Category Archives: Video Games

Cult Video Game Director: Hidetaka Miyazaki

Hidetaka Miyazaki

I have been gaming since I first laid my hands on a Nintendo controller. Mario Bros. was the first game I ever played, and the difficulty of that game for a six year old would be put in a rather high rating for next generation games. Its not that newer games aren’t hard, its that the directors and developers are weary of player failure.

Gamers give praise to games that have “replayability.” “Replayablity” is not a word, but it is a word used often in gaming circles. It means that a game has replay value, or a game can be played again after the main quest or storyline has been completed. This can mean a game has side missions, collecting quests or add on features.

But, if a game is so difficult that a player can barely get through the first time, then that game will crumble to bad reviews. From Software director Hidetaka Miyazaki has upped the ante and made his games so difficult that you want to keep playing through your failures.

Dark_Souls_II_cover

Hidetaka Miyazaki is the director of the Souls series. I was not a fan of the series because of the difficulty. I am the type of gamer that wants to sit down, relax and play. I do not want to white knuckle my way through dungeons, fighting to get to the next save point, then doing it over again.

But I have run from Hidetaka Miyazaki long enough. I have picked up the recent releases for Playstation 4 like Destiny and Call of Duty. They were too easy. In Destiny, the difficulty arc was the enemies got more powerful but so did my character. I leveled up with the enemies and it never challenged me. I decided to get FROM Software’s new release, Bloodborne, and face my fears.

Bloodborne_Cover_Wallpaper

I had limited knowledge of what I was getting into. I knew I would die. And die a lot. But that was only from friends who played the Souls series. I had no idea how much I would actually die. Blood borne began with my character, a man who looks more like Sherlock Holmes than a demon hunter, walking the streets of a fictional town that resembles a 19th century London.

There are enemies, other men, walking the streets with torches and meat cleavers. The sounds of the game increased my stress level: men crying, women laughing, a maniacal dog that sounds like its stuck in a cage that I can’t see. And then, my first encounter with a man running at me with a large knife, I died. Then, I was placed back at the beginning of the town and I retraced my steps, fought the man and killed him. I then moved ahead, found two more maniacs and died quickly. But, from my experience with games, I was stunned to see the game didn’t load me into the battle with the two maniacs I just fought, but rather back to the beginning of the game again. I had to retrace all my steps.

IGN

IGN

This is what I was afraid of. Not enemy difficulty, but a psychological difficulty that would test my inner gamer. I do not want to redo all my progress. I am a frequent saver, always afraid of losing my hard earned items and gear. This game, you can’t even pause. If you die, and you do a ton, then all your progress is lost.

But there is a method here. In an interview with IGN, Hidetaka Miyazaki explains the “death system.” He says, “But the main concept behind the death system is trial and error. The difficulty is high, but always achievable. Everyone can achieve without all that much technique – all you need to do is learn, from your deaths, how to overcome the difficulties.”

As my experience with Bloodborne has increased, I have begun to embrace this “death system.” I have found myself trusting the system and the director, mostly because of his past success. I also have seen the “death system” make me better, not my character.  After dying dozens of times, I retraced my steps to get back to where I died. On the way, I am able to kill each enemy I’ve killed dozens of times already faster and easier. I have gained experience, loosened my knuckles, and am learning from death.

Bloodborne is not for the typical gamer. It will test your limits. My wife watched me play for ten minutes and said, “Why do you keep dying there?” She was referring to two monster dog beasts that kept eating me each time I tried to pass them. I told her, “Because I don’t know how to beat them yet.” And I didn’t. But, through trial and error, I found a way. The thought of eventual success kept me going. It was hard, and I had to endure the same trial and error for the next stage of enemies. This game will be stressful, trying and difficult. Its like a bad relationship, but the sex is good.

Here’s a funny walkthrough to get what I am talking about. Warning: Tons of cursing.

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Video Game: Zombies Ate My Neighbors (Snes 1993)

Cult classics are not limited to movies. The term can also be used for other mediums such as novels, how to books, nutritional advice (hi paleo) and video games. The idea behind this is that a cult following can spring up within these mediums. Cult followings can be beneficial for video games and franchises, which may open to financial failure but receive high reviews and gather quite a following, which results in delayed financial success.

SNES

Super Nintendo Entertainment System (SNES) was the next platform after the original Nintendo and was a competitor with the popular Sega Genesis. When I was growing up, either you were a Sega user or a SNES user. The arguments between the two got heated and created console wars.

At the time, I attributed it to kids going straight to SNES because Sega was an unknown. But looking back, I realize it was not about what the kids wanted, it was whatever system your parents bought you. I didn’t know any kids with two consoles, so the loyalty to a console was due to whatever system you were able to get your hands on.

OpenEmu and Emulators

I am going to review Zombies Ate My Neighbors on SNES, although I was a Sega kid. The game came out for both platforms, and in the USA they played exactly the same.

Now, I was not able to get my grown up hands on an SNES. But, a rather unknown gem for MAC users is OpenEmu. Open Emu is a video game emulator. It plays ROMs (read only memory) of video games for many of the early platforms (NES, SNES, Sega, Gameboy).

But once you get into platforms that used CD’s, like PS1 and Sega Saturn, the emulators get tricky and downright do not work.

OpenEmu is great because it holds all the Rom files in a library (get ROMS here), saves games (which you could rarely do on early platforms) and allows you to configure the controls for each system. I use my PS4 Dual shock controller through the Bluetooth attachment on my MACbook Pro. It hooks up wirelessly and allows me to play all systems easily. Same goes for Xbox One controllers which have bluetooth technology.

Zombies Ate My Neighbors (1993)

I do remember playing this game as a kid, so I was familiar with the gameplay. But even if you hadn’t played it, it was easy to get. It’s a top down shooter that plays out like a B Horror flick. Save the humans, kill the zombies. Humans were depicted as a guy BB-qing, babies running around and as cheerleaders (highest points!).

Save the cheerleader, save the world

Save the cheerleader, save the world

The weapons ranged from exploding cans of soda, a gun, fire extinguishers and silverware (for werewolves obviously).

There are potions where you can change into creatures and punch your way through walls. The game is setup in a maze format, so navigating and remembering your path is the hardest part of the game. Killing zombies is easy, especially with the array of weapons you have at your disposal.

Odd Enemies

Screen Shot 2015-02-16 at 11.17.08 AMMy favorite part of this game is the enemies. Level three was set in a grocery store and I was confronted by the usual generic chasing zombie. Then, two babies wielding hatchets jumped out of the cereal box aisle and sliced me to death. Awesome.

ZombiesAteMyNeighbors-TitanicToddler

There’s also mummies, zombies, giant Baby bosses, guys with huge knives, it is mayhem and it is hilarious. The gameplay is fun, surprisingly difficult and the soundtrack is even better. It is a homage to horror films with the gore and silliness of it all.

I would recommend this game to old and new gamers alike. If you have a way of getting an old console, find this game, although I have a feeling it won’t be cheap (price range from $30 to $198!) Your best bet is the emulator.

Cult Classic?

The game was released to poor earnings, high critical reception and censorship. According to Gamesradar, the game had to change the red blood to purple ooze in order to be released in the US. And in Europe, the game had to drop “Ate My Neighbors” and release just as “Zombies.”

Credit to Gamesradar

Credit to Gamesradar

And lastly, the following behind this game is real and dedicated. I will leave you with this Youtube video of what I mean.