Tag Archives: gameplay

Taito Essentials: Zoo Keeper

The technological constraints of old video games often led to some highly creative experiences.

In logical or narrative terms, these games would often make very little sense whatsoever, but taken from a strictly abstract, mechanical perspective, they had the potential to provide extremely compelling, addictive experiences.

One such example was 1983’s Zoo Keeper, a game developed by Keith Egging and John Morgan from Taito’s American division. This game clearly drew influences from a number of popular Eastern and Western games such as Qix, Donkey Kong and Frogger, ultimately leaving it as a rather intriguing and underappreciated title with a strong sense of its own identity.

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From the Archives: Reasons to Read

Those of you who enjoy visual novels have probably come up against at least one gamer friend who has refused to even entertain the possibility of exploring this interesting medium on the grounds that it’s “too much text” and/or “not enough gameplay.”

In fact, in several cases, visual novels which have hit “mainstream” platforms such as the Nintendo DS have found themselves saddled with middling or low review scores on these grounds — usually indicating that the reviewer has missed the point of the experience somewhat or is unfamiliar with this type of game.

So what I thought I’d do today is outline some reasons why exploring visual novels is a worthwhile use of your time.

This article was originally published on Games Are Evil in 2013 as part of the site’s regular READ.ME column on visual novels. It has been edited and republished here due to Games Are Evil no longer existing in its original form.

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Granblue Fantasy: My First Three Weeks

With any big online game — particularly one that has been around for several years — it can be difficult to know where and how to get started. Granblue Fantasy is no exception.

With that in mind, I thought I’d outline my experiences over the last three weeks as I learn about the game, how it works and what I can expect from it in the future.

This is by no means an attempt to say “this is how you should play the game” — doubtless the more hardcore players out there will have strong opinions about how “best” to progress! — but rather a reflection on the experience of one timid newbie and his attempts to understand the many hidden depths of this surprising phenomenon.

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From the Archives: Our Changing Attitudes to Interactive Storytelling

As I write this, I have beside me a copy of the October 1997 issue of PC Zone, a then-popular, now sadly defunct PC games magazine from my homeland of the UK.

I keep this magazine around for two reasons: firstly, the walkthrough of Discworld II on page 145 was written by none other than a teenage yours truly, earned me what felt like a small fortune when I was in secondary school, and represented one of the earliest occasions on which words I had written appeared on national newsstands; and secondly, I simply enjoy looking back on old magazines and seeing how much the games industry and its members’ attitudes have changed over the years.

It’s this second point that I particularly want to explore today.

This article was originally published on Games Are Evil in 2013 as part of the site’s regular READ.ME column on visual novels. It has been edited and republished here due to Games Are Evil no longer existing in its original form.

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Nier Automata: A Game Better With — And Because Of — Its Narrative

Writing for The Atlantic, academic and media commentator Ian Bogost put forth the rather bold claim that “video games are better without stories” and asked “film, television and literature all tell them better, so why are games still obsessed with narrative?”

This is an interesting question to ponder in light of any discussion of video games, but it’s a particularly pertinent discussion to have when we’re considering something as ambitious and audacious as Nier: Automata — a game which not only tells a compelling story, it tells it in an incredibly fascinating way.

Bogost’s article meanders around the point somewhat, but ultimately seems to come to the conclusion that purely environmental storytelling — be it through the use of audiologs, a la BioShock, or less explicitly through the environment itself, as in “walking simulators” such as Gone Home — is not a particularly effective approach to presenting an interactive narrative, though it can provide an interesting playground for a player to explore.

And he’s not really wrong in this regard… apart from the fact that it’s only in relatively rare cases that a game exclusively relies on this approach.

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From the Archives: Why Do We Play?

A philosophical question for you today, prompted by a thought-provoking discussion I had with a friend the other evening.

It’s a particularly interesting question with regard to visual novels, which are regarded by some as not being “games” in the traditionally-understood sense, but it also applies to the interactive entertainment medium as a whole.

The question is a pretty fundamental one for anyone who chooses to make gaming part of their life, whether it’s as a casual hobby, something they share with friends or their favorite form of entertainment.

It’s this: Why do we play?

This article was originally published on Games Are Evil in 2012 as part of the site’s regular READ.ME column on visual novels. It has been republished here due to Games Are Evil no longer existing in its original form.

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