Resident Evil 2

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The release of Resident Evil 2 back in the day was a landmark moment for many gamers of my generation. Back then, lines weren’t quite so drawn between who gamed X or Y platform. We each had diverse consoles, Sega was still in the race with the greatly underrated Dreamcast released the same year. It was all a big melting pot of sharing games and consoles. Like many of my peers at the time, I only owned one console but bought many games for all the home devices on the market. We’d share around both our games and devices, to the enjoyment of all. Even playing single player games like Resident Evil 1 was a community effort where we all sat down and played. It was a great support system especially after experiences the jump scares, alone, at night. You just wish you had your buds next to you for support.

Incidentally, I remember my troubles during the PS1 era. I was adequately a big N follower (I still am but as maniacally). I did not have a Sony console and would not have one until the end of the PS2’s life cycle, during the peak of the PS3. Playing games such as RE mean leaving the borrowed console powered on and restarting entire levels after death because I did not have a memory card. This was resolved soon enough and I made it a point thereafter to always obtain every means of saving games possible for whatever console came out. I did not have the devices but you can bet I had their cards somehow. All of which was defeated once consoles started shipping with internal hard drives.

RE2 was difficult back then, like many games of the time. It was more than a question of the clunky controls (yes, we all remember the characters were actually two-legged panzers…), but the sheer level of unforgivingly slim margin for error. Furthermore, it was quite scary in a way we did not expect. It wasn’t the first “horror” game I played. But it was the first one on consoles for me, and it went to lengths I did not expect for a home medium which is usually rather colorful. I would expect this on most of my PC games but not here. Side note: I was for a very long time 80% PC gamer with 20% left for exclusives on consoles that may interest me.

Resident Evil 2 in 2019 is all of that…..times 10.

I am glad to see that most reviews also agree with this and it is not unexpected. Technology in the past gave us the best version of RE2 that it could. Technology in 2019 just gave us the means to play the RE2 that we, gamers, deserve. It’s a great start for those who never played the classic version. But, in my opinion, those who grew up with RE, like me, will enjoy this the most. This is not a review, it is an opinion and a bit of advice to go play it.

Now, excuse me while I go pray to the universe that someone does Silent Hill 2 at least half as good a service by remaking it to THIS stellar quality.

Opinion on Starlink: Battle for Atlas

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About now some of you interested in gaming have heard about “Starlink: Battle for Atlas”. Given the price point of entry, a lot of regular gamers will want to try it out in digital or physical versions just for the sake its genre mash-up. As put by a few YouTubers, quite rapidly after release, this game should have been called Starfox’s No Man’s Skylanders. Obviously from the name, one can easily deduce what trifecta? it seems to heavily inspire on.

Ubisoft may have stricken gold with this in all forms. There is most prominently the physicality of the regular (non-digital) versions of the game. All console base versions come with a physical ship and a pilot, except for the Nintendo Switch version which comes with Starfox as a pilot along with his trusted Airwing ship and another pilot from the game’s story. This is all well known at this time and been covered by games media. Consequently, for those who rather dislike digital versions of games, they will necessarily try out the toys even if they never were quite fans of such things. Heck, some people may discover they like actually having a physical ship on their controller to maneuver the ship on screen. And let’s not forget the compulsive collectors… As a result, a percentage of buyers will end up purchasing an upgraded weapon or extra ship/pilot pack and what will this add up to? Bundles of cash for Ubisoft!

By now, from reviews and videos, a lot has been said concerning the gameplay etc. As a reminder, whatever version of the software you opt to buy, this is and remains the most Starfox game ever, even for those who do not have the Switch version ; it is also the No Man’s Sky we were promised on day one as well as a great Skylanders type of game (toys to life). Which explains the long moniker used to create the new title lol. Controls are satisfying for me, although it can take a while to remember Starfox strategies from my old days, they are important in order to easily survive.

I have to point out, if it weren’t obvious to some, how Ubisoft is doing an amazing support of the Big N of late. They even have the very latest Assassin’s Creed on the Switch, albeit in streaming version only. Sure, it’s only in Japan for now, but even if it never makes it to the West, the fact that it was *done* anywhere at all is amazing. We already saw during the 1st year of the Switch how surprisingly good Kingdom Battle was. It was a true Rabbids game (those guys are nuts!) and a true Nintendo game with an Xcom framework. One does begin to see the mash-up trend does one not?

Ubisoft showed well how certain games can translate “well” to the platform and how AAA Third Party games don’t need to be just ports of past iterations. And now, with this new IP, they have made a multiplatform game where the best version in terms of content(both digital AND physical) happens to be on the Nintendo Switch.

The other versions are great in terms of technical performance since they are on much stronger platforms. Nevertheless, having both a PS4 and a Switch, it was a no-brainer for me as to which version of Starlink would be worth my money. Starfox means something to me. It was the very first game I possessed on the N64 and one of those out of which I got the most enjoyment with my friends (split-screen battles!). With all the extra dedicated story content, seeing the characters in a space exploration action-adventure is awesome. Without them, without the related exclusive content, Starlink still feels like an open-galaxy (see the wordplay there?) Starfox without humanoid animals.

Ubisoft is on a roll with the Switch. I actually feel like trying the newest Assassin’s Creed although I had sworn them off after AC: Unity. There is hope that the company has taken a form I can like again. Needless to say, Starlink BfA is one game I highly recommend to at least try. I have completed so far the entire main story as well as the Starfox content. There is still much to do such as completely scanning the fauna and flora, getting rid of Outlaw bases (I annihilated the dreadnoughts as soon as I could though). It’s just too bad there doesn’t seem to be a demo available. It would be so much more beneficial to the publisher in my opinion. At least half those who would’ve experienced the demo would surely buy it( by the way, it’s almost half off the price at the moment at most retailers).

Boss Fight Books 17/19: advance reviews

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Books 17 and 19 of Boss Fight Books series happen to be from two different seasons. Book 17: Katamari Damacy is the final book of season 3 while Book 19: Shovel Knight is the second book of Season 4. Having read all the books released thus far, it’s quite striking to notice the difference in feel among them. Season 4 of BFB is dubbed “Creator Access Edition”. As the name suggests it focuses most on the different studios and people involved in the creation of the chosen focus of the books. In contrast, many of the past books in this series were so much more about describing the games themselves in their intimate entirety in regards to narrative, but also the relationship of the author to said games. I should point out then that one of the books which most related to the author was Spelunky, Book 11, written by Derek Yu….the games creator!

As a backer of the season 4 of Boss Fight Books on Kickstarter, I am entitled to the entirety of the series up to the current season. Nevertheless, I received advance copies of both books for the purpose of this review. A big thanks to BFB and Gabe Durham for this opportunity! On with the books…

**Katamari Damacy

kata

Katamari Damacy is one those strange quirky games that your best friends may frown upon when they see you playing it, but secretly itching to get their hands on the controller. In my mind, I have difficulty dissociating it from Patapon which elicited similar reactions from my peers whenever I was found enjoying it. As the author points out in this books, this is a work leaning most on great gameplay, novelty and fun. It is a work of art in that it can be interpreted in depth despite its simplicity, it presents not the shallowness often coupled to the superficial fluff of improved graphics at the time. To this day I do not really always care about how pretty a game can be; a lot of people are rediscovering this fact in themselves, the critical acclaim and the sales of Octopath Traveler attest to that.

As the final book of Season 3, Katamari Damacy takes an approach more similar to the books of Season 4. It focused a lot on the creator’s journey up to and beyond the release of the game. I felt a great parallel between it and Shovel Knight which releases with it in a few days. The author did a solid overview of certain culture particularities related to the Japanese which quite frankly would have gone way over our western heads had he not written about them. Those part are some of the most interesting, more creators should, with their cultures, be this unapologetic about their unique aspects.

**Shovel Knight

Shovel

This book takes a very investigative approach to its subject. It is very more in line with my thoughts on what creator access should be, and very special in that it is as much the story of WayForward (WF) as a company as it is about the IP itself. Many publishers have had their story told and retold in a way that we could actually recite them verbatim. Examples of this are Id Software, Nintendo, Square-Enix. The story of WF relates as they represent in a way the dreams of many of us gamers who dreamt of being creators, and at the same time, they have lived through some of the hard times that we can easily imagine happens when one takes the route of independent development. It is not difficult to understand that many such teams of developers never survived beyond a game or two. Following their journey towards themselves as a group of friends and colleagues become something bigger, then towards their dream which culminated in one awesome modern NES game, was a blast. Theirs was a true journey, with many downs but their ups reached some interesting peaks to balance everything out. I would not mean to spoil anything from the narrative, nevertheless, I must that it was amazingly serendipitous that so many of their favourite creators from the golden era of the NES/SNES could meet with them, even collaborate in Shovel Knight!

Both of these books achieve their goal and the research/interviews were well done for me. Naturally, I do find myself partial to any story of an indie studio, whether of success or failure. If Katamari Damacy had focused more on the big publisher (Namco) instead of the true creator hidden behind this corporate juggernaut, I would not have like it as much. I enjoyed both books, and I recommend both, especially Shovel Knight simply for the fascinating tale of Wayforward Studios. Both Boss Fight Books come out in a couple of days. They can be easily found on Amazon: Katamari Damacy (Boss Fight Books Book 17) and Shovel Knight (Boss Fight Books) or at Boss Fight Books.

Detroit: Become Human

It’s not so much about the story but the presentation of it. Similarly, the level of involvement makes for a more immersive experience. Naturally, a player *can* choose a more casual play approach, but, I do not recommend it.

Apart from Omikron: The Nomad Soul (which encompassed many different sub-genres), Quantic Dreams affairs much like the point and clicks of yore, are often backed by story and a certain cinematic pizazz to it all. A common moniker for such experiences: “interactive movie”. More recently, Telltale had had great success with their Walking Dead series, especially given that they had been multiplatform. As of late, Quantic Dream has focused more on console exclusivity for their IP. Very few of their games came out on PC and even so only in the very recent year with some announced upcoming on the Epic Games Store. One of the very first games I played from this developer was, of course, Omikron, but the one I liked the most and actually finished back then was Fahrenheit, more than a decade ago. Americans will know it as “Indigo Prophecy”, a name which I didn’t quite like but that is just one opinion…

Nevertheless, watching a movie is one thing, participating is another. There is a level of emotional engagement involved in choosing words, actions, reactions of a character and changing the story. Netflix tried to incorporate this in their movie “Bandersnatch”. Although it made less noise than I expected, I believe it was a first success nonetheless. There is an amazing amount of work gone into such stories. How often have you watched a movie and groaned at a specific character’s choice and wished you could just tell the idiot to “look out!” or do something else? Netflix has created a precedent in the movie industry. Even in gaming, not many apart from and David Cage’s Quantic Dream dare tackle this beast.

Imagine: for a specific scene you need to shoot as perfectly as possible a specific course of actions and consequences, action and reaction from multiple characters. Then, you have to go back and *reshoot* for alternatives. The handy flowchart in Detroit easily illustrates what his entails for one episode. Every node has to be mapped out, breaching out to different outcomes and each means extra work for the actors, the film crew, the writers, the graphic artists etc. When you sit and think about it, it is grueling and difficult work. It gives a whole different perspective on the 40 and so dollars I paid for it. Quantic Dream did not twiddle their thumbs and just “land” the game on our laps.

Detroit: Become Human is not entirely grounding breaking in its narrative. It takes concepts, which were the core of “I, Robot” by Asimov and puts a certain modern or “realist” spin on it. XXX, the undertones of slavery and the parallels to the segregation of the black population/ the apartheid are vibrantly evident. To go farther into this, I would recommend actually playing through in a less casual way. At the same time, there is the surprising fact that in many cases, which I shall not disclose, playing a character to the best of their persona will not be what you, as a player, desire. Needs and goals can clash. Going fully into “X” person’s character and M.O. may be detrimental to another. I should have expected this but I did not. It felt so much like playing a movie that I forgot characters you play can die if your choices, with them or with others, lead there. At the same time, I found out though that not all NPC deaths are immutable. It is not impossible to find ways to “save” them or keep them alive for as long as can be. Hint: always check the flowchart to guess what could be feasible.

All in all, Detroit: Become Human is an enjoyable experience for lovers of story-heavy games and choose-your-own-adventure books. Much of the important moments of the narrative are based upon the given characters own agency. Nevertheless, you as the player shape that agency to some extent, as well as other characters’ opinion of them. This simple fact makes the story last longer in my own mind. This is especially true given the parallels I can draw to the android plight as a person of color whose race has gone through what they are going.

 

Note: There is a Quantic Dream Collection out since the release of Detroit which includes also Heavy Rain and Beyond: Two Souls. It is a good deal for those who have never played any of those games before. Quantic Dream Collection – PlayStation 4

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2019

New year, new us? Although immensely cliche, it is not uncommon to secretly feel this way at the transition to a new year. “2019 will be a decisive year!”. Every year is decisive. The end of a year is the metric by which we gauge our evolution, comparing to past periods. Every year is decisive in that our actions determine whether we stagnate or move forward. Moving forward can be at breakneck speed or slow as hell. Nevertheless, we strive to keep moving no matter what.
Lately, time has not been on our side: new baby, more work… We started a Patreon page to help fuel our platform. This will also allow co-authors to give more time to their creative endeavors. The time of madly moonlighting on ten jobs to support our passions should come soon. We will be posting free versions of the Kindle exclusive book “Irrévocablement liées” (link). Our patrons will also get the translated English version as soon as it comes out during the year. The first, patrons only, short story is out. We’re having the idea of running a sort of poll to get the community choosing directions for the protagonist’s future challenges. That will depend on how many backers we get along the year.
So, 2019 is here and now! We plan to have a blast this year together, and hopefully, with all of you!

Facets of reality

I’ve recently received a book series for my birthday, picked from a reading wishlist kept on Amazon. I populate the list with books I’ve been meaning to get myself but haven’t budgeted yet and also books I’ve read about in blogs or articles which seemed interesting enough to warrant a try.

The, here unnamed, gifter chose 3 books from an author that I had not heard about before, but they ended up on my list while I was reading an article found by chance, which concerned some interesting and yet not well-known (at least to me) pieces of Sci-Fi literature. On the same day, I added a few books that were coming out during the month of June (my birthday month). Among them were: The Freeze-Frame Revolution, Hybrid Child: A Novel (Parallel Futures), The Robots of Gotham and Summerland. The latter, written by Hannu Rajaniemi, was the most interesting entry for me. It was mentioned, in the paragraph presenting the then future release, that the author also wrote a book series called the “Jean le Flambeur” series which was heavily inspired by the Maurice Leblanc “Arsene Lupin” stories. The three books in the series are, in order: The Quantum Thief (Jean le Flambeur), The Fractal Prince (Jean le Flambeur), The Causal Angel (Jean le Flambeur).

Having looked for these books on Amazon after seeing the mention in the said article (which I cannot for the life of me retrace since I regularly delete browsing history), I was immediately seduced by the premise. Jean le Flambeur, the protagonist (s?) of the stories of the series was very much similar to Arsene Lupin if Lupin lived in a post-humanist world of an extremely morphed future. Needless to say, they appeared at the top of my wishlist along with The Book of M: A Novel, which I also recommend although it requires quite the suspension of disbelief, the happenings being potentially far more magical than scientific speculation/extrapolation (Incidentally, I still have not bought or read Summerland even though it initially was the book I was aiming for). This is not to say that the “le Flambeur” series is any more grounded, but that it rather wades in waters of possibility. Before going any further, I will admit that I did not at first read the author biography or any other information apart from his name on the cover. After reading the first book, I closed the back cover and carefully read the bio. Unsurprisingly, him having degrees in Math and Physics made so much sense, and I’m glad I held out on finding out until after the end.

For anyone not remotely interested in physics or quantum mechanics, these books can be major head scratchers. As I mentioned, Jean le Flambeur is the Arsene Lupin of the post-human future. If anything, by the turn of the last page of the third book he can seem as an archetypal god of mischief, tricky enough to trick himself many times over and across a vast mindscape of his “self”. Any respectable story dealing with physics addresses in some way the nature of reality, or even time travel which is a speck of the previous topic. Rajaniemi handles all of these themes, theories, and aspects in an interesting manner. The lens through which many subjects of quantum physics are observed is that of the mind. How real is a travel back to 1970 if done within a simulation so real that it can be almost indistinguishable from reality even by the keenest consciousness? How real are you, if you also can be other, even given body and with the same level of hierarchical privilege?

The Jean le Flambeur trilogy is a ride to be taken. Above all else, it is a heist story in which the thief is often also the detective. It is also a detective story in which the thief is striving to retrieve that which he himself stole…from himself. One does not an advanced degree in science to enjoy it far from that. Most Sci-Fi aficionados will appreciate how deep the author went deep into certain aspects of physics related themes with little to no hand-holding for the reader. You either figure it out while reading or Google some of the information for a better understanding. I am loath to say more without spoiling bits of the story. I do say bits, as it seems to me a difficult thing to spoil it all without completely writing one book.

As I pondered the intricacies of the three book spanning story, I recognized a familiar flavor at the back of my mind. Following the trail, I found what it reminded me of. There is an episode in Series 4 (or Season 4 for us west of the Atlantic), called USS Callister, from the Black Mirror TV Show. I wonder if it was inspired by this author’s work in a way. Then again, this is at heart mainly a heist/detective story of a gentleman Quantum Thief, the science is universal. The use of said elements of science is quite novel and I highly recommend reading this series, just as much as I recommend watching Black Mirror.

New Book Published!

Time flew amazingly fast for me and before I knew it August moved in!

It has been an interesting time. A friend had been writing for quite a while but never got to the point of actually getting stories out there effectively, apart from episodic shares of one of them on Facebook. After some work together, editing, revising, beautifying, we finally got her published on the Amazon Kindle store!!!

French is our main language, consequently, it is the French edition of the book which is now available in Kindle format. A translated English version is in the works and should be ready soon if we can keep steam after all the current word count is at over 120K!

 

Irrévocablement liés… (French Edition)is a story of maternal love, intrigue, superstition anchored in the realities of the Haitian society. Click on the image above to go try it out and leave a review! There are more stories to come, this will encourage us more to share the many tales that live in our minds, and of course, show my friend Val that she really need to get those other books out there for all to read!!

Elaborated

Feb 11 2006, 4:44 PM


I’ve played Xmen legends during the past two months. Eventually, I finished it. Last week I started on Xmen legends II. Today I’ve already gotten to the final act, did the game get easier from the first to the second opus? Or am I just playing far too much? Or both?

And here is a subject all on its own: med student, last year, how will I play once I start internship? Who will be crazy enough to take the chance and start a family with a madman of gaming such as I? And the questions could go on and on. Oh well, I’ll never change and mostly because I don’t want to. End of discussion. I do hope to have heirs to carry my love of games. Maktoub”

Today’s one-word prompt gave me the idea to find some of my old writings, share them for those who’ve never seen them and Elaborate some ideas within, answer some questions I had left hanging.

X-men Legends was a good game, in my opinion. Fortunately I had written this little bit about it, otherwise, I would certainly not have even remembered it existed on my own. We have all seen many movies, read quite a few books and maybe even played hundreds of games (video, board, card, etc.). But those that really mark us we cannot really forget, for whatever reason that may be. If I would name one of each that marked me:

  • Book: Summer of Night, it’s an oldish one, I read it very young, my first of the Horror genre and it scared me immensely. I read it again about a year ago, I still like the book and I can absolutely see how it could have impacted me the way it did. I was in a school with a building as old as time, reminding me too much of the school the kids go to in the novel
  • Board game: Monopoly Classic Game. A silly but simple reason why. I was young, shopping for something new on Christmas, and the store owner’s daughter was or seemed rather “hot”. In retrospect, I cannot remember what feature qualified her as such to my young eyes, nevertheless, whenever I think of Christmas, I remember Monopoly and I remember her (Isabelle, gleaned from eavesdropping while looking around the shop).
  • Card game: Magic The Gathering. This was the first one I ever saw, tried and played. Back then, I felt that simply getting a hang of the rules was Magic in itself!
  • Video game: Final Fantasy VI. The original North American version, erroneously dubbed Final Fantasy 3 (while in truth it was the 6th game in the series), is the one that I borrowed from a friend one day on the schoolyard. I had little idea of what was in store, but I liked the name. It reminded me that ultra hard NES game I had once tried at another friend’s house. It became my favorite game for a very long time. As many can remember, the story was epic in its main path, but the side activities and the hidden quests related to each character truly open up the story. Both the lore and character development shine with personality, uniqueness. To this day, I still load up at least once a week some track from the Distant Worlds orchestral interpretations. My favorite music from FF6 is the Opera di Maria that the game’s character Celes Chere played in (as Maria)  🙂
  • Movie: if there is one movie that I could name despite having seen it so long ago, it’s Goonies! I rewatched just once about a decade or so ago and I was blown by how well I remembered e-ve-ry single scene as if I’d seen it just the day before. Yes, it’s rather old for some of you, it remains a timeless classic for me which can almost be said for the majority of Spielberg movies…

As for the last question….well, I’ve learned to tone down the intensity of the gaming somewhat. Or rather, I watered it down. By inserting short bursts of play in down times, whenever the significant other is busy, kid sleeping or busy, lunch breaks etc. I managed to still game (I’ve logged almost 200 hrs into Xenoblade Chronicles 2 this year!) while seeming not to. If everyone gets their quality time, who can complain really? As a consequence, it’s been almost 2 months since I last turned the PS4 on. My time has been mostly spent on portable gaming (3DS and the epically awesome Switch, my Vita disappeared more than a year ago….stolen? Unknown). There’s always a way to balance everything to some measure. It can just take patience to find it…

RTS

Vaguely she passes by,

As the shadow of my love sinks beneath

The weight of the contempt she bequeaths

This mournful heart, no less ignored than the merest fly

 

Vaguely she looks at me,

Wondering why I shrink beneath

Her puzzled eyes which in fire wreath

This dying soul, free never to be

 

Cards to my chest,

Vaguely I come closer

Laying my moves as I know best.

Nervous, near the brink…..No! Do not falter!

 

Steeling my heart, I play it cool

…And

Vaguely I ensnare her

Reeling her in, I play the fool

Praying it’s enough to win her

 

…To Vaguely hold her hand…

Forever