Breaking My Backlog #10 – Pumped BMX+ (Kind Of)

Breaking My Backlog is a semi-regular features on Troamm.com in which I attempt to complete my entire backlog before buying any new games. You can read more about the quest and see my backlog here.

This game is a mess. It’s a half-baked Tony Hawk Pro-Skater clone, but with half the complexity and none of the fun. You ride a bike down a hill, hit a few ramps, do a few tricks and try to complete a handful of challenges each course. None of the levels are as long or as interesting as THPS, your speed and control make zero sense, you only have one option of character, and the graphics and music feel generic and boring.

Don’t play this game.

I don’t want to talk about Pumped BMX+ anymore, though. I want to talk about Jason.

Read the rest of this entry »

If Anything, FromSoftware Games Should Be Harder

Man, Dark Souls is hard, am I right, guys? But that’s okay. That’s what we signed up for, right? Us real gamers, man? We love a challenge. We love beating our heads into a wall over and over and over again, until the front of our skull is nothing but a pulverized mess, as long as right after that, we enter the right door and find a bonfire to save at before a giant troll-beast-boar-knight thing drops a building on us.

If anything, I’d say that the games don’t go far enough. Why should we settle for games that just test the limits of hardcore gamers? Why shouldn’t we push these games past the improbable into the realm of impossible? With this in mind, I’ve written a few suggestions on ways FromSoftware can improve the “SekiSoulsBorne” games going forward.

  1. No health bar, and no healing items. Why should no-hit runs be the exception and not the rule?
  2. Only one save point in the entire game. It’s right in the middle of the game, and you can only use it once, so choose your moment wisely.
  3. All the weapons do one point of damage, because let’s face it: We aren’t playing this game to play dress-up. It doesn’t matter what weapon you use. Let’s get back to the action.
  4. No bosses. Instead, every thirty minutes or so, the game rolls a random number. If the number doesn’t meet a set threshold, the game closes and deletes your save file. Please note: The further into the game you get, the higher that threshold becomes, meaning it becomes much more likely that you will lose the game.

Now, you might be looking at that list and saying, “Wow. That would make the game impossible.” But, here’s the thing: it wouldn’t. There is someone, somewhere who could beat that game. And if it’s not you, then maybe that’s just your problem. Maybe you should just git gud, as the kids say.

The fact of the matter is that a lot of games are impossible to some people, whether it’s due to a disability, age, skill level, or even just a lack of time to spend hours practicing the same section multiple times. We can’t cater to them all, just as we can’t cater to you if you can’t step up to the rules I’ve outlined above. Go play something else. Who cares if you want to experience the story, world-building, or graphical design?

This game isn’t made for you

It’s made for people who can meet the arbitrary difficulty level I’ve set above. Because, really, when it comes down to it, difficulty levels are arbitrary. They literally mean nothing. Unfortunately, there are many people who think they do. Over on Gameinformer, Daniel Tack wrote a piece about difficulty in the FromSoftware games in which I think he hits the real issue most of the series’s fans have with the idea of making the “SekiSoulsBorne” games easier. Tack writes that the difficulty is part of the journey, and that by making these games easier, it would somehow make the experience of playing the games feel lesser. This is, of course, bullshit, because difficulty is a subjective thing, as mentioned above, and a lot of games of varying difficulty are easier or harder for different people, depending on who they are as players.

Essentially, if a game is more difficult for me even on an easier difficulty, it doesn’t make my eventual victory any less sweet than I’m sure yours was playing the game on the default setting. Making the game easier, though, might allow me to experience the game at all, and how is that a bad thing? Despite Tack’s protest at the beginning, this is the definition of gatekeeping, and gatekeeping can just fuck right off.

Wrapped in the midst of all of this is the following line, which I find to be the most interesting:

At points in my history with these games, there are times where I would have gladly turned the difficulty down and probably never gone back to turn it up again. I’m sure others would as well.

Honestly, all this tells me is that you don’t actually enjoy the difficulty of the games, you just enjoy bragging about defeating the difficulty of these games, and I think that’s kind of sad. Games are made to be enjoyed, and if you aren’t enjoying it, then what the hell are you doing? Go for a walk, go read a book, or go watch a movie.

Or, and this is just me spitballing, go play a game that you would actually enjoy playing. I can guarantee you’ll have a much more fun experience. Above all else, the rest of us will enjoy talking to you more when we don’t have to listen to your shitty gamer take. Hell, you wouldn’t have to hear my shitty gamer take either. And, really, wouldn’t the world just be better without shitty gamer takes?

Now, I’ve heard a lot of participants in this debate argue that we should ultimately respect the developers’ intent with the game, and I agree with the sentiment to a certain degree. I’m a creative person, and I believe that the original creator’s intent should be valued. In that regard, I’m not saying anyone should force FromSoftware to do anything with their games that they don’t want to. However, you can make your opinion well known, and the voice of the user carries weight. You can make the developers see why some of these changes might actually benefit the games in the long run, how allowing more people to access the games might actually be a good thing.

If it seems like an uphill battle, it might make it easier to just think of it like a boss battle in Dark Souls. Sure, it may seem like you’re constantly hitting yourself in the face over and over and over, but once you achieve victory, I’m sure it will seem so, so sweet. At least until you walk into the next room and are killed by an arrow to the face.

Breaking My Backlog #9 – GoNNER

Breaking My Backlog is a semi-regular features on Troamm.com in which I attempt to complete my entire backlog before buying any new games. You can read more about the quest and see my backlog here.

GoNNER is a game that has a name that I hate to type, because it uses stupid capitalization that is annoying. Other than that, the game is all right even if I found it more frustrating than anything else during most of my plays. Read the rest of this entry »

Breaking My Backlog #8 – Drawkanoid

Breaking My Backlog is a semi-regular features on Troamm.com in which I attempt to complete my entire backlog before buying any new games. You can read more about the quest and see my backlog here.

In Ecclesiastes, the unknown author writes that “What has been will be again, what has been done will be done again; there is nothing new under the sun,” and in a way of confirming this, in 1994 Barenaked Ladies sang, “Everything old is new again, everything under the sun.”

In 2018, QCF Design released Drawkanoid, an updating of the classic arcade game Arkanoid, which may or may not be related in some way to the quotes above.

Now, if you’ve never played Arkanoid, I can guarantee you’ve played a clone of it. Here‘s a list of them. Here’s another list. Here’s one where you rescue chickens. I don’t know what’s going on with that one, but I love it. My point is Arkanoid, or Breakout, or whatever you want to call it has been made and remade and remade again, multiple times over the past 30 years, and chances are, unless you’ve lived under a cliche’d rock for the past 30 years, you’ve probably played something like this at least once.

So, within that context, when a company tries to make a new iteration of something so ubiquitous, how can they possibly make it different? Simple. They add bullet time.

Read the rest of this entry »

Breaking My Backlog #7 – The Frederics (With Extra Mini-Review)

Breaking My Backlog is a semi-regular features on Troamm.com in which I attempt to complete my entire backlog before buying any new games. You can read more about the quest and see my backlog here.

Frederic: Resurrection of Music and its sequel, Frederic 2: Evil Strikes Back, are both games about musical anachronisms. When classical composer Frederic Chopin is resurrected in our modern time, he must learn to contend with current pop music, but more importantly, current pop music must learn to contend with him. Both titles are interesting games that tell the story of Chopin travelling the world trying to determine who brought him back, why they brought him back, and what they want him to do, or not do.

Read the rest of this entry »