Atelier Firis: The Alchemist and the Mysterious Journey Review – 8/10

It has been a busy few weeks with Mass Effect: Andromeda among other games, but I wanted to make sure to take the time to post about this particular game review. I had the pleasure of reviewing a turn based, open world JRPG from Koei Tecmo called Atelier Firis: The Alchemist and the Mysterious Journey. This game hadn’t even crossed my radar, but I was asked to review it and I’m so glad I did. Definitely worth checking out if you’re looking for a casual level JRPG. I published this review on Brash Games, but here’s the introduction:

Atelier Firis

Tackling an RPG is always a daunting task. And other than in the case of games like Dark Souls, the JRPG is always the most intimidating of the genre. The highest levels of concentration, character development, patience, and ultimately time are required to best these beastly games. As a person who has played and reviewed my fair share of Koei Tecmo titles, I went into the recently released (3/7/17) Atelier Firis: The Alchemist and the Mysterious Journey expecting a harsh uphill battle. While this is still a JRPG, I was surprised to discover that this is much different from just about every other game I’ve played in the genre.

You can read the rest of the review here. For this and other reviews by me on Brash Games you can also check out my Author’s Archive page.

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As always, thanks for reading. Please take the time to follow my blog, leave a comment, and check out some of my other channels if you enjoyed what you read.

Crass Effect: What’sWrongWithYa?

Usually I publish posts on here Wednesdays but I had to make sure this went live before Mass Effect: Andromeda dropped. As I write this, we have less than 16 hours till those of us not lucky enough to get advanced copies can take the plunge. In fact, there’s a good chance you will have played the game for several hours before you ever look at this. I wanted to get it published sooner, but I do the best I can with the time I have.

I’m not gonna critique the game right now. I don’t have a right to do that because I haven’t played it yet, because it isn’t out yet. Yet recently a lot of people, who also haven’t played the game, have taken it upon themselves to not only negatively critique the game but to also harass members of the Bioware staff because of it. Now this is absolutely ridiculous for so many reasons, but I’m not actually interested in discussing harassment in this post either, so I’ll just sum up my views on the subject as quickly as possible.

You Can't Judge a Game

Harassment is wrong in any form. But let’s be clear about what harassment actually is. Criticizing a business because of issues you have with their products in a mature and respectable manner for legitimate, well thought out, and justified reasons is not harassment. Whether it’s by email, tweet, Facebook post, forum reply, blog post, YouTube comment, or any other means of communication is completely acceptable behavior. But let’s make sure we’re clear about what “mature and respectable manner for legitimate, well thought out, and justified reasons” means. Voicing a formal complaint about being unhappy with the quality of facial animations in a game with the entire focus of the post/comment being about facial animations with no curse words one time is not harassment. Voicing that same complaint with slurs, curse words, and threats of violence is harassment whether it’s once or a hundred times. Directing your complaints about a game, no matter how respectful and well thought out, at a private citizen, even if they are an employee of the development studio, is harassment. Even if you’re directing positive comments at them, it’s still harassment. It’s just harassment that they most likely aren’t going to be unhappy about.

Bioware is not made up of or represented by one person. It’s a large corporation that has official accounts that the public can easily send messages to in many forms via many platforms. There is no excuse to bother private citizens who work at a company about issues you have with the company and/or their performance. You wouldn’t send a message to the guy who flips your burgers at McDonalds if you saw a commercial from them you didn’t like. Private citizens deserve to be left alone regardless of where they work and what they do at work.

Respect is the Key

So just to be clear, it’s completely acceptable, but pretty stupid, to send messages to Bioware saying you’re unhappy about the facial animations, even though you haven’t yet played the game yourself yet, in Mass Effect: Andromeda. It’s not acceptable to send messages to Bioware saying you’re unhappy with the facial animations in Mass Effect: Andromeda and that it’s the fault of a specific employee because they happen to be a woman. It’s not ok, but won’t be frowned upon to send positive messages about Mass Effect: Andromeda to an employee of Bioware via their private accounts. It’s completely, 100% unacceptable, disgusting, and outright offensive to send negative messages to a private citizen who happens to work for Bioware and blame them for something you’re unhappy with about Mass Effect: Andromeda, whether you played it already or not, especially to tell them it’s their fault because of something out of their control such as their gender, skin color, class, or literally any other personal identifier protected by the Constitution of the United States of America. Even if you’re not an American, these same rules still apply to you if you consider yourself a human being. Now that I’ve taken more time than I should have to in 2017 to talk about this issue, let me get to what I actually wanted to discuss in this post.

If you have an issue with the facial animations of humans in Mass Effect: Andromeda that is completely acceptable. If you think bad human facial animations is enough of a reason to say Mass Effect: Andromeda is a bad game and/or that’s the reason you’re not going to buy the game, you’re an idiot. And let’s be clear about something. This has nothing to do with Mass Effect: Andromeda. This has to do with people incorrectly judging games. A video game, especially an open world, plot based, AAA, is made up of more than just facial animations. In fact, as surprising as it may sound, it’s made up of more than just graphics. A game is made up of multiple parts, created by masses of people, over several months to years in the case of Mass Effect: Andromeda. We aren’t talking about some small one man indie game where you can legitimately blame a problem on a specific person. And in the same vein of thinking, we aren’t talking about a game small enough to be judged solely on any one problem. Not to mention it’s probably the least important problem anyone could ever complain about.

A Game is More Than Graphics

Human facial animations? Who cares? Have we forgotten about Assassin’s Creed Unity? Are we just gonna ignore the many serious glitches in the original release of Skyrim? And who’s playing Mass Effect games for the humans in the first place? If you’re not in it for the aliens then you’re a xenophobic, narcissistic asshat and you should just run along back to your COD. Having not yet played the game yet, my biggest complaint so far is the fact that you have to play as a human . . . again. We did three games of that already. Bioware should have moved on to new playable races for the campaign by now. But whatever. The point is that to make the game breaking issue facial animations of one of many species in a huge, plot focused, open world game without considering any other pieces of the total work is kind of like saying you hate a movie because of the way they drew/wrote the title in the introduction. Most importantly, it shows a lack of ability to properly judge and/or review games.

I’m not saying that I’m the best game reviewer of all time, but I am quite experienced with multiple years of reviews under my belt. While I won’t say that there’s any one correct way to review games, there are a few things that every good reviewer should be doing when judging games. The first and most important is making sure to judge a game in its entirety and not just focus on one specific aspect. This is especially true when picking the score. Personally I hate that reviews are scored. It only detracts from the review because most people take the number as being more important than the words that led to that number. A large part of this comes from the fact that many people no longer take the time to actually read reviews, which is a shame. But in any case, the number should reflect a score for the totality of the product and not just represent a specific aspect of it. The second thing is that the number should accurately reflect what the reviewer wrote about the game. Not what the reviewer felt in his/her own head, but what they took the time to write down. The review should back up the score, not exist independently of it.

Avoid Bias

I haven’t looked at a single review for Mass Effect: Andromeda yet. They are coming out as I write this post. I’ve made the conscious decision not to read any reviews or check any scores because I plan on reviewing it myself and I don’t want my final thoughts and score to be manipulated by anyone else’s review. That’s the third thing that I believe should be standard practice for all reviewers. They should make a conscious effort not to see any scores for a game until they’ve already settled on their score and ideally finished writing their review. I always score games after I’ve finished writing the review. Again, the score should not dictate the review. The review should dictate the score.

While I don’t necessarily believe that everyone should write reviews the way I do, I do believe that every reviewer who takes that responsibility seriously should have a set in stone rationale for how they review games that can be presented upon request. I have shown mine many times and you can see it in practice with every review I write.

The 5 Components of a Game Review
Seen more doesn’t mean more important.

I believe that no aspect of game development is more important or more difficult than any other one when it comes to scoring a game. Many people would disagree, and that’s fine, but again, they should still be able to show a legitimate breakdown of how they score games and be able to justify it. I break a game up into what I believe are the five core aspects of game development: graphics, gameplay, sound, writing, and replay value. The order is irrelevant because all five aspects are weighted evenly for a maximum score of two. Combined they can equal a maximum score of 10. That is how I review games. I look at each aspect of a game in detail, score each one independently of the other four aspects, and add those five scores together for a total score. Now to be completely transparent, the website I write for currently only does integer scores so I always have to round to the nearest integer for my published score, but when it comes to actually choosing a number, I used decimals. I believe that this evenly weighted system is the fairest way to review and score a game, but I would never claim that all reviewers should be forced to use this system. Many people have differing beliefs about what’s important when scoring a game and weight it differently. But all legitimate reviewers should be able to agree that all five of the aspects I mentioned should be considered when reviewing a game and no single aspect can make or break a game unless the game is unplayable because of it. A game with a game breaking glitch with everything else perfect isn’t going to get an eight. But at the same time, a game with great gameplay and terrible to no writing shouldn’t get a 10 either. Neither game has performed to the best of the industry and thus both games should be scored to appropriately reflect a lack of perfection.

Mass Effect Andromeda Parts

So as we move forward into the release of Mass Effect: Andromeda, let’s all try to be fair judges of the game and remember that bad human facial animations cannot legitimately make a plot heavy, open world space exploration game with multiple species of characters, the majority of which have totally acceptable facial animations, a “bad game”. Just to clarify, I’m not saying it’s a good game at this point. I haven’t played it yet. What I’m saying is that if your only complaint about it is bad human facial animations and you consider yourself a reviewer or even just a legitimate gamer, then you have a responsibility to judge the game fairly and declare that other than those bad human facial animations it’s a good game. That means you should probably play it before voicing an opinion about it.

I’d love to see how other reviewers weight/score games so please let me know your system in the comments or link me to your own blog post where you explain this rationale in detail. You can get my full thoughts on Mass Effect: Andromeda once I’ve had a chance to thoroughly play the game and my review is complete.

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As always, thanks for reading. Please take the time to follow my blog, leave a comment, and check out some of my other channels if you enjoyed what you read.

The Downgrade of Upgrades

This week I published an article about how the better gaming technology seems to get, the worse the experience ends up being for gamers due to lazy and/or greedy development and publishing practices. I published this article on Gaming Rebellion but here’s the introduction:

no games bf

I think it’s fair to say that most gamers today have at least some feeling of like/love for technology. I can code a little bit, build a PC from scratch, troubleshoot most normal level computer issues, and have fixed more than one broken console. I’ve owned every Nintendo and SONY home console (not counting Switch) as well as two of the three Microsoft home consoles and every Sega home console except the Saturn. I’ve owned several handhelds, multiple tablets, multiple mp3 players, and I literally work for a computer component manufacturing company. It is not a ridiculous statement to say that I like technology. Yet it seems to me that as we, by which I mean consumers who call themselves gamers, are forcibly offered “better” technology with each passing generation of consoles, that playing video games has become more expensive and less convenient.

You can read the rest right here. Please check out my Author’s Archive for other articles by me on Gaming Rebellion.

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Words Up! Academy Review – 4/10

It has been a long time since I reviewed a Wii U game.I wish I could say that this return to Nintendo was as fortuitous as getting to play The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, but alas it wasn’t. I reviewed a pretty lackluster word puzzle game called Words Up! Academy. Here’s the introduction but honestly it’s not worth buying so you can probably save yourself the trouble:

wordsup play

I like to try out video games that attempt to be educational because I think making a game that’s both entertaining and helpful is some of the hardest development around. I’ve played a number of games that tried their best and did some things right, but they never seem to enter into legitimately fun game status. Sadly, the recently released (2/9/17) Words Up! Academy by CoderChild is another honorable but ultimately average at best try.

You can read the rest of the review here. For this and other reviews by me on Brash Games you can also check out my Author’s Archive page.

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As always, thanks for reading. Please take the time to follow my blog, leave a comment, and check out some of my other channels if you enjoyed what you read.

A Bloggers Recognition Award for Me!

I have been writing this blog almost religiously since 2013. It has been a long and often difficult task, but I have not missed a single week in the more than three years that I’ve been writing this gaming centered blog. This was not the original home of DJMMT’s Gaming Blog. For those of you who have been reading longer than the past six months, you know that this blog originally started on IGN. In fact, the page is still there in all its glory, but I have no regrets about moving to my own dedicated WordPress site.

Though I didn’t start this blog for the recognition or the fame, I will admit that it has often been disheartening seeing lower quality content creators get famous and often rich while I slave away at making quality posts hoping for just a few comments. A bit of recognition for my efforts would be very much appreciated and today I show my appreciation.

sbox

I have been nominated for the Bloggers Recognition Award by none other than The Ranting SBox. For those of you who aren’t aware, this is an excellent blogger who creates content at a frequency that I could only dream about matching. This blog, like mine, focuses on popular entertainment with a focus on both film and video games. It’s a wonderful blog that I have been following for a while now and you should all check it out. Leave him a comment saying DJMMT sent you. It is both an honor and a privilege to have been nominated by such a talented blogger.

I am very thankful to have been recognized for this award. In the years that I’ve been writing this blog I’ve never actually been awarded or recognized for my efforts outside of the occasional comment or tweet. Never before has anyone taken the time to formally recognize my blog on any serious platform, to the best of my knowledge. This is a moment that I take great pride in and it has only motivated me to continue the good work of creating serious posts in the discussion of video games and the culture surrounding them.

rules

In order to formally accept a Bloggers Recognition Award, one must adhere to the rules to the best of their ability. So in case you aren’t aware, here are the rules:

  1. You must thank the blogger who nominated you, and provide a link to their blog.
  2. Write a post to show your award.
  3. Give a brief story about how you started your blog.
  4. Give two pieces of advice to new bloggers.
  5. Select 15 other bloggers you want to give the award to.
  6. Comment on each of the blogs to let them know they have been nominated, and provide a link.

I’ve already completed one and obviously two since you’re reading this. So let’s move on to the rest.

I started this blog back in 2013 with a very grandiose goal and vision of myself. I wanted to write a book of essays about topics in gaming. In fact I did write a book of essays about serious topics in gaming. I actually wrote more than 100 single spaced pages on various topics but then I realized something important. Gaming is also changing. Today gens are ending faster than they ever did before and the way games are made, sold, and managed continuously changes. I realized that while the issues I was writing about at the time were important then, they most likely wouldn’t be important by the time I figured out how to get a book of essays published. Even today I still write posts that often get backlogged and by the time I can get them published they stop being relevant. Still haven’t had time to get to that Nintendo Switch announcement post . . .

tldr

But my goal for writing those essays was not just for them to exist. It was for people to read them, discuss them, and hopefully take my ideas to heart when moving forward as members of the gaming industry and/or community. That meant people needed to see them while they were still relevant. So I decided that instead of trying to publish a book I would just start publishing my essays in blog form. My first posts were even longer than they are now. I even had to break them up into multiple parts because I knew people wouldn’t read them. I still write thorough posts as you all know, but nowhere near to the degree that I did back when I first started. Eventually you get tired of seeing TLDR for every single post you do. Since I first started I have always taken my blog and accompanying YouTube channel, Twitter account, and other connected media very seriously. For me it’s more than a hobby. It’s a responsibility to the gaming community.

As far as advice to new bloggers, I would say the two most important things you can have are frequency and consistency. People like active content creators. I wish I could do three or more posts a week, but I just don’t have the time. The only way to stay relevant in an ever growing feed of social media where your stuff gets pushed down out of view quicker than it gets shared is to continually create new things to put you back on top again. If I didn’t have to work and do other adult things, I’d try to make a post of some sort every day.

advice

As far as consistency, find a reason and a voice to write with. A good way to do this is by creating a mission statement. The goal of my blog has always been to discuss topics in gaming in a serious manner with a focus on consumers. I have always sought to have people think about gaming in a serious and scholarly way similarly to how people look at film today. That’s why I write the things I write in the style I write them in. Be consistent about what you want to accomplish and how you want to accomplish it. Don’t just change your style and goals based on the current trend. In my case I wanted to create posts that would incite serious discussions about gaming. That’s not sexy and it doesn’t appeal to everyone, but I can be and am proud of every post I create because I know that they show integrity and dedication. And just for the record, this blog and my consistent style when writing posts for it got me my current job so my advice is more than just soap box preaching. People do recognize when and why your content changes and if it’s not for the right reasons it won’t help you in the long run.

Finally, I’m supposed to nominate 15 other blogs with links that I think deserve this award. Now honestly I can’t recommend 15 blogs that I think are worth your time. But I can name eight. These blogs aren’t for everyone, but they’re blogs I like and I encourage you to at least check them out.

Well that’s everything. Thanks again to The Ranting SBox for nominating me. I never thought I’d end up getting a BRA or that it would be given to me by a dude. Sorry I couldn’t help myself.

Thank you to everyone who has supported this blog over the years. For continuing to read, comment, and share. You’re the reason I’m still going all these posts later.

Thanks for reading and I’ll see you next time.

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As always, thanks for reading. Please take the time to follow my blog, leave a comment, and check out some of my other channels if you enjoyed what you read.

Berserk and the Band of Hawk Review – 8/10

This week I was fortunate enough to get to review the highly anticipated Berserk and the Band of Hawk by Koei Tecmo. A game based on a fairly popular anime from a studio that needs no introduction. So without further adieu here’s the introduction to my review:

berserk

I have always enjoyed a good anime adaptation game. I’ve said before that I find most anime based video games disappointing because the bulk of them end up being basic fighters and just ignoring the things that actually made the anime good outside of just combat sequences. The fact that the only well-known Naruto games are all just clones of Mortal Kombat really depresses me. That’s why I rarely play any anime based games today. The other thing that limits the amount of anime games I play is that up until now I had never seriously played a game based on an anime I hadn’t seen before. Berserk and the Band of Hawk by Koei Tecmo is the first game I’ve ever played based on an anime I had no interest in.

You can read the rest of the review here. For this and other reviews by me on Brash Games you can also check out my Author’s Archive page.

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As always, thanks for reading. Please take the time to follow my blog, leave a comment, and check out some of my other channels if you enjoyed what you read.

Linelight Review – 6/10

This week I reviewed a fun little puzzle game on the PS4 call Linelight. It’s a short, but sweet little experience that I highly recommend and it’s also available on PC. I published this review on Brash Games, but here is the introduction:

linelight

In my opinion, the best puzzle games are either really complicated to the point of making you pull your hair out, or elegantly simple and require a fair amount of thought, but not too much else to be satisfying. The recently released (1/31/2017) Linelight by Brett Taylor Interactive LLC falls into the latter category. This simple puzzle game does just about everything right to give you a fulfilling gameplay experience without asking for too much in return.

You can read the rest of the review here. For this and other reviews by me on Brash Games you can also check out my Author’s Archive page.

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As always, thanks for reading. Please take the time to follow my blog, leave a comment, and check out some of my other channels if you enjoyed what you read.