisemitic all this time.

What PewDiePie doesn’t seem to realize, though, is that he wasn’t dropped from YouTube Red or Disney because the press blew it out of proportion. They dropped him because he was blatantly antisemitic. Not only have his actions caused his career a major setback, but they’ve also impacted other people.

Scare PewDiePie not only employed over 100 people, but YouTuber JackSepticEye flew to Los Angeles from his home in Ireland to collaborate on the show. JackSepticEye put a lot of work into Scare PewDiePie to play the villain of season 2. Pewds mentions this in his apology video, but puts the blame on YouTube for cancelling the show in the first place. No, Felix. You need to think about these things before you attempt to “push boundaries.”

When you’re in the spotlight, you can’t just say or do whatever you want. When you’re in the spotlight, other people get hurt by the consequences of your actions. For example, I wouldn’t go on Twitter under Real Women of Gaming’s handle and spew hatred because that would not only impact me, but also all the other wonderful people that make Real Women of Gaming what it is today.

Being an adult doesn’t mean you can say or do whatever you want. I means you can understand your mistakes and learn from them. So, Felix, I hope you learned from your mistake like you said you have.

What are your thoughts on the situation? Let us know in the comments below!

Women in Gaming: Carol Shaw

stuffmomnevertoldyou-86-2014-03-carol-shaw-600x350

As an old-school gamer, it’s always been a part of life that women game, and women develop games.  From the beginning, advertising has included boys and girls playing Nintendo together, men and women at the arcade, and in company photos from some of the greats.  While there’s never been an even split, it never seemed strange to me that girls in my neighborhood liked video games as much as I did.  It was only within the last ten years or so that people have not only raised the question “Is it enough?” but also began to inundate our gaming news with so much negativity about being a woman in this industry.

I’ve interviewed female developers and gamers about this, and while their experiences vary greatly, most agree that the lack of positive coverage of women in gaming is a hindrance to making any substantial change.  When young women start looking at gaming as a possible interest, many will be turned away by the lack of any good examples in the media.  Let’s face it, bad news sells, but it also skews our perspective.  Take a look yourself and you’ll find top searches are a mix of contradictory stories, negative and frightening press, and too few articles about the women who have helped shape this hobby we all love.  So I’m glad to be able to do a little profile on one of the first, Carol Shaw.

Carol Shaw is credited as the first female game designer with two titles for the Atari 2600 in 1978.  Polo, which was never released, and 3D Tic-tac-toe.  She worked for Atari, Activision, and Tandem Computers during her career.  Her game credits are not long, but as far as I and many gamers are concerned, they are pivotal in early game development.  Her lesser known credits include Othello, Video Checkers, Calculator, and Happy Trails.

Her early childhood, she notes, was mostly spent with an interest in her brother’s railroad set rather than the typical girl’s toys of the time.  Her father was an engineer and she excelled in mathematics in school, all of which likely lent themselves to her interest in computer sciences.  In fact, her first introduction to gaming and computers was together in high school with text-based games many of us can remember if we’re old enough.  She attended Berkeley, achieving a Bachelor’s degree in Electrical Engineering and Computer Sciences, and eventually finishing a master’s in Computer Sciences.  From there, it was onto Atari, who was the leading video game company at the time.

Before we talk about the game most consider the best of her work, and one of the top games Atari ever had, I want to bring up Super Breakout.  We had a lot of games on the Atari growing up, but there’s only a handful I remember.  One of those is Super Breakout.  It’s a game where you control a flat paddle, similar to what you find in Pong, and use it to bounce a ball around the screen.  At the top of the screen are bricks you are trying to destroy with said ball.  Let it hit the bottom of the screen and you lose a ‘life’, or ball.  I believe you had three balls to use.  Higher levels added a double layered paddle, and sometimes balls were trapped in the bricks, that once released into play, could all be bounced around to destroy more bricks.  As long as you kept at least one ball in play, you were in the game.  To this day, its one of the more challenging and fun games I’ve ever played, and we have Carol to thank for it.

Then there’s River Raid.  We had this on the Atari 5200, which Carol helped port over from her original design.  This game was by far my favorite, and is probably the reason I later fell in love with flight simulators.  River Raid, if you’re never played it, is based around navigating a plane through an obstacle course inside an ever-narrowing channel.  The screen moves forward and you can speed that up, but you can navigate the plane left or right.  You have to dodge, or shoot, balloons, helicopters, and other planes while avoiding contact with the sides of the channel.  It was probably more difficult than any game I’ve played, and I never did beat it.  This game is considered by many to be the best 8-bit game Atari ever put out.

There’s a great, and thorough interview with Carol over on Vintage Computing and Gaming.

Let us know what you think about Carol Shaw’s games in the comments below!

 

Influential Female Characters: Chun-Li

Influential Female Characters: Chun-Li

00000chun

Let’s just be honest about this from the jump; Chun-Li is a boss. She is the first female playable character in fighting games. The unofficial First Lady of arcade games. She has a great backstory and an unwavering sense of justice. Also, it is just so fun to play her and kick the actual snot out of people.

Chun-Li is also one of my favorite characters because she is closely tied with my early childhood.

When I was a kid, we went out for pizza a lot. Most of the local pizza places had some arcade style games. The real arcade was too far, so this was where my brother, my cousins and I played these games. One of these restaurants had Street Fighter. My brother and I loved Street Fighter. I always played Chun-Li. I loved how strong she was. I particularly loved how she could kick forever and kick so high. Thankfully, the owners thought it was cute to have me yell; “KICK! KICK! KICK!” as Chun-Li would decimate her opponents in battle. You can get away with causing some shenanigans as a cute little girl in pigtails bent on slaughter till your pizza is ready.

chun-li_mvc2_hyper_combo

There weren’t a lot of choices for me as a little girl to play a female character that were not a damsel in distress. Chun-Li was that option. She has always been a capable and highly ranked character in the games. She high kicked her way into my heart and let me know I could get myself out of situations and even be a little sassy about it.

Now that I am older, I can also really appreciate her backstory. Most of the time her origin story is that, as a little girl, she was very interested in martial arts and her father trained her. Her father was a detective who would go missing. She became a detective herself to find him. From there, she goes to all sorts of places and lengths to stop villains. 

chun-li_various_agesChun-Li fights for justice. Sometimes she fights for vengeance. She is a police officer and an overall likable person. She has been voiced and played by some pretty cool actresses, including Ming-Na Wen in the movie of which we do not speak from 1994.

Chun-Li is a fun character. She doesn’t have to be someone’s girlfriend. She is a career women with a backstory that is a part of her but does not define her. She uses her talents to help others. Chun-Li is also a favorite of cosplayers and who could blame them with her cool outfit? Honestly she is just a really great character to play.

Let us know what you think about Chun-Li in the comments below!

Always keep sparkling (and kicking), my friends!

Review: Cursed

Dev/Pub: Jetdogs Studioscursed_1
Medium: PC

I received Cursed and had a hell of a time playing it at first. I was trying to record it for Let’s Plays, but my software wanted NOTHING to do with this game. Finally I was able to stream the game.

What is it?
Cursed is a point-and-click horror type game with a female protagonist. Her fiance has been offered quite a sum of money to rebuild something at a far off estate. It’s odd, but you both want to get married and he takes the job. Off he goes, but it’s been sometime since you’ve heard from him. You do the only sensible thing, you go find him.

What did I think?
Well, that is a complicated answer. I liked and hated this game. It is gorgeously done, the graphics are great. I like the story concept and they added in some great touches. There is a lot to like about the game.

However, it felt disconnected. It lacked fluidity. You were given random puzzles with no inclination of what you were supposed to do. The clues were non-existent. It felt like dumb luck that I figured some things out. There were plenty of instances that it took me longer than it should have to get it, my fault. There were also plenty of times that I was using the hint button over and over because I had no idea what I was supposed to do.

At one point, you need to make a freeze potion to freeze the fountain. Unless I’m the only person who’s never seen an alchemy machine, I was lost. The lack of fluidity made me more frustrated than I would have liked for such a relaxing game. I found myself roaming around trying to figure out what I was supposed to do next. I really wanted to love this game, but I walked away from an anti-climactic ending feeling… meh.

It’s only $5 on Steam so give it a try if you want, but it isn’t one I’d recommend.

Watch Crymson’s stream of Cursed here:
https://www.twitch.tv/realwomenofgaming/v/111729543

Overwatch Just Can’t Catch a Break

razer-overwatch-header-mobile

It wasn’t long ago that one person managed to complain hard enough to get Tracer’s pose changed in Overwatch.  Nevermind that the new pose isn’t really that much different from the original, or that the original is just like many of the other character victory poses.  Ignore the male victory poses that have them thrusting themselves forward as if proclaiming their victory with a burst of manhood at the screen.  This one character had to be changed, and Blizzard changed it.  They didn’t change it so much though.  She still shows her backside, looking over her shoulder, flirty look; not much difference at all.

Then comes winter.  Blizzard releases a fun holiday skin for Mei and people get upset.  It’s a fun skin, perfectly matched to the season.  It fits her character theme, and her original costume design.  Again, Blizzard apologizes, for a design choice!  They wanted to create something fun, fun being an entirely subjective word, and the company says sorry.  Of course gamers have a right to voice their complaints, but when’s the last time a painter apologized for a painting, or a writer apologized for a book?  It doesn’t happen all that often does it?  The artists that create our games, however, they always seem to be apologizing.

If only that were the end.  Now comes the Lunar New Year update and people are upset about Mei again.  Now, while the profile view looks odd, and yes it could either be her clothing or a strange bug, people weren’t just complaining about that.  Take off her thick fur parka and voila, she’s still a curvy girl but sans a thick parka.  Blizzard is saying this bug will be fixed, and granted they may not change her all that much.  How can we know, at this point, whether it was a bug, a design choice, or just a mistake?  Is it Blizzard just apologizing again?  We won’t know for sure, because they’ve set a precedent.

It’s not just them though, and no this isn’t going to turn into an ‘entitled gamers’ rant.  If you don’t like a game, something about a game, or the company that makes it, say so.  Don’t buy the game, express your suggestions, and do whatever you think best.  What I have a problem with is every company bending over backwards in an attempt to please everyone.  It creates an environment where if a few of us yell loud enough we can make an artist change their creation however we want.

It’s one thing to apologize about a mistake, a large number of bugs, or delays of release.  The list of apologies for design choices is long however.  Christina Love recently apologized and censored her own game because of complaints about one sex scene.  Just this past year a handful of games were censored because of outrage, localization or fear of outrage as in the case of Uncharted 4.  Watchdogs 2, a game featuring male genitalia, had to be changed to remove one instance of female nudity that was found (not readily on display), and shared to social media.

We’re creating an atmosphere where creativity is chained by fear.  Where art has to run through a checklist of things that are allowed and aren’t, and where artists are always questioning their decisions because someone might be upset.  I’m here to tell you someone will always be upset.  I’ve seen games change things to please one group, only to piss off another, then change something else that pisses off the first group again.  I’m a writer, and I can tell you there’s nothing less creative than having to work off a checklist of things you can and can’t do, things you have to do.  Then there’s the realization that even if you check off all those boxes, and do your best to make sure it doesn’t seem like you’re just checking off boxes, someone will still be pissed.

Don’t get me wrong.  Voice your opinion and give feedback.  Let them know when a game’s broken or that you are upset at a ridiculous delay.  Report bugs and offer suggestions.  Just remember that those hard-working artists that put all those hours into the games we love are people too.  They’re creative, caring, and real people.  When criticism turns into just a mob crapping over a design choice, or getting offended by a joke, we’ll wind up with games created by automatons rather than artists.  I don’t think any of us want that.

Artists, stop apologizing so much.  If you have to change your art to please some people, then you inevitably lose others.  If some people don’t want your work because of what it involves, guess what…that’s normal.  Not every person in the world is going to read my book, like someone’s painting, or play your game.  Make the stories you want to tell.  Create the art you want to share.  Never apologize for creating what’s in your heart.  If you make an honest mistake then own up to it, but when you bring something artistic out of your mind, or your heart and soul, that’s not a mistake, a bug, or an error.