Fashionably late to the party, it's Episode 26 of the Negative World Podcast! Rob (Mr_Mustache), Anand (Anand), and Lewis (Ludist210) join their host, Stephen (DrFinkelstein), in discussing some hot games being played right now such as Mutant Mudds, Radiant Historia, Kirby's Mass Attack, and a whole slew of games from deep in the past from a year known to some as 2005.
Soon after the guys dive into the real meat and potatoes by discussing the Community factor in gaming, Storytelling, RPGs, and Licensed Games!
As usual, the theme music comes from Negative World's owner and dictator, Zero. The music throughout the podcast is taken from a mixed assortment ranging from Okami to Tiny Toons.
Hey, I never realized that the MP4 eps were on a separate feed! I finally switched my subscription to that version. Love the enhanced functionality.
@Guillaume I'm a ramblin' man! Fink indulged my senile ramblings. Finkisodes are definitely looser than Guepisodes. Both approaches have their merits, though.
Yes, I probably would've rather watched an animated version. BUT it wasn't available, and I thought the story was, for once, worth experiencing (mostly due to actual character development). You could say that the gameplay sections mine a bit of that Ico/Sands of Time-esque protective empathy, though. Until your head explodes for exploring. Actually, most of the positive examples of storytelling that I picked fall into that specific category... you could even say that Super Metroid hits a similar emotional note right at the end. So maybe it's just me.
The gameplay of Enslaved wasn't super-awful, btw. It just wasn't anything special. Without the story hook, I would've returned the rental after a level or two, but I actually played through the whole thing, which is VERY RARE for me. Maybe because without caring about what happens, I don't have much of a reason to complete a game. Just a small taste of the gameplay every once in a while is enough for my tastes. Like we used to do it in the NES days.
But, yeah, I can definitely see the appeal of YouTubing the story of a game, in theory. I'm not sure there are (m)any other games I'd actually like to do that for, though.
Would you guys ever consider doing that? Or have you already?
That's (almost) how my name is pronounced! Accent on the ah. We had the customary primer before the podcast.
There were shitty licensed games then, also, of course, but I do think there were more genuinely good ones, as well. Not just playable ones, but GOOD ones. I mean, how many good developers still touch licensed games? Rocksteady sort of came out of nowhere, so that makes sense. And Treasure are bunch of weirdos, so that kind of makes sense. But how many other good recent examples are there? Whereas, back in the day, a lot of the best and brightest worked on licensed games. Hell, Donkey Kong was supposed to be a Popeye game. And then Miyamoto used his new clout to MAKE a Popeye game!
A lot of future luminaries cut their teeth on that stuff.
It would take multiple podcasts to discuss the intricate nature of good and bad franchises but I think it's pretty clear that as a collective, more franchises were done well back then, than they are today. The reason for this as we came to the conclusion to is that the companies that tackle them used to try harder.
But you still never really challenged Fink when he said, at least twice, that licensed games used to be good and now they're bad!
That was his whole thesis going into this topic!
Anand, I don't think the best and the brightest really worked on licensed games. I mean, I don't really know who any of the devs are at Capcom except for Mikami and Goof Troop. And I'll go on and say that of all the licensed Disney Capcom games, only DuckTales was actually great.
@GuillaumeThe reason for this as we came to the conclusion to is that the companies that tackle them used to try harder.
Yeah, I had an issue when I heard you say that as well, I think it's totally unfair to act like current developers aren't trying and just see franchises as a cash cow. You can't make that call, most of the time the resources they get and the direction they need to take are out of their hands, the deadlines, budgets and type of game are determined by the publisher or license-holder.
I think WayForward tries hard, with their licensed games, and their average one is as good as the average game Capcom put out back in the day.
And visionaries sometimes do tackle licensed games today. Epic Mickey came up, but Ancel's King Kong comes to mind as well.
The Capcom ones then WERE good. I TOTALLY brought up how horrible the LJN ones were. I can't think of ANY NOW that are good. So yeah, what are you talking about? We also mentioned how Konami did a really good job, too (Turtles, etc.).
Shame on you for your Disney/Capcom comment. I think its generally accepted (maybe not here) that Rescue Rangers (to name one) is a superior game to Duck Tales. Really.
And since you're all over Fink about licensed games, which ones NOW are pretty good by your measure?
EDIT- Besides Epic Mickey (which didn't look that hot, and Nikki didn't have glowing firsthand reviews), and King Kong (the XBOX 360 launch title?).
You did bring them up, I'm not saying you didn't. I said you didn't challenge the claim that licensed games used to be better, and you didn't, in fact you're agreeing with it now.
As for current good licensed games, Batman Arkham Asylum and Arkham City are just two of the best reviewed and most popular games this generation. Anand mentioned Wolverine and the handheld Spider-Man games. Simpsons Hit and Run and Hulk: Ultimate Destruction were GREAT on the Cube. Even notorious developer High Voltage Software managed to make a decent Harvey Birdman game. Batman the Brave and the Bold was at least as enjoyable as any licensed beat'em-up on the NES or SNES. Etc.
I think many licensed games today are better than you guys gave them credit for, and I think disinterest in the licenses plays a big part in that. And I think many old licensed games got too much credit, for instance The Lion King. The animation was great, and that's about it. It didn't play very well and wasn't particularly imaginative.
@Guillaume Even then, Epic Mickey and King Kong weren't exactly slam dunks, were they?
Hmm... I'd have to see a list of the actual developers, which is rarely available for old games. But I know that Mikami and Jaffe worked on Disney games. And I remember them being pretty good, back in the day. I guess I haven't played too many, beyond Little Nemo, Duck Tales, Chip'n'Dale, and a few others. Most of them are still somewhat remembered fondly, I think.
It's true that modern licensed games are often under-budgeted and rushed, but why should that matter to the end consumer? (Don't get me wrong - older licensed games often seemed rushed, as well. Pretty much every LJN game seemed to have a budget of about $100.) I like WayForward, and their rushed mainstream license games are better than typical rushed mainstream license games, but how many of them turn out great? My favorite titles from WF are still, by far, the original games and the licensed-from-classic-games games. They're obviously not a shitty developer. But if a publisher doesn't think that it's fiscally worthwhile to fork out for a license and then earnestly fund a fully-developed game, then the resulting game will still probably be mediocre at best.
Like I said on the podcast, Griptonite's Spider-Manvania games are fantastic. Great stuff, great use of the license. And now they're making mobile games. Wheeee.
Licensed games now are largely poop, and they WERE often much better back then. What are you talking about? I'm not agreeing with you at all, I'm doing the complete opposite of that. The LJN games were poop, all of the Capcom ones were good. Heck, Mickey Mouscapade is probably the worst of the bunch, and even that isn't terrible. Ultra's TMNT game stunk, but Konami brought the pain on the next however many games.
Also, when Aladdin along (and the previously mentioned Lion King which people liked more than you think), everyone loved that, too.
Of the games that we mentioned, the only License I enjoyed and played BECAUSE it was what it was were the Ninja Turtle games. I played Rescue Rangers, Duck Tales, etc. because they're great games. I barely watched those cartoons at all.
@Guillaume That's an interesting list. Let's address it:
1) Arkham Asylum and City, I already kind of did address it, but Rocksteady didn't really have an established name, so it was a sound decision for them. I see that situation as somewhat of a rare exception. Some people might say the same of StarBreeze, with Riddick and The Darkness, but eh...
2) Wolverine really is a great use of a license. A simple God of War clone elevated by the license. Raven IS (WAS?) owned by Activision, so there's some influence there, but, you know, it doesn't matter. Another exception. Raven actually has a pretty solid history of licensed games. I'm not sure it paid off for them, though. Didn't they get dissolved, or something? Rob also mentioned Ultimate Alliance, another descendent of a licensed Raven franchise.
3) Like I said, Griptonite Spider-Men are great. They have some other good licensed stuff, too. They're now making mobile games.
4) UD was okay (Prototype is better, even though no one acknowledges it), and I never cared too much for Hit & Run, to be honest. Probably the least offensive Simpsons game is the DS 2D platformer. To argue against myself, I just tried The Simpsons demo on XBLA. It's hard to go back home...
5) Haven't played Birdman. Wasn't as big of a fan of Brave & Bold.
You know, using a bit of perspective, there might be a roughly equivalent amount of good/bad licensed games now. But if anything was blinding me, it wasn't my love of the licenses, it's my love of childhood.
Really, we'd have to break it down, old-skool style. List warz. I do think the boilerplate 2D action games of yore were generally better than the generally shitty 3D games of today, though. But that might be just the different degrees of difficulty involved.
The point I was trying to make too without stating it was this though, look at your list of current licensed games... Superhero games. What about other licenses? It's frustrating that you have to be a super hero game to be given enough time and consideration to be good for the actual core gamer. Anything else is kinda slosh. No?
I'm not saying you should care, I'm saying blaming it on the developer not caring isn't fair, and you can't know that. I would say pretty much everyone involved with those games is trying to do a good job with the means they're given.
And I really, really think you're overrating games like Little Nemo and Chip and Dale. C&D in particular is fun co-op, but what game isn't?
What?? Yeah, thats why I was saying.. "Licensed games used to be better (except for LJN bombs)." Why would you disagree with that? Licensed games stink now, which is what I said 100% of the time. Now, what are you talking about?
@Anand I liked the King Kong game a lot actually. Well, not the Kong parts. The others though. It was basically a survival action game. Kind of like a (not as good but still good) brother to Resident Evil 4. Not many games like that.