Guacamelee review

Guacamelee places you in the shoes of Juan, a humble farmer.  Soon after the game starts, his village is attacked and he races to rescue his love, the local president’s daughter.  He finds her in the hands of an undead skeleton named Calaca and tries to save her.  This, inevitably, leads to his death.  All is not lost, however; in the land of the dead, he finds a magical luchador mask that brings him back to life to fight Calaca and save the woman he holds most dear.

The story really isn’t the important part of Guacamelee.  It serves the purpose of driving you forward through the game’s four-to-six hour length, occasionally giving you a bit of humorous dialogue or a boss fight to overcome.  It’s pretty generic and has the issue of not giving you the “true” ending unless you collect all of the orbs, something that will require a lot of poking around or a FAQ due to their very hidden nature.

Where Guacamelee really shines is in the combat and platforming elements.  The game plays like a single-plane brawler.  You have your attack button, a grapple button, and a special move button.  Attack combos are basic, but grow more complex as you unlock special moves over the course of the game.  The grapple button comes into play when an enemy has been appropriately weakened.  At this point, you can grab them and hurl them around the screen.  This is never not fun and amusing and is a very important tactical maneuver as the game goes on, since a thrown enemy knocks over others they hit in flight.

The special moves come into play a lot too.  Each of them is color-coded, giving you the ability to break through similarly colored blocks to progress through the map.  You can use these moves in combat just as extra powerful attacks (governed by a stamina meter) but later enemies require these moves to defeat.  This is because they have colored shields that require breaking in order to damage them.  When a group of enemies each has a different color shield (a common occurrence at the end of the game), this can get quite hectic to manage.

Traversal is also a key element of Guacamelee.  It starts pretty simply, just basic jumping from platform to platform.  Each new ability, such as the one that allows you transition between the living world and the dead world, makes platforming more complex and challenging.  The special moves propel your character around, giving him extra jump height and distance.  This is key to some of the platforming sections.  By the final hour, each section can require several quick button presses to overcome, balancing switching between the two worlds and usage of several special moves.  I loved these section because of how well thought out they were, utilizing all of my platforming abilities at once..  None of them were particularly impossible, but each was fun to figure out how to overcome.

The oddest part about Guacamelee is the overabundance of references to memes and in-jokes amongst gamers plastered everywhere around its world.  Just walking around the early town of Santa Luchita will reveal dozens of references to 4chan idiocy such as Pedobear and Business Cat as posters on the various buildings.  These are easily the strangest thing about the game and can quickly break immersion for those astute gamers.  The game references make a bit more sense but also go pretty far for a joke, such as the fact that all new moves come from statues that look exactly like the Chozo statues from the Metroid series.  None of them are particularly funny; they just exist in the world.  These references don’t ruin the game but may hamper your enjoyment of its atmosphere, since it seems so out of place in the otherwise Latino world.

The art style is gorgeous.  It’s packed with color and super-attention to detail (although a lot of this detial are those references I mentioned above).  All of the animation is fluid and looks great.  The fact that almost every screen in the game has a living world version and a dead world version, and that each looks quite different, is a testament to the artists who worked on the game.  I loved traversing to a new area and seeing the environments they created.

Musically, Guacamelee is also fantastic.  Most of the tracks have a distinctive Latino theme but manage to remain fitting to the game’s odd tones as well.  There wasn’t a single track I didn’t enjoy, and it even seemed to get better as I progressed further and further into the story.  There are few games I would consider buying the soundtrack for; Guacamelee is one of them.

Also worth mentioning is Guacamelee’s cross-platform capabilities.  If you buy the game on the Vita or the Playstation 3, you are given access to both versions.  Saves can transfer between the two but this requires a bit of forward thinking; you have to remember to upload the saves to a cloud and pull them down on the other version.  The Vita version plays just as well as its console counterpart, but the lack of four shoulder buttons requires usage of the touch screen for some moves.  I suggest playing it on the Playstation 3 if possible for this reason and also to get a better, bigger view of the gorgeous art.

Guacamelee really surprised me.  It didn’t really seem like something I would be into, particularly because of the strange style of the game, but I ended up having a great time with it.  The combat was simple but remained fun throughout.  I really liked the challenge of the later platforming sections, especially those that required use of ALL my abilities.  It was also just a fun game to look at and listen to.  I wholeheartedly recommend it to anyone looking for a Metroidvania-style game or a fun brawler; it adequately satisfies both tastes in one fell swoop.


Boss Fights – My Plea to Developers

I really hate boss fights.

I understand why boss fights still exist in modern video games.  As the player, we usually want to defeat the big bad at the end of the game, to feel that satisfactory finality of the story.  The problem is that some games don’t seem to understand that a boss fight isn’t always necessary in order for a game to be “complete.”  The original Bioshock was a serious offender of this, throwing a boss in at the end that didn’t really fit into the world (and gameplay style) Irrational created.  It seemed they learned their lesson with Bioshock Infinite by intelligently choosing to not have such an encounter at the game’s climax, instead making something that fit in a bit more smoothly to the style of game it is.

I’m also not saying that trying to include a boss fight at all is pointless.  I’ve fought more than a few in my time that are great, because they are well-designed and interesting.  It just falls to developers to know the difference between a game that could benefit from a few (well-designed or not at all) bosses and one that should stay far away from anything resembling a boss.

RPGs, at least those of the turn-based variety, often do bosses well.  In fact, boss fights in this type of game are usually some of the most fun encounters of the game, requiring all of a player’s skills and abilities to come out the other side alive.  Of course, there are super difficult or frustrating boss fights here too, but it seems that this genre’s track record is a lot better at this kind of thing.  A lot of these more intense fights are at least usually found on the periphery of the story, completely optional.  MMORPG’s also do boss fights fairly well, particularly the raid bosses.  Working with a bunch of other players and learning the fight’s mechanics is often quite fun (at least the first fifty or so times you fight them).

Character action games, such as God of War, are usually hit-or-miss with their bosses.  Depending on the design of the encounter, these fights can be at least tolerable.  Hell, a few here and there could be considered engaging and fun.  A good recent example of mixed boss fights is in Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance.  Some of the bosses, such as Sundowner, require good use of the Blade Mode mechanics in order to succeed.  Others, such as the final boss, require more deft timing and a bit of patience, which can be a little frustrating depending on your engagement level with the game at that moment.

Easily the most offensive are those bosses from shooters.  The idea of an enemy who can literally take hundreds of bullets before biting the dust just doesn’t make sense (I know the player character is the same way – shut up) and is painstakingly tedious at times.  I can’t think of a shooter that had truly fun boss fights, not even the Borderlands games.  Those bosses often devolved into standing still and shooting until the other guy fell over.  The sequel made things a bit more interesting on the player’s end but still mostly required avoiding the simple attacks and holding down the right trigger until the boss is dead.

Many of you probably have experienced a bad boss fight or two (or hundred) in your gaming careers and know the frustration and disgust that can result from one.  Here are some of the worst trends in bad boss design, at least in my opinion; a checklist of sorts for developers to ensure they don’t design a horrible encounter.

Most boss fights fall into one of two categories: those that are so simple that they bore you to tears while you slash or shoot your way to victory and those that are punishingly difficult, requiring perfection and a bit of luck to pull off.  Very rarely will a fight actually be perfectly balanced in the middle.  Obviously, both of these options make for a lousy time.  You can argue that some people like to get beat down and have to claw their way to victory.  I won’t deny the feeling of overcoming an encounter like this is particularly rewarding.  However, I would easily trade the frustration of a poorly tuned encounter for one that managed to challenge me in a better way than making the boss hit really hard or need to be attacked in a super-specific way.  I know developers can be more creative if they try.

Patterns are another key aspect of most boss fights.  How many bosses have you fought that require three repeats of a pattern to defeat them?  I can’t even imagine.  Not only is this extremely lazy game design, it just doesn’t make sense on an immersive level.  Why do these enemies not change up their patterns?  Why do they have glowing weak spots that they constantly wave about within reach?  I find it very hard to believe the villains of all video games are so stupid that they can’t adapt to a situation and mix things up.  This isn’t even that hard of a thing to fix (or so I think, as someone who doesn’t make games); just make each step of a fight a bit different.  Don’t just add a few new boss abilities.  Actually change the mechanics a bit if you can; the more the better.  It makes a huge difference.

QTEs, or quick time events, have been included in boss fights in increasing quantities since God of War made them so popular.  These usually pop up at the end of an encounter, giving the player a flashy finish to the fight.  The issues arise when failure of that QTE means that the boss heals a bit and you have to fight even longer for a victory.  Even worse are those games that actually have the balls to kill you if you fail a QTE.  This means you get the privilege of doing a whole part of the fight over – or possibly the entire thing.  This is absolutely horrible design, especially if your boss fight is appropriately epic and lengthy.  I don’t know many people who don’t grunt in disapproval (or throw an controller, if so inclined) at moments like these.

Probably the worst offender are boss fights in games that have no legitimate reason to include them in the first place.  Most shooters fall into this category, as it is quite difficult to make a boss fight interesting when all you can do is shoot at it incessantly.  The problem with these bosses is that the game in question just doesn’t support such an encounter, due to its mechanics or controls.  This usually means a frustrated player having to work out the right way to take out the boss with mechanics they never expected to use in such a way.  Deus Ex: Human Revolution is an interesting example of this; players who didn’t focus on combat, by building their characters in stealthy ways, suddenly find themselves forced into a lengthy spat of combat.  There is no way to avoid it; you must fight these enemies and beat them to advance.  Many of these stealthy players were probably surprised to be forced into such an encounter, in a game that otherwise allows you avoid combat entirely.  These are some of the most frustrating examples of terrible boss fights, because it makes it extremely difficult for the player to even fight back.

I’m slowly beginning to reach the point where I don’t want to see boss fights in any video games – aside from those in RPGs (mostly because these feel so crucial to what an RPG is).  I groan every time I see them pop up in another genre, preparing myself for something that could potentially enrage me.  I just finished Dead Space 3 and all the “boss” encounters were either frustrating or boring.  It’s trends like these that make me wish bosses were never invented in the first place.

Dante’s Inferno Review (X360)

Dante’s Inferno places you in the shoes of Dante, reimagined as a warrior from the Crusades instead of the author of the Divine Comedy (why they didn’t just rename the character…?) on which the game is loosely based.  He commits several sins in his while he is out fighting with the others, chief among them the act of adultery.  This mistake causes his wife Beatrice to be killed, and her soul to be condemned to Hell.  I guess this is due to a promise he made her, but it’s never really made clear.  Dante won’t let this stand and ventures into Hell himself to recover her innocent soul.

Now, if you’ve read the Inferno, this may not match up with your remembrance of the story.  Of course, the developer had to take some creative liberties with the concept in order to make a game out of it (since all games need violence, right?).  The poem was all about the journey, Dante learning the true nature of human sin through the various circles of Hell.  The game is more about the combat.  Many of the characters are from the poem at least, just portrayed differently.  For example, Beatrice does play a part in the poem, but her nature is changed entirely, giving Dante someone to rescue and a constant goal throughout the game.

This story plays out pretty simply, with very few moments of actual plot development between the very beginning and the very end.  Occasionally you will run into Beatrice or Lucifer for a minute or two of exposition, usually ending with Dante shouting Beatrice’s name as she is taken away from him yet again.  The plot shifts gears near the conclusion, but the “twist” doesn’t make much sense and just serves as a way to get the player to the final boss fight.  The ending also kinda bothered me, for reasons I can’t really get into without venturing into spoiler territory.  Let me just say that it doesn’t really feel earned by the game’s events.  I can nearly guarantee that you won’t give two shits about the story – and I don’t think this should bother you.  The story isn’t what makes Dante’s Inferno an interesting experience.

Let’s talk about the combat, easily the most important part of a character action game.  I’m not going to try and tell you that Dante’s Inferno does anything particularly revolutionary or groundbreaking.  It’s your typical God of War-clone, something you’ve probably played a dozen times or more by now.  To the game’s credit, it at least manages to make the combat feel tight and responsive.  You have your typical light and heavy melee attacks, which can be combined into various combos of varying effectiveness.  Not long into the game, you are also given a ranged attack that shoots glowing crosses at your enemies.  Various spells are granted to you over the course of the game, most of these pretty standard for the genre as well.  I know that I’m making this sound awfully boring, but I actually had a good time with the combat in Dante’s Inferno.  Something about it was engaging and enjoyable enough to keep me playing pretty consistently until the end.

The most unique mechanic of Dante’s Inferno is probably the “judgement” system.  Some enemies can be grabbed near death and given judgement by the player.  You can choose to either punish them, damning them to Hell for eternity (even though they are already there?), or absolve them in the eyes of the Lord (what give Dante this right?  I don’t know).  These executions give points in one of the two talent trees: punishing gives Unholy experience and absolving gives Holy experience.  Higher levels in one of the trees unlocks new abilities to be bought with souls, given by killing enemies.  Each tree focuses on a specific aspect of combat.  Holy trends towards the Cross attack and the more protective magic spells, while the Unholy tree focuses on the scythe attacks and offensive spells.  It’s the most binary form I’ve ever seen a “moral system” take in a game, though it doesn’t really affect anything in the story.  The new abilities aren’t very creative, but they are effective at making you feel more powerful and badass.

Unfortunately, the combat has a few problems, related to the enemies themselves.  Some of the creature design is clever (unbaptized babies with blade arms in particular), but the variety is where the main issue lies.  Several of the later game enemies are just reskinned, tougher versions of the enemies from the beginning of the game.  New enemies do pop up every so often, but they aren’t really that different to fight from any of the earlier enemies.  The lack of variety probably stems from the somewhat short length of the game (about 6-8 hours).  This isn’t an uncommon trend in this genre, but I think that Dante’s Inferno is one of the worst offenders of this I’ve seen.  The encounters never get particularly interesting; they just throw more and more fodder at you to hack and slash to pieces.

Even more annoying are the boss fights.  I don’t want to sound like a broken record here, but I really hate boss fights in video games nowadays.  Dante’s Inferno doesn’t have the most terrible boss fights I’ve encountered, but they are pretty damn bad.  Simplistic patterns that make no sense in the reality of the game world?  Check.  New abilities popping up as the stages progress?  Check.  Quick time events that cause the boss to heal if failed?  Check.  Thankfully, there aren’t that many of these fights, and they are mostly pretty short.  Still, I would have preferred them to simply be gone instead.  I understand why the developer felt the need to include them, but they simply aren’t fun.

Now, let’s talk about my favorite part of Dante’s Inferno.  Surprisingly, it comes from the art design.  The Inferno is a story that I’ve always thought was particularly interesting, how each circle of Hell is tailored to the different sins of those inhabiting it.  I think that the developer did a pretty nice job capturing this in their environments.  Gluttony, for example, is fleshy and slimy, filled with stomach acid and worms that try to eat you.  In the seventh circle (Violence), there is a forest of those who committed suicide.  They are transformed into gnarled trees and bushes.  Some of these trees drop fruits that cause either you or your enemies to kill themselves if not moved out of quickly enough.  They are some pretty clever ideas.  In general, there is a bit of blandness here and there, but I really enjoyed reaching a new circle to see just what the developer had come up with.  It’s a really creative setting and I think they do it justice.

I also feel I should mention the CG scenes, even though this game now came out about two years ago.  They are surprisingly sharp, coming close to resembling real people here and there.  Unfortunately, these scenes are much too infrequent (as to be expected for such quality of detail), especially when compared to the not-so-great in-engine cutscenes that often take their place.

Musically, the game is pretty stock.  If you can imagine something not quite as interesting as God of War’s soundtrack, you probably have a good idea of what to expect.  The voice acting isn’t terrible, really, but there isn’t enough of it to even care.

I can’t really explain why I enjoyed Dante’s Inferno as much as I did.  I know that it is just a poor man’s God of War, but I had a legitimately good time playing through it.  The combat worked well enough for what I wanted, giving me a fun, slightly challenging experience.  The story may have been nonsensical and pointless, but it just served to get me deeper into Hell so I could see the fantastical designs.  Did it really need to exist?  Probably not.  There are much better versions of this style of game out there.  I still think credit is due to the developer for taking such a strange idea and turning it into a perfectly acceptable, yet not particularly enthralling, character action game.


Evoland Review

When Evoland begins, you find yourself in a very constrained area that is also in black and white.  Your character is between two chests, one to the left and one to the right.  Trying to go left reveals that your only form of movement is to the right.  Picking up the right chest grants you leftward movement.  When you then pick up the other chest, you can now move in all four directions.  This trick is what Evoland is all about.

Of course, these “tricks” get more interesting as the game moves on.  Occasionally, you will find chests that add color and depth to the world in a neat screen wipe effect.  Go far enough and there are even chests that change the style of the game itself.  I don’t want to spoil these changes because they really are the coolest part of the game.  The makers of Evoland obviously know a lot about classic RPGs and make several clever references that I didn’t really expect.

This idea is very clever (reminiscent of DLC Quest in ways, but with a different focus) but doesn’t last forever, as you may expect.  There are only so many switch-ups that can be in the game before it runs out of stuff to poke fun at.  It is pretty short, at about 2 hours without extra exploration.  It is also quite easy to complete, although I can understand why.  The developer really couldn’t make the systems that complex because there are so many of them in the game.  As an indie developer, that would take too much time and work to implement.  I feel that it fits the tone of the game better for them to be so simplistic.

My biggest problem with Evoland was how it would jump back to older gameplay systems almost on a whim.  The overworld map always resembles a Final Fantasy game of old, with random battles every few steps.  A few of the dungeons also had this random combat, but others had different systems.  Jumping back and forth between these systems felt like a strange step backwards in a game that was otherwise all about moving forwards through history.  I also didn’t much care for the final boss, an encounter that is much more about exact timing than any other boss in the game.  It’s the biggest difficulty jump, although it still isn’t that hard to overcome.

I really enjoyed the concept of Evoland.  The effects are really nice, and I kept finding new chests that changed the game in a way I didn’t even expect.  It may be a little short, but I think that makes it a better game, a fun little romp through RPGs of old.  If you are at all familiar with the history of RPGs, give it a look.  I guarantee at least a few laughs.

Price vs Length

We all like to get our money’s worth when we buy a game.  How many times have you brought home a fresh new game and been absolutely frustrated with it?  Or finished it in just a few stiff, unfun hours?  I know that I have fallen victim to this several times in the past, particularly in the days before the Internet and dozens of reviews within easy reach.  With the recent release of Bioshock Infinite, I have seen a lot of discussion (again) about the concept of the length of a game being related to the value said game should be priced at or is “worth.”  This is a discussion that has always annoyed me and always makes me feel like writing something in response.

I understand why this concept still exists.  In today’s world, with people losing their jobs left and right, money is a somewhat tight commodity in some households.  Spending $60 on a brand new game that you feel didn’t give you your money’s worth is a constant problem.  This is the reason why game reviews exist, however, and why most of them tend to have an hour count somewhere in their text.  Those people who rush out to the store to buy something on day one only have themselves to blame for buying a stinker or something that isn’t as long as they expect it to be.  A few days of patience and research can save a gamer from blowing hundreds of dollars a year on games that aren’t quite for them.

Reviews aren’t perfect, though.  The real issue with the whole price vs. length concept is that every person has their own set of ideas on what makes a game worth the purchase price.  A reviewer may look for different things in an ideal game of theirs than a reader of that review.  As an example, there are those people out there that think any game without some kind of multiplayer is a rip-off.  When you compare the potential life of a multiplayer game such as Call of Duty to the 8-10 hours of your average single-player focused game, it’s not much of a competition.  Those games with multiplayer are obviously the better value for those gamers, as long as they are widely played online.  While there are RPGs out there with 60+ hours of gameplay, a number much better than the average game release, they still don’t quite match up to the potential longevity of a good multiplayer game.  This is an understandable conclusion to make for some value-minded consumers.

Still, why must a game have hours and hours of content in order to be “worth the money?”  To me, the defining characteristic of what makes a game “worth the money” is my level of enjoyment with it.  I paid $50 for Portal 2 when it came out and beat it in an evening.  Did I regret that it was so short?  Maybe a very little bit, but the experience I had with the game was great enough that I didn’t care.  I played through Journey in about three hours, but it was one of the most powerful gaming experiences I had that year.  If it had been even a couple hours longer, I might not have thought so highly of it.  That game is such a sharply made experience that any more content might have diminished what was so great about it.  In my mind, the best games know just how long to be and don’t overstay their welcome by padding with useless and boring content.  I can think of few things worse than a game that takes a fun idea and runs it into the ground by being too long for its own good.  Length does not directly relate to a better game; a game must instead be the correct length for its gameplay systems and content.

I think I’m just going to have to accept the fact that everyone thinks of a game’s value in a different way.  While I may have no problem with a $50-60 game with only 5 hours of (amazing) content, some people won’t be satisfied with those numbers.  There are gamers out there that have more time on their hands than money and just need games that will last them for a month or maybe even a year in some cases.  While I still think calling a game like Bioshock Infinite a “poor value” is ridiculous, because of the sheer quality of the content in question, I am at least beginning to let myself be okay with other people’s reasons for these beliefs.  After all, we are all looking for different things in our games, and that is one of the main reasons why gaming is such an interesting form of entertainment.  I just wish that those people could also realize that these games aren’t poor values; they just aren’t exactly the games they are looking for.

My new views on Monster Hunter

Like most people in the West, I never really saw much appeal in the Monster Hunter franchise.  It seemed very Japanese in design, with its animation priority and stiff camera.  It also didn’t help much that all the entries were on portable devices without a second stick.  It almost seemed like Capcom didn’t want the Western audience to ever give the game a shot.  The latest entry, Monster Hunter 3 Ultimate doesn’t really make any concessions in this direction but the fact that it was on the Wii U is what intrigued me the most.  Having a Monster Hunter game in HD (well, kinda…) and having two analog sticks to control the game encouraged me to give it another try.

This series is one that requires some fairly intense wiki-reading and/or help from seasoned players in order to understand its systems.  They really aren’t that complex; it’s just that there are a TON of them to deal with.  This is going to be the biggest hurdle for anyone who wishes to give the series a shot.  The first few MH games I played, this is where I got stuck and didn’t want to continue.  I didn’t know what the game after the hump was like, but the part I was playing was very unappealing.  This is also why I made sure to give myself at least a solid 10 hours of playtime before trying to give it up, if I wanted to.

I also found an interesting video podcast called My Fair Hunter that really aided in my learning.  It features a pair of hunters, one a veteran and one a noob, and teaches the noob and the viewer at the same time.  Seeing concepts in a visual form helped me learn things MUCH faster than if I had just read a wiki entry.  I highly suggest it for anyone thinking of getting into the Monster Hunter series.

I am now 10 hours in and I finally understand the appeal of Monster Hunter.  The controls and animation priority may be a little rough, but the satisfactory payoff when I downed a large enemy is pretty unique in my gaming experience.  It is very much a game where you have to learn everything you can about the enemies you are fighting, their patterns and attack animations.  The first time fighting an enemy is usually a bit rough, especially when you get to some of the larger boss enemies.  After a few times, however, you can take enemies that gave you a bit of trouble down with ease.

The most appealing part of this game to me is just how dense it is.  There is a STAGGERING amount of armor, weaponry, and items that can be crafted with parts of various creatures and enemies you fight.  It can be a bit tedious to fight the same enemy over and again for pieces for new gear, but that repetition feeds back into the learning process.  By the time you get those pieces, those fights are cake.  It’s great practice for online.  The gear is awesome looking too, based off the monster that you are crafting it out of.  I’ve always been fond of Monster Hunter’s art direction from a distance, and it looks pretty sharp in HD.  I would love to see a fully developed HD Monster Hunter game, but that will probably never happen, due to Japan’s fondness for portable systems.

Online promises to be a whole other can of worms to open, one I haven’t actually done yet.  The thought of jumping online to fight a monster I have never beat on my own is a bit scary, which is why I’m waiting a bit longer.  Still, the prospect of fighting these giant creatures with three other people sounds really fun.

Knowing what I do now about Monster Hunter, it is tragic that more people don’t give it a chance.  I think Capcom is slightly to blame here, with their seeming unwillingness to change anything about the games to suit the Western market, but those people who blow it off without a second look are equally at fault.  It may be a bit cryptic and intense but with enough help and perseverance  it becomes a very fun experience that is quite unique.

A Gamer’s Lament of April Fool’s Day

April Fool’s Day.  Probably one of my least favorite days of the year.  It doesn’t affect my life at all in reality, at least not with my current social relationships I have.  In fact, if I didn’t go online, I would most likely forget this day exists every year.  Unfortunately, I am quickly reminded of what I like to call Liar’s Day every year when I venture online to some of my favorite sites.  It is the one day a year where game companies believe they have the ability to lie outright to their fans and have no consequences afterwards.

I won’t deny that some of the jokes make me laugh.  Oftentimes, they are well thought out and can elicit a chuckle.  Clearly, some work is put into these jokes every year.  The part where this angers me is where these companies lie to us every year, and we let them get away with it!  Thankfully, we have moved away from the days of when gaming sites would report these stories as fact, only telling us otherwise after the day had ended.  I’m glad to see that these sites are taking their jobs seriously, as they should, but I don’t really think they should report on them in the first place.  It’s a minor thing, but I feel like it just supports these lies.  Now, all the blame lies with these companies.

This can even be a harmful thing for some sites.  Today, Gamesbeat reported on the supposed information that Adam Boyes would become the new head of EA.  This information apparently came in an e-mail directly from EA.  The writer in question tried to get confirmation on this but hadn’t heard back at the time he published his story.  Quite possibly, since the story came directly from EA, they didn’t respond in order to perpetuate this joke.  While I don’t think the writer should have reported on this story without that confirmation, all of the blame lies with EA.  I would expect an e-mail from an official game company to be perfectly legit too.  This is news that is a little  far-fetched but could be truthful in the right circumstances.  It wasn’t, however, and made a writer look like a fool and potentially confused fans of EA.

Some of the best jokes go the extra mile.  They put together a video or images that try to support the lie.  While these are clever and elaborate, it makes my wonder why they bothered to spend the time and resources to make them.  In the current economy, particularly the way that the games business has been going the last few years, why would anyone waste time on jokes like these?  It seems like every week another developer is fired or disbands.  I’m sure those guys and girls would like to be working.  If you have money to throw away, give it to them.  Don’t waste it on a stupid joke that doesn’t really benefit anyone.

You may be wanting to call me a fun-hating jerk at this point.  Feel free, but that’s not the point I’m trying to get across.  I think that these gags are often quite funny; I just wonder why companies bother with them.  This is a fairly recent trend in gaming and one I would love to see disappear before too much longer.  I would like to get on the Internet on April Fool’s Day and actually believe everything I read, like every other day (well, for the most part).  I’m not saying that game companies should be full of mindless drones who work 80-hour weeks and never sleep.  A little fun is fine; just don’t have it at the expense of your fanbase.