Tuesday, December 7, 2010
Games: I scored a copy of Majin & the Forsaken Kingdom for cheap during Black Friday, and I've been putting time into it since then, albeit haphazardly.
While it's true that my work schedule has been kind of erratic and disruptive to my game schedule (which clearly, is far more important) the truth of the matter in this case is that I'm having a hard time finding the motivation to push forward. The game is cute and I'm always interested in how developers implement team/partner mechanics in singleplayer titles, but Majin just isn't doing much for me.
The biggest thing I've noticed so far is that the tone of the game has been pretty flat. I'm about halfway through the adventure after logging about five hours, but it feels more like fifty.
Most of the game is made up of getting through a series of rooms where each one has a puzzle of some sort to figure out. Suss out what you're supposed to do, open a door and move on. There haven't been any dramatic events to break up the monotony of this work (unless you want to count the two bosses I’ve seen up to this point) and the infrequent cutscenes are pretty banal. There's just no spark here... No fire.
Honestly, it's so lukewarm and toothless that it seems as though Majin is aimed more at kids than that adults -- and in that context it makes a little more sense, except that I would imagine some of the puzzles to be a little too vague and the bosses a little too frustrating for most kids to get through without some skilled parental guidance.
I'm going to keep forging ahead, although I guess I don't really know why… hopefully the game will end before my patience does. Although I was quite glad to see Majin developer Game Republic back in action, I have to admit that the fun factor has been dreadfully low so far.
Games: In the portable realm, I'm still logging some time with Monster Hunter Freedom Unite on PSP. At this point I think I’ve spent something like 70 hours on it, but in stark contrast to Majin, it feels as though I've only been playing for a small fraction of that time.
The deeper I get into it, the more impressed I become with the breadth and depth of the content. It's really a fantastic, rich experience for the sort of gamer who doesn't mind the basic structure being split 50/50 between Really Hard Bosses and Grinding For Items. In fact, I'm enjoying it so much that it seems like a real injustice that the game makes its home on the PSP where the camera is so problematic that I can completely understand why many people would write it off as being unplayable.
I read a news blurb earlier today stating that the newest Monster Hunter on PSP (Portable 3rd) has already sold over two million copies in Japan. That's some pretty impressive sales, and I sincerely hope that Capcom is planning on bringing it stateside.
That said, people in America just don't get together for multiplayer portable parties the same way that they do in Japan. More significantly, this game demands better camera controls. Monster Hunter Tri on the Wii proved that the game is infinitely more playable with a decent controller, and as much as I enjoy the series, I can't say that I'm looking forward to more hand cramping with the PSP.
Of course, the optimal answer is that Capcom should do something with the Monster Hunter Frontier branch of the series and put the game on Xbox Live. Better controller, immediate online and group capabilities, and a much more powerful piece of hardware to run it on. Sadly, the last time I checked, Capcom said there were absolutely no plans to bring Frontier to the West, so there’s that... as much as it pains me to say, it seems as though Monster Hunter is squarely on the path of “successful in Japan and nowhere else.”
TV: After doing my best to avoid Twitter spoilers, I finally sat down with the final episode of The Walking Dead tonight.
I had high hopes for the show before it began, and despite the issues that might be raised about it, I think it was incredibly entertaining viewing. Honestly, it was a much better caliber of program than the vast majority of television shows out there.
I have to say though, that I was more than a little surprised at the amount of grousing from fans. I generally caught each episode the day after it ran, so prior to viewing I would often hear several negative comments or people declaring exasperation with nearly every episode. I braced myself for the worst each time, yet found myself consistently enjoying the show and wondering what the problem was.
I'm not going to get into every little thing I heard, but here's my brief take on it:
1> The TV show is not the comic book. After the first episode I accepted that they were going to be different animals with a common inspiration, and made peace with the fact that the comic book storyline was not going to be directly translated to the screen.
2> The production team had no idea whether the series would be picked up after this first micro-season, so it makes sense that what viewers got was fairly limited and wrapped up in such a way so that if no further episodes were ever shot, there was a close approximation of something that could be called closure.
3> Turnover of the writing staff: I see that as being a positive. While I don't have an episode-by-episode breakdown, it seems to me that the best moments of the show were most likely when director Frank Darabont and series creator Robert Kirkman stepped in as more than just consultants or producers. There were a few off-key parts sprinkled throughout that raised a few minor red flags, but the series remained must-see TV for me from start to finish, and hopefully the new writing staff will be more in line with the creators’ vision.
Overall, I remain quite happy with how it turned out and I'm definitely looking forward to the next season.