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Twitch Asylum Video Game Radio Episode #18
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Our eighteenth podcast is now available! Download it here.

In this month's "discussion" segment we focus on the turbulent relationship between video game publishers and the video game media. Are publishers putting too much pressure on reviewers to give them positive reviews? Or, are video game reviewers writing at a maturity level that isn't consistent with the audience that is buying the publisher's games?

Our "Gaming Moments" this episode include Super Mario Galaxy (Wii), Call of Duty 4 (360), Burnout Paradise (360), Legend of Zelda: Phantom Hourglass (DS), and Magic the Gathering (PC).

In the "Retro Respect" segment we focus on the classic video game, "The Seven Cities of Gold". During the segment we discuss what we thought of the game when it was first released as well as how we believe it holds up today. In addition, we present short histories of the game's creator, Dani Bunten Berry, the game's development company, Ozark Software, and the game's publisher, Electronic Arts.

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downloading it now! thanks guys!

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yeti wrote:
downloading it now! thanks guys!


No problem.

I am sorry there was a bit of a delay in posting it. We recorded it a little over a week ago, but I have been preparing for a fairly large presentation at work and haven't had time to do anything (and I mean anything) else.

--Raz.

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hey good to see u guys r up and running again. Im glad u guys got a nice steady stream now, im gonna listen to it on my psp later, cant wait!


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Another great show. I don't know how you guys continue to come up with perspectives on things that make me sit up and think of things in new ways. Kudos!

The segment on reviewers and publishers was great. By the end of the segment, I had changed my mind on how I felt about the situation.

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dragon57 wrote:

The segment on reviewers and publishers was great. By the end of the segment, I had changed my mind on how I felt about the situation.


I too have changed my mind on the topic. At the beginning I was on the side of the reviewers. But, the more I thought about it, I realized how much I dislike the attitude of reviewers (at least in the U.S.). I am sure publishers feel the same way, and they are free to do what they want (excluding reviewers from their events, etc.). My real question is, why do reviewers have such attitudes? I mean, they review video games for a living right? Am I missing something?

--Raz.

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Chris,

Loved the show, but have to disagree with you on COD4 and Super Mario Galaxy. Those were the first two games I got after signing up for Gamefly and I think they're both excellent. Super Mario Galaxy is a masterpiece. I don't think those levels you describe are gimmicks, I think they're new and innovative types of gameplay. Galaxy has so many different types of levels, it's a constant surprise. I don't want to spoil it for you, but some of the later levels do things with appearing and disappearing platforms that blew my mind. See it through to the end and I think you'll get turned around a little on the subject.

As for COD4, I felt it re-invigorated what was --after COD3-- quickly becoming a tired franchise. Again I think it comes down to innovation. There were levels in the game --like the gilly suit or the aerial bombing mission-- that felt like I'd never quite done them before, and for any FPS to manage to do something new these days (especially after Bioshock and Portal) is pretty impressive.

-- Dante


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Another great podcast, thanks guys! I didn't hear about the reviewer getting fired, that kind of sucks. I understand why the companies would pull their advertising though. I laughed when you guys were talking about the 1 Up Yours podcast, I had to stop listening because those guys were just angry at everyone all the time. To paraphrase Frank Zappa, shut up and play yer games! Smile

As for Seven Cities of Gold, you made it really interesting to someone who missed out on the golden age of computer gaming. I don't know if I could get into a game like that now, especially since I never played it when I was a kid. I have an Atari 800 that I got about 10 years ago, and whoever owned it before me made sure he had every game that ever existed, so I probably have this particular game on a large floppy somewhere. But when I play it, I stick mainly to arcade games and 5200 ports. Maybe someday.

Keep the podcasts coming, I'm really enjoying them, you guys are great. Do you mind if I ask how old all of you are? Rolling Eyes

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Do you mind if I ask how old all of you are?


I'm 41.


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The segment on reviewers and publishers was great. By the end of the segment, I had changed my mind on how I felt about the situation.


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perspectives on things that make me sit up and think of things in new ways


That's great to hear. I hope our podcast gives listeners information and perspectives they haven't heard before. When I listen to other podcasts, I always like it when one makes me start thinking about things in a different way.

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There were levels in the game --like the gilly suit or the aerial bombing mission-- that felt like I'd never quite done them before


The aerial gunship mission was by far my favorite in COD4. Hearing the chatter and feeling the sense of worry over accidentally hitting civilians or my own troops made it a very immersive experience for me.


Tom

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fergojisan wrote:

Keep the podcasts coming, I'm really enjoying them, you guys are great. Do you mind if I ask how old all of you are? Rolling Eyes


No, I don't mind at all. I am 35 years young. Very Happy

--Chris.

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dantebk wrote:
Chris,

Loved the show, but have to disagree with you on COD4 and Super Mario Galaxy. Those were the first two games I got after signing up for Gamefly and I think they're both excellent. Super Mario Galaxy is a masterpiece. I don't think those levels you describe are gimmicks, I think they're new and innovative types of gameplay. Galaxy has so many different types of levels, it's a constant surprise. I don't want to spoil it for you, but some of the later levels do things with appearing and disappearing platforms that blew my mind. See it through to the end and I think you'll get turned around a little on the subject.

As for COD4, I felt it re-invigorated what was --after COD3-- quickly becoming a tired franchise. Again I think it comes down to innovation. There were levels in the game --like the gilly suit or the aerial bombing mission-- that felt like I'd never quite done them before, and for any FPS to manage to do something new these days (especially after Bioshock and Portal) is pretty impressive.

-- Dante


I totally agree that Mario Galaxy is a great game. My only concerns were that some parts of the game seemed a bit tacked on to make use of the Wii controls. In retrospect, those are sort of minor nicks about what is otherwise one of the best games of the year. I haven't made it to the disappearing platforms yet, but they sound awesome. I can wait to get to check them out.

As far as COD4 goes, I think my view may be a bit skewed since I recently completed COD2. COD2 is very similar to COD4 in terms of quality (as opposed to COD3) since both of those games are by Infinity Ward. My issues with COD 2 and 4 are that they are very linear in terms of gameplay. I guess I just expect a more open world experience these days with the likes of Crysis, Just Cause, etc. That is not to say that COD4 isn't an excellent game, it is, but for me it is just too much like COD2.

Also, I am guessing that playing either of those two games on Veteran difficulty sort of sours your opinion of them. That probably occurs due to the fact that you do scenes over, and over, and over until you get them right. By doing that you really see how scripted the game is. I am guessing if I played it on a lower difficulty level I wouldn't notice it as much. Also multi-player is a huge part of COD4 and I haven't had a chance to give it a go yet...

--Raz.

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As usual, loved the show. Keep them coming.

I really enjoyed your discussion on journalistic maturity and integrity.

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That was a great podcast! The more we discuss the art of Dani Bunten the better. We are fortunate enough today that many of the pioneers of gaming are still with us including the founding fathers, Baer, Bushnell, Alcorn, etc, but it saddens me that I will never be able to meet one of the industry's brightest stars. The best you or I can do is play her games and get the word out about her art and you guys have done an excellent job of that with your latest podcast. Hopefully you've inspired a few folks to search out her games and give them a try. In a strange coincidence I was reading some back issues of EG that I have and came across a Dan Bunten interview in the February 1983 issue (the cover has Pac-Man and Ms. Pac-Man getting married - Mrs. Pac-Man???). He was still releasing games for SSI at this point but hinted strongly about branching out. He talks about his influences and how he admired Scott Adams and - somewhat enviously - pointed out how Scott had become synonymous with adventure gaming. He also discussed how important he thought packaging should be, hinting at what would come from EA. I get the feeling he'd had a conversation with Trip Hawkins just prior.

I'd like to point people who are interested in chatting about Dani or her games like M.U.L.E. to another forum topic we've started here:
http://www.twitchasylum.com/forum/viewtopic.php?t=472

I love how Raz was applying metaphors to the design choices for Seven Cities of Gold. I think he made some really good points I hadn't thought of before. I also wholeheartedly agree with Raz about playing these games on the _real_ hardware. I love emulation for many reasons, but it doesn't hold a candle to the real deal when you really want to immerse yourself into a game.

Your discussion about videogame "journalism" parallels my own thoughts. I think there is a big difference between 'reviewer' and 'journalist'. Most of the people you seem to mention fall into the 'reviewer' category and as such are simply, for better or worse, puppets of marketing. I'm not saying a reviewer cannot be a journalist, but the two hats must be exchanged in order for that to work. To use a popular figure in the movie industry as an example: Roger Ebert is simply a 'reviewer' on his tv show, but becomes something else (journalist, historian, whatever-you-wanna-label-it) when he applies himself to dvd commentary, non-review movie article or book. I personally don't care for his reviewer side, but his commentary on Citizen Kane was one of the best I've ever heard. What I think we need to ask ourselves is: do videogame reviews matter at all? Have you ever been influenced by one? I certainly haven't... ever. The only reason I ever watch/read a review is that it usually gives me the best glimpse of a certain game to date. I think it is much more interesting to discuss the facets of the games themselves, much like you guys did with SCoG. Bringing out certain aspects that the gamer may not have realized about the source previously - again, like the metaphor discussion in SCoG, great stuff!

There is hope amongst the videogaming literati though. There are also some folks in the blogoshpere that I think are leading by example and I think it is simply a matter of time before their voices are the voices heard above the corporate shills. A good start is the Brainy Gamer: http://www.brainygamer.com/

Thanks for the great podcast guys, keep up the great work. I'm really looking forward to the next one already. If I could suggest another person-of-topic for retro-respect next time: Scott Adams and his adventure games.

-zp

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I was just looking around for 7 Cities of Gold and it looks like Sega and EA re-released it in 1993 with updated graphics and such. It's now abadonware and you can find it here:

http://www.abandonia.com/en/games/318/7+Cities+of+Gold.html


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zodiacprime wrote:

There is hope amongst the videogaming literati though. There are also some folks in the blogoshpere that I think are leading by example and I think it is simply a matter of time before their voices are the voices heard above the corporate shills. A good start is the Brainy Gamer: http://www.brainygamer.com/


Thanks for the heads up, I read through a few articles, and they were excellent.

zodiacprime wrote:

Thanks for the great podcast guys, keep up the great work. I'm really looking forward to the next one already. If I could suggest another person-of-topic for retro-respect next time: Scott Adams and his adventure games.


Ah, that is a good one. I played so many Scott Adams games when I was growing up. They were some of the first computer games that I had for the VIC-20 and I really enjoyed them. It is definitely a topic we should cover in a future podcast. Thanks for the great suggestion.

--Raz.

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