Maturation and Acceptance

I’m a fairly outspoken person. When someone says something I don’t like or agree with, I usually tend to spout off my counterpoint without them asking. It’s a bad habit, but I always deemed myself to be a fair and reasonable person, so I avoid purely bashing on other people’s ideas.

But when it comes to games, I’ve gotten into a bad habit of hating things and assuming I’m right. Now, when my friend let me borrow the latest Castlevania game, “Lords of Shadow”, I wasn’t expecting much. To my surprise and his, I absolutely hated the game.

But why do I feel bad about it? Before starting my journey, my friend let me know that he loved the game. He personally thought it was great and, despite a few awkward sections, was worthy of owning. He even gave me stories of his time at GameStop where he recommended the game and people praised him afterwards.

I figured the same would happen for me. There have been plenty of games I was indifferent about at first that became classics in my eyes, so why not this? Well, to me, the game is a broken mess of bad camera angles, poor collision detection, horrid pacing and overly cryptic story elements.


The graphics are exceptional, though.

My friend loved it, though. So, where did I miss this action classic? He’s not wrong in his opinion, either, but I’m finding it hard to believe he didn’t notice some of the problems this game exhibits.

Did he not notice that your combat roll does nothing? You can literally roll under an attack and still be hit by it, which is asinine. How about that enemies take no hit stun? What’s the point of that devastating combo when enemies will just interrupt you?

I can’t say every aspect of the game was a failure for me. Some of the music I did truly enjoy. This track in particular is entirely absorbing to me:

But then this song is a complete rip off of “God of War”:

The game, to me, just feels like a poor man’s example of modern action gaming. You can’t even control the camera, for fuck’s sake. It’s infuriating. But when I try to see it through my friends I, I do see that a good game exists under the layers of bad.

See, before this title, I never would have accepted a different opinion. My friend and I disagree on a lot of games. For instance, he dislikes Mario and it’s a personal favorite of mine. I loathe “Assassin’s Creed”, but those games are amazing to him.

We even have different views on both of our favorite series of all time; Zelda (though strangely, we both think Wind Waker is the best). He argues that Ocarina isn’t as great as people claim and I tell him that’s blasphemous (it is a tiny bit).

Maybe I’ve finally matured. I always preached that I was accepting and open minded, but I never really put that into practice. “Lords of Shadow” taught me that different opinions can be valid, regardless of how asinine I may think they are.

I may never understand what people see in films like “Top Gun” or why someone would willfully listen to Ke$ha, but maybe they’re on to something. If you can freely enjoy your own things and not be an abrasive jerk about things you dislike, why can’t I?

So, thank you Konami and Kojima. Even though I hate your game, I do understand that people will love it. Hell, I even enjoyed moments of it, so I guess that’s a plus. While I may stumble with accepting opinions in the future, know that you guys really put things in perspective for me.


Maybe my friend is plotting this…nah…

Aamaazing: Japan Hasn’t Lost it’s Touch

While gaming is my oldest past time and I’ve become very passionate about it, not many games have drawn me in during our current generation. I’m not sure if it’s the graphical prowess that’s off putting or the gritty, dark and brown worlds, but there are few games that have really gotten me exceptionally involved.

Cue in Sega and their localization of Yakuza 3 for the PS3. Gosh damn, did I feel like a child playing this game. I don’t think I’ve had as much fun with any game in the past 5 years, other than Street Fighter of course.

Takes parts of Shenmue, Streets of Rage, and Virtua Fighter and you’ve got the basic groundwork of the entire Yakuza series (known as Ryu Ga Gotoku in Japan). The basic setup goes cutscene, dialog, fist fight, cutscene and repeat until done.

My first experience with Yakuza 3 came from the demo on the Playstation Network last February. I was finally able to dig into my PS3 for once, so I figured I’d try something out and see how it went. I only tinkered around with the original Yakuza back in 2006, but I wasn’t really impressed with it.

Low and behold, when I was able to run down the street and drop kick some idiot in the face, I was sold. I had no idea what I was getting into, but it felt intense and immensely enjoyable. I immediately began talking about the game to my friends, though no one cared enough to listen.


A nice kick to the face might work.

That is except for my best friend/brother, Jim. Our argument essentially went like this:

“Buy Yakuza 3.
I don’t really know. What is the game?
Buy Yakuza 3.
No.
Buy Yakuza 3!
No!
Buy the game, dammit!
Alright!”

It’s a decision he didn’t regret. Even he was blown away by it. The HEAT action system is probably the best part of the combat. Once you build up a meter to the degree where your character is glowing in flame, you can press triangle and proceed to provide a gruesome beat down to your opponents.

Like this:

My favorite has to be when you’re drunk and you land a flying scissor spin on the opponent. What the fuck?!

Our favorite experience with this system was a battle near a small bridge in Okinawa. I asked my friend, “Can you throw that guy off the bridge?” Sure enough, we saw a body get lunged into the air and our laughter couldn’t be contained.

I, myself, didn’t play the game until this past February, however. I finally decided enough was enough and I moved my PS3 to a different room and borrowed the game from my friend. I was completely blown away by the proceedings.

I know story telling may be overly dramatic in Japan, but they certainly know how to build strong enemies and exceptional protagonists. Kazuma Kiryu is one of the coolest and most bad ass dudes in gaming and his villains are all kinds of scum.

The first boss, Goro Majima, is such an insane psycho that you can’t help but love him. He refers to you as Kazzy, his laugh is overdone and his eye patch is just ridiculous. It’s incredible when you battle him and the guy seems to be like a more rough and gruff version of the Joker.

The whole plot line with Kazuma’s orphanage even allows for great exposition to fill you in on Kazuma’s past. Most modern Western games don’t allow you to really engage with your character, either foregoing development in favor of more gameplay or simply giving a paper thin plot and allowing the mechanics to speak for themselves.

Yakuza has a few low points, but they truly amp you up for the amazing massacres you lay on people at the end. No man should have to see his orphanage in waste, but the feelings and emotions that the kids pour out really make you want to crack some heads.

Crack heads you will. Even when the game is repetitive (and believe me, it is), the awesome music and hugely cinematic battles make up for it. Kazuma literally smacks down around 100 people in one chapter and that’s before the boss battle.

All the while, I’m sitting there believing I’m 12 again. Games used to be ludicrous amounts of fun and work within their limits. Yeah, you don’t get an in-depth combo system or insanely overpowered enemies, but the pure visual aspect of combat makes up for it.

Hell, even all of the shitty extra minigames are hilarious time wasters. Just try playing Karaoke without laughing. You cannot. My sister and I were clapping along and crying in laughter when Kazuma belted out his cheers of, “Oi, Oi, Oi!”

Yakuza 3 is such a great game that I’ve beaten it twice now and wasted around 68 hours and I really don’t mind. This is exactly what I used to do as a child and I couldn’t be happier.

Also, for the record, I really don’t care that Sega cut content from the US release. Yakuza 4 has all the hostess clubs intact and they are ridiculously pointless in a videogame.