October 2006 Archives
October 16, 2006
Something I love to do is try to find the "hidden gems" of the gaming world. Games which have little to no press but are fun, solid games. Games such as Puzzle Pirates, Weird Worlds, and Ticket to Ride are type of games which really get me excited, games which will generate little to no press, but yet have a cult following and are a ton of fun to play.
Of course, how do you find these hidden gaming gems? I have found GameRankings and GameFAQs as the best sources as they have exhaustive gaming lists. Often trying to find these games is a hit or miss exercise, often turning up something like Skydive! rather than Space Rangers 2. Which brings me to my latest find ... MapleStory.
Never heard of it before? Join the club, until I saw it listed as the number two most popular PC game on GameFAQs (right below World of Warcraft and above Elder Scrolls 4: Oblivion!) I never heard about this game before. And don't bother looking for this game on Gamespot or IGN or any other major gaming web site, they all have no information on this game (it's not even listed in GameRankings). Yet this side-scrolling MMORPG game is wildly popular with an unofficial 50 million players worldwide. That would make MapleStory seven times more popular than World of Warcraft ... how can this be?
How can a game with no advertising and no press be so popular? I've seen this game listed as the #2 PC game on GameFAQs for over a year, and yet I have to find a single person who has heard or played this game! What is going on here? Why isn't this game getting more coverage? Could it be that MapleStory needs to spend some money on advertising to get some coverage? (That's a topic for another day.)
Well, I gave what appears to be the most popular MMORPG in the world a try for a few weeks and I will say that there is nothing groundbreaking here, but it is a fun, solid game that has a lot going for it. First of all, it's totally free to play (that's good) ... sort of (that's bad). You can download and play the whole game without paying a cent (that's good). However, if you want some cool gear or a cool pet you'll have to use "real money" to buy these special items (that's bad). This method of giving the game away for free while requiring players to buy the very best equipment is very popular with Asian MMORPGs and has proven to be extremely successful (that's good). I am still surprised that more western MMORPGs don't use this pricing method, but expect this to change in the upcoming years (Frogurt is also cursed ... that's bad).
The gameplay in MapleStory is strange combination of platform action, RPG character classes, pixilated graphics, and MMO grouping and ends up playing unlike anything out there. Exploring all the content in the world within a 2D environment takes some getting used to, but the colorful, bright graphics always make the journey interesting. But you will get a workout moving your character during fights while activating your special powers and trying to chat all at the same time. Whether this style of gameplay is fun or just a carpal tunnel syndrome trainer is undecided.
Like everything else in the game, the interface is solid and gets the job done, but the buttons are so large that I often felt like I was playing a game designed by Playskool. The character classes and quests are your standard RPG fare, nothing new to see here. But what the game lacks in originality in character classes it more than makes up when it comes to monster design. Where else can you kill candle monsters, zombie mushrooms, killer birthday cakes, and dozens of other bizarre monster creations? It's as if the designers took everything fun and harmless from your childhood and turned it into a man-eating spawn of the devil. Now I can see why this game is so popular throughout the world! Who can resist killing pink wind-up killer teddy bears?
Perhaps the best part of MapleStory is a huge friendly community (where did all of these people come from?). It's always easy to find a group and although many of the players appear to be of the "younger" crowd, the gameplay is light enough that you never have to worry about a Leeroy Jenkins messing up your "epic" quest.
October 3, 2006
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October 2, 2006
As the PS3 launch fast approaches I keep asking myself a very simple question ... why would I want to buy a PS3? And if I'm asking this question, a person who has owned every single game console released since the Telstar, the so-called "hardcore" segment that Sony is banking on to buy their $600 monstrosity, I have to wonder who is going to buy the PS3 and why? I keep thinking to myself, why do I need to buy a $600 console which doesn't offer me anything I don't already have?
Blu-Ray? I already have hundreds of DVDs thank you very much.
Online access? I already have the Internet and Xbox Live.
New games? I already have more games than I can play for my Xbox 360/PC/PS2/DS. The last thing I need is more games.
Unique PS3 titles? I will say that Resistance: Fall of Man looks and plays great ... but so does Gears of War. And Gears of War doesn't require me to buy a new console to play.
So why do I need to buy a PS3 exactly? Why should I kill myself looking for a PS3 this holiday season and spend $600 for this system? Why?
I can not think of a single reason that I would want to buy the PS3 right now. Not a single one.
Perhaps in a few months if/when the PS3 gets its legs and finds its place in the console landscape. But right now all I see when I look at the PS3 is a bloated, overpriced console which offers me nothing new. I truly hope that Sony manages to get their act together and releases some awesome unique content in 2007, but right now I just don't see the need.
Now the Wii ... that's a different story.