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stories by Alex Cronk-Young

2 things that could help make Hollywood’s adaptation of Shadow of the Colossus good

It wasn't too long ago that comic book fans gritted their teeth when buying tickets to the silver-screen adaptations of their favorite characters and ventured into the theater hoping that there was at least some redeeming quality to the film. But over the years, the Fantastic Fours and Ghost Riders gave way to the Iron Mans and Avengers…and comic junkies were happy. Hollywood hasn't been so nice to video game enthusiasts, though. (Find a video game movie above 40% on Rotten Tomatoes. I dare you.)

Amanita Design entrusted Botanicula’s sounds and music to a quirky, alternative band

It's not that uncommon to hear that a musician you enjoy created the soundtrack to an upcoming movie. Hollywood has plenty of examples like Nine Inch Nail's Trent Reznor crafting the music for David Fincher's The Social Network, or Jonsi, the lead singer of Icelandic-post-rock weirdos Sigur Ros, making the score to Matt Damon shoveling up monkey poo (or whatever it is that happened in We Bought A Zoo). In the video game world, though, this sort of thing doesn't normally happen.

The one-console future will be retro

It has been several years since Denis Dyack, founder and president of development studio Silicon Knights (makers of Too Human and Eternal Darkness: Sanity's Requiem), predicted that the future of video games involved only one console manufacturer. Most gamers have likely completely forgotten about those angry forum rants they posted in response to his idea.

Journey put my four-year-old daughter and me on the same level

  This article contains some vague spoilers, but you may like to go in fresh.   My four-year-old daughter likes to play video games with me. Well…mostly she just watches, but occasionally I let her run around in circles for a while. She watched nervously as I maneuvered dark corridors in Dead Space, yelled directions at me when I couldn't figure out what to do in Limbo and The Secret of Monkey Island: Special Edition, and assured me she wouldn't say any of the naughty words that came out of Nathan Drake's mouth in Uncharted.   Most of our play sessions are peppered with a line of questioning that I need to constantly field…   "Who's that?"   "My friend."   "Why's that guy crying?"   "His friend was kidnapped by the bad pirate."   "Why are those guys shooting at you?"   "Uh, they're just bad guys."   …and so on. But as we played Journey, thatgamecompany's (flOw, Flower) newest release, the questioning slowly died. For awhile she asked them, but I honestly had no information for her. We were on the same page for once, and when she realized that I knew just as little as she did, she stopped asking.     Inquiries about who I was and where I was going slowly tapered off into simultaneous discovery and wonderment. The girl who never stopped turning to me for answers, just took to announcing what we were both thinking instead.   "More ribbon guys!"   "Where'd your friend go? I hope he's OK."   "Those ribbon guys are helping you fly way up high!"   "Oh no! Quick! Hide from the dragon!"   And quite frequently a very simple but descriptive, "Woooooooooooooooooooow."     For the first time ever I wasn't playing the role of teacher during our gaming session. We were both experiencing it together and having conversations about it as we went. She decided that even though we needed to hide from the dragons, she hoped that they were alright once we made it past because their other dragon friends might want to see them. The concept that my fellow journeying companions weren't necessarily my friends, but just passing strangers that helped me along the way was also discussed in quite a bit of detail.   Granted, any deeper analysis of the game that is currently floating around in my head upon completion likely isn't doing the same in hers — and I still fail to see how the glowing white guides throughout my adventure resembled penguins — but for about 90 minutes, my daughter and I connected with video games in a brand new way. One that I thought wouldn't occur until she was significantly older.   The power to transcend age groups and mean something to both a child and someone over two decades their elder is something very few games can claim to have done. Actually, it's probably something very few games even strive for. I couldn't even say for sure if thatgamecompany set out with that goal, but their visual storytelling that only demands of the player what they are willing to put into it also happened to be the key to creating a great memory for a father and his daughter. For me that's 15 dollars well spent.

The PlayStation brand needs to die

"You play video games?"   "Yeah."   "360?"   "I have a PS3."   "Loser."   That is a completely real conversation I had with a coworker a few days after I got a job at the bumper factory in town. Many more very similar discussions have taken place there since. In fact, of the 30+ guys that work in the same department as me, I believe I am the only one who games primarily on a PlayStation 3 instead of an Xbox 360. And they are all pretty adamant that I am a loser for doing so.   If my coworkers are any indication, this is the audience that Sony is missing out on. They are fairly new to gaming (in fact, they probably used to make fun of it), they primarily play shooters, and they have a seemingly undying support for the Xbox. Sony hasn't connected with these people. Even more so, the company is a joke to them. How can they make the name PlayStation synonymous with quality gaming experiences in the minds of the millions of players that only started taking the hobby seriously within the last generation or two?   They can't. The PlayStation brand needs to die.     Because Sony needs this guy to like them.   I have countless fond memories of PS1 and PS2 games, and the strong brand association I hold because of that most likely contributed at least in small part to me owning a PS3. You would think it'd be hard for another company to top that nostalgic loyalty, but Microsoft launched their product at the same time that gaming was increasing its ground with a mainstream audience and backed it up with genius-level marketing.   The numbers are telling. Sure, at this point the PS3 is only about 3 million units behind the 360 in worldwide sales, but when you break it down by country, you realize how vital this unconvinced segment of consumers really is. In Europe, the PlayStation 3 has sold 4 million more systems than the Xbox 360, and in Japan, they're a whopping 6.4 million ahead, with the 360 only maintaining 7.2% of the market over there. The difference all comes down to North America, where Microsoft's 36.7 million consoles sold dominates Sony's 22.2 million and tips the overall scales in favor of the 360. (Source: VGChartz)   That 14-million-unit gap in North America is where Sony's unconvinced group of detractors exists, and they see the 360 as the be-all-end-all for gaming. The PlayStation? Not so much.    A strong brand is a remarkably powerful thing when it comes to selling products. You might think commercials are annoying and pointless, but they exist for a reason, and they are usually very successful in achieving their purpose. Plenty of studies show that you've stored all of those pitches, slogans, and stupid little jingles somewhere in the back of your head, and when you're in the grocery store staring at the toilet paper selection, all that shit will affect the purchase you ultimately make.   No amount of branding will help this one, however.   Now you see just how much Sony needs to sell the uninitiated on their brand of gaming, but the only way I see that happening is for them to start over. These people aren't poring over game sites for news; they get their gaming advice from friends, and their buddies all think the PS3 is lame. If Sony came out with a new console called the PlayStation 4, these people wouldn't give it a second glance. If they came out with a new brand, however, they might. They don't hate Sony, the PlayStation brand just carries negative connotations for them.   I actually thought Sony was setting us up for this a month ago when it sent out mass emails to those with PlayStation Network accounts saying that your "PlayStation Network account" was going to be renamed as a "Sony Entertainment Network account". The change seemed to point to future products that weren't under the PlayStation brand but also accessed their network. That's probably just conspiracy theory as the network in general still goes by the same name, but with E3 (the Electronic Entertainment Expo, gaming's big event for unveiling new hardware and games) approaching fast, they might very well show off a new game console, sans PlayStation name.   It might seem like a trivial change that would make no real difference, but perception is key. When the original PlayStation hit the block, they were the cool kids up against the old fogeys, and they held that status until Microsoft came along and took their place as the hot new thing in gaming. A name holds a lot of power; it gives the impression of a new beginning, even if the product would have been exactly the same under the PS4 name. And besides, doesn't everybody love a good trilogy?   How about a quadrilogy? Pffffft.

One Chance: Our last few days on earth

On December 2, a Flash game called One Chance came out on Newgrounds. In it, you play as John Pilgrim, a scientist that has discovered the cure for cancer. But before you can celebrate, you learn that the treatment kills more than just cancer cells. Civilization as we know it has only six days left to live, and you have to decide whether you want to spend those days searching for a cure, being with your family, or going nuts.

Milked by Tetris: The Once Embarrassing State of Mobile Games

On every cell phone I have ever owned, I have purchased Tetris. Every single time I do, it barely ever gets played, but for some reason I just can't resist it's siren call. No matter how many times I've gotten a version that plays like complete ass, I keep telling myself the next one will be better. That's the nature of the mobile games of (mostly) the past; A billion different variations of the same types of games, that can vary even more depending on what brand of phone or network you have.

The Saboteur Review

I'm not crazy about open-world games. I stop playing most of them well before I ever finish. The one game I got much further in was Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas, but even then I gave up halfway through it. There are just too many things to do, and too many ways for me to get distracted from the main story. I always end up playing too many side-missions and getting bored with the mission structure before I ever get a chance to see the end of the storyline.

Catching Up to the Industry: Part 1

As I have mentioned numerous times in my writing, I'm pretty far behind with the video game world. I've followed a very set path through this industry, and it is time for me to venture out and spread my realm of knowledge around a little bit. I need to catch up on the classic franchises I've completely missed out on and play through the landmark titles that I've yet to touch. Feel free to read along as I do. This time, I'll be covering Metroid: Zero Mission, Portal, and Flower.

The Game Inquisitor Issue #2: E3, Gex, and Comics!

The Electronic Entertainment Exposition approaches, and we here at The Game Inquisitor had to take the opportunity to make up a bunch of random shit that we think is going to happen so that we'll get a bunch of hits! Isn't that what all video game sites do right before E3? The only difference with us is that our predictions aren't predictions at all. They are cold, hard truths. Or, at least, they will be once they happen.

The Game Inquisitor Issue #1: Paperboy Reboot, Dyack’s an Alien, and More

Congratulations! You're reading the first ever issue of The Game Inquisitor, which means you want more truth in your game journalism. Tired of being lied to? Of course you are. When Nintendo released Wii Music, we were the only outlet to (correctly) report that Miyamoto's pact with the devil had expired and he was forced to rely on his own ideas. In an effort to help spread out the truth around the Internet, we've developed these issues for sites like Bitmob to enjoy.

Backlog Brigade: Shadow of the Colossus Edition

I might have mentioned Shadow of the Colossus a few times. It might very well be my favorite game ever. Like Rob Savillo and Demon's Souls, I have a lot of trouble shutting up about it (just kidding, Rob!). So, when I heard Frank Anderson mention on Twitter that had tried to beat the game almost a dozen times and always gave up, I knew the Backlog Brigade had to come to the rescue.

Backlog Brigade: MadWorld Finale

The idea behind the Bitmob Backlog Brigade is all about support. Fellow gamers support each other in their attempt to dwindle down that giant pile of shame on their shelves. The BBB flies in and drops a "time bubble" over each participant. All of a sudden, it is the week of that poor forgotten game's release all over again. Other people are talking about it and you feel motivated to keep playing and join in.

This or That: Bully Vs. Grand Theft Auto

I like to think of this as a battle of aesthetic over gameplay. Bully and the Grand Theft Auto series are both made by Rockstar, and both have the same general gameplay. But while each game has you in open world environments, completing a series of missions, GTA has all the charm of a rock compared to Bully's ability to make you weak in the knees like Zooey Deschanel.

New Details on Sonic 4 Assure Suckacity

I don't know about you, but I've been waiting for a good Sonic the Hedgehog game for quite awhile. Not since back on the Sega Genesis have we gotten a top quality Sonic game. Every single new Sonic game is usually accompanied by a press statement claiming it is the breath of fresh air for the series. "This is what Sonic fans have been waiting for!", or something to that effect.

Struggling to Define “Gimmick” in a 3DS World

We gamers are a sensitive type. Deep down inside, we all love the gimmicky products that are ever present in our industry of choice, but we need to be the first to call out bullshit marketing ploys when we get the faintest whiff. But it's a very hard line to walk, because in the American capitalist society, even genuine attempts at pushing an industry forward are also thinly veiled attempts at becoming the "next big thing" in video games.