Steam’s DRM removal myth

Let me start off by saying that this isn’t going to be a hit piece. I don’t hate Steam, or at least not like I used to; the offline mode was a mess and would stop working every other month back when I first started using it, but it’s been solid for quite a few years now and I’ve discovered fun tools like Smart Steam Emu that help with preservation to the point where Steam’s DRM—which not all games even use—is practically a non-issue. For me, at least. That’s not to say that I don’t have any complaints about it, but this isn’t really about Steam itself so much as the seeming myth about the store and its DRM. It’s a claim that you’ll sometimes see pop up out of nowhere with no attribution or proof whatsoever in the middle of Steam-is-DRM arguments: “if Steam goes out of business, they’ll patch the DRM out of all of the games!” Read more →

It’s weird when evil corporations make games about evil corporations, right?

Take a second to consider just how many games eventually turn into a scrappy underdog story where the little guy/gal becomes filled with righteous purpose and takes up arms against an unfeeling corporation, usually one that’s hellbent on control over the populace in some form or another. Now consider how many of those games are made by the very same types of corporations that such a description would apply to. This is something that’s been bugging me for awhile because it’s starting to feel like self-flagellation. Or maybe the developers working under these evil corporations—cough EA cough so subtle cough—are taking out their pent-up aggression by effectively turning their bosses into game villains? Whatever the case, I can’t help but think that it’s kind of a weird situation for everyone involved. Read more →

9 games missing from the SNES Mini not named Chrono Trigger

If you’re like me, you saw the news that the SNES Mini was a thing and felt excitement at the prospect of a new generation potentially discovering numerous classics, followed by crushing disappointment and seething rage at the conspicuous absence of Chrono Trigger. For all their talk about how much support Square-Enix was going to give Nintendo this time around with the Switch, they really aren’t doing a whole lot to prove their friendship here. Once the initial irritation at CT’s exclusion passed, however, it dawned on me just how many other amazing games weren’t included despite being some of the best the system has to offer. Read more →

PS4 Spiderman may be killed by QTEs

Oooh, now there’s a clickbait title for you. It’s definitely reflective of how I currently feel, however, because having had Youtube recommend the E3 2017 trailer for the new PS4 Spiderman game, I think I might be the only sane person left on the planet. All I’ve seen is effusive praise for it, and yet I was incredibly underwhelmed by the fact that the supposed gameplay trailer was about 25% actual gameplay and 75% in-engine cutscenes and QTE sections. It certainly looks nice, but it appears that it’s going to have long, Telltale-esque sections of doing nothing but watching things happen and occasionally mashing a button. And sometimes running in a direction and pressing a button. How exciting! Read more →

I now accept review codes because realities of the industry blah blah blah

I’ve been working on this site for five years, and in that time I’ve seen smaller sites with shorter, typo-and-inaccuracy-packed reviews leapfrog mine in search results. Paying for games out of my own pocket guaranteed to readers that I wasn’t beholden to any external forces or tempted to soften the blow of harsh criticism with such popular review nothings as “but there’s a solid base here for [developer]’s next game!” Sadly, it also meant that I got games quite a bit later than other review publications, so that pre-release period where fans link to early reviews to weigh their enthusiasm against the opinions of critics is one I’ve missed out on the benefits of almost entirely. No links = no search engine juice = very little site growth. Blame it on the realities of the industry; I gave the whole “no review codes” thing a good go over half a decade, but it doesn’t work if you want a notable number of readers and aren’t willing to delve into the even uglier waters of clickbait. Search engines aren’t like Youtube where there’s an emphasis on discovering new outlets; once you slip beyond the first page of search results, you might as well not exist in the eyes of those doing the searching.

As for accountability/openness, I plan on making a page listing every game I receive a code for [update: this is now live and can be accessed by hovering over the “about” menu item] in addition to disclosing as much at the end of any relevant reviews. Additionally, any Steam codes will go into a new Steam account that I’ll make public and link to on that page. I’ve also been working on undoing some of the privacy settings I’ve had on my PS4 and Xbox One to make it possible to see recently played games and such, but this has proven to be a losing battle thus far.

Deck13’s The Surge is the first game I’ve accepted a review code for, hence the header image. You may be asking yourself, “hey, didn’t that come out already, totally undermining your point about getting reviews out early?” Yep. I requested it before release, but didn’t get the code until a day after it released. I’m assuming that keys will come faster once I’ve built up more of a presence.

Freemium trash: Fire Emblem Heroes Pt. 2

“But wait,” I imagine you thinking, “why would he continue to play an app he considers both trash and a cynical whoring out of his once-favorite series?” To be perfectly honest, I intended to stop playing, but then I caught the flu and spent a lot of time in bed. Besides, there are occasionally things being added, and I’ve figured a few things out since the last time I wrote about Heroes. None of that has changed my opinion of this thing that can only generously be considered a “game”—can we take a second to acknowledge how perfect it is that the acronym is FEH, as in “feh, I guess gaming in general just sucks now if this is considered good”—but I still thought it’d be interesting to cover, and it gives me an excuse to take some shots. Read more →

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