The Last Story – Wii vs. Dolphin comparison

Hi everyone,

Well, you won’t be able to see a lot on this picture, but anyway, here it is:Image

On the left is The Last Story on the Wii, on the right it’s running in 1080p on Dolphin. Pretty cool, uh ?

Edit : I see there is a lot of traffic here of people wondering what settings and revision you need to run this game properly. First, let me say that this game is poorly optimized and does not run at 30 FPS even on the Wii. Second, the perfect build has not been found yet, and you will either have blurs, slowdowns or hang ups. The game can be finished however and still looks better in 1080p. See here for more info, the discussion is ongoing.

thelastsavepoint recommendations – NIER

Arguably the best HD J-RPG of this generation, I’d recommend NIER to any player interested in deep characterization, unusual and well written story, and fresh, ever changing gameplay.

When most gamers talk about the best stories in video games, they usually name blockbusters like Assassin’s Creed or Uncharted. This is weird to me, as these games are obviously pale derivative of some of the most overused movie tropes (Conspiracy Theory Sci-Fi for the former, Indiana Jones and the like for the latter) and don’t bring much to the table in that regard – I don’t know who argues that these games have better stories than the movies they took inspiration from. But NIER is nothing like that. It’s a story you’ve never heard before, a story which makes more sense in a video game that in any other medium – a story that actually takes advantage of the fact it is an RPG – and, more importantly, a great tale that’s intelligently told. NIER is, simply put, one of the best examples of what a story-driven game can be.

As this article is more a recommendation than a review, it feel like I should first remind my readers that this high opinion of NIER is not solely my own. PS3 RPG of the Year for RPGFan, one of the the top 10 RPGs of the decade according to the guys at RPGSite, NIER has become what is called a cult hit, that is a game with moderate commercial success, that most will either love or hate, and that managed to create a strong fan following. If you don’t believe it, see how many people on Siliconera where willing to offer 100, 200$ at Yoko Taro for any new IP in the same vein, in a matter of hours and without any organization or PR, or this board of fans on NeoGAF that’s been going on for two years.

NIER basically plays like a dozen different games mashed together (from Resident Evil to Diablo), although the core mechanics could best be described as Zelda with a Bullet Hell twist. You’ve got your open world, your towns, your dungeons, your fetch quests and your gigantic bosses. You’ve got four unusual (to say the least) main characters and well-written, mature, dialog that feels real. The gameplay is not particularly deep or difficult, but it is refreshing and varied. It obviously comes second next to the fantastic art direction, writing and music, which, as you might have heard, is deemed one of the best, if not the best, OST of all time.

Its not to say that there is nothing remarkable about NIER‘s gameplay. One part that comes together particularly well is the boss battles. Epic, challenging, communicating a sense of urgency and empowerment, NIER‘s boss battles are on par with masters of the art like Demon’s Souls. Much more satisfying in my opinion than those of a Zelda or of a God of War, these battles manage to be an extension of regular gameplay mechanics instead of QTEs and hidden puzzles, and also avoid the pitfall of the too common uninspired mimicking of Shadow of the Colossus.

NIER was pretty much panned by mainstream critics but most of the so-called faults that were pointed out by IGN and the like are nothing compared to how much risks this title takes, and to what it brings to the table. Sure, the production values are not astounding, but, having played this game on PS3 an hour after I was done with Dragon Age, I thought that it actually looked much better. Still, it’s not the same level as, say, Dark Souls and some of the basic monsters design is pretty ugly. The other issue that will always divide critics and fans is backtracking and reuse of assets. If you’d rather power through the game, you’ll be disappointed that, like Resonance of Fate, NIER forces you to the revisit dungeons (albeit, with modifications of course). This is obviously due to budget concerns and it inflates play time while infuriating reviewers who play on a deadline. But NIER has so much to offer story-wise that I’d rather go back to those places to see and hear more story than have these parts altogether cut from the game.

This recommendation will be kept short, as I’d rather not spoil anything about the best parts of the game. You should know where you stand about NIER right now. If you like J-RPGs or story-driven games, then not having played NIER (or Radiata Stories, another game produced by Yosuke Saito) is a crime, as it might become one of your favorite titles. If you’re looking for a great story, great characters, great art direction or music, this game might also be for you depending on your tastes. If you hate backtracking, shoot ’em ups, talking books or female leads who swears like a sailor, then NIER is not for you.

Nier director thoughts on Kickstarter

After being asked if he would try to fund a spiritual sequel to cult RPG Nier through Kickstarter, ex-Cavia employee and Nier director and writer Yoko Taro explained his position on crowdfunding.

I knew about Mr Tim Schafer’s case. That is brave story but I’m afraid to do that. Because Nier isn’t made by only me. I need many people. Producers, designers, programmers, (and also player like you).

May be I need money, team and good timing It’s very difficult But I’ll try to find that:…)

I promise.

Thanks lot again. And I apologize about my poor English.

Yoko Taro

Link to Yoko Taro’s blog (in japanese, but this comment is in english)

Die, publisher, die ! Tim Schafer, Kickstarter and the birth of auteur-driven games

What do David Cage, Sid Meier and Hideo Kojima have in common ? They understood long ago that video games, like any other art form, shall reflect one’s personal vision, like a musician’s album or an author’s book.

Something pretty exciting happened a few days ago. Tim Schafer obtained, though Kickstarter, 1,7mil $ in pledges for an unnammed, unspecified point and click adventure game no one wants to publish or fund. If this picks up as a trend, we will finally see more auteur-driven games instead of publisher-driven ones.  Auteurs like David Jaffe, Tetsuya Takahashi, Swery65, Hidetaka Miyazaki, Yokoo Taro, and such could have what this medium really needs: more creative freedom.

In the Internet age, publishers are less useful than they used to be, but they still take the same share of profit and have the same amount of control on content. I have yet to hear a story where a publisher made a game better. Oh, I am sure that there are some, publishers are not all the devil incarnate and not everything is black and white. But we heard plenty of stories where publishers made a game worse or at least less unique. Publishers don’t want to take to much risk with a project, and that’s why every mid-budget to AAA game tries to emulate what seems to sell at the moment: tacked-on multiplayer, protagonists that all look the same (generic bald guy in the West, generic young emo in Asia), shooting in games that don’t need it (I’m looking at you, Deadly Premonition), online passes, tyrannical deadlines that results in buggy or unfinished games, etc. etc.

But, guess what : in every medium, the publisher is going to have less and less of a role to play: blogs replace book publishers, replaces music publishers etc. etc. This could be it for videogames. We don’t need publishers anymore to inform us about new games (that’s what google is for), we don’t need them anymore to find out what people want (that’s what Facebook and the like are for) and, thanks to crowd funding, we don’t need them to loan some money to developers at what is the equivalent of a ridiculous interest rate .

While I don’t see all this as a new venue for indie (but indie games are already exploding under the current market), this trends is something that can really resurrect mid-budget games. If pre-orders are directly paid to the developers, they really only need 1/3 of what they would need had they to pay the publisher and retail. And what do they lose ? TV ads ? seriously ? Valve did the TV ads for Portal themselves and I’m pretty sure any intern could do an ad for a videogame better than most of what we see.