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game developers conference 2011

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									PS3 360 Wii PC MOBILE OPINIONS FEATURES                                            www.pixelhunt.com.au www.twitter.com/pixelhunt




AUSTRALIA’S BEST gAMINg -zINE
FULLY INTERACTIVE MAgAzINE   ISSUE 14   MARCH 2011




                                                        l pers co fere ce 2011
                                                    evelopers conference 2011
                                             game d eve
   true jrpg                                          amongst bad                          the best
reincarnation                                          company                           home setups
an extensive look at                                  get better at battlefield:          finding the ultimate
shin megami tensei                                   bad company 2: vietnam                  gaming luxuries
LETTER FROM THE EdITOR                                                              looking forward
                                                                                    to
Bulletstorm In A Teacup
The reactions to Bulletstorm, both in the leadup to its release and now that        la noire
it’s on shelves, have been pretty interesting to observe. What’s strange is that    LA Noire’s blend of GTA-
the gameplay itself has barely rated a mention – the focus has mostly been          style driving and shooting
fastened on Bulletstorm’s ‘juvenile’ humour. Perhaps I’ve misjudged popu-           combined with adven-
lar opinion completely, but I feel as though we’ve been apologetic about            ture game forensics is
Bulletstorm, held it arm’s length, discounted it as a backwards step in the         compelling. It certainly
quest of video games to be ‘mature’. It seems as though some gamers are             has the look and the
stricken with a kind of inferiority complex, caught up in a pointless battle with   feel, thanks in part to the
mainstream perceptions. Some of us are desperate for video games to be              incredible facial anima-
taken seriously and Bulletstorm represents evidence to the contrary. We’re          tion; if the gameplay
scared that it will be used as ammunition by ‘the other side’ who believe           delivers it will be a GOTY
that games are childish and pointless. It’s the same reason that people rush        contender.
to the frontlines of the games as art debate. Some of us need that valida-          developer Team Bondi/
tion, to know that video games are as legitimate as books and film. The             Rockstar Games
hypocrisy and silliness of it is that so many games are juvenile in one form        Publisher Rockstar
or another. The difference with Bulletstorm is that it’s self-aware, purpose-       Games
fully juvenile, as opposed to the majority of ‘serious games’ which strive          Platform PS3 / 360
for emotive drama and chin-stroking thoughtfulness and yet have all the             genre Action
maturity and depth of an episode of Captain Planet. I guess it frustrates me        Release 20 May 2011
somewhat that we decry Bulletstorm’s purposeful stupidity while the genuine
                                                                                    official weBsite
stupidity of other games goes ignored. Killzone 3, for example, strives to be
taken seriously with its war-driven narrative, desperate soldiers in desperate
situations, darkly overwhelming odds. Yet when I compare the ideas and the
narrative and the dialogue of the two games, it’s obvious to me which one
is ‘juvenile’. Hint: it’s not Bulletstorm.
In other happenings, if you’re reading this issue of Pixel Hunt, it means that
the Nintendo 3DS has just been released in Australia. Nintendo’s love of
Australia couldn’t be more apparent; we get the 3DS last, we pay the most
for it and we get the smallest range of launch titles. Not that Nintendo seem
overly concerned about the launch titles. Hope you guys like Street Fighter
and/or Nintendogs! I equate my relationship with Nintendo to getting a hug
that seems warm and loving at first, but then the hugger touches you inap-
propriately and you feel dirty and a bit ashamed.
                                           Michael Pincott | E-zine Editor

2      www.pixelhunt.com.au                                                                                       march 2011
                                            contents
                 ISSUE 14   MARCH 2011                                              COVER
                                                                                   FEATURE
Publishing Editor Dylan Burns                                                  GDC: GAME
E-zine Editor Michael Pincott                                                  DEvELOPER’S
Website Manager Matthew Williams                                              CONFERENCE
E-zine Production Aaron Sammut
Advertising Contact the Editor if you
                                                                                        8
would like to advertise with Pixel Hunt
dylanb@pixelhunt.com.au                         IN CASE YOU
Contributors Dylan Burns, Anthony               MISSEd IT
Capone, Tim Henderson, Annika Howells,          CASTLEvANIA:
Brendan Keogh, Jahanzeb Khan, Patrick           LORDS OF
Lang, Ken Lee, James O’Connor, Michael          SHADOW
Pincott, James Pinnell, Alex Walker             6
                                                                          QUESTIONS & ANSWERS                                        THE gAME
SUBSCRIBE: at www.pixelhunt.com.au                                         WITH PROFESSOR PIXEL                                      dOCTOR
                                                                                                                                     GETTING TO
FOLLOW: www.twitter.com/PixelHunt
                                                                                         15                                          KNOW GTA
dONATE: If you’d like to show your
appreciation for each issue, please             FEATURE
                                                                                                                                     16
donate via PayPal at www.pixelhunt.com.         HOME SETUPS
au. All proceeds will go back into making       THE ULTIMATE GAMING DEN
Pixel Hunt the most up-to-date, honest
and (we hope) fun gaming zine available.
                                                12
                                                    FEATURE                                     KILL dEATH RATIO                        OPINION
NAVIgATINg THIS -zINE                               SHIN MEGAMI                                  BATTLEFIELD: BAD                      ENSLAvED
WHAT IS A PIXEL HUNT?                               TENSEI                                   COMPANY 2: vIETNAM
                                                                                                                                            30
Pixel Hunt is actually a term                       18                                                      22                         OPINION
that refers to video games that                                                                      WHAT WE’RE                         IN COD
use a point and click interface like                                                                     PLAYINg                       WE TRUST
in so many adventure games. As
such, Pixel Hunt the magazine is also
                                                                                                    WITH THE PIXEL
                                                                                                       HUNT STAFF
                                                                                                                                            32
interactive. Try clicking on items,
such as the icons to the bottom                                                                             26                          FEATURE
                                                                                                                                          KEN’S
of the page to turn to the next or
                                                                                                        CREATIVE                        HOLIDAY
previous page, the arrow to the top
                                                                                                      UNCHARTED                         SPECIAL
of each page will take you back
to the contents page where each                                                                             28                              34
individual story is linked. Give it a go.

australia’s best gaming       -zine                                                                                  www.pixelhunt.com.au    3
    press START to plaY



not tHe
newsroaming reporter DYLAN BURNS brings us
    the unreliable word on the street.


Gameinformer MATHS:
(Gp + V) = (X x GX / MS) + (R / Gp) + (D or p x R) = %
Gp = gameplay          GX = game sales        Gp = genre preference
V = visuals            MS = market share      D = developer
X = Ad Sales           R = readers            p = publisher

GAme INfoRmeR
    Y
AppL The fRAcTIoN                                                       VALVe ADmITS ThAT
   Big news that is sure to rock the gaming world: Game Informer
recently trialled a new scoring system with a subscriber-exclusive      hALf-LIfe 3 WoN’T hAppeN
issue that was only available if you called the subscriber hotline          In a shocking statement to the world media, Valve has announced that Half-Life 3
and spoke your credit card number. The system, which adds onto          will never be made. Speaking to Pixel Hunt exclusively, Valve employee Rico ‘Steam
the already existent 0.25 increment scale, will see fractions           Boy’ McTavish stated: “Honestly, with Half-Life 2 and the episodes being so perfect,
brought into each writer’s score. For example, it will now be           we realised that it just wasn’t needed. Besides, those gamers who even remember
possible for Gears of War 3 to score 9.25 and 1/3 out of 10. Game       the story are pretty old by now, and new gamers don’t even know what Half-Life is.
Informer says that adding in an extra fraction will allow writers       Besides, we haven’t really been able to find the time for Half-Life between making
to really hone in on the totally scientific task of assigning a final   f**kloads of money through Steam and coming up with new Team Fortress 2 hats. We
score. Rumour has it that IGN are planning to hit back by rating        could string the media along for a few more years but we figured that we’d finally put
games out of the mathematical figure Pi.                                you out of your misery. Okay, I have to go, my Ligers need feeding.”

4     www.pixelhunt.com.au                                                                                                                       march 2011
GUITAR heRo
STAff foRceD
To BeG foR
fooD
   Deep in the recesses of Los Angeles
exists a seedy strip of real estate called
Publisher Alley. Down this dark, dank
corridor of smeared concrete you’ll find
a small community of homeless game
developers; poor souls who have been
thrown to the wind after cancelled
projects and canned IPs. Recently joining
their ranks were several staff from the       3DS ART exhIBIT
now defunct studio in charge of the
Guitar Hero franchise, following the          GoeS Too fAR
dumping of GH by Activision.                      Most gamers have come to the realisation that
   Pixel Hunt has never braved Publisher      the ‘games are art’ debate is about as interesting as
Alley, but a reliable source was employed     counting the hairs on your arm. Nonetheless there are
(for the price of a hotdog) to investigate.   some who take it very seriously, and some who just
Unfortunately, it seems the GH staff          take it way too far. Such is the case with an exhibition
aren’t doing too well. Described by           opening in London next week. Entitled “Skull-F**k the
others within Publisher Alley as ‘fresh       World: Feminism and 3D Gaming Through the Eyes of
meat’, they occupy the lowest rungs of        Children”, the exhibit includes thirteen orphans who
this miniature society, forced to perform     have had their eyes surgically removed. Some financial
debasing acts such as writing code for        backtracking courtesy of Lester Freamon shows that
more senior ‘alley cats’ (developers          an evil subsidiary of Nintendo America is behind the
attempting to claw their way back into        initiative. When questioned, a PR rep had this to say:
entry level jobs) and filling out bug-        “The 3DS represents a reawakening of our senses. As
sheets for QA testers. Food is apparently     such, this exhibit is all about art and stuff, and those
in such short supply that just throwing a     children were each paid handsomely with a free 3DS!”
packet of chips at the GH team results in     When asked to shed some light on the meaning and
a piranha-like frenzy. More on their plight   purpose of the exhibit, the PR rep remained cryptic. “We
as things develop.                            want viewers to make their own minds up.”

australia’s best gaming     -zine                                        www.pixelhunt.com.au            5
    in case You misseD it



castlevania:
lords of
sHadow
ANNIKA hoWeLLS is the queen of her castle.


t    he back end of 2010 was a
     difficult time. With so many
quality titles coming out each week,
                                         Katamari (incidentally, Katamari
                                         is pretty much the only game they
                                         haven’t borrowed from). There are
gamers could simply not afford           boss battles straight from Shadow
to buy every single one. Or if they      of The Colossus, Uncharted-esque
could, they probably didn’t have         climbing sections, God Of War’s flashy,
time to play them all. Chances are,      button-mashing combat, and Devil
Castlevania: Lords of Shadow was         May Cry’s elaborate enemy design.         and I must say it is a pleasure to see    getting certain upgrades, adding
one of the games you chose to            Films have been influential as well,      vampires and werewolves looking           further replay value to the already
save your cash on, or perhaps it’s       with obvious homage paid to the           ugly and evil again. You won’t find any   gigantic main game.
gathering dust on your shelf. Either     likes of Pan’s Labyrinth and Lord Of      thirteen year old girls swooning over         Combat is mostly button mashing,
way it’s a shame, because Lords Of       The Rings in the environments and         these bad boys.                           and while you spend the whole game
Shadow is a real gem.                    characters.                                   Lords Of Shadow is ENORMOUS.          unlocking and buying upgraded
    Castlevania games have a poor            What Lords Of Shadow lacks            However, each chapter is a nice,          moves, it’s more effective to just
track record when it comes to the        in originality, it makes up for with      bite-sized length, so it’s easy to say    spam the basic ones. The combat is
third dimension. Mercury Steam and       delivery. The game looks absolutely       “I’ll just play one more” and then        spiced up by a dual magic system. Use
Kojima Productions have navigated        gorgeous, taking you through lush         find yourself still going at 2am,         your blue power and your health will
this pitfall by not actually creating    forests, murky swamps, snowy              telling yourself you don’t need to        regenerate with each blow you land.
a new Castlevania game at all.           vistas and crumbling gothic castles.      eat or sleep because you can collect      Use your red power and each blow
Instead, they have taken the best        The attention to detail in design is      coloured orbs to do that for you now.     will deliver more damage. Another
aspects of every other game of the       astounding – evident by the copious       Each chapter has a specific challenge     fun aspect of combat is jumping onto
past few years and smooshed it all       amounts of unlockable concept art.        and multiple items to be found, many      the backs of various enemies and
together like some kind of spectacular   The enemies are diverse and creative,     of which can only be accessed after       riding around on them, whether for

6      www.pixelhunt.com.au                                                                                                                           march 2011
                                                                                                                    in case You misseD it
                                                        “i am going to
                                                      neeD something
                                                      a little bigger”
                                                                                                                     castlevania:
                                                                                                                     lords of
                                                                                                                     sHadow
                                                                                                                     developer Konami
                                                                                                                     Publisher Konami
                                                                                                                     Platform 360 / PS3
                                                                                                                     genre Action
                                                                                                                     official weBsite




                                  platforming, puzzle solving or crushing   searching for his lost love, all the   overshadows all the slush that came
                                  your enemies like tiny grapes.            while with a facial expression like    before it and leaves you salivating
                                     Some of the puzzle sections are        he’s got a lemon up his arse. It’s     for the next instalment.
                                  quite inventive, such as the level        completely unremarkable until the          Fans of the Castlevania franchise
       the story plays out        where you’re shrunk down into             very end when the whole thing goes     will probably be disappointed by
as your basic good vs.            an intricate music box, or having         very Hideo Kojima, with twist after    how un-Castlevania the whole thing
evil fare, with a stoic           to track down chupacabras that            twist and a ridiculously lengthy       is, but fans of big dumb action
hero searching for his            have stolen your powers. But there        exposition by a villain who then       adventure fun will have a ball.
                                  are still far too many tedious light      says “So, you’ve finally figured it    Lords Of Shadow may be unoriginal,
lost love, all the while          refraction puzzles that just slow         all out… MUAHAHAHA!” In fact, I        but it’s one very good looking and
with a facial expression          the game down. Fortunately they’re        hadn’t figured anything out and I      enjoyable knock-off. Like a fake
like he’s got a lemon up          brief, letting you get back to beating    wasn’t even sure who this villain      designer handbag, it looks great and
his arse.                         up mythical nasties and clambering        guy was. I wouldn’t have even          you’ll get quite a lot of enjoyment
                                  up castle towers.                         bothered mentioning the story if it    out of it. Just don’t show anyone the
                                     The story plays out as your basic      weren’t for the epilogue, which is     inner lining up close.
                                  good vs. evil fare, with a stoic hero     so gob-smackingly awesome that it                       anniKa howells

australia’s best gaming   -zine                                                                                         www.pixelhunt.com.au          7
god damned
crazy: a gdc
adventure
pixel hunt’s man in san Fran, BReNDAN
KeoGh, recounts his memorable week at
the 2011 game Developer’s conference.




a     ll around me, people are
      jamming their oversized
carry-on luggage into the plane’s
                                            Once a year, a significant
                                        percentage of the game industry’s
                                        developers, designers, artists, writers,
                                                                                   of GDC? I learnt so many things, met
                                                                                   so many people, and played so many
                                                                                   games that no one article could hope
                                                                                                                                        ... a significant
                                                                                                                                    percentage of the
overhead lockers. The Australian        publishers, programmers, and               to convey the entire experience. Do
accents in the row behind me are        theorists converge on the Moscone          I detail the sessions? The expo? The
                                                                                                                                       game industry’s
jarringly unfamiliar but comfortably    Exhibition Centre to mingle, teach,        award show? The parties? Do I focus                       developers,
nostalgic. Over the next fourteen       learn, and, most significantly, play. In   on the sheer quantity of people,                designers, artists,
hours, flying from LAX to Sydney        their wake, an equally intimidating        supposedly topping 19,000 attendees            writers, publishers,
International, I have plenty of time    mob of middleware merchants                this year? Do I try to explain how
to get re-accustomed. That is, of       and press gather. This year, I was         despite this, you still might bump into
                                                                                                                                   programmers, and
course, if I don’t pass out first,      fortunate enough to be one of the          John Romero at a party, Jason Rohrer           theorists converge
which is quite likely considering the   latter, while I mostly managed to          on a train, or Mega64 in a bar?                     on the moscone
week I just had.                        avoid the former—though they have             Oh, by the way, I did all of these.            exhibition centre
   I am returning home after a week     managed to spam up my email for               GDC is too many things to be
spent in San Francisco at the 25th      the past month with opportunities to       categorized as any one thing. It’s too
                                                                                                                                     to mingle, teach,
Game Developer’s Conference. You        monetize my gameification schemes.         big, too unruly, too utterly insane. Yet,          learn, and, most
might know it as GDC.                       Where do I even begin an account       paradoxically, it is the tightest, most     significantly, play.

8     www.pixelhunt.com.au                                                                                                                        march 2011
                                                                                                              the unofficial theme for this
                                                                                                         year’s conference almost seemed to
                                                                                                         be “are social games real games?”
                                                                                                         everyone had an opinion on this
                                                                                                         new, young sector of the gaming
                                                                                                         community.

ANGRY BIRDS


agreeable group of people you could     well groomed ones who are focused           years of video games (more specifically,   price of a DS game, Nintendo have
ever hope to meet. Some faces may       on making lots of money. Every second       Nintendo video games). But underneath      found themselves in a whole new
be more recognizable than others,       talk seemed to be either a veteran          this was a poorly hidden marketing stint   console war. Don’t think for a second
but everyone is there for the same      game developer warning against the          for the 3DS, and underneath that, was      that the unveiling of the new iPad
reasons: because they love games,       evils of social games, or a young up-       a not-so-subtle attack on mobile games.    across the road at the same time as
and they love playing.                  and-coming developer from Zynga,            Iwata directly attacked what he sees       Iwata’s keynote was a coincidence.
   Well, okay, everyone except Zynga.   Rovio or ngmoco:) lauding metrics,          as ‘disposable games’ from companies       Iwata, along with all traditional game
   The presence of social network       Facebook, and the iPhone.                   focused on churning out games in huge      developers and publishers, is afraid of
and mobile game developers at               The underlying anxiety towards social   quantity and low quality.                  these new fields of play.
GDC is a topic of much contention.      and mobile games hovered just below             See, Nintendo long ago gave up            Far more interesting than Iwata’s
The unofficial theme for this year’s    the surface for most of the conference,     competing with Sony and Microsoft          defensive “those aren’t real games”
conference almost seemed to be “are     but came to the forefront in Wednesday      for the ‘hardcore’ audience, choosing      ramble was the annual game
social games real games?” Everyone      morning’s keynote, delivered by the         instead to focus on the untapped           developers’ rant, where some of the
had an opinion on this new, young       president of Nintendo, Satoru Iwata.        wallets of the casual scene. But now       bigger voices in the industry can let off
sector of the gaming community. In      Iwata’s keynote was a babushka doll         that Facebook and iPhone games             steam. The topic of this year’s rant was
many ways, they’re like the teenage     of a talk. On the surface, it was a         are on the scene, offering quality         “No Freaking Respect: Social Game
punks of the games industry - albeit    retrospective on the last twenty-five       casual games for a fraction of the         Developers Rant Back.” Fingers were


australia’s best gaming    -zine                                                                                                     www.pixelhunt.com.au             9
                                                                          ...a pixellated
                                                                     orange man and an
                                                                   pixellated yellow man
                                                                 were projected onto the
                                                                 wall as they ran at each
                                                                   other, threw swords,
                                                                  slid, punched, and were
                                                                 eaten by giant serpents.
                                                                     the crowd cheered,
                                                                  the players bowed, the
                                                                  controllers were sticky
                                                                    with spilt beer.

pointed, names were called, cows                 And that is possibly the single most   function. If people weren’t playing      serpents. The crowd cheered, the
were clicked, plastic coins were stolen      significant thing I got out of GDC: an     games, they were talking about games;    players bowed, the controllers were
(it’s a long story). I won’t instigate any   appreciation for the power and the         or teaching people new games; or         sticky with spilt beer.
individual people in the mud-flinging,       perversity of play. Play is everywhere     creating new games, or sharing               Thursday night was the inaugural (and
suffice to say it was a memorable            and is a definitive aspect of what         experiences, anecdotes, and stories.     God I hope annual) Kill Screen Magazine
experience with a dialogue that              it means to be human. It is pretty             On the Wednesday night, I was in a   and Copenhagen Game Collective party.
wouldn’t be out of place in Bulletstorm.     easy to forget this in the drudgery        bar for a demonstration of Messhof’s     Walking into the warehouse hidden down
     For my part, are social games           of everyday life, but a week-long          newest indie, psychedelic, and           a back alley of The Mission was to be
really games? Who cares. Certainly,          conference of game designers is the        now award-winning jousting game,         hit with a dizzying wall of motion and
there is a discussion to have in regard      perfect place to remember it.              Nidhogg. While people drank, danced,     playfulness. Half a dozen obscure
to the addictive nature of some                  Be they MMOs, cutscene-heavy           and argued over that evening’s award     Scandinavian games were projected
social games, and their tendency to          adventure games, niche indie               show (Super Meat Boy was robbed,         onto the walls, and everywhere were
exploit their player base. But for the       titles, card games, social games,          by the way), a pixellated orange man     people playing.
most part, if more people are able to        or performative turn-based combat          and an pixellated yellow man were            B.U.T.T.O.N (or Brutally Unfair
discover the joys of games and playing       simulators (more on that in a moment),     projected onto the wall as they ran      Tactics Totally Okay Now) usually sees
through social games, then I think           games were everywhere at GDC, and          at each other, threw swords, slid,       four players forced to do all kinds of
that is great.                               they all served some kind of social        punched, and were eaten by giant         crazy moves (spin in a circle, touch


10     www.pixelhunt.com.au                                                                                                                                  march 2011
                              KILL ScReeN mAGAzINe
                                         www.killscreenmagazine.com



something orange, sit on the ground)     If they fell too far behind, they would   San Francisco, more games of Ninja      it is not something we should be
before making a mad dash for their       be kicked from the round.                 spontaneously erupted. At one point,    ashamed of. This is what I learnt at
button beneath the monitor where             And then, after several kegs of       about twenty people were playing        GDC. Humans forgot that for a while,
they need to fulfil more crazy demands   beer had been emptied, Richard            in the middle of a street. At the       but with video games, we are once
to win (first player whose button is     Lemarchand (lead game designer            centre of them all was Lemarchand,      again learning what it means to play.
pressed fourteen times wins! Second      at Naughty Dog) appeared and              slaughtering opponents in swathes       “Are social games real games?” is
player whose button is held for seven    taught us all Ninja. Standing in a        with karate chops and high kicks.       the wrong question.
seconds loses!). To further complicate   circle, players took turns to lash out        The point of these stories is not       All games are social; that’s the
things at the party, the buttons were    at each other with their best ninja       to boast about the amount of fun        point: they allow us to socialise
taped to four robot-guised volunteers    moves in an attempt to hit another        I had, or the fact that I got karate    through play. Video games aren’t
dashing around the venue.                player’s hands to knock them out of       chopped by the lead game designer       some nerdy subculture we partake in;
   Next to this was Monkey See,          the game. It was as ridiculous and        of Uncharted 2. Rather, the point is    they are much more important than
Monkey Mime. Players strapped            absurd as it sounds, but it was utterly   that everyone was playing. Not just     that. Video games tap into the very
Wiimotes to their arms and head          amazing and fun.                          drunkenly at parties, but also at       point of existence: to play. Does that
and performed crazy interpretative           Once the party was over and           the conference. All week, everyone,     sound a bit ideological? Well, GDC is
dances while the other players           everyone stumbled out onto the            everywhere, was playing.                infectious like that.
frantically attempted to mimic them.     late night/early morning streets of           Play is crucial to existence and                      brenDan Keogh


australia’s best gaming    -zine                                                                                                www.pixelhunt.com.au          11
 Feature                                                                                                                                          muteki htddw7500
                                                                                                                                                  www.jbhifionline.com.au




Home is
                                                                                      ...the
                                                                                   ultimate

wHere tHe
                                                                                    gaming
                                                                                    luxury..

game is
many dream what the ultimate gaming
den might be like, but actually putting
one together can be both challenging
and pricy. ALex WALKeR gives you                                                                   the sound
all the information you need to begin                                                                  Speakers for computers start out fairly cheap: Antec Lansing’s
building your own gaming nirvana.                                                                  VS2621 three-piece setup will set you back $50 while Logitech’s
                                                                                                   Z506 offers a 5.1 Surround Sound upgrade for $98.

a     hard fact of life is that your gaming environment
      you play in just as important as the games you play.
You might be an ardent Call of Duty fan, but you’ll be
                                                                           boomchair stealth
                                                                           www.boomchair.com
                                                                                                       Headphones are much better value for money these days too,
                                                                                                   and the Plantronics GameCom 367 for $38 from MSY is an absolute
                                                                                                   steal. The Audio Technica ATH-AD700’s are a fair step up at $150,
a lot less enthusiastic after spending two hours sitting                                           but so is the sound, especially when listening to music and movies.
on a milk crate than if you were relaxing in a high-back
office chair.                                                 the chair                                For televisions, speakers are almost a necessity in this day
                                                                                                   and age of wafer thin panels. The trick is working out what kind
    Consoles are no different: a proper television with the       Ikea’s VERNER swivel chair is    of setup can function with your wallet and the available space.
right lighting, proper sound setup and a comfy sofa is        comfort on a budget, although            A sound bar speaker is essentially surround sound in a single
light-years away from sitting awkwardly in a garden chair     for console gaming the Retro         unit – fewer cables, so less clutter - although the added convenience
looking at half a picture, because you bought a TV that’s     King Kahuna Beanbag is heaven        comes with a larger price tag. JVC’s TH-BA1 will set you back $649
four feet long and now you can’t adjust it to the proper      for under $200. If you’ve got        through JVC’s Australian portal, although a quick search on Amazon
viewing angle.                                                money to blow, the $400              found the same speakers for $US251.42. The Zvox Mini will also do
    With so many products to consider – TVs, chairs,          Boomchair Stealth, complete          the job for a much more respectable $449, although unless you live
consoles, desks, mousepads, keyboards, gaming gloves,         with an in-built 4-inch subwoofer,   in Canberra or Perth, you’ll be forced to buy before you try.
surround sound systems and every other piece of               three 2-way speakers, RCA                Fans of a more traditional, multi-speaker setup, may be
paraphernalia – simply improving your setup can be a          input/output ports and               interested in the Yamaha YHT-294 5.1 channel home theatre
frustrating experience.                                       adjustable volume, treble and        system. If you’re willing to spend the cash, Sony’s Muteki
    That’s where Pixel Hunt comes in. Let’s get               bass, is the ultimate gaming         HTDDW7500 nine-speaker setup is an absolute blast – although
comfortable.                                                  luxury.                              it’s also $1000. And did I mention it came with nine speakers?

12     www.pixelhunt.com.au                                                                                                                                 march 2011
the screen                                                                                                                             Feature
    If you want the fastest possible          LCD for $1228. The newer Samsung 46”
response time on a TV, look no further        LCD model (which was rated very highly
than a plasma television. They’re bulky,      by consumer group Choice in a test of 46”
come with a risk of burn-in and aren’t        TVs) is selling for $1499 at The Good Guys,
great in the sun, but the contrast levels     so you may be able to save as much as
and picture quality is fantastic.             $200 with a bit of haggling.
    Panasonic’s VIERA 42” plasma                  If you live on a palatial estate or a villa
supports 1080p for less than $800 from        on a few acres where you have the space
JB Hi-Fi. If 42” isn’t big enough, you can    for an even larger screen, the Sony Bravia
pick up the 50” LG plasma for $988.           55” for $3296 will surely accommodate
Spend an extra couple of thousand and         even the biggest spaces. If you want
you can add a 65” plasma to your wall,        to take things a step further, an Epson
courtesy of Panasonic.                        PowerLite Home Cinema 8350 Projector
    If plasma isn’t your thing, or you        for $US1299 can beam perfect 1080P
don’t have the space or the support for       pictures onto any wall in the house.
                                                                                                                                  panasonic’s viera 42”
something quite that heavy, LCD/LED TV            Thankfully, sorting through monitors                                            www.jbhifionline.com.au

is the next best option. Kogan’s 32” LCD      is a much easier task. The more hours a
will get you 1080p gaming on a shoestring,    day you spend gaming, the more value                 ...the sony bravia 55” for $3296 will surely
although it’s well worth scrimping together   you’ll get out of the 120hz-capable, 3D           accommodate even the biggest spaces.
pennies to upgrade to Kogan’s 32” with        ready screens. The BenQ XL2410T and
an in-built PVR and Blu-Ray player. You can   the Alienware Optx AW2310 are both
also pick up the Samsung 32” UA32C5000        excellent tools for the job here, whether
LED for a similar price ($899, in stores      you choose to game in 3D or just play
only) while Samsung’s 37” model fits just     everything in 120hz.
under the $1000 budget with a dollar left         Unfortunately, they’re also both
over for the flood levy.                      more than $400. Not every computer is
    The next step up is size, as well as 3D   capable of handling a solid 120 frames
gaming. A Sony Bravia 40” LED LCD won’t       a second either. If you just want a solid
get you 3D, but it does come with a 100hz     all-rounder at a more reasonable price,
refresh rate and IPTV for just under $1400    then BenQ’s E2420HD and the ASUS
from JB. Big W’s online store is selling      VE248H are worthy candidates for less
an older model of the 40” Bravia – the        than $250. (Samsung BX2440 is also a
KDL40EX500 – for $1047 – while the            good choice, but it doesn’t come with a                                             sony bravia 55”
same site has a Samsung Series 5 46”          HDMI port.)                                                                         www.jbhifionline.com.au



australia’s best gaming     -zine                                                                                       www.pixelhunt.com.au                13
 Feature
                                                                                                                               pixel perfect
                                                                                                                                   Gamers like shopping. Let’s not
                                                                                                                               beat around the bush here; we’re like
                                                                                                                               a legion of magpies, hunting for the
                                                                                                                               newest, shiniest toy we can stick in our
                                                                                                                               kleptomaniac-like beaks. The key is to
                                                                                                                               be smart when you do go shopping, not
                                                                                                                               getting too wowed by a flashy picture
                                                                                                                               in the store or a good deal on another
                                                          ...razer Deathadder                                                  model that isn’t suitable for your
                                                                                                                               needs. Keep those things in mind when
              steelseries 6gv2
              www.steelseries.com                 are proven performers among                           razer deathadder
                                                                                                        www.au.razerzone.com   improving your setup, and you’ll be
                                                     casual and professional                                                   relaxing in gaming bliss in no time.
the other stuff                                         gamers alike.                                                                                  alex walKer

    If you’ve got a console, you think    coming out of the dark with many        Microsoft’s Intellimouse V3 and
you’re right to go: but there are a few   parts of their gaming setup, PC         the Razer Deathadder are proven
other bits and pieces that can make       gamers are still getting some of        performers among casual and
all the difference.                       the basics wrong. One of the most       professional gamers alike. The
    Sound, for example, can have a        aggravating habits of PC gamers is      former sells for less than $50 in
completely different effect depending     seeing them spend up to $150 on a       most stores in Australia, while $60
on the position. Having a speaker         gaming-grade laser mouse, but then      is the standard going rate for a
stored on the ground can often be far     ruin the experience by using the desk   Deathadder/Deathadder V2 (the V2
less effective than spending a little     or a plank of wood as a mousepad.       has a 3500DPI sensor instead of
extra on some wall mounts. Selby              A Razer Goliathus (Speed or         1800DPI, although since 3500DPI is
Acoustics sells speaker brackets and      Control edition) can extend the life    far too sensitive for gaming, this has
mounts for a modest price, although       of your mouse by years, particularly    no real practical value).
you’ll need to check for compatibility.   those precious Teflon mouse feet,           Keyboards are a cheap exercise
    Having a HDMI to DVI cable is also    for as little as $20. If you’re used    too. A $45 Microsoft Sidewinder
handy, in case you want to connect        to a traditional standard mousing       X4 keyboard will be sufficient for
your console into your non-HDMI           surface, be sure to pick up the         99% of gamers. For the other 1%
capable monitor. You can pick up a        Speed edition, as the Control           harbouring delusions about their
Belkin HDMI to DVI converter from         features a particular weave that can    need for a mechanical keyboard, the
the Apple online store for $30.           feel annoying against your wrist.       SteelSeries 6GV2 for around $150
                                                                                                                                                           belkin hdmi/dvi
    But while console users are still         Mice can be hit and miss, but       will satisfy your need.                                                  www.belkin.com/au



14    www.pixelhunt.com.au                                                                                                                                 march 2011
 Questions & Answers



professor piXel
when he’s not meditating, playing the legend of zelda backwards with one hand or finding conspiratorial messages in
issues of woman’s Day, proFessor pixel answers your most fiendish gaming questions.
 got a question for professor pixel? Fire it off to professorpixel@pixelhunt.com.au




Q   Dear Professor
     What the hell is going         A   Professor Pixel
                                        Thanks for your question
                                                                      ago. There were big plans for
                                                                      a cake with strippers, helium
                                                                                                         THQ’s new logo, but all he got
                                                                                                         was a report with the latest
on over at Activision? In the       Frederick. Things do seem         balloons and a big banner          sales numbers for Guitar
last month we’ve had Bizarre        rather unstable over at           that said ‘HAPPY BIRTHDAY          Hero: Warriors Of Rock and a
Studios close their doors for       Activision. My Activision         BOBBY!!’ on one side and           prank call from Tim Schafer.
good and the Guitar Hero            insider tells me that a recent    ‘EA SUX!!’ on the other.           He went into a rage and
franchise totally shut down.        incident in Activision HQ may     Unfortunately, everybody           cancelled the whole franchise.
Regards                             have something to do with         forgot Bobby’s birthday. Bobby     Then he hid under his desk
         Concerned Frederick        the sudden cutbacks and           turned up expecting cake and       and wailed for several hours.
                                    layoffs – it was Bobby Kotick’s   strippers and balloons and         Eventually he was able to be
                                    birthday a couple of months       having a good old chortle at       lured out with Skittles.



Q   Dear Professor
     I’m a man. Not only a
                                    an eyebrow, regarding me
                                    with suspicion. I shrugged and
                                                                      and mail them directly to
                                                                      Nintendo?
                                                                                                          anybody else have to judge
                                                                                                          him for that desire? A real man
man, but a manly man. Or at         giggled nervously. As he bags     I keenly await your advice.         should not only play Kirby’s Epic
least, I was. The other day I       the game he lets out a deep                                     Mp    Yarn in all its G-rated glory, they
went and purchased Kirby’s          sigh, gives a subtle shake                                            should broadcast with pride that
Epic Yarn. Upon seeing the
giant, spherical, very pink
                                    of his head, then hands me
                                    the bag without making eye        A   Professor Pixel
                                                                           Don’t go cutting anything
                                                                                                          they completed it 100% and
                                                                                                          found every last furniture item
and utterly joyous Kirby on         contact. It was almost as if he   off yet, MP. From the sounds of     to decorate their house in Quilty
the front cover, complete with      was suggesting that a grown       things, perhaps the store clerk     Court, especially the archway
magical yellow star attached        man shouldn’t be playing a        WAS passing judgement upon          from the Rainbow Falls level,
to its long pink appendage,         game about guiding a pink         you for your purchase. But so       it looks really great between
the store clerk looked at me,       blob through a magical world      what? If a man wants to guide       the windows. Not that I would
looked back at the cover,           of yarn. Is he right? Should      a pink blob through a magical       know, Kirby’s Epic Yarn is             KIRBY’S epIc YARN
looked at me again. He raised       I just cut off my testicles       world of yarn, what right does      totally for girls.                     a game with balls?


australia’s best gaming     -zine                                                                                                               www.pixelhunt.com.au   15
 the game Doctor                                                                                                                                            GTA IV




one man’s Quest to earn a phD bY
wanKing on about games he liKes...



Biiiiig american
teeeeeettiiies
more thesis tales from our very own cross between house
and Dr. mario, JAmeS o’coNNoR.




“one gets rid of narrative as                  been battling teaching work, thesis       with the ‘main’ narrative. What kind      to have been conducted by people
a framework for thinking about                 proposal resubmissions, other work        of wacky adventures they’ve had in        who don’t actually play the games
games only at one’s own risk.”                 and one horrific hangover). That is to    Liberty City. What they consider part     themselves. In fact, videogame
“…the discussion operates with                 say, three quarters of it has been lost   of the game’s ‘canon’, and whether        academia is full of people who had
too narrow a model of narrative,               in favour of a significant expansion      actions that aren’t saved ‘count’.        only just picked up a controller
one preoccupied with the rules                 of the other quarter. The provisional     Whether they try to narrate their         two years before their books were
and conventions of classical                   title is now something along the          pigeon hunts or not. That sort of         published. Peter Brookey opens his
linear storytelling.”                          lines of ‘Player Responses to and         thing. I’ll also be tackling machinima,   book about the relationship between
                            - henry Jenkins
     ‘game Design as narrative architecture’   Experiences with Narrative in Grand       walkthroughs, and various other           games and Hollywood (which I won’t
                                               Theft Auto IV and other Open World        surrounding texts.                        name because I refuse to give such

t    he direction of my thesis has
     changed a bit since the last
time I feverishly slapped together
                                               Action Games’.
                                                   So, essentially, my thesis is going
                                               to be about talking to players about
                                                                                            The voice of the ‘gamer’ is largely
                                                                                         missing from games academia.
                                                                                         Certainly there are examples of
                                                                                                                                   an enormous piece of shit any
                                                                                                                                   publicity) by thanking the man who
                                                                                                                                   “first put a control pod (sic) in his
this column between deadlines (this            how they play through GTA IV. How         ethnographic research with players        hands”. That, to me, is disgusting.
one has missed its deadline: I’ve              they reconcile their killing sprees       out there, but most of them seem              As a gamer myself, I am


16     www.pixelhunt.com.au                                                                                                                                 march 2011
                                                                                                                            the game Doctor




                                                                                                                                      LIBeRTY cITY

                                  potentially, and uniquely, positioned     me, as is so often the case with this    violence these games allow them to
                                  as a participant observer (I think is     sort of research.                        commit, and whether they feel any
           i know liberty         the right terminology anyway – I’d            What I really want out of my         remorse for these actions. I’d like
                                  check, but not needing to reference       research is to put the player back       to determine whether any remorse
 city like the back of….
                                  these things is so damn liberating!). I   into the writing. I want players to      is the result of the actual crimes
 well, not my own hand,           know GTA IV inside out. I’ll be playing   discuss with me the ways in which        committed, or rather a feeling of guilt
 but certainly the hand           it – and a few other open world           they engage with open world action       at potential narrative dissonance.
    of someone i see at           action games – again, all the way         titles, in terms of their exploration        I think this will be interesting.
      least once a week.          through, soon. I know Liberty City like   of space, their justification of         I sincerely hope it will be. I may
                                  the back of….well, not my own hand,       actions, and whether they view           even be able to use Pixel Hunt to
   this should allow me           but certainly the hand of someone         their activities as simple play, as      source some research subjects!
   to conduct research            I see at least once a week. This          narrative exploration, or as a sort of   More on that next time. Or
          through casual          should allow me to conduct research       escapism from the limitations of the     possibly the time after, it’s hard to
       discussion...              through casual discussion, and I          ‘real’ world. I want to discuss how      predict these things.
                                  won’t need everything explained to        players approach the random acts of                        James o’connor


australia’s best gaming   -zine                                                                                           www.pixelhunt.com.au           17
 Feature




true Jrpg
reincarnation
sometimes a video game phenomenon in Japan
translates well in the west, and sometimes it doesn’t.
JAhANzeB KhAN takes us on a journey through the
ShIN meGAmI TeNSeI series and explains what we’ve
been missing out on.




t    he name ‘Shin Megami Tensei’
     (which translates literally as
‘True Goddess Reincarnation’) has
                                        eventually hitting the United States
                                        in 1996 with Revelations: Persona
                                        (later renamed to Shin Megami
                                                                                 Quest were exploring medieval
                                                                                 settings and Phantasy Star took
                                                                                 to the cosmos, Megami Tensei did
                                                                                                                          elements to make it a proper RPG,
                                                                                                                          so Shin Megami Tensei has always
                                                                                                                          drawn heavily from real world
earned quite a reputation over the      Tensei Persona).                         things differently. It created a world   mythologies, religions and cultures.
years as an elusive and legendary           Unsurprisingly, Australian gamers    based closer to reality. Even the more   Famous figures and characters from
Japanese RPG franchise that simply      never got a chance to experience         overtly fictional aspects of it were     Hinduism, Christianity, Buddhism and
screams ‘niche’ and ‘hardcore’.         Persona. The first official Shin         relatable to the real world.             Shinto, as well as Norse and Greek
Originally starting out as Megami       Megami Tensei title to arrive on our         Shin Megami Tensei games             mythology, appeared in the game
Tensei, the series is as old as Final   shores was none other than Shin          usually took place in a present          as ‘demons’, which players must
Fantasy, Dragon Quest and Phantasy      Megami Tensei: Lucifer’s Call (also      day Japan setting, with characters       battle and work with. The writing
Star, although it doesn’t enjoy the     known as Shin Megami Tensei:             comprising of high school students,      in Shin Megami Tensei titles was
same amount of popularity and           Nocturne) in 2005. By contrast, the      detectives, computer nerds and           more sophisticated than your typical
recognition that those titles grew to   first Final Fantasy to reach Australia   basically ordinary people. A real        ‘hero saves the world’ plot, with dark
receive. Shin Megami Tensei was         was VII, in 1997, eight years earlier.   world inspired setting obviously         undertones and religion and morality
late in reaching Western audiences,     While Final Fantasy and Dragon           still needs fictional and fantasy        taking centre stage. Perhaps it was


18    www.pixelhunt.com.au                                                                                                                         march 2011
                                               Feature




      ...megami
tensei did things
differently. it
created a world
based closer to
reality. even the
more overtly
fictional aspects
of it were
relatable to the
real world.

australia’s best gaming   -zine   www.pixelhunt.com.au   19
 Feature




                                                                         2005




                                                                                                                    2006
pal-sona                                  Release Date: July 1, 2005                  Release Date: July 21, 2006                Release Date: march 2, 2007


ShIN meGAmI games that                    sHin megami tensei:                         sHin megami tensei:                        sHin megami tensei:
got a pal/aus release.                    lucifer’s call                              digital devil saga                         digital devil saga 2
                                          platform: ps2                               platform: ps2                              platform: ps2



due to these strong, dark and (dare       Japanese anime humour and plenty            because I had read that Dante from
I say) ‘anti-religious’ themes that the   of style. Digital Devil Saga took place     Devil May Cry featured in the game.
series could not be released outside      in a futuristic sci-fi setting, while the   What I played was unlike anything I
of Japan without heavy alteration.        Devil Summoner games took place in          had played before. I’d entered a living,                 ...shin megami
    However, not all Shin Megami          the early 19th century.                     breathing post-apocalyptic world            tensei: lucifer’s call was
Tensei games were like this. The              As mentioned earlier, Shin Megami       populated with demonic creatures,          the very first shin megami
series has explored a variety of          Tensei: Lucifer’s Call was the very         powered by a dark and surreal plot with    title released in australia,
different settings and themes to keep     first Shin Megami title released in         mysterious characters. The experience      and while it wasn’t exactly
things fresh. The Persona and Devil       Australia, and while it wasn’t exactly a    felt more intense and mature than any       a commercial success, it
Survivor series retain the classic        commercial success, it is still regarded    other RPG I had played, and the dark
                                                                                                                                   is still regarded by some
elements of the franchise but are         by some as one of the better RPG            religious undertones were a huge plus.
                                                                                                                                  as one of the better rpg
more light-hearted and uplifting,         experiences of the last generation. At          Then along came Persona 3
sporting interesting characters, a        the time, I had no knowledge of the         and Persona 4. Those two games                      experiences...
catchy J-pop soundtrack, typical          franchise and bought the title only         brought the franchise into the


20    www.pixelhunt.com.au                                                                                                                                     march 2011
                                                                                                                                                                Feature




                             2007




                                                                       2008




                                                                                                                  2009




                                                                                                                                                                2010
Release Date: may 3, 2007                Release Date: march 6, 2008               Release Date: march 12, 2009                 Release Date: August 11, 2010


sHin megami tensei:                      sHin megami tensei:                       sHin megami                                  sHin megami
devil summoner:                          persona 3                                 tensei persona 4                             tensei
raidou kuzunoHa vs.                      platform: ps2                             platform: ps2                                persona
tHe soulless army                                                                                                               platform: psp
platform: ps2
mainstream and suddenly a much           Japanese RPG, and while the degree        work for you. This basically involves        Japanese RPG franchises like
wider audience became aware of           of freedom was nowhere near the           conversing with them, winning them           Suikoden, Tales, Final Fantasy,
the series. Taking place in present      staggering level of Western RPGs, it      over with charm and saying the right         Disgaea, Dragon Quest and Phantasy
day Japan but in a fictional location,   was still sufficient to create a unique   things. It can also involve striking a       Star, you’d be hard pressed to find
Persona can be best described as a       experience tailored to the player.        deal with them which may require you         anything like Shin Megami Tensei. If
mix between a dungeon crawler RPG           Another element that set the series    to part with some money, items and           you’re the kind of gamer who hates
and a visual novel with a touch of       apart was the ability to communicate      vitality. It’s a real shame that this idea   Japanese RPGs because of all the
dating simulator. Persona was like       with demons. In Pokemon you just          didn’t become popular. It is certainly       stale conventions associated with the
an anime series you could control,       beat the crap out of poor little          a more intuitive and interesting way         genre, then fire up a Shin Megami
where progression was on a day by        creatures and then trap them into         of collecting creatures than just            Tensei game; you may well find
day basis (in-game time of course)       tiny balls. In Shin Megami Tensei         beating them up, but then I suppose          yourself falling in love with some of
and each day felt like a new episode.    things are a little bit more humane       an Incubus doesn’t have the same             the most unique and innovative titles
Persona offered a degree of freedom      and professional; you have to talk        appeal as a Pikachu.                         in the JRPG canon.
that cannot be found in a traditional    to demons and persuade them to                Even with several excellent                                 Jahanzeb Khan


australia’s best gaming     -zine                                                                                                      www.pixelhunt.com.au            21
 Kill Death ratio




Battlefield:
Bad company
2: vietnam
when we realised there were not one but
two colons in the title of this expansion, we
figured we’d need not two but three brave
and able-bodied soldiers to deliver a report.
instead, we got DYLAN BURNS, KeN Lee
and JAmeS o’coNNoR.


Ken: I think you all know by now       intense skirmishes, which really ties    had upgraded sights on their              been balanced to prevent people
that I absolutely love Battlefield:    into the Vietnam feel. What do you       automatic weapons.                        from abusing it, but nonetheless,
Bad Company 2. I was really looking    guys think?                              Ken: I definitely agree that the          when I set someone on fire, I expect
forward to the Vietnam DLC: A          Dylan: The flamethrower is pretty        Vietnam theme is incorporated             them to die!
new setting, new maps and new          cool, but it’s hard to get kills with.   very strongly into the design of the      The other big addition to the game
weapons. It hasn’t disappointed        Even though the maps encourage           game, in terms of visuals, audio, and     are the maps, which I feel are very
so far, although there are things I    more close quarters combat, an           gameplay. Even the title screen gives     well done. One of my criticisms
haven’t come to terms with yet. Even   AK beats a flamethrower most of          you a clear indication of that Vietnam    of the maps in vanilla BC2 is how
so, there are plenty of changes that   the time. In fact, an AK is pretty       vibe, with the shirtless soldier with a   narrow and funnelled the maps feel.
I feel have had a positive impact on   damn handy even for snipe shots.         flak jacket, and Creedence Clearwater     There’s a small corridor leading
the game. The first of which are the   I like what they’ve done with this       Revival’s Fortunate Son blaring in the    to the objective points, and the
new weapons, and more importantly,     expansion, embracing the era and         background. The feel is just spot-on.     areas around those points are
how scopes have been removed from      translating period-related limitations   The flamethrower breaks my                quite cramped as well. In Vietnam,
most of them. Without the scopes, I    to the gameplay experience. In           heart too. I love flamethrowers in        the objective points are still quite
either need to be far more accurate,   some ways it evens the playing field,    videogames, but there’s a real lack       cramped, but the areas leading up
or get in closer. This leads to more   especially for players who previously    of punch in Vietnam. I’m sure it’s        to them are wider, allowing for more

22    www.pixelhunt.com.au                                                                                                                        march 2011
                                                                                                                    Kill Death ratio

                                                                                                                    Battlefield:
                                                                                                                    Bad company 2:
                                                                                                                    vietnam
                                                                                                                    developer DICE
                                                                                                                    Publisher EA
                                                                                                                    Platform 360 / PS3 / PC
                                                                                                                    genre Shooter
                                                                                                                    official weBsite




                                  flanking movements. I find that this     The Vietnam expansion is excellent.    of disillusionment, is a powerful
                                  opens up tactical options for players,   I love that choppers are more          experience. The Vietnam expansion,
                                  instead of just chucking bodies into     vulnerable. I think the map designs    with its lack of scopes and vast open
                                  the meat grinder.                        are excellent. But most importantly    killing fields, suits this sort of play
        ...the first time i       James: Man, the first time I used        of all, it nails the balance between   to a tee. Conquest mode on Vantage
                                  the flamethrower I lit four of my own    personal heroics and the need for      Point is particularly incredible.
used the flamethrower             teammates on fire and watched            teamwork even better than the          Ken: I think you’re spot on about
i lit four of my own              in horror as they all died. I put        original modes did. The winning team   the team mechanics, James. Team
teammates on fire and             it away and haven’t pulled it out        is almost always the one that works    cohesion is definitely a key to
watched in horror as they         again. Are you guys not playing on       together, but sometimes you need       surviving in Vietnam. Being a lone
                                  hardcore? Because on hardcore,           an individual player who the rest of   wolf will not get you far in this game.
all died.
                                  the flamethrower is brutal. You’re       the team can feel compelled to rally   The game does inspire leadership,
James
                                  also seriously not getting the full      behind. Being the player who blows     and it’s a thrill for both the leader
                                  Battlefield experience – playing a       up an M-COM station or captures        and follower when someone steps up
                                  medic in hardcore mode is excellent      the third base, bringing together      to fill that role.
                                  fun.                                     a team that previously reeked          I’ve never gotten into Hardcore mode

australia’s best gaming   -zine                                                                                        www.pixelhunt.com.au            23
 Kill Death ratio




                               in vanilla BC2, largely because I find     river that meets the big rock behind     but I rarely get many kills and I find
                               it hard to navigate without the mini-      the village”.                            that I lose patience quite quickly.
                               map. Even in BC2, I still sometimes        And yes, the choppers being vulnerable   That said, I do enjoy Bad Company
     it doesn’t quite feel     find it hard to orientate myself in        this time is great. It’s changed the     2’s multiplayer. It doesn’t quite
as unbalanced as call of       each level, and to call out positions to   whole pace of the game. Teams            feel as unbalanced as Call of Duty
Duty and i find that the       my team-mates. This is why I love the      concentrate their fire on the common     and I find that the maps are always
                               compass addition to the mini-map           threat; people aren’t merely running     designed in ways that make each
maps are always designed       in Vietnam so much, and makes me           to take control of enemy choppers to     game feel different. With Battlefield 3
in ways that make each         wish this could be brought into BC2        dominate the map nfairly.                just officially announced, Call Of Duty
game feel different.           retroactively. I can yell out “enemy       Dylan: I would have far less hours       had better watch its back.
Dylan                          entering east of bravo”, instead of        than you guys, as I uniformly suck at               DYlan burns, Ken lee
                               “enemy coming up from that bit of          multiplayer shooters. I enjoy them,                      & James o’connor


24      www.pixelhunt.com.au                                                                                                                 march 2011
  six waYs to not sucK at                                                  Kill Death ratio
  BAD compANY 2: VIeTNAm
  1    Slow Down Sergeant
       Brown: It’s not essential
  to always be running.
                                     everyone to fall back to the
                                     M-Com station, more power
                                     to you.
  Sometimes taking a moment
  to pause can give you time
  to survey the area. It’s
                                     4    Repair Enemy Tanks –
                                          And By Repair We Mean
                                     Destroy: If you can get close,
  also surprising how easily         use the engineer repair tool
  spotted a moving target is,        to attack enemy tanks. This
  even at distance.                  is done so rarely that the

  2    Be More Supportive,
       You Jerk: Every available
  character class has some
                                     tank’s occupants usually
                                     aren’t expecting it, and since
                                     you’re right up against them
  type of support function,          they’ll often be at a loss as to
  whether it’s dropping              what to do about it. If you’re
  ammo or laying landmines.          really lucky, they won’t even
  Communicate with your              work out what is happening
  squad on what support you          until their tank explodes.
  can provide. You don’t need
  to be an ace shooter to help
  your team win.
                                     5    Squads = Winning:
                                          Always choose to be put
                                     into a squad, even if you’re

  3    When In Doubt, Blob:
       If you’re struggling to
  mount a good defense in
                                     not playing with friends. It
                                     means you’ll usually be able
                                     to spawn much closer to the
  Rush, try Medic-blobbing a         action.
  single M-COM station with
  your squad. If everyone is
  playing a medic, then as
                                     6    Pretend You’re Playing
                                          Red Faction: Guerilla:
                                     Remember that there are
  long as one person survives        ways of blowing up M-COM
  an assault they can bring          stations other than planting
  everyone else back to life. Get    on them. Learn which
  an ammo pack in there as           buildings can be collapsed,
  well and you can offer some        and which stations can be
  real resistance. Of course,        damaged by, say, planting
  if you can hold the enemy          C4 outside of the structure
  team at bay without needing        they’re in….


australia’s best gaming      -zine                                      www.pixelhunt.com.au   25
 on the hunt




wHat
we’re
playing
believe it or        Jahanzeb Khan                alex walKer              patricK lang               anniKa howells               anthonY capone
not, the pIxeL       hard corps:                  Game Dev                 Yakuza 3                   Kirby’s epic                 call of Duty:
hUNT staff           Uprising                     Story                    With Yakuza 4 due out      Yarn                         Black ops
actually play        Contra meets Guilty          This tycoon-style        next month, I thought it   I’m going to have to start   I am almost ashamed
                     Gear in this brilliant new   game has me hooked.      was about time I caught    wearing a tin foil hat,      to say, but my current
some video
                     XBLA title. I love run and   Pretending to be Bobby   up with Sega’s crazy       because clearly Nintendo     gaming hours are filled
games now and
                     gun shooters and have        Kotick, watching as      gangster/minigame/         have been reading            with playing Call of
then. here’s         poured countless hours       millions of morons       soap opera hybrid.         my mind and have             Duty: Black Ops online.
what has             into games like Gunstar      purchase my Reversi      It’s amazing! Nothing      subsequently created a       Having finally become a
tickled their        Heroes, Contra and           online RPG, is a great   beats stomping around      game encompassing all        somewhat decent player,
fancies of late.     Metal Slug. I’m also a       relaxant on the ride     downtown Tokyo, putting    of my favourite things.      and combined with the
                     huge fan of Guilty Gear.     home from work. Bring    a beatdown on street       There’s an adorable          joys of exterminating
                     Hard Corps: Uprising         on the sequel.           punks before stopping      round pink, a world          campers and running
                     combines the best of                                  off for a game of darts    made of crafty items         around Nuketown with
                     both worlds to create a                               and heading back to the    in gorgeous soft pastel      a shotgun, I’ll be playing
                     gorgeous, addictive and                               orphanage you run in       colours, and bright pretty   online til the early hours
                     tough as nails shooting                               Okinawa.                   sparkly things to collect.   for some time yet.
                     experience.                                                                      I’m in kawaii heaven!


                                                                                 i’m going to have to start wearing a tin
                                                                           foil hat, because clearly nintendo have been
                                                                           reading my mind...

26   www.pixelhunt.com.au                                                                                                                       march 2011
                                                                                                                          on the hunt




tim henDerson                DYlan burns                   aaron sammut                  michael pincott
mirror’s                     Total War:                    Killzone 3                    marvel vs
edge                         Shogun II                     I have been playing           capcom 3
I’m revisiting Mirror’s      This one came for review      Killzone 3 purely from a      I tend to gravitate
Edge as a part of an         (for another publication)     critical stand point. The     towards fighting
attempt to clear my          but I’m glad I forced         visual eye candy just has     games, partially
backlog and it really        myself out of my comfort      to be bad for you (I’m yet    because I love
looks unbelievable on a      zone. The game is             to try out the 3D), the       the science and
machine that can push        massive and though            audio curls your toes and     technicality
the high-end settings.       I’ll never get as much        while the plot is only just   of them, and
Some flaws in the level      out of it as Total War        serviceable, the premise      partially because
designs ring louder now      zealot, I’ve really enjoyed   and art direction is spot     I love going
that the thrill of the new   coming back to the            on. Guerilla Games            through a roster
has worn off, but the        PC with an immersive          aren’t exactly being          of characters and
evocative use of colour      experience such as this.      revolutionary with the        testing them out. MvC3
contrasts and the                                          genre, but what they are      has been especially
promise of the premise                                     doing is something to         great for the latter; I
have me hooked all                                         such a sublime level...       can’t settle on a team
over again.                                                So why?!! Why does            because I keep finding
                                                           the game just feel so         new characters that are
                                                           flat and hollow?              fun to use. Except for
                                                                                         Spiderman. He sucks.



australia’s best gaming      -zine                                                                                 www.pixelhunt.com.au   27
 creative


cHarlie learns tHe Hard way
pATRIcK LANG takes charlie into, shall we say, uncharted territory.

“
  t     here’s no such thing as a
        fucking free ride, Charlie!” she’d
screamed at me, as I hustled out the
                                             about writing, but usually I just bunkered
                                             down in the office they’d given me to
                                             catch some sleep.
                                                                                          at the clerk. What he was saying was a
                                                                                          little difficult to follow, but I knew what
                                                                                          rejection sounded like in any language.
                                                                                                                                        way into the carriage.
                                                                                                                                            I ducked under the seat and
                                                                                                                                        watched as a small PMC marched
door carrying a plastic shopping bag             A pretty good deal, by anyone’s          So I used the gift of Westerners              through the door. Big, evil bastards
full of clothes and booze. In response       estimations – until the Serbian came         everywhere and started talking VERY           wearing body armour – the kind that
I’d told Sasha (was that her name? I         to town. Now, I knew that Nepal had          LOUDLY AND SLOWLY in English, in the          could shrug off the entire clip of a
can’t remember) to take a hike and           a bit of a... complicated past when it       vain hope of bludgeoning my way to            .45 before breakfast. There were two
I’d forced the Volkswagen out to the         came to civil unrest, but I thought that     what I wanted.                                others; a British guy who looked like
airport to catch a plane to Nepal.           the reds in power had at least made               After about 15 minutes of this           he’d get annoying fast, and a tasty
    In retrospect, I probably should         the place more stable. Anyway, one day       the clerk threw his hands in the air,         brunette with an ass like a peach who
have known better, and paid Sally            this guy Lazarevic walked into what          dashed something off on a piece of            seemed to have escaped from a film
more attention. When I’d got the             was becoming my local and you could          paper and pointed to a train in the           noir, where she would undoubtedly be
letter from a ‘prominent’ Nepalese           tell straight away that he was going to      distance. I like to think it was my           the femme fatale who tempts the hero
university offering me a semester of         be a real pain in the ass. He started        powers of persuasion that convinced           with her sexual wiles.
work as a ‘visiting fellow’, or some         firing an AK into the ceiling and spitting   him to help, but the distinctive rat-a-tat        They all argued for a while, some
other semi-academic bullshit, I should       some crap about a “phurba” and               of automatic weapons in the distance          bullshit that I’m happy to admit I
have smiled and politely declined. But       something called a “Cintimani Stone”.        can’t have hurt.                              wasn’t really paying attention to. I’d
you know me, any chance to get out of            Then all hell broke loose, and I              I grabbed my plastic bag, now full       managed to stay neatly out of sight
the country and chase foreign tail and       started to think that perhaps Stacey         of bottles of raksi and my passport,          hidden in the back under the seat,
I’m already on the plane, demanding          had known what she was talking about         and headed for the train. It was a big        and despite my constant fear of that
another complimentary whiskey.               after all.                                   motherfucker, not in great shape, but it      Lazarevic bastard I managed (thanks
    The first few weeks in Nepal had             Lazarevic had brought his own            was leaving town, and that fit my needs       to the raksi) to catch a little sleep.
been promising, and I spent most of my       private army with him, and they              perfectly. I installed myself in one of           I was woken by the distinctive
evenings there in a local bar, tossing       proceeded to start ransacking the            the carriages at the front and started        and unwelcome sound of gunfire
back glasses of raksi and thinking that      city looking for god knows what. It          on a bottle. After about 10 minutes we        somewhere at the back of the train.
Samantha should just shut the fuck up.       was about then that I decided that I         started moving and I was getting a nice       It was a long train, so I wasn’t overly
Apparently I had a job of sorts at the       needed an exit plan. The roads were          little buzz on. Hell, I thought, maybe        worried, but it did seem to be getting
nearby university, and I did turn up a       clogged with locals trying to get out, so    Nepal would turn out alright after all.       closer. I looked up. Everyone had
couple of times to play grab-ass with the    I headed for the railway station and, in     Take that, Sia. Unfortunately, it was         left the carriage, presumably in the
locals and pretend to know something         my best broken Nepali, started yelling       about then that Lazarevic made his            direction of the gunfire. Morons. I

28     www.pixelhunt.com.au                                                                                                                                        march 2011
peered out the window and saw snow... and mountains. That bastard                                creative
of a clerk had sent me in the wrong direction – I was heading for the
Himalayas.
     It was right about then that the train exploded.
     I don’t know how long it was before I came to, but it was accompanied
by an almighty crash. I peered out of the window of the wrecked train to see
several carriages slip off the edge of an icy cliff.
     Good thing I splurged on first class, I thought.
     I heard a voice – groaning, complaining and generally pissed off. Looking
up slowly I saw a well built man crawling over the edge of the cliff, grasping his
side, which had a nasty looking bullet wound in it. I stayed down, not wanting to
irritate someone with an abdominal wound, and waited as he slowly made his
way amongst the carriages. I waited there a long time until I heard gunfire, some
cries and a pissed off voice.
     “It’s locked,” Abdominal Wound exclaimed. “It’s always locked.”
     Realising that this guy was probably my best shot of getting out of there
in one piece I grabbed my plastic bag, thought nice thoughts about Sophie
and headed after him at a discreet distance. Eventually I reached an
open snowfield full of now-decrepit train carriages. I perched myself
on a ledge, lit a cigarette and watched quietly as Abdominal Wound
dispatched a bunch of the PMC dudes. It was brutal. I wasn’t sure
what this guy’s team was, but I wanted to be on it.
     He clambered up out of the snowfield and continued on. I
stubbed out my cigarette and started after him. Some way
up he collapsed in front of a lone figure, someone who
looked like a native of the area. I quickly ran up. The
native looked at me suspiciously until I handed him the
raksi bottle. He took a swig and smiled.
     “Charlie,” I said, pointing to my chest.                                             i was woken by
     “Tenzin,” he said, in reply, and motioned me to
follow him.                                                                           the distinctive and
     He slung Abdominal Wound over his shoulder like                                 unwelcome sound of
he was a ragdoll and started off into the distance. I                                 gunfire somewhere
picked up my plastic bag and followed him.
     Hang on Sarah baby, I thought, Charlie’s coming
                                                                                       at the back of the
home.                                                                                          train.
                                     patricK lang

australia’s best gaming     -zine                                                    www.pixelhunt.com.au   29
 opinion



reset 4.0
in praise of animation
TIm heNDeRSoN returns serve
on the rather divisive enslaved.



a     s with all good media outlets,
      Pixel Hunt exudes a sense of
camaraderie and good times behind
                                            the hammer of harsher voices. Voices
                                            that are “baffled and saddened” (PH
                                            13) about the praises that the game
                                                                                        of the ending betrays flaws in how
                                                                                        foreshadowing was approached. None
                                                                                        of this is of much concern to me. I’m
                                                                                                                                      the character of Monkey is bordering
                                                                                                                                      on a masterclass. Imagine composing
                                                                                                                                      a video of a mixture of gameplay and
the scenes. We finish each friendly         has had lavished upon it.                   far more interested in the manners in         cinematic sequences from Enslaved,
week of seeing eye-to-eye with a                As if in need of a fragment of glass    which information about the characters        doing the same for a game such
friendly trip to the nearest pool hall      lodged in my own head, I find myself        is conveyed, and of how the plot itself       as Mass Effect, and then playing
where we share rounds of drinks. Of         baffled and saddened about the way in       remains tied to gameplay objectives.          these two videos to an unconcerned
this, we allow public privy.                which these criticisms are aimed at the         This is obviously an issue of             audience with all audio and written
    What we don’t display is the            game. Even from my more generous            personal bugbears. It may be that I am        dialogue/information stripped away.
piece of glass sticking out the back        perspective, Enslaved is hardly Game        far more interested in the means than         Imagine asking this audience for
of Dylan’s head, the one that Cody          of the Year material, but it seems that     the ends, and in this regard, Enslaved        its interpretation of the respective
wedged there after our site founder         its triumphs are heavily influenced         has a moment to shine.                        characters and events in the two
sank a yellow ball. Likewise, all footage   by the perspective from which you               The player-character, Monkey, is          games. Imagine testing which game
of Alex must be shot from his right         approach them.                              an oaf. He’s a brute, lithe and strong        narrative they got a greater feel for.
side, lest the common people realise            To wit: the storytelling.               and very likely raised in jungle-like             I would be hugely surprised if
that HE ONLY HAS ONE EAR!                       To wit while abusing italics: the       environments. He puts his own sense of        Enslaved were to fail in coming up
    In briefer terms, we are prone to       storytelling.                               self-preservation first, but is susceptible   trumps. There are two arguments
disagree.                                       Outside of a refreshingly vivid and     to that ‘good heart’ syndrome that            for why this could be: the first is that
    So, then. Enslaved.                     imaginative take on how to visually         afflicts so many of his kind. There is        Enslaved has a smaller cast and a
    What a flippant little life this game   create a post-apocalyptic world, there’s    nothing unique about this.                    simpler plot. The other is that Enslaved
has led. At first happily fated to be       nothing new here. The lead characters           But Enslaved is a videogame, an           had a far more nuanced understanding
the next Beyond Good and Evil – a           conform to archetypes, their interactions   interactive medium and a visual one,          of animation.
game that everybody loves but nobody        with each other take them exactly           and when it comes to taking advantage             It has to be acknowledged that
purchased – it has since gone under         where you’d expect, and the abruptness      of these characteristics of the medium,       intensity of Enslaved’s animation

30     www.pixelhunt.com.au                                                                                                                                      march 2011
obsession does result in character           the one I find to be most important.                                                  opinion
control that sacrifices playable fluidity    Character animation is the great
for visual follow-through. There’s           unsung communicator. Perhaps this
a sense that a lot of Enslaved’s             is because it’s harder to take precise
animations are working within canned         note of – it is easier, after all, to
loops. It refuses to sacrifice its visual    consciously notice information that is
dynamic for reactive playability, and in     actually told to you. But this shouldn’t
this regard it’s a lesser game than the      undermine its value. Solid facial
likes of Uncharted, which does a finer       animation may not lead to developed
job of employing adaptive animations.        characters, but nuanced expression
    Nonetheless, the animation in            can convey meaning that renders
Enslaved is charged with meaning.            words second-rate.
Just playing around with Monkey in an            Other flourishes are less important,
open space, scampering up ledges,            but still welcome. The audible yelling
swinging between branches, or even           of Monkey when Trip is beyond
just running through long grass will         easy earshot, or the way he sounds
spare the player a need for words.           physically strained while scaling
Much of his archetypical personality         some mammoth construct lends
will have been made clear. Because           texture and meaning to his words
this information is evoked in the player,    that goes far beyond those words
rather that told to them, it becomes         themselves. There’s also a matter
more natural, and less like something        of integration, wherein the plot, for
learned from a textbook (or a codex for      all its straightforwardness, works
that matter).                                harmoniously with the gameplay
    Similar qualities also apply to the      situation at hand.                                   but enslaved
other two cast members: Trip and                 Personally, I’ll take a competent          is a videogame, an
Pigsy. We subconsciously absorb              story that communicates itself                 interactive medium and
information about them in cinematic          effectively through its medium over
                                                                                            a visual one, and when
scenes, as well as during gameplay.          one of greater depth that can do
Like Heavenly Sword before it,               nothing more inventive than lean               it comes to taking
Enslaved excels in delivering actual         heavily on extended, flat exposition and       advantage of these
performances that subtly define              large chunks of written text. Gaming’s         characteristics of the
the characteristics of an otherwise          bigger problem isn’t in finding good
                                                                                            medium, the character
orthodox cast. Only here, its palpability    stories to tell, it’s in finding interesting
extends beyond cut-scenes.                   ways to tell them.                             of monkey is bordering
    This isn’t the only victory, but it is                           tim henDerson          on a masterclass.

australia’s best gaming       -zine                                                                                  www.pixelhunt.com.au   31
 opinion



generation cod
is the cALL of DUTY franchise the devil of the video game
industry, or is it just following standard industry practice?
let’s ask ANThoNY cApoNe.

t    hree games in, and Call Of Duty
     was becoming just another
shooter. Then Modern Warfare
                                         same as any other business; to make
                                         money, and lots of it. Call Of Duty is
                                         Activision’s perpetual cash cow, and
appeared. The critical and commercial    Bobby Kotick will continue to squeeze
success of Call of Duty 4: Modern        every last penny from the franchise.
Warfare propelled the brand to the       He isn’t doing it to annoy gamers or
heights of AAA rivals Grand Theft        to kill originality, but simply because
Auto and Halo. Several years on, the     he has a duty to shareholders to
financial windfalls continue, but Call   generate returns. It may seem an ill-
Of Duty has garnered somewhat of         advised practice that will ultimately
a poor reputation among gamers.          spell the series’ doom as it did to
Viewed by many as a money-grabbing       Guitar Hero, but in the end, it’s the
venture and blamed for driving a lack    model that keeps the wheels of
of innovation, Call Of Duty may have     business spinning, and not just those
turned from a top of the line FPS        of the video game industry.
into the devil of the gaming industry.       One way Activision has sought to
However, a closer analysis reveals       make money from the Call Of Duty
that the issues generating the fury of   behemoth is with the higher price
gamers are nothing new in the context    of downloadable content. Under the
of the video game industry.              new model, map packs for Modern
    Some might dismiss each              Warfare and Black Ops cost around
forthcoming instalment of Call Of        $20 a pop. Compared to other
Duty as nothing more than the next       downloadable expansions and other
Activision money spinner. While there    complete games that cost far less,
may be a degree of truth in that, we     it could be seen as a blatant rip-off.
need to remember that the goal of        However, as with anything, the inherit
the video games industry is just the     value is entirely subjective.

32    www.pixelhunt.com.au                                                         march 2011
   For example, take a user who         has hundreds upon thousands             pull the trigger. This type of role                             opinion
purchases Black Ops exclusively for     of online players communicating         is so frequently employed that
multiplayer. Looking at the scenario    and working in teams, levelling         standing out becomes a significant
from a purely economic angle, the       endlessly and traversing the same       challenge. Originality is undeniably
game retails at about $120. The         areas day after day. Industry           hard to achieve, especially in the
disc comes with 14 multiplayer          analysts like Michael Pachter may       current generation, and it’s not
maps, translating to over $8 per        not be so unreasonable in stating       just developers like Treyarch and
map. Taking the First Strike map        that Activision could legitimately      Infinity Ward who are guilty of
pack, which contains four maps,         implement a subscription model          repetitive design.
each map converts to about $4           for Call Of Duty. Nevertheless, the         Uncharted 2 is one of the best
each. Hence, on a cost for content      company has conceded the point,         games of this generation, but in
ratio between the two, First Strike     saying that a payment system will       comparison to its predecessor and
represents a good investment for        never be a part of the mainstream       numerous other titles, Naughty Dog
the multiplayer junkie spending         series. However, with word of           didn’t really produce anything new.
hour upon hour playing the game.        Bungie developing a MMO-style FPS       Arguably, all they did was create the
I would argue that paying a one-off     for Activision, the notion of paying    best possible experience with tried-
fee for more content is far more        for a COD-type online experience        and-true gameplay and an outstanding
preferable to paying a monthly          may be very close. Given the            narrative. Hence, when critics fire at
subscription, which has been toyed      affliction of the console community     Call Of Duty for its lack of originality, it
around with for some time.              to in-game subscription, it will be     should be remembered that the entire
   The idea of subscribing to Call Of   intriguing in the least to see how      industry has grown comfortable in
Duty as on online service has raised    Activision proceeds.                    rehashing the same games time and
the ire of many gamers, but so far,         Another sticking point for Call     time again, regardless of how polished
the negative outcry has staved off      Of Duty is the ‘rinse and repeat’       they may be.
the idea. Instead, Activision have      syndrome of each new iteration.             Lack of originality is a challenge
used the downloadable content           Since Modern Warfare took a gigantic    that faces the entire industry,
market as a de facto form of            leap with its contemporary narrative,   especially when raising a new
                                                                                                                                             originality is
subscription. Nevertheless, the         sequels have been criticised for        intellectual property is so fraught
possibility of subscribing to a game    failing to innovate. Critics do not     with difficulty. Ultimately, Call Of                   undeniably hard to
as popular as Call Of Duty should       deny that that the series continues     Duty is the machine that keeps                 achieve, especially in the
not be so unfathomable, especially      to deliver cinematic gameplay           the world’s biggest publisher in                current generation, and
when PC users have been enduring        experiences, so the issue may simply    business and ensures that jaw-                   it’s not just developers
the practice in MMOs for years.         have to do with game design and         dropping experiences such as
   Looking at Call Of Duty and          setting. Call Of Duty asks players      Modern Warfare can be seen again.
                                                                                                                                like treyarch and infinity
World Of Warcraft side by side,         to do nothing more than assume          Is that such a bad thing?                         ward who are guilty of
commonalities emerge. Each              the role of a one-man army and                            anthonY capone                  repetitive design.
australia’s best gaming   -zine                                                                                                   www.pixelhunt.com.au   33
 Ken’s holiDaY special



land of tHe
rising ken
international man of mystery KeN Lee
visited tokyo last november. allow him
to stir jealousy within you with his tales
from abroad.
                                                                        pachinko parlours
                                                                                                                                Cho Chabudai Gaeshi

t     he very first thing that set me on
      the back foot upon entering Tokyo
is how massive and urban the entire
                                            food carts set themselves up along
                                            walkways serving beer and hot noodles.
                                            Even at 2am, the convenience store
                                                                                       jackpot machines. But throw in a heap
                                                                                       of anime and video game references,
                                                                                       such as Gundam and Neon Genesis
                                                                                                                                succumb to their siren song, I did play
                                                                                                                                a game of Cho Chabudai Gaeshi, which
                                                                                                                                roughly translates to “Upending the
city is. I’ve always been a city boy, but   across the road was still bustling.        Evangelion, and even I found myself      Tea Table”. Players stand in front of the
even I was taken aback by the scale of          It was only when I started getting     getting drawn into these parlours.       machine, which has a fake table built
the sprawl. Wide streets, endless cars,     past the initial sensory assault that      Perhaps my limited skills in Peggle      into it. Players then slam on the table
neon signs, tall buildings shoved up        I noticed the many things that set         tempted me into thinking that I’d do     multiple times, as the screen depicts
against each other, and scores of people    my geeky heart aflutter. There were        alright if I tried my hand at them.      increasingly annoying situations (such
walking briskly. Imagine this same scene    anime and video game images posted             These pachinko machines are so       as children talking on their mobiles at
replicated across multiple districts,       everywhere: in magazines, store            pervasive that I even saw them in        the dinner table). And at the apex of
each about the size of the Melbourne        fronts, posters and towering billboards.   video game arcades as well. And the      their frustrations, they physically flip
CBD. Against this backdrop is endless,      Countless advertisements for the           arcades are a sight to behold. Seeing    the little fake table, see the on-screen
unceasing activity. The streets are         latest video games appeared during         arcades thrive in Japan adds a bitter-   representation wreck havoc, then earn
packed with people at all hours of the      prime time television programming;         sweet taste to the whole experience,     points for the devastation caused.
day. In the mornings, you see commuters     God Eater Burst was the flavour of that    especially when compared to our own         Going deeper into the arcades, I
and cleaners sweeping the streets. The      particular month.                          dwindling arcade scene. Entering the     started seeing games aimed squarely
afternoons are filled with office workers       The first geeky thing I noticed was    arcade, I am welcomed by endless         at dedicated gamers. World Club
looking for lunch, walking from shop to     the abundance of Pachinko parlours.        rows of claw crane games, begging for    Championship Football combines
shop surveying the wealth of yummy          In itself, these pachinko machines         a 100 Yen for the chance at winning      collectible card games (such as Magic:
goodness. As night settles, unlicensed      are no more interesting than regular       a stuffed Pikachu toy. While I didn’t    The Gathering) with team management

34     www.pixelhunt.com.au                                                                                                                                march 2011
                                                                                                                                 Ken’s holiDaY special

                                                                                             ...i was tempted
                                                                                       to buy a portable
                                                                                       console that played
                                                                                       snes games; the
                                                                                       nameless machine
                                                                                       was obviously
                                                                                       manufactured
                                                                                       without an official
    Nishi Shinjuku                                                                     license.
                                           Train Station Bent
                                                              o
games (like Championship Manager)            person to geek-out in Tokyo; the name     Wario Land on the Virtual Boy. For a          In spite of this one negative, there
to create a wholly unique experience.        Akihabara is one that would be familiar   while, I was tempted to buy a portable    is still so much to love about Tokyo
Players form decks of cards which            to many gamers. In many ways, it is       console that played SNES games;           and Japan, and so much yet left to
they can purchase or trade with other        exactly what I expected: video games,     the nameless machine was obviously        say. I haven’t even touched on the
people, then lay the cards down on an        anime, gadgets and other assorted         manufactured without an official          maid cafes, the crazy fashions and
arcade machine to form their team.           tech toys. Walking around the area,       license.                                  cosplayers or relaxing at the hot
Moving the cards around affects the          I saw large stores selling all manner         Despite the attractions of            springs. I didn’t talk about Disney
team formation mid-game; players             of electronics, and dodgy little places   Akihabara, I did have some discomfort     Land, the Studio Ghibli Museum, or
can also train up their team for future      selling miniature pin-hole cameras.       hanging about the area. Sexualised        the areas that preserve Japanese
competitions.                                    The best stores in the area are       imagery was prominently displayed.        tradition and culture. There is just so
    The other game that intrigued me         without a doubt the retro game            Mega-stores had a floor each              much to take in. It is this intangible,
was Border Break, which gives players a      shops. Walking into the store is akin     dedicated to games, anime and porn.       unquantifiable aspect that gives
control scheme similar to a mouse and        to walking into a museum; it is a         This discomfort was most keenly               Japan its density, beyond the
keyboard set-up, bringing the PC gaming      celebration of video game culture.        felt when I noticed a DVD proudly         packed buildings and throngs of
into an arcade environment. The left         Shelves are packed with games for         proclaiming pictures and videos of a      people. And it is this density that will
hand controls a joystick for movement        every conceivable console, and every      12 year old girl in a bikini. It seemed   either scare you away, or completely
and the right manipulates a mouse-like       conceivable console is actually working   like despite the celebration of geek      enchant you. Either way you’ll need to
peripheral to aim as players pilot their     and for sale. There are systems hooked    culture, there was also an expectation    keep up the pace, or the whole city will
hulking robots in 10v10 battles.             into televisions for you to mess around   that most geeks were social deviants.     leave you behind in its dust.
    Arcades aren’t the only place for a      with; I spent about 20 minutes playing    Or perhaps it only applies to otaku.                                      Ken lee

australia’s best gaming      -zine                                                                                                     www.pixelhunt.com.au           35
issue 15 – coming
maY 2011
in the next issue
deatH in
videogames
so until then
Keep up the hunt

								
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