Archive for October 2017

Sonic Forces Demo is Good!

October 26, 2017

Okay, two things: First of all, yeah “a post a day” is a kind of bad idea as it can often result in hasty, poorly thought out posts so I’m not gonna force myself to do that because we’ll just wind up with crap but I’ll be sure to remember to update as often as possible.


But secondly: The Sonic Forces demo is good and people need to quit with the click baiting!

If you’re unfamiliar, recently a demo for the upcoming Sonic Forces popped up on the Japanese Nintendo Switch eShop. The catch is that you can only play for one minute before the game cuts you off so you can’t even beat a stage. You just barely get started and it stops.

This has lead to a number of articles and videos talking about how “The Sonic Forces demo is bad!” which has lead to people leaping to conclusions and going “Oh no! Another bad Sonic game!” which in turn has lead to Sonic fans flipping out and…it’s just a mess.

I may have written an article called “Sonic and the Worst Fandom Ever” (which has been dethroned by the way. Steven Universe fans are waaaaaaay worse! Makes Sonic Fans seem downright awesome by comparison) but I feel for ’em. That article was written from a place of love for Sonic Fans as so many of my friends ARE Sonic Fans and I enjoy the series myself.

Right now Sonic Fans are on edge. Colors and Generations were good but it has been a while since they came out. Meanwhile Sonic Mania is perhaps TOO good! So good that many people have taken back their former praise of Colors and Generations. This is unfortunate because while Mania is good, it lacks the things that make modern Sonic fun. Some folks love the cheesy vocal music, piles of fun characters, and almost hilariously overly serious plots with gigantic flashy melodramatic set pieces. I mean, I know I do! Yeah I’m in the camp that has weird feelings towards Sonic Mania: It is an objectively phenomenal game that’s fun to play but…I’d rather play Sonic Advance 1 myself (which I did and it’s SO AWESOME even if it does have some rough spots) or Colors or Generations.

Anyway, as for that Sonic Forces demo? It drastically exceeded my expectations! I’ve heard a bunch of people say “They should have just ported Sonic Generations to modern systems” but no, I think Sonic Forces feels a bit better. There have been complaints about the overly linear level design but…umm…we’ve seen one minute of the levels and even if they are linear they’re still pretty fun.

My only concern is that you don’t drop your rings in this game?! That’s…a shocking design choice. I admit, I can’t beat the Classic Sonic boss like this. Gonna be interesting to see how this plays out.

The GOOD news though is that the Switch version runs surprisingly smooth and looks okay now! Early videos showed the Switch version running pretty bad so I’m glad to see it has improved. This demo HAS served a purpose: I was trying to decide between the PS4 version (better graphics) or the Switch version (take it with me). I’m going with Switch. Portability is awesome and I wanna grind Original Character Do Not Steal parts on the go.

Agents of Mayhem: Why I Didn’t Buy It

October 23, 2017

So, Volition released a game called Agents of Mayhem a few months back and well…it was a complete flop. Now they’re trying to figure out what happened. Which, for the record, isn’t unusual. After a game releases, all companies do a “post-mortem” where they look at what people like and what people didn’t like so that way they can take it into account for next games and make them even better. Still, when a game flops like Agents of Mayhem did, further investigation is necessary.

Well lemme throw in my two cents. I’ve enjoyed Volition’s work in the past and considered grabbing Agents of Mayhem but ultimately decided against it. I was gonna rent it (because there are still video rental stores in my area) but ultimately didn’t even feel it was worth the $7 to try it for 5 nights.

So what went wrong?

Well for starters the initial trailer was awful. I remember it being shown at E3 with absolutely no gameplay or clue as to what the game even WAS. When we saw named, designed characters and considering what everyone else was showing off, many of us assumed it was an Overwatch-style Hero Shooter or a MOBA and were immidiately turned off.

Why? Well because in a multiplayer game like that, there’s only room for one or two kings of the genre. The handful that EVERYONE plays and the rest fall into disarray. Multiplayer games rely on having a large player base and without them, there’s no point in playing.

Overwatch knocked it out of the park SO HARD with its INCREDIBLE character designs that NOTHING could touch it! Those were some of the best character designs I had seen in more than a decade! When you’re selling your game based on the CHARACTERS, the designs matter a LOT.

Then, well, no one heard much of it. It left a “meh” first impression and nearly everyone wrote it off.

So imagine all our surprise when we found out that it was a single player game and didn’t even have the co-op of Saints Row! What?!

And yet, the taint of it being a “Hero Shooter” stuck with it in every review. Any hero shooter released now is expected to be a total flop and a joke desparately trying to chase the success of Overwatch.

But THEN we look at the gameplay and…this is just a neutered Saints Row! It’s Saints Row 4 but instead of custom characters with custom load outs, you have to pick between a bunch of bland and uninteresting characters with pre-set loadouts!

…and with pre-set characters that means no cruising around the city in a customized car going clothing shopping and making awesome outfits to wear. Yeah…Saints Row 2 might have been the best Barbie game ever made. I might have spent more than 30 hours just doing that.

But this was the problem: The game looked BLAND! None of the characters stood out or were particularly crazy! I mean there’s some good art for the game, but for the most part everyone just looked like a custom character I could make in Saints Row 4. If you’re gonna restrict the player to premade characters then you need to go all in! Where the heck was our gatling gun wielding dragon man who can fly? Where’s our super small foul mouthed pixie girl in a thong? Where’s the fucking robot? The aliens? A sentient chainsaw named Rupert?

Better question: Where’s the blonde?

I know that’s a weird one but the characters in the game all seemed really bland for some reason…then I saw a screenshot of Joule in one of the alternate outfits and I was like “WOAH! That actually looks cool! …looks like a knock-off of Suicide Squad Harley Quinn but I like the look! Who is that? Oh. Oh it’s Joule but in an alt outfit! Shoot if that was her normal I might have grabbed the game!”. Shoot I have strongly considered picking up the game BECAUSE of that outfit…but come to find out it’s a Digital Edition only outfit? Sorry I only buy physical.

EDIT: I’m not saying you NEED a blonde, I’m saying every single character in the game has dark black or brown hair. No gingers either and no crazy hair dye or anything!

By the way, pro tip: Uniforms are a bad idea.

I know they don’t ACTUALLY wear uniforms but the way all the promo art looks makes it seem like everyone is wearing purple with black hair. Again, it made them look bland and uninteresting and just not varied at all.

EDIT: Here, I made an image that illustrates the problem perfectly:


So to summarize, the reason I didn’t buy Agents of Mayhem was because it has all the worst elements of Hero Shooters (being too restrictive in what you can do) minus all the GOOD elements (awesome characters, multiplayer). Beyond that it just looked like Saints Row 4 but with less of everything. A Contraction Pack. The only positive I can think of about it is that it has a single player campaign.

The decision to utterly ditch multiplayer in order to have a character switching mechanic was the single dumbest decision in the entire game. “No multiplayer” was THE big complaint about the game and made everyone raise an eyebrow.

But I don’t think Volition understands JUST how important character creation IS.

See, my number one beef with the open world genre has always been the lack of custom characters. Ever since I first heard about Grand Theft Auto 2 I was annoyed that I couldn’t MAKE a character. I assumed it would be a feature down the line but it never was. I mean the whole selling point and angle of the genre is “Go anywhere, do anything! Freedom!” and yet I’m stuck playing this lame guy? I wanna be a hot chick! When can I do that?

GTA never delivered on this. The entire rest of the genre never delivered on this. Anyone who tells you that female characters in games are rare is an idiot who doesn’t know what they’re talking about, but on a genre-by-genre basis it is the free roaming open world games that are most lacking in female protagonists.

When I grabbed the demo of Saints Row 1, I grabbed it as a JOKE. I thought it would be the next 187: Ride or Die but when I popped it in and got to make a custom character? When I maxed out all the sliders and accidentally created a musclebound Richard Nixon (“I am not a crook…I’M STRAIGHT UP GANGSTA!”) I said “If the next game lets me make a female character, I’ll buy it”. Then the next game did. Bought it day 1. It is the greatest game in the entire genre (yes, better than 3 and 4).

More than that though, the character creation in Saints Row is LEGENDARY! It is one of the most talked about features. When people ask “What’s a game with good character creation?” Saints Row is ALWAYS brought up!

I understand the desire for pre-made characters. They’re marketable, you can put ’em on T-Shirts and make Funko Pops of them. They become iconic and beloved and can be tacked on to other products to help sell them. But your characters need to connect with people first.

Johnny Gat is not beloved because of his character design. His character design sucks. He’s beloved because of all the shit he did in Saints Row 2, because he was a fun likeable character. He was indeed well written and interesting. But we only knew that because we got to make our own far more compelling character and tag along with Johnny Gat.

Going forward, Volition, my advice would be: Make your next game built around custom characters. I admit, I have a huge bias here because I freaking love custom characters. But the character creation in Saints Row is legendary. You make a game with character creation and people will say “A game with character creation from the makers of Saints Row?! This is gonna be AWESOME!”. Believe it or not, more people know Saints Row for great character creation than they do for Johnny Gat.

Better still? That completely frees you from the Saints Row brand. You can have a COMPLETELY different art style, setting, and everything as long as the character creation is good because people do associate Saints Row with great character creation.

Anyway, that’s just my opinion. Take it or leave it. But I will say I just bought WWE2k18 and I don’t know shit about wrestling. I wonder why I bought it then…


OF COURSE GEL loves VR! *eyeroll*

October 21, 2017

If I told you I love VR, would you really be surprised? I have a soft spot for crazy new tech when it works.

Alas, far too many people think in binary extremes. Something is either good or it’s bad, it’s great or it’s shit. Whenever new tech comes along the question then becomes: Is it a revolutionary device that will CHANGE GAMING FOREVER or is it a useless overpriced gimmick? Those are the battle lines that are drawn. We have a tiny handful of VR True Believers insisting VR is the future and a LARGE number of folks shouting about how VR is a stupid gimmick everyone should shut up about.

The thing is, NOTHING will “change gaming forever”. You know why? Because gaming is already fun and being fun is the point of gaming (generally speaking anyway). As I’ve said in the past: Pac-Man and Tetris will never go out of style and no piece of new technology will make them “better”. Different perhaps, but not better. Standard controller and buttons gaming will never go out of style. Even when we have holodecks, you know what we’re gonna do? We’re gonna use them to generate an old CRT and an NES.

…and then we’ll complain about the emulation inaccuracies. On the holodeck.



…you know I’m right.

To make matters worse, Nintendo successfully ruined the term “immersive” by using it as a flimsy excuse for building an entire console around a controller they accidentally put together BACKWARDS and didn’t wanna admit they fucked up. So people just say “Well you don’t need VR to be immersed in a game so clearly VR is a stupid overpriced gimmick!”

Know what else you don’t need to be immersed in a game? A big screen TV. Yet getting a big screen TV for gaming is something a lot of people would like. THAT is what VR is: an infinite inch big screen TV. Infinite because you get the game ALL AROUND YOU and in 3D to boot!

Suddenly VR makes a little more sense, right?

Indeed I wish I could play every game in VR even if they don’t benefit from it. I’ve already gotten a taste of that with Infinite Minigolf, a game available on pretty much everything but the PS4 one tacked on some PSVR support because they could. It doesn’t change the gameplay AT ALL. It’s not first person, you don’t use the Move, it is the EXACT SAME GAME just you’re surrounded by the game world…AND I LOVE IT!

This is why I think VR will take off…NEXT console generation. Because then you could just build in VR support for all 3D games on a system level and yes this is possible. Believe it or not, there’s a VR version of the Dolphin Gamecube/Wii emulator floating around out there which lets you play any Gamecube/Wii game in VR. Wish I had the tech to try it for myself but it looks super promising and if we can just make any Gamecube or Wii game VR, then we could totally build a system around universal VR support!

Now obviously you DO NOT REQUIRE VR. Not everyone likes it, not everyone can afford it (though I expect it to be MUCH cheaper by next generation), do NOT make this an XBox One Kinect situation it WILL tank your system. Oh sure, sell a bundle pack that comes with it just don’t require it.

But what is it I like so much about VR?

Well to be honest, the surrealness. See, the videos of VR do not do it justice as all you see is a blurry low-res shaky image. But inside VR you actually see the entire game world all around you in 3D and yes I think 3D is a bit of a gimmick normally. However, in VR where you can look at objects from multiple angles, the 3D is much more interesting. The head tracking is super tight and the result is that you are replacing your 3D view of the real world with a 3D view of a GAME world. Couple that with some solid 3D surround sound via headphones and some games can give you a trippy sense on “being there”.

The strange lonliness I felt when doing the practice courses in SPARC was unbelieveable. I really felt like I was alone inside a metal box floating in space just bouncing a ball around. It gave me chills. Not every VR game pulls this off but when they do it is a trip.

Then there’s the sense of scale. When I rise up out of the elevators in RIGS and look around the massive battle stadium, I really get a sense for the SIZE of it all! Does that added sense of size change gaming forever? No, but it does make for a very compelling experience I can’t get on a flat TV.

Of course, my favorite is when I get a VR body. When I played the EVE: Valkyrie demo for the first time, I remember marvelling at how the body moves along with me as I swayed when I noticed my chest looked a bit odd. I tried to crane my head around to see if it was what I thought it was only to see my crotch and wide child bearing hips in the skintight flight suit my avatar was wearing. Well. Question answered then. (For the record the full game lets you choose a male avatar, but the demo is female only)

That got more surreal with Ancient Amuletors, a tower defense wave shooter out of China where you play as a variety of different heavily designed characters, each with their own unique method of attacking. One fires a bow, another generates and throws magic orbs, yet another wields dual shotgun pistols and so on. What’s fascinating is that this game is played standing up with full 1:1 motion tracking and the characters are designed in such a way that EVEN THEIR HANDS have character and personality to them.

…and the archer is a busty elf babe with awesome leather gauntlets and pink painted fingernails. Yeah. It was weird…but in a fun way! Honestly makes me wonder when someone will take this idea further, have a game all about posessing random bodies or shape shifting and people reacting to you differently depending on who you are. It would also be cool to watch your own arms hulk out or turn into werewolf claws or something.

Again, that’s not a game changer. But it’s also not something you can get on a normal TV. Remember we’re talking 1:1 motion tracking so where your arm is in real space? It correlates near perfectly to where the elven archer’s dainty hands are in virtual space.

Which DOES bring up the one thing VR actually DOES improve: Motion Controls.

Yup. VR by its very nature is a form of motion control. Think about it: what defines VR? The visor/goggles/HMD which tracks your head movement in 3D space and that in turn controls the in-game camera. Your head MOTION CONTROLS the camera. Motion control.

Of course if you’re already tracking a head in space, why not track some controllers too? The result is REAL 1:1 motion control where the PSMove is the MINIMUM quality of control that would work. No Wiimote waggling and laggy Kinect gestures allowed. Cripes that would be awful in VR.

I’ve already spoken at length about how motion control actually IS potentially revolutionary, not because it improves existing games but because it can create new genres and possibilities!

But how does VR improve it? Spacial awareness. When using 1:1 motion control on the PS3 with the Move, it was like puppeteering the on screen character. You had to think “This glowstick in my hand represents the sword on screen. How I move my glowstick is how the sword will move.” Though the Move was quite accurate, you could still have a little trouble aiming your motions.

In VR, however, you’re not looking at a screen. You look to your left or right and where your hand is in real space? That’s where your virtual hands are in virtual space. It’s not “this glowstick represents an on-screen sword”, it’s “in the virtual world, I have a sword in my hand”. This makes swinging much more natural and accurate as I experienced with Fruit Ninja VR. I should make a side-by-side comparison video as one of the Move fitness games had a frisbee slicing mode that was very similar and I could easily notice the difference in my accuracy between the two.

Alas, the concept of motion control has been kinda ruined to most people. Shoot, if the reception to Starfox Zero is any indication then most folks may actually have some kind of weird motion control PTSD!

…and yet they still won’t admit that the Wiimote is a busted piece of poorly designed crap that didn’t work because Nintendo put it together backwards.

Whatever. I could probably compile these feelings into a more eloquent and concise article later on, but I think you get the point: I love VR, but I think it needs a few more years to become mainstream as people work out the remaining kinks: price, figuring out how to actually MAKE VR games, and solving the motion sickness problem (which is more complex than most people realize…might need to explain that later but the long and short of it is: everyone’s motion sickness is different and there is no one singular solution to it and in some cases a solution for one person will make another person sick). I think VR isn’t so revolutionary it will change gaming forever, but I do think it is incredibly compelling and does offer some interesting and surreal experiences you can’t get normally. And, you know, I love the PS Move so much I pretty much bought a VR headset just for it (though even I admit the button layout is awful).

BUT! I DO understand why a lot of people hate VR or are very negative towards it and perhaps we’ll explore that later. Either way I have one last thing I wanna say:

The Nintendo Switch is my dream console. I’ve wanted a portable/console hybrid since I was like 5 or 6 years old. On top of that, it has so many of my favorite games it is absurd: the first official US release of Waku Waku 7, an unbutchered real Puyo Puyo game complete with Draco Centarus, a new Blaster Master game which lets you play as Shantae as well as a Shantae game I might have Kickstarted for $200, a game about playing dress-up with cute tentacled girls, a weird simplified boxing game featuring a hot black chick who fights with giant pigtails, and even a new Penguin-kun Wars! At this point all it needs is an amazing rail shooter and we’re in business!

…and yet, I have used my PSVR far more. I have found myself prioritizing getting more PSVR games over other kinds of games and I have used it regularly since the day I got it. I do not recommend it wholeheartedly due to the large pricetag and unusual game library that mostly consists of weird $20 indie experiments. However, I can safely say that there is SOMETHING there.

…and yeah lets make a GEL Rambles About VR Again tag. We’re gonna need it.

Wise Fwom Yo’ Gwave?!

October 20, 2017

Cripes. “Hey everyone, its been a while!” may as well be my catchphrase at this point! Its seriously been almost TWO YEARS since my last blog post?! Egad this turned from The Hub For All Things GEL to a barren unused wasteland!

So what brought me back? Well I was just reading an article on mattress review blogs and people making money by writing about mattresses and I said “HA! I wish I could do that with a videogame blog!” and then I remembered the good old days on LiveJournal.

SOMEHOW, my LiveJournal got a weirdly decent number of hits. New people always popped up out of nowhere to comment and to this day I still stumble into my LiveJournal sometimes in Google Image Searches. This was because I had a “Post to LiveJournal” link on my link bar at all times and anytime the fancy struck me I’d just tap that and make the magic happen. I’d post about all sorts of random crap from the newest game I got to random waifu finds. It was dumb, but hey so is the internet sometimes.


But THEN I wanted to be all “professional” and moved to WordPress and categorized things. My desire to be professional caused me to lock up and not post anymore. I overthought things and it was a mess.

Then things just started getting political and divisive and I had a hard time writing ANYTHING without controversial politics creeping just around the corner. It’s actually quite irritating because of course I have “political” opinions of my own I’d like to post about but at the same time I totally understand everyone being sick and tired of seeing videogames getting politicized. Be the change you wanna see and all.

But anyway, I realized that there are so many things I can write about that I don’t entirely know where to throw it and you know what? You never know when a random internet searcher will stumble upon your stupid blog because they share the same interests as you and your dumb posts are exactly what they needed.

ON that note: Yes, The Rail Shooter Archive is still in the back of my mind. I am literally sitting next to a pile of rail shooters. I just haven’t been in a rail shooty mood so my passion to write about them isn’t there at the moment. My gaming moods come in “seasons” and once Rail Shooter Season strikes once again, I’ll go in whole hog…or I might do a video just to do a video. Either way the site serves its primary purpose: To provide a large list of all the chase-view rail shooters I could find for any fellow rail shooter enthusiasts desperately searching for such a thing as I once did.

ANYWAY! I’m thinking it’s time to do my New Years Resolution early. I just bookmarked my post button and made a section for random bloggy rambling. I’m gonna try and post something, ANYTHING, no matter how minor and stupid at least once a day and see what happens. See how long I can keep it up.

Place your bets for how many weeks until I give up.

BUT! There’s MORE! See, I actually have a radio show now. As I was working towards a degree, in one of my classes we did radio interviews for our final and in two different classes that did this, everyone said I had a great voice for radio and should look into it. Well I did and am doing GameBabble Live at the local college radio station.

That means I can advertise this goofy blog there on the show! So…you know…that might be an idea.

If you’re wondering, the station is 89.5FM KCFV The Wave and thanks to the magic of the internet you can listen to it on a number of different sites. Like right here:

Show airs Wednesdays from 1-3PM Central Time


Anyway, here’s hoping I actually get back to blogging and sharing my bizzarre opinions with the internet. While we’re here though, what are your thoughts on more “political” posts? Should I avoid them entirely, put a warning before them, or make a separate blog for them? I have a feeling “just don’t” is probably the best option, but lemme know in the off chance any of the 5 regulars swing by here again.