Let’s talk about: Denuvo

As I’m writing this, it’s Halloween and the festivities have me thinking about all kinds of scary things. Ghouls. Goblins. Politics. Very scary stuff. Really, though, there are few things that inspire as much fear as the anti-tamper product Denuvo. The big bad gaming boogeyman. I won’t touch anything that uses it, personally, but rather than perpetuate the same lies I’ve seen paraded around about how it messes up SSDs and significantly impacts performance (which—let’s not kid ourselves—do seem to be lies and/or exaggerations), I thought it’d be more productive to talk about some of the deeper problems with Denuvo and some inherent problems with the gaming industry that it potentially exacerbates. Read more →

Game accessibility, new fans, and Fire Emblem

Radiant Dawn, my favorite entry in the Fire Emblem series and quite possibly my favorite game of all time, sells for something like 75 dollars used. The game before it, Path of Radiance (which is also a great game) costs almost double that on Amazon right now, again for a used copy. Being an early fan of something is hard, and this is doubly true when that something has been as comically mismanaged as Fire Emblem; Nintendo has consistently printed too few copies of Fire Emblem games to meet the demand from fans, leading to these ballooned prices that make many of the best games in the series unobtainable for anyone who didn’t snatch a copy early, and for a long time this allowed Nintendo to believe that there was no demand for the series here. This, despite PoR and RD receiving rave reviews from fans. I think this is what makes the success of Fire Emblem Fates so frustrating to me; this is really only the second Fire Emblem game they’ve actually marketed in any meaningful way (and even then, far more than Awakening) and printed enough copies of, so it’s no wonder the game is selling as well as it is. It’s merely tapping into demand that’s always been there. Still, one could easily be fooled into thinking that the Fates games somehow deserve more recognition than earlier games. Read more →

Dear Square-Enix: what the hell is wrong with you?

[UPDATE: The always-on DRM in Lightning Returns has been stripped out. There’s apparently still a requirement that cloud saves be on, which is weird, but from what I’ve been able to tell from reading users’ stories on the Steam forums, saves stay offline if you don’t sync to the servers. To be honest, this whole thing has rubbed me the wrong way and done a ton of damage to my opinion of Square-Enix, but at least they finally realized how stupid their original decision was.]

Dear Square-Enix,

I only rarely plan out the games that I’m going to play ahead of time, but I had a good chunk of December mapped out in a way that made me genuinely happy. I just finished playing through Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic 2 for the first time in what must be a decade to get in a Star Wars mood before the new movie comes out, and I figured the cherry on top would be following that up with Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII, which we all know is the third game in your XIII trilogy. Given the fact that my PS3’s disc drive is broken and I’ve no real motivation to find out how to fix it, I was content to wait until it saw a PC release. There were many frustrating delays, of course, but I was happy to wait if it meant the PC version was released in a better state than the first two games. Now, it’s no secret that I loathed the first two games for various reasons, but I’m already invested in the series and I’ve heard that the third game is the best one. Who knows? Maybe I’d even end up liking it. Crazier things have happened, and it is the season of magic and rampant commercialism. We both stood to gain. Imagine my surprise, then, when I found out that Lightning Returns uses always-online DRM. You do remember that this is a single-player game, correct? I don’t know if this DRM is intentional or just the result of someone whose job revolves around cloud saves failing spectacularly, but I have to be completely honest—neither possibility is inspiring a great deal of confidence in you. Pirates are already playing the game (with offline saves, it should be added), so any argument for this DRM revolving around piracy is already dead in the water. I have to ask: what the hell is wrong with you, Square-Enix? Read more →

Life Is Strange theories

Life Is Strange is the last game I’ve played as of this writing, and I loved it. I can’t remember another game that’s allowed me to become so totally invested in its characters, and that’s saying a lot considering how many of those characters are of the “dumb insecure teenager” type that so often manages to be little more than grating. Even my cold, unfeeling heart was sporadically moved to feel twinges of emotion over the course of the game’s five episodes. That said, there are a number of niggling story details that didn’t add up to me. Are they plot holes left there to slowly drive me mad? I suppose that’s always a possibility, but I still can’t help but believe that a lot of the stuff in the game is purposeful and hinting at the truth behind the events in the game being more complex than it first appears. Oh, and in case it’s not painfully apparent yet, this post will be full of hella spoilers, shaka brah, so stop reading unless you’ve finished the game or just don’t care. Read more →

80 Days: How to get the Goland ending

The very first time I played through 80 Days, I stumbled onto Goland, the Mongolian princess who you meet (and are potentially kissed by) while traveling through Russia. It ended rather abruptly, however, and despite my attempts to follow her and find a less bitter resolution, I eventually ran out of money, forcing me to leave it as a dangling plot point that never got tied up. As it turns out, it’s possible to have her appear at the ending, but this requires doing things in a very specific order. I’ve worked out a route that should allow you to get this ending while still making it back within 80 Days, and I’ve made a point to test a number of different things to figure out what triggers this ending and what you should absolutely not do. Read more →

Super Mario Land and the magic of mental bookmarks

Somewhere, hidden beneath a metric ton of stuff that’s slowly accumulated in my closet or one of the million other places I haphazardly throw things into and then forget about, lies a cartridge of Super Mario Land. I can’t quite remember if it’s the same one I had growing up, but part of me suspects that it probably is. If you’re thinking, “Oh no, he’s about to launch into another of his boring childhood stories that only tangentially involve games,” then you’re totally right! Unlike many of my other stories, though, this one is more than mindless blathering, instead serving to illustrate how strong of a mental bookmark games are capable of being. Just so we’re all on the same page, what I mean by a “mental bookmark” is a reaction that’s just short of synesthetic and that’s caused by two influential or memorable things happening in a short span of time to the point where they become inextricably linked. An example most people can relate to would be listening to a song while talking to a boyfriend/girlfriend to the point where hearing that song causes you to think of that person, even years later. Read more →

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