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September 29, 2013

Should Video Game Translations Be Regionalized?

Okay, I'm hitting a more touchy subject of the video gaming industry, as it deals with entertainment laws and all, but here goes anyway. First of all, why this subject in the first place? Well... It's a little something that's been bugging me recently. You see, I live in Quebec, a little province located on the East of Canada, a province that is mostly composed of French speakers. Our culture is different enough from the rest of Canada, we have our own view on the world, we have our own culture, our own icons (yay, lys flowers!). I'd go as far as to say that if we weren't linked to the rest of Canada by the province of Ontario, you'd swear we're our own country. (Not getting into nationalism versus separatism debates here, because this is a video game blog and, frankly, if you're living anywhere else in the world, chances are that you don't care much about that debate in particular.)

Now that this is said, let me make one thing clear. I'm proud of my province. No doubt there. However, there's a Quebec policy about video games and animated medias in general, and without quoting it entirely, it goes along the lines of "if thisDVD/Blu-Ray/video game doesn't have the option to be watched/played in French, it cannot be sold in stores". I might be wrong on the exact wording - actually, I'm sure I'm wrong on many places if we're looking for the exact wording - but the ideas is still there. If you can't watch this film in French, it cannot be sold here. If you cannot play this game in French, it cannot be sold here.

September 27, 2013

Super Contra

Good times.
And now, the first review of a game available on the Virtual Console! If there's one thing I love about the Virtual Console, it's that you can buy many games that we remember from our youth. I remember when I played on my Nintendo Entertainment System... Those were good times... Half the time! I had all the regular games: The first three Super Mario Bros. games, I had Duck Hunt, I had... well, I had a lot of games that were well-known NES titles. I also had a few major stinkers, such as one of the very first football games, which SUCKED. And there were also games that were surprisingly good. Others were so challenging that today's games feel easy in comparison.

The NES era is looked at with nostalgia. Those were the good times. Controllers had only the directional pad, Start, Select, A and B, for a total of only eight buttons. Most games were simple, back then, and especially platformers. The game today is among the most famous non-Nintendo NES games. Unlike, say, Metal Gear Solid, this franchise didn't develop itself through the years until it reached the HD perfection of the most recent consoles. As a result, this game series has become iconic to the 8-bit and 16-bit era, but it ended there.

Have you heard of Contra? If you know Konami's history, you do. If you don't, here's what it is: Contra is a game series in which you control little soldier who becomes trigger happy and shoots everything around. Oh, but don't be fooled: There's a good reason. Everything around him, from his soldier companions to the army's machines, is trying to kill him. Luckily, he can fight against those brainwashed opponents thanks to many different firearms.


If only he had more than one Hit Point per life...

September 25, 2013

Mario Paint Composer

If you've been around for a month or more, reading this blog, you know two of my passions: Music and Super Mario. Well, there's a way to combine both. No, not the game soundtracks (though they sound very nice too).

Anyway, back in the time of the Super Nintendo, a little game came out called Mario Paint. It was an innovative game that required a mouse to play with, as it was a software on which the player would draw pictures. And of course, it's not very easy to do that when all you have is a video game controller that lacks the precision of a computer mouse. To tell the truth, I never played it, but the concept alone is intriguing enough.

Mario Paint wasn't just a picture software, though. It had a few bonus modes, such as a game in which you're swatting flies and the famous Mario Paint Composer. This was a little revolutionary program that would let anyone with musical talent create their own song. Of course, it wouldn't be with real instruments, so the musician would have to do with regular musical sounds, sometimes Mario sounds (such as Yoshi hopping), and other animal sounds (such as cat, dog and pig).

That program was a lot of fun, so it is dearly remembered by many. So many, in fact, that someone re-created it and made it available on Internet, removing most of the original limitations. As a result, people decided they'd use that software to make their own songs... or quite simply, re-create songs that already exist. Here's a few of those. (I also tell the name of the original song so you can look it up on Youtube and compare the two).

September 22, 2013

Did the Raving Rabbids Ruin Rayman?

Ah, Rayman. What a wonderful video game series that is. It's downright crazy. It follows the limbless hero Rayman in his crazy adventures, collecting Lums and fighting enemies that were, somewhat, wackier than him, yet retaining all their dangerosity. The Rayman series is nowhere as famous as, say, Mario, The Legend of Zelda or Sonic the Hedgehog, yet it still holds a place dear in many gamers' hearts.

Then came in the Rabbids. Cute albeit psychotic creatures who could go from cuddly-adorable blue-eyed critters to deadly screaming red-eyed creatures. And they RUINED Rayman. They spread their long ears through the franchise, destroying all that Rayman used to be, and halting the franchise for a time far too long.

I'm making it sound way worse than it actually is. But it was the opinion a lot of fans had when the Rabbids started taking more and more space in Rayman's world. This leads to the fanbase-tearing question: Did the Raving Rabbids ruin Rayman?

September 20, 2013

How To Train Your Dragon (Wii)

I already mentioned that licensed games can be awful. The rush to release something just for an extra cash grab is quite lame, and it results in bad games more than once. It's a major problem, and it's one of the reasons why licensed games are thoroughly avoided by a lot of gamers. Yet, I also mentioned in the same article that some licensed games are surprises hidden among the cheap games.

I don't think I need to tell you that How to Train Your Dragon is a licensed game. Duh. The movie, which came out in 2010, was one of the best examples of 3D films done well, even better than Avatar, the HIGHEST-GROSSING FILM OF ALL TIME. And it's not just a technical success, it was also a success on the aspect of its simple story: Vikings hate dragons. A young viking injures, meet, helps and befriends a dragon. He keeps it secret due to the hatred between vikings and dragons. Then the young viking discovers that the dragons all steal food and stuff from their village because an ENORMOUS dragon will eat them if they don't. The vikings discover the teenager's dragon, force him to lead them to the dragons' island. The boy has to teach his dragon-taming knowledge to the other teens of the village so that they can save the villagers from the giant dragon. And that's the story in a nutshell. I'd explain it in more detail, but go watch it instead. You'll like it.

A problem arises quickly enough. All the teams behind licensed games have seen that problem: How do we turn this into a video game? I also mentioned in my article that you could keep true to the film's story, or you could go with something completely different. Or you could go with the movie's aftermath, which is an original story in its own right, but a story that still needs to keep true to everything that happened in the movie.


Does the Wii version of How to Train Your Dragon accomplish this? We'll see.

September 18, 2013

Fan Theories

Okay, today we're going to go into something a little more serious, but it's gonna remain Fun Stuff. You see, I chose to name this site Planned All Along because a story has to, well, be planned in the early stages of development of a game, I'd even say at the very beginning. So, in a way, the story has no other choice but to have been "planned all along". I also chose this angle because the story of a game is an aspect that has become increasingly important nowadays.

Have you ever watched a TV show and told yourself: "I have a theory about that part"? As if you were trying to guess some untold truth about the series? Or, have you watched a mystery film (or a mystery novel) and tried to guess the culprit before it ended? (If for this you watch Columbo, you're cheating.)

You can theorize about works of fiction.

September 15, 2013

Are Fan Ideas Always Bad?

You know, with the upcoming release of Pokémon X and Y in a little less than a month, I spent a long time looking around the Internet for previews of the new generation. Each time something new was revealed, you can be sure I was going to find out soon enough.

With video games, a company is certain to gain a fan base, especially if a series becomes very popular. The developers are often listening to the fans. They don't have another choice, if the fans are denouncing bad glitches. However, they also get lots and lots of suggestions, some of which would make no sense. After all, fans don't always have the right grasp on the series; Their ideas might not fit in the franchise, others would be simply ridiculous.

That begs the question. Are fan ideas always bad?

September 13, 2013

Midnight Play Pack

Some games don't necessarily need to exist. This sounds rude, I know, because video games are now recognized almost as artistic creation, but... yeah, that's the case. Some games don't need to exist, because they are just things we already have everywhere else. Might it be on Internet, on the computer, or simply as other, better games out there. Yes, I'm well-aware that it's rude, but it's true.

What it doesn't say: Developers have the
final say on how much their game connects.
Welcome to Midnight Play Pack, a collection of five different games in the same DS cartridge. Since those five games don't have anything linking them together, I'll just review each one of them, one at a time. A little note before I begin, though. This is more of a pet peeve of mine, but personally, I hate when games claim to open the way to multiplayer, except, not really. Let me explain. In Midnight Play Pack, the games can almost all be played in multiplayer mode... But you know what's the problem with this? You know the deal with the DS: You must stand close to the other DS and wait for the other DS to connect with yours. For some games, it works perfectly well. Take Mario Party DS, as an example. This party game will send requests to all the Nintendo DS around. That is the ultimate example of connectivity with such a game. However, there are other DS games out there that offer the multiplayer option... only if the other players also have this game in their console. And guess what? A big lot of those games happen to be, well... to put it nicely, “not popular enough”. As in, the odds are pretty damn low that you'll find someone else with that game. That's partly why playing with someone else over Internet thanks to the Wi-Fi connection helps a lot, but even then, you might just not find somebody connected who's playing that one game. And this sucks. A lot. I previously talked about games that offer this kind of sharing yet aren't popular enough for it to work.


Guess what? Midnight Play Pack can only connect with a Nintendo DS that has the same game in it! ...As a result, you better forget the multiplayer option in this freaking game. You'll never see it unless you purposely buy two of those. And even then, what says you will actually have a multiplayer mode that is worth it?

September 11, 2013

Reviewers

Fun Stuff Day, as usual!

One of my major problems is that, unlike many gamers out there, my collection of video games is sort of... small. Not only that, but I'd also say that real, dedicated gamers have more consoles than I do. I can just review stuff on the Game Boy Advance, the Nintendo DS and the Wii! And that's one of the problems. I don't have as much diversity as, say, someone who owns a Nintendo console, a Sony console and a Microsoft console just to be sure.

And, that also means that there are reviewers out there who are more knowledgeable than me on video games, or who have more consoles - thus more games, or who can make their review series a web show...

That's why today's Fun Stuff is about those video game reviewers who have a web series out there.

September 8, 2013

Thrillville: Off The Rails DS (Part 2)

Part 1 can be read here.

(Also, pardon the sparsity of images in this article. Pictures for Thrillville: Off The Rails DS are very hard to find. This game has come out on PC and on a few other consoles... Have no worries, the text makes up for it  by being a lot funnier. Especially the big picture-less part somewhere in the middle.)
I'm back to continue this review of Thrillville: Off the Rails. Personally, I think this game's story is off its meds, but who cares.

Let's go with the obvious joke: Thrillville went off the rails with this one. Badum-tish!

So, we are back again at Globo-Joy's meetings, where Mr. X rambles on about doughnuts. He forces everyone out of the meeting so that he can speak with Blabbo himself. Apparently, Blabbo's scientists tried to replicate the WHOA technology, but they failed (and it blew up in their faces). For some reason, Mr. X speaks to Blabbo, but the mascot clown doesn't say a DAMN word, even if Mr. X said he was gonna chat with him. Whatever. Mr. X has a new plan for Thrillville Chills...

September 7, 2013

New Games

Hi everyone! Just a little update on new games I bought recently.

So, first of all, a week ago I bought a game called Bass Pro Shops' The Hunt. It is, well... a hunting game. And so far, it's a lot of fun, even if it's not really easy. Some parts are really difficult, but I am more than halfway through the game. Expect a review of it someday. Much later, probably.

Also, I bought a Wii Points card yesterday, so I bought two games on the Wii Shop Channel.

The first is Pokémon Rumble, because I just felt like having another Pokémon game in my collection. That game might be too easy, however. Eh, I'm just gonna finish it faster and I'll be able to review it soon!

Last but not least, there have been games I keep hearing about and I want to play, badly. With the announcement of Mega Man in Super Smash Bros 4, I bought the first Mega Man game for the Virtual Console. I'm finally gonna play with the famous android.

Also, maybe someday, if I run out of WiiWare or Virtual Console games, I might spend a post talking about the Demos you can buy for free. That ought to be interesting.

Don't forget to tune in Sunday at night for the second part of the Thrillville: Off The Rails review!

September 6, 2013

Thrillville: Off The Rails DS (Part 1)

Who doesn't like carnivals? Who doesn't like roller coasters? Who doesn't like thrill rides? Oh, you'll still like them once you complete this game... except you're gonna start hating the economical competition between amusement parks. Sure, between Six-Flags, Disneyland and the others, it's a market nobody would dare going against. Luckily, none of those exists in today's game.

This exists, by the way.

There has always been simulation or tycoon games. Some of them are available for the PC, others are available on game consoles. There have been tycoon games for almost everything out there and every type of company out there. So, of course, there had to be a tycoon game based around amusement parks. And yes, there is! The Thrillville series, that is. It's weird that a tycoon game based on one of the funnest type of enterprise also happens to be the least realistic.

The point behind a tycoon game isn't just to make you experience the "fun" of being part of the company, it is supposed to be based on very realistic situations that can happen to the company. What do we get here?

Princesses believing they're frogs, fake vampires believing they're real, holograms roaming a large place, and that's not counting all the petty crimes. This sets the mood! Welcome to this review of Thrillville: Off The Rails! (The DS version.)


September 5, 2013

The University Began

Hi everyone! Nicolas here. I've got something important to say. Well, it's gotta be important, or I wouldn't spend a whole message talking about that.

Anyway, as you know if you've read the About Me page, I'm a university student at a university in the province of Quebec. The semester began yesterday. I had my first class of the semester yesterday as well, and BOY is there a lot of work in that course alone. And yet that's not the one with the most work!

In other words, this will be a very busy semester. You probably guessed what it means: I won't have as much time for my blog as before. It all boils down to my schedule, however. I'm rather lucky, because even if I do have a lot of work in two of my classes, have only four classes, so I'll have a lot of free time when I'm not working on school projects.

However! I will need to make a few changes to the blog's schedule. You see, my first class on Mondays is at 8:30 AM. Which means that I won't have time in the morning to post a new blog entry, might it be the serious thought about video games or Part 2 of a review. Instead, I'll post those on Sunday nights. Please remember this. Also, I might not have as much time to promote those Monday updates everywhere as I used to, which means you'll just have to come to the blog on Mondays to see if something's been added.

Updates on Wednesdays and Fridays will not change. Unless I am really too busy that day and I can't post a new article in the morning. In that case, expect it to appear the day just before, which means Tuesday or  Thursday nights respectively.

In other news, I created a Facebook page for Planned All Along. If you like this blog and you have a Facebook account, go Like that page too! I might also try to add a "Like" button on this blog's side-bar.

That's all for now. Stay tuned for tomorrow's review!

September 4, 2013

Insane Ian

I'm a huge fan of parodies. I can't deny that. I've been listening to Weird Al Yankovic ever since I was in ninth grade. And, of course, I've been playing video games since I was in elementary school.

That means that when I find some guy on Internet who makes comedy songs about video games, might they be parodies or original songs, I'm all ears, and I look around for more of that guy's works. Those songs don't count as official, because you won't find them in the games. That doesn't mean they can't be good.

Take Insane Ian, as an example. I haven't heard everything from him, but I already know he doesn't just write songs about video games. Those he did, however, are very funny. That's why I dedicate today's Fun Stuff article to him.

And before you ask, some of those songs do contain more adult humor, so if you're very young and reading this, you might not understand everything.


Haha, it's funny because his face constantly reminds us that he's not Mario.

September 2, 2013

Mario Pinball Land (Part 2)

Part 1 is here.

So... I spent many hours without playing a video game, and now I'm back for this Saw-style torture for the fingers. Welcome back to this review of Mario Pinball Land.
Looks like he's smiling. Mario, don't
smile! This will destroy you!

A little bit of explanation about the save files of this game. This game doesn't have a simple saving method: You can save only when you press Start. When you do so, you are given two choices: “Continue”, which will resume your current game, or “Save & Quit”. Literally, you can't save at any moment, you can save only when you stop playing. Of course, the game still redirects you to the title screen when you do that, so it's not a big deal. However, if you turn off your game without saving this way....

YOUR WHOLE SAFE FILE GETS DELETED AND YOU MUST START ALL OVER AGAIN.

Damn! As if you didn't already curse enough at this game!

So, when we stopped last time, Mario had just defeated the Puffer-Cheep and his two-fish army. The star key appeared again, the statue lit up in Bowser's yard, a cannon appeared at the beginning of the level... same old, same old. But... wait a minute... The three themed levels have been completed. Meadow, desert and cold... but what's left? Time to come back to the Fun Park.