Wednesday, March 11, 2015

My Take On An Interesting Article on Female Characters in Video Games

There are a lot of insights I agree with on SpideyGirl's blog post here. I read over it twice because a couple of friends pointed out that she was cherry picking in a lot of things such as the reference to Princess Peach. I understand what they mean, however I respectfully disagree.

The big thing for me is how many of the complaints are geared to the large breasts as if to say that if you have big breasts you are automatically an overly sexual being, a slut, or a stripper. As someone who is in that big breast department, I am rather annoyed by that sentiment. It's frankly foolish and more than a little tyrannical to assume and demand that every single woman in fiction or in reality have small breasts and are completely covered. Look at all the different body types in the real world and you will see that women come in all shapes and sizes in the body and breast department. This is not a one size fits all scenario. Implying that a woman can not be sexy and powerful at the same time is a bit ridiculous. Sexuality is NOT a bad thing. The people who decry it loudly and often make me wonder about what their real motives are. Are they really that insecure about themselves, that they have to tear others down?

I agree there needs to be more body diversity in video games on both the male and female side. That's right. I said it. However, games like Overwatch are doing something positive and trying to do just that. And there are games that do that, but to single out a couple of the female characters here and there and imply that they're "too sexy" seems like a form of slut shaming and it's NOT okay. It causes me to wonder if these people do that to actual women in public. I love the Soul Calibur series and I like the characters Ivy and Taki. It does not bother me in the least that they're a bit bigger in the breast department and a bit curvier. Remember when video games were fun and there was none of this constant nitpicking over every single little thing? Let's go back to that. I love video games and they are fun for me and I love that there are so many great characters to play both male and female. I'm not worried about body image. If you want to worry about it, you go ahead. That's your thing, but it's not mine.

You can read SpideyGirl's blog here:

Monday, March 2, 2015

Little Big Planet 3 Good Game But Not Great

  I love the Little Big Planet games. I really enjoyed playing through 1 and 2, so I was excited for Little Big Planet 3. I finally got a chance to play the game this weekend as it was in my video game backlog and I was looking forward to checking it out. I played through the game and while I enjoyed it, there were some issues for me.

 Starting out, it is nice to see that you can import your Little Big Planet 1 and 2 games so you have all your costumes that you've already collected and your DLC content. There is the usual tutorial going over the game controls with the narrator voice-over and a short prologue level so you can get accustomed to them and this also brings in the villain in the story, Newton.

The Villain of the story, Newton

 During their adventure, your Sack Boy/Girl is introduced to three new friends with their own set of specific skills: Oddsock, Toggle, and Swoop. Oddsock is a little canine creature that can run very fast, bounce off walls, and jump to higher areas. Toggle (who I admit was my favorite) is a large fellow who can smash through things, hit switches, and shrink down to a miniature size so he can run on water, fit through tiny gaps, or jump to high reach places. Swoop is a bird creature who can fly around and use his gliding abilities to quickly fly through dangerous areas or pick things up and lift them to higher places.
Sack Boy and Friends
 You don't get the three friends right away. You have to play a level in an area called Bunkum and release the three of them from their worlds one at a time. Once you have done that you can switch back and forth between the characters, but you can only switch at a designated portal in the main area of the map you are on. In fact, the only way you can freely switch between characters is in a custom made area in the community section of the game or if you create your own.

 Each map has its own hub with a variety of areas you can explore and certain areas are designed especially for switching back and forth between the characters according to their skill set. The areas are beautifully colorful and imaginative with a variety of themes ranging from pin ball machine to zero gravity space. There are mini game areas too such as building a go-kart for kart racing or for long distance kart jumping that are fun to play and unlock stickers and costumes. You can also buy costumes for everyone from a store keeper character named ZomZom and even get free gift stickers and costumes after you buy a certain amount of costumes.

Fun With Pinball Machines!

 There are nifty gadgets to be used throughout the various areas in the game as well.  You are given a Sack Pocket to hold them in. There are five of them in all: the Blink Ball, Boost Boots, Hook Hat, Illuminator, and Pumpinator. The Illuminator is a gift to you from ZomZom when you buy four costumes from him. Each gadget has its own use and are a big part of how many of the levels are designed and how you interact with them. You are given a quick tutorial on how each one is used and once you have them all, you can go back and replay levels to reach areas you couldn't before. It is interesting and it does add more fun to the game using the different tools instead of just the usual jump and grab.
The Hook Hat In Action

 You can play co-op with friends which is fun to do as well. In the Community section, you can play custom made levels by other players, rate, and review them. There are quite a few to choose from and you can play co-op with others in them also. I played through an incredibly detailed and beautiful level called Dreamscape. It was enjoyable to play and a lot of gorgeous things stood out such as galaxies swirling in the background, green hills, and sparkling crystals. You can go to the store in the game and purchase themed stories like Toy Story and Pirates of the Caribbean if you wish. If you're in a creative mood, you can explore the Popit Academy and do a quick tutorial on how to custom make your own levels. The possibilities are fairly endless so you can spend plenty of time creating a variety of worlds suited to your tastes.
Learning How To Build Things At Popit Academy

  I know what you're thinking. What was my issue with the game, if I am telling you all the good things about it? Yes, there are a lot of good things about Little Big Planet 3 and I did enjoy playing the game, but it's not great. It makes me glad that I did not pay full price for the game and bought it on sale. I was disappointed by some things in this installment of Little Big Planet and it makes me sad to say that because I love the Little Big Planet series and while I loved the first two games, I didn't love this one. I just liked it. It's a good game, but not a great one. Let's go over what my issues were with this one.

 Loading times are slow. I don't mind waiting for an area to load, but sometimes it seemed like it took a bit for them to load to the point of being pretty ridiculous. Glitches. Yes, some of the updates to the game fixed most of it, but not all of it. One glitch is after finishing the Manglewood area, the Bunkum area won't load even after you've unlocked it. The workaround was I had to reboot the game in order for it to appear on the map.  Another one is ending up suddenly in empty space with no explanation and the only way to get out of it is to hit the retry button so you can appear at your last checkpoint. I feel that if the developers had properly tested the game, they would have noticed these glitches and fixed them. I also feel that these should have been fixed with the update especially since the game has been out for a while now.

 It's a minor detail, but not being able to skip cut scenes bugs me. Watching it the first time is fine, but when I have to replay a level because my Sack Boy died, I really wish I had a skip option. This brings me to the next thing that frustrated me to no end. Levels that are insanely difficult and when you die five times in that level (and trust me, you will) it starts you back at the beginning which at the later levels becomes an infuriating exercise in futility. It gets incredibly annoying when you include the levels that use character switching because not only do you have to start at the beginning, you have to play through each character's level all over again. This drove me nuts with the Great Escape level, which may be the hardest level in Little Big Planet 3. At least it felt that way to me. I was so glad to be done with it once I finished it.

The Only Easy Part of The Great Escape....

 The single player campaign is really short. If you include the prologue, there are only four areas in the story mode aspect of Little Big Planet 3. After you gather all the friends and play their respective levels, you find yourself at the end having the big showdown with the final boss and then it's over. I wish there had been more story or at least more levels to play in Adventure Mode. Of course, you can click on the More Stories button and go to the store in the game and buy add ons to extend Story Mode which is nice, but I would have preferred Sumo Digital taking the time to actually make more of an effort with the story line and not have it as short as it is.

 That's not to say there isn't plenty to do in Little Big Planet 3 because there is with the Community aspect of it and Popit Academy where you can make your own levels and you can play through the levels again to try and collect all the hidden stickers and costumes. However, I wish there had been more story levels because that is what I enjoy playing. That is why the game for me is a good game and fun to play, but it doesn't shine the way its previous installments did.