Thursday, September 29, 2011

The Content Retail Forgot

Did you ever watch a DVD and afterwords check out the special features? Among them were probably several deleted scenes. Scenes that contributed to the movie, but were cut from the final for one reason or another. Perhaps they didn't fit the time constraints of the movie, or they just fit in too awkwardly. Either way movies go through a lengthy design and development process including numerous cuts, and revisions, and games are no different. Games through Alpha, and Beta design stages, and just like in movies there is often alot of content that doesn't make the final cut.

While this should come as no surprise considering the long development schedules games these days go through did you know there is a ton of people out there who study this stuff extensively? You'd be surprised to see what was cut from your favorite game. Even games as old as the 80s carry Beta and Cut content. Did you know for instance, that Centipede has an unused enemy, the grasshopper. You can find the sprite for the grasshopper enemy in the final game by viewing the game's internal test menu. Check the below link. In the bottom right hand corner on the other side of the Scorpion you can see the unused grasshopper enemy's sprite.

Sites like The Cutting Room Floor and The Lost Levels discuss not only unreleased content found in games, but games that never got released as well. Thanks to generous collectors, and those dedicated to preserving the work of game devs everywhere even completely unreleased games can still be made available and preserved. I don't want to go on too much about this stuff, because if its interesting you'll read more on your own. Here's some links below to some really popular games that have tons of unused content that are great to read about.

The Legend of Zelda Ocarina of Time -

Goldeneye 64 -

Banjo- Kazooie -

Super Mario World

Grand Theft Auto 3 -

Search your favorite game  at :

One of my old Castlevania Beta articles from Unseen 64

Monday, September 26, 2011

America vs Japan : Censorship

Growing up in the 90s I usually took my video games for what they were. We all knew that games were released in other regions, especially Japan, and we for the most part assumed they were all the same just with a different language.

Enter the internet. Suddenly thousands of semi isolated gamers are able to be in contact with each other and share their knowledge of games they played at home and abroad, and more. Pretty soon it becomes clear that there were more differences with the games they loved at home and abroad than we had originally imagined.  I remember going on a site called The Odyessey Of Hyrule and reading about all the Triforce rumors. One I remember specifically was that in the Japanese version of the game you could obtain the triforce and there was a whole new ending where Link really defeated Ganondorf for good and you went to the Temple of Light, or something like that.  With what I know now about the game region conversion process I know that doesn't make any sense. Why would they go through all the trouble of programming all that stuff and take it out of the American version (that's not to say stuff like that hasn't happened, but its growing more and more unlikely. ) ?  In reality the majority of missed content here in the west is due to censorship.  During the 90s we all know about Nintendo's very very strict censorship policies which blocked anything with the slightest hint of sexuality, as well as extreme violence.  Why is it then that the Japanese version of so many games has such content that is deleted by the people who port these games?  Why do Japanese companies allow it in Japan but not here?

Its all just cultural differences in my opinion, it seems to me that America's big no- no thing was sexuality, where as in Japan they feel similar (but not exactly the same) about violence. If you look at alot of old Japanese animes they have tons of violence ( Hokuto No Ken), that would rival even American gore classics (say MK2). Despite this the Japanese version of Mortal Kombat 2 has greyed out fatalities and green blood. Ok so no violence for Japan, and no sex for American gamers right? Well its not that simple. If you look at a game like Super Castlevania 4 it had naked statues that got censored in America, but not in Japan, and in the dungeon level the "acid" was actually blood that got turned green for American gamers. Having studied the Japanese culture and its language for almost 5 years now I'm willing to say it has to do with the tastefulness of the violence.  Games likes MK put video game violence in the spotlight for a while in the 90s, but all that has seemed to fade. Often times we are seeing western games getting censored for Japan! Anyway as I was saying its about tastefulness in violence. Contradictory huh? We see animes where people get cut in half and blood spews from them, but the violence in say Mortal Kombat or Resident Evil 4 gets censored? Perhaps Japan sees this as just needless. MK was always about violence for violence sake (even though it admittedly doesn't take itself THAT serious). Perhaps the Japanese see some violence as necessary and artistic etc the classic samurai cut in half slash, Hokuto No Ken's exploding but not blood color violence. Games like Mad World, and Mortal Kombat that glorify violence and head choppingoffisms might just seem off color to the Japanese.

Either way each culture has its interesting quirks. I didn't talk more about sexual censorship in America, because more than likely you already know the story.  Both sides are starting to even out now however, and I feel like developers are getting more artistic freedom than ever in their creations.

- Torentsu

The ending to this entry originally featured me being sawed in half, but it was censored for the American release to just show me closing the entry instead.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Numbers Online

I remember 2006 as the year I first had semi frequent access to non dial up internet, and with this a whole new slew of gaming options. The first MMO-ish game I played was a little 3D Shooter by the name of Gunz The Duel . Even with what was a "fast" connection at that time the download still took forever, but that night it finally finished and I found myself connected to thousands of other online users in a duel to the death.  Running and gunning each other down, gathering experience points, ever looking for new gear, and levels. Interacting with other plays like this was a new type of gaming for me. Here was constant multiplayer , with an untold myriad of adventures to be had. The feeling was awesome, and I'll never forget those first nights playing Gunz The Duel until early in the morning.  Pretty soon though, it was back to dial-up, and it was another few years before I finally had internet worth playing an MMO on again.  Not being one to pay for PC games most of my early MMO excursions were F2P(that's free to play) MMOS, and most of them were of the notoriously grindy Korean bunch. The first one I remember spending tons of time in was Acclaim's 9 Dragons.  I reached level 40 in this game before pretty much dropping it completely. The first few months were again, amazing. The experience of an online game, competing against other players to be the best, and a big open world was fascinating to me. Unfortunately, the more I played the more a sort of gnawing feeling grew at the back of my head- The feeling that I was simply doing the same thing over and over again.  Sure I was gaining a new level here and there, but the quests were all "fetch me x amount of this" or "Go kill X Amount of these." Sure I joined a clan, but what was that besides a few skills identical to all the other clans's skills, and a title by my username?  After dropping 9 Dragons I played several other MMOs such as Silkroad, Knight Online, and even some other MMO that was so similar that I can't remember the name. I even remember hearing about Requiem: Bloodymare which was supposed to be the new dark MMO to set the standard.....NOT. It was just a grind fest. It was a bloody grindfest, but a grindfest all the same. Its like every F2P MMO came from a same mold and just added in some sort of new "twist" that was supposed to revolutionize the market. Whether it be a night and days system, martial arts, violence, or a new type of economy system, they are all rather cookie cutter and the same. They all brag about a massive open world, but there's really nothing in it. Sure you can go explore the rolling fields and mountains of 9 Dragons, but there's really nothing there (except maybe some really nasty mobs that will destroy you). I mean I get it you can't place a rare treasure in a cave somewhere because then everyone will just camp it right? MMO mechanics have hurt MMOs I think. I pretty much quit them all together.
Then came college, some people down the hall had some WoW installation disk and asked me to try playing it for a bit. Ok I said. WoW is a P2P MMO. Surely the extra cost will be befitting of some new features that will save my dying idea of an MMO! Nah, it was the same thing. Fetch me this, kill this. Oh but there are two sides you can play on! So what they are both doing the same types of quest, and the end games with its glorious “intense raids” are really just all about numbers. Get our stats to this so we can beat this to get gear that makes our numbers go up enough to do this and repeat.

Now I'm not bashing the MMO market. Its a great market for the gaming economy and MMOs can provide several hours of enjoyment, my problem is just isn't there SOME way to do online besides this cookie cutter niche the market has fallen into.  There's just go to be some kind of way to make a game fair without having everyone just click n' kill.  Amidst the sea of MMOs there are some that I have found to actually do things in a way that makes them different, and a lot of fun. 

Guild Wars - Probably the most traditional of the MMOs I'll talk about but its just fun to play. GW boasts an epic (and long) story spread out across instance based missions, as well as mini quest you can undertake along the way.  With the level cap at 20 players spend time playing the game having fun with missions and better characters, not because they have to grind just to get to the next part of the game.

Dungeon Fighter Online - This one is of Korean creation, but it is significantly less grindy than its counterparts.  DFO harkens back to the arcade beatem up action of yesteryear's arcades.  Players choose from a set of characters with abilities that actually have quite significant differences, and set off as "Dungeon Fighters" to battle their way through several different levels.  It’s an elegant blend of MMO style leveling and statistics, with a real time movement scheme that will give skillful players an advantage, because of their ability and not just because of  the numbers they have put up on the My Stats menu.

Phantasy Star Online - If you can find a way to play this one (especially on an online server) do it because it’s a blast.  There are 2 types of characters (human or android) and they divide up into other sets of classes that divide up into more types of classes.  There are story missions, but the real fun is hacking your way through dungeons with a party of your friends. 

- Torentsu

Those darn goblins have attacked the village again! What will we do! You have to help us stop them! Defeat 15 of them that should be enough!

Defeat 15 Goblin(s)
Accept  Decline

Monday, September 19, 2011

Torentsu lately

Hey gang I bet you thought this blog was dead didn't you? Well not unfortunately its not and I've returned once more to take my revenge on the gaming  community.  Lately the only things I've been playing are the new Mortal Kombat and Dungeon Fighter Online. Let me tell you why I think the new Mortal Kombat gets it right.

Its not that the whole slew of 3D MK games released post MK4 were bad( ok so maybe they kinda were), but they just lacked the MK spirit.  Several fans felt that MK4 was as sort of downhill turn, and honestly I can see why. MK4 is what introduced weapons as a serious factor in matches, and when they made the transition to a full 3D fighter MK4's weak weapon system became a large part of the game for 3 iterations. I could forgive Deadly Alliance because it was the first of the new fresh hip hop mad crazy straight up yo dog 3D MK's that were to follow. It did a few things right , but it failed to capture that MK feel, at least to me anyway.  Later on, they take the better part of  DA and churn out MK Deception, and of all the 3D MKs I'd have to say that Deception is my favorite. Its conquest mode was a great deal of  fun (albeit a bit barebones in its execution as a free roam game), and they brought back the characters that MK fans wanted to see, including Liu Kang whom they had just previously oh-by-the-way killed in the opening cut-scene of the previous game (spoilers lol). I really enjoyed Deception despite its flaws (one of which being how the characters looked like they were looking at a forty five degree angle rather than at their opponent).  Armageddon is honestly the MK I can't forgive. Despite having every character, a konquest mode, a kart mode, and create a fighter. All of the features are nice, but it feels like they didn't spend much time on any of them. Also to accommodate the large variety of fighters they have to cut fighting styles down to 2 per character . This would be acceptable except that for the most part they just shuffled the fighting styles of previous 3D MK Kharacters into all the other characters, with some characters being left with a random style that really doesn't flow well by itself.  Also don't get me started on character endings which are just text with a character doing a kata. These look extremely stupid when you have a giant character like Onaga dancing around like Daniel from the Karate Kid.  They also decided to make Blaze(a bonus half done character from DA) the penultimate boss of the current MK Story arc, and as a final blow from the laziness side of the ring they made Blaze nothing more than a reskin of Onaga with a few new moves (including such new and exciting moves as the roll!). He even has the same death animation.

Well forget all that garbage because the new MK tosses all that out and goes back to 2D in what feels like the true successor to MK3.  MK9 is a retelling of the first 3 MK games with the added twist of being in an alternate reality to the first games .  3D MK's rather quickly done Konquest Mode is replaced with a story mode that lets you see exactly how the new 3 tournaments play out. As if that wasn't enough they've even given us classic ladder mode with endings for every character (DLC crew included) . Even with all the features of a next gen MK Game (and more) game play is really what it comes down to, and this MK does not disappoint.  The 3D graphics actually translate very well into the old style type of MK game play. Keep in mind when I say old style I'm referring to the 2D nature of the earlier MK games.  MK9's gameplay is in 2D but it actually takes what was left of the 3D MK games and puts it to good use. The most basic combo commands work like they did in the newer 3D bunch, but the more advanced combos will force you to think in MK3/MK2 mode. Throws are still streamlined to one button like in the 3D games but it works pretty well actually. The team even took a page from Tekken (a series that Ed Boon is known to be fond of ) and made it so that you can escape throws with a certain combination depending on whether they are a forward throw or a backward throw.

With mechanics down-pat the team no doubt sought to capture that violent feel of the old series that at the same time didn't take itself too seriously. There's decapitations, blood sprays and survivable blows that should be  fatal yes, but babalities and other quirks that gave early MK a sense of humor have also returned. Its always been amazing to me how MK maintained its level of violence and the seriousness of Earth-realm's situation without being losing a certain of humor . Who couldn't love MK favorites like Toasty! , Aww Man (from the dead pool), and "Its official, you suck?"

I'm purposefully leaving out several features that you'll find in the new MK because you really need to play it to get a feel for it.  If you want to play me online and embarrass me add me on XBL as Torentsu2. Torentsu is also me but I don't play on that account anymore. Long story.

I wrote this with Sheena Easton's 9-5 stuck in my head, and also no I didn't proofread it out of respect for descriptivism.