Thursday, October 22, 2009

Games as Art

I just read Eurogamer's review of Fatale: Exploring Salome, Tale of Tales' next "game" after the Red Riding Hood inspired The Path. For the first couple of paragraphs I was wondering what on earth I was reading about, it seemed more like a blog article than a review on a games site, but in the end I think it was probably the best way to try and cover something like that, assuming that Eurogamer should ever be covering this sort of thing. Quite how you can "review" something like that and assign it a score out of 10 is a bit beyond me, though.

It does raise some interesting points about games as art, if you can get through the pretentiousness with some degree of objectivity still intact. However, I've never really wanted to go there, as I don't really care whether games are art or not. I'm the first to admit that I'm a bit of a philistine, I like the idea of art, but it is not something that I'd actively seek out. Art or not, I only care about whether or not I can appreciate or enjoy things. Things have to serve a purpose, be it to look or sound interesting, to provide an enjoyable challenge or even to provoke thought (but by this I mean more than simply going "This is controversial. Discuss"), for me to appreciate them. Art for art's sake is worthless to me.

I made the point in my post about
metagaming that it seems quite acceptable to make a game which conveys a message while (or sometimes because of) being a bad game, provided you do not require too much of an investment in time or money from the gamer. Tale of Tales want GBP 7 for Fatale: Exploring Salome, which is probably the right sort of price for this sort of thing. Trying to charge as much as an actual game (although you can get some pretty decent games for that price on XBLA or Steam) for your piece of digital art would come across as entirely unwarranted self-importance, and having it too cheap would limit your returns, as I doubt it is the sort of thing that would get impulse bought by too many people. I suppose your benchmark here is a movie ticket, or perhaps a more accurately a DVD, as you would own a copy of the game, regardless of whether you felt the need to play it more than once.

For the record, this sort of thing doesn't appeal to me at all, I was just so surprised by the review of it that I thought I'd post something about it.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Ninja Gaiden Sigma Ad

While browsing one of the games sites a few weeks ago, I saw a link to an ad for Ninja Gaiden Sigma 2, the PS3 update of the Xbox 360's Ninja Gaiden 2. As with the original Ninja Gaiden Sigma, it is an updated version rather than a simple port, with new stages, new weapons, new enemies and new playable characters. I think it even includes a co-op mode, although it would have to be system link or online, because you could never get two players working together on the same console because the camera is diabolical enough when it only has one player to worry about. I digress, however. What they also added, to leverage the unique power of the PS3, is the ability to jiggle the female characters' breasts by shaking the sixaxis controller. Yes, rumble was a last generation feature, motion control is clearly the way forward.

As regards combat, Ninja Gaiden 2 is probably the most viscerally entertaining third person action game I've ever played. The speed of the combat put other games to shame, and the ferocity outdid even God of War. The game fell short of greatness due to the nonsensical nature of the plot, the lack of any strong characters, a general inability to match the epic nature of the action to any epic form of drama. And the camera was anything but helpful for much of the time. It was a punishing, thrilling action game, but nothing more. And the main character was a badass ninja, so I loved it anyway. It did not occur to me, however, that it would have been a better game had the female characters' norks been more interactive.

Okay, so they have stated that this is a viral ad, which implies they know it is too ridiculous for mainstream channels, and it was released in Japan, which allows us to shake our heads and snigger about those crazy Japanese, but it was nevertheless released by Tecmo's advertising department, and is thus an official ad for the game.

I like boobs as much as the next guy, and as a person who writes a games blog it's fairly safe to assume that like I the polygonal representation of them. I actually rented Dead or Alive Xtreme Beach Volleyball when I was in the States (conclusion: it's not a very good game). Maybe I'm getting old and sensible now, but this just embarrasses me. I'm not one to argue that games need to become highbrow entertainment in order to gain further acceptance and respect from mainstream (ie, non-gamer) audiences, but I had hoped that we could at least limit these sort of juvenile excesses to appropriate products.

To think that this "feature" adds anything to Ninja Gaiden Sigma 2, which currently appears to have been more favourably received than the game it is based on (metascore of 85 compared to 81) is ridiculous; to think that it is being used as a unique selling point in the game's advertising campaign defies belief.