Tuesday, February 15, 2011


Oh my God I want to write about video games for a living. I need some reason to justify the time and money I spend on games but also my writing is so much better when I'm writing about something I actually care about. It's also nearly as fun as playing games themselves. I spend so much time thinking about games, the most obscure parts their history and how they relate to each other and to people. Sometimes I hate having knowledge this encyclopedic about something so trivial (I also hate how arrogant that sentence sounded) so I figure I have to do something with it, something that makes money.

But you have to start somewhere. Upcoming posts will cover my earliest game writings but these pieces were done for free to help get my name out there. Mostly random stuff.

The problem with the internet is that while it can theoretically archive something forever, it can also be gone and without physical evidence you have no proof that it ever existed. For example, I wrote a piece for Kombo.com about Nintendo and the unfair backlash towards their more casual E3 (the electronic gaming expo, the biggest event of the gaming world) 2008 press conference. Unfortunately I've have just now discovered that the article was lost during the site's redesign :(. It's just like the review of a Scorponok transformers toy I did for some website years ago. I've been trying ever since to find it and while I found the email conversation I had with the editor I could never find the review. All I remember is that my name was "Jay Minore" so my little boy identity could be protected from scary internet people.

As for the Kombo article, the best I could do is copy this front page image from a web archive.


Here's the rest of the text

“Too Casual”
Nintendo products may no longer be kiddy but they are definitely casual, right? Well, yes there are many casual games coming from Nintendo but the idea that the entire company is casual is a perception that may have actually been intentionally created by Nintendo. The company went out of its way to brand the Wii as a casual experience in the eyes of the mainstream media. Wii Fit and Wii Sports are the only games you see advertised. However, they need to be advertised in order for their target market to notice them. Meanwhile, core games like Metroid Prime 3: Corruption receive little to no marketing because most people who will buy it probably already know about it. The core learn about their games months in advance through websites and magazines. When was the last time you bought a game because it looked good in a commercial the week before it came out? It’s unfortunate that Nintendo spends so little resources promoting these games, but they still exist and prove that Nintendo is still showing some commitment to their base. Let me just list the games released or to be released on the Wii by Nintendo that I consider core: Zelda, Warioware somewhat, Super Paper Mario, Metroid, Mario Galaxy, Battalion Wars, Fire Emblem, Smash Bros, Mario Kart somewhat, Wario Land: Shake It, Fatal Frame IV, the Mario sports games somewhat, Excite Truck somewhat and Pikmin 3. That doesn’t even include quality third party games under the radar like No More Heroes and MadWorld. Being a core Wii gamer involves seeking out the games you want because they’re not going to just fall in your lap like on the 360.

“Too Easy”To all of the people saying that Nintendo’s core games have been “dumbed down” for casuals, remember that so much of what made old-school games hard were the limitations of the hardware. Challenge was the only thing making the simple design interesting. All you could do in MegaMan was run, jump and shoot. How do you make that engaging? You make it hard as hell. Today, games can be so complex that the controls themselves are challenging enough. Add artificial challenges, like fewer lives or more enemies and you risk becoming frustrating rather than fun. Perhaps some core Nintendo games could stand to be more challenging, though they often contain challenging elements that are  difficult to find like Hyper Mode in Metroid, The Cave of Ordeals in Zelda, The Purple Coin challenges in Mario and the tournament scenes for Smash and Mario kart, but in the end they are still good games. Ease and accessibility certainly shouldn’t keep a core gamer from trying them.
“Too Soon to Judge”
At their E3 2008 press conference, Nintendo said that they use core games to get Wiis into homes where they will then be played by casual gamers. Part of the problem may be that they blew their load of core games too fast and now that there isn’t anything ready to show in time, it appears that they will stop making core games all together. That is absurd. I think what we have here is a situation similar to the N64. There are only so many games Nintendo can put out and the third party support is weak. People complained that the N64 didn’t have enough games. Now that there are casual games on the Wii by Nintendo and third parties, in addition to the limited number of core games mentioned above, it creates the illusion that casual games are being made instead of core games. I believe that Nintendo will still continue to make core games, they just need time.
The “straw that broke the camel’s back” for core gamers and what was basically the impetus for writing this editorial was Nintendo’s showing at E3 2008. Yes it was disappointing, so much so that they apologized for it. However, that is partially because of the decline of E3. When was the last exciting E3?  2006.  When was the last exciting Nintendo conference? 2006. Either way, it is ridiculous to predict the entire focus and direction of a company as secretive and multi-faceted as Nintendo based on one or two press conferences.

Then I wrote some stuff for GamingTarget.com. They're a cool site and if I kept writing for them I probably could've gone to events or have gotten free games. I had some freedom and the editors were really thorough. Plus some stuff got put on the huge Gonintendo blog and they influence the Metacritic review score aggregator so that's cool. It moved some of the average scores by like a point. I heard PR people for games get bonuses based on Metacritic scores so I really hoped I denied someone food because I'm a great, completely ethical journalist. But I stopped because at that point I really wanted to start getting paid for my work.

Mario vs. Donkey Kong: Minis March Again Review

Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles: Echoes of Time Wii Review, and the DS Review

Article of Nintendo's "Art style" series of games.

And for fun here's my review of the Watchmen movie for my school newspaper.

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