All posts by thedpadbulls

Nitpicking: 30% of the Enemies in The Last of Us are Spiderman

I’ve taken with issue with parts of developer Naughty Dog’s gameplay for quite awhile now.  Throughout the three games in the Uncharted series, I’ve felt annoyed by what I perceived as disingenuous stealth gameplay.  Not so much in the first game, Drake’s Fortune, because that particular game had more straight shootouts, but throughout Uncharted 2 and 3, enemy encounters were set up as enemy patrolled areas to progress through by either stealth or force.  Most encounters started with the enemy unaware, leaving you the “opportunity” to stick with chokeholds and stealth kills to make getting through an area easier.  The word “opportunity” is in quotes because my whole problem is that so many enemy encounters throughout the games are presented to encourage you to start with stealth, but are made functionally impossible to finish in stealth.

A good example of this is outside the Himalayan temple area in Uncharted 2, just after you’ve escaped the wreck of the convoy with Elena.  You infiltrate the area by the gate where the trucks are parked from the cliffside, getting a prompt to pull the first guy off the cliff to his doom in a stealth kill.  This first bit outside the gate can be done with stealth (there’s only 5 or 6 total enemies).  The next part in the first building just in the gate can be finished by stealth with a lot of effort and very careful use of the crossbow.  But no matter what you do, once you try to go to the next section, you’ll be “spotted” and the stealth will be over.  From a cinematic perspective, it’s necessary because the bridge defense section that follows requires that you are no longer in stealth.  A similar problem occurs in the boat graveyard section of Uncharted 3, but it is still incredibly frustrating to put a lot of effort into keeping a low profile and to be given up by a game scenario.

The thing is, the Uncharted games use the Call of Duty gradual health recovery system and frequent checkpoints, so at least it mess up any more than one section.  However, I took a bit of a greater issue with the situation just after you come out of the hotel with the Hunters in The Last of Us.  Ellie takes the rifle in the scaffolding to cover you and Joel drops down to clear out the street of enemies so you can progress.  Playing on Survivor or Grounded difficulty, every hit to your health is important as there is very little in the way of health pickups and you don’t want to get painted into a corner with a difficult combat section and no health.  Because of this, when I got to this section, I figured I would do a stealth run to save my health and ammo.  I carefully and slowly worked my way up the right side of the street, taking out enemies both in the shops on the ground and the snipers upstairs.  Then I came back around to the starting point and did the left side of the street.  Finally, with only the one enemy in the back corner left, I did a full sweep of every corner of the map for supplies and enemies and made sure I hadn’t missed anything before finally moving in on that last guy and doing a stealth kill.  Except instead of doing the usual choke out animation, Joel inexplicably pistol whips the guy, which is an alternate grab animation that is used in combat and suddenly 6 enemies come running out of the buildings across and behind me as though they somehow heard me.  The problem is that I know those buildings were empty a minute before when I searched them.  So I can’t do anything accept throw up my hand and yell “bullshit” as I’m surrounded.  Now, being a competent player, I got out okay, but I took a good health hit because the game broke stealth on me.  The funny thing is that I actually know where those guys came from because on a previous play-through a glitch caused by the timing with which I got killed experimented caused this second wave of enemies to spawn without breaking my stealth.  So I found them in various corners of the map, behind a car, in the freezer in the coffee shop and killed them where they stood.

Now in these games, its never made sense how being seen by one enemy right before you kill him causes every enemy on the map, even when they’re nowhere near you, to come running.  Do all the bad guys have telepathy?  But at least I feel like I made the mistake of being seen by the one guy.  Even if it isn’t logical, at least I’m being punished for a mistake I made.  However, when I clear a map, including the corners where the second wave spawns and kill the last person, the fact that more enemies spontaneously appear because they magically sense me killing the last bad guy actually on the map feels like I’m being punished for not playing the section of the game exactly how the developers wanted me too.  Except its a stealth game, so what did they expect me to do?

Unfortunately, magical enemy knowledge of my location is something that happens all the time in The Last of Us.  The reason I titled this article the way I did is specifically because of how I felt about the AI that controls the Clickers.  These are infected humans whose faces have been overgrown by the fungal infection, rendering them blind.  They navigate only by sound, so if you move very slowly past them, they won’t even know you’re there.  Except sometimes they do.  During first section of game with multiple clickers, in the subway adjust area, I would hold perfectly still while a clicker made its rounds.  I was literally not touching any buttons on the controller, but every third of fourth time, the clicker walking past would suddenly freak out and sprint at me and kill me.  The rest of the time, despite me doing the exact same thing, it would walk right past.  I would love to know what in the coding caused this.

Then there’s the generator under the hotel.  The second I saw that thing, I knew that starting it would cause infected to hear it and come running to kill me.  So first I swept the area.  It was empty.  So I went to scavenge supplies.  When I picked up the key card in the closet, two runners sprinted at me.  I was standing still, making no noise, but they knew where I was.  So I swept the area again.  There is only one door into the place and it can’t be opened without the power on.  So I’m safe, right.  So I go start the generator and immediately 4 stalkers and a bloater (various types of infected enemies) come running in to kill me.  Once again (because this is not my first play-through), I’ve taken the precaution of moving away from the generator right away and making no noise.  The stalkers run down to the generator to investigate the noise, then immediately run back up the ramp, turn two corners and find me hiding in a closet as though I had a homing beacon attached to me.  I was smart enough to plan for the scenario and the game has straight-up punished me for it.  Thanks so much, Naughty Dog game designers.

This is a post about difficulty in games.  Specifically, I’ve realized that when I want to really evaluate the mechanics of a game, the best way to do it is to see how it holds up on the hardest difficulty.  Playing The Last of Us on its hardest difficulty while pursuing the platinum trophy caused the game to some cracks.  Its always strange to me because there are some games, like the remake of 007: Goldeneye for Wii that get better and better when you dig into them (I fully recommend the time trial and Classic difficulty modes in that game.  It encourages abuse of AI and enemy spawns in extremely clever ways, actually embracing the limits of scripted AI design to make the game more fun) while others show the limits of their scalability, the worst offender of which is probably Call of Duty (playing those campaigns on Veteran difficulty is just straight up not fun.  When any stray bullet can kill you in a game all about over the top criss-crossing bullet hell, you will die a lot, no matter how good you are, and no matter if it isn’t your fault).  It would just be nice if a developer as dedicated to putting realistic polish on a game as Naughty Dog would find a way to organize their AI and gameplay scenarios so that the play doesn’t feel punished for using their head and playing smart.


Have feedback?  Leave a comment or e-mail us a  And check out The Daily D Pad on Youtube.  Thanks for reading!



Rant: Why Do Games Now Require Us to Turn Off Our Games?

Round 1: I’m not talking about when Wii Sports would adorably suggest you take a break after 15 minutes.  I’m talking about the bizarre and somewhat upsetting trend of games not all being in the game anymore.  For example, EA Origin is an outside online service that you use on the computer to redeem various rewards and buy additional content for EA games.  Uplay is a similar online service provided by Ubisoft.  These programs work across all of their respective publisher’s games, so I can play Child of Light to earn Uplay points, then The Crew, then Assassin’s Creed to keep earning Uplay points, then redeem these on Uplay for certain bonuses like character skins, color schemes, etc.  In addition, you can see some basic stats for your game.  For example, it shows me that I have killed approximately 6,000 people in Assassin’s Creed: Unity (holy crap!)

What I don’t understand about it is that all of these functions could have been in the game rather than on some website and they would both be easier to use and not exclude everyone who does’t feel like setting up another username and password for some umpteenth online login.  With the kinds of rewards Uplay gives (Ooh, my character can wear a Blue and Orange shirt!), it seems like a lot of hoops to make people jump through, and I can’t quite figure out why Ubisoft wants us to.  Okay, so they gain our e-mail address.  I opted out of get any promotional e-mails, so unless they’re selling it off, they won’t gain anything by having it.  Through my game access, I used the service once to get the above-mentioned shirt, but aside from a brief poke around the site as research for this blog post, I don’t anticipate every using the service again.  Now if, I played a lot of Ubisoft games, they might occasionally get me to use the game access for a reward, but as far as getting me to spend enough time inn the site to sell me a game or service, they haven’t got anything to entice me.  And it such an annoyance to leave the game to go look at it, I loose a little respect for the company every time they make me.

Round 2: In addition to Uplay, Assassin’s Creed has a “Companion App.”  No this is not an application that lets you find companions for the evening.  It is a simple puzzle and resource management game for tablets and smartphones.  The first treasure chest you encounter in Assassin’s Creed: Unity proclaims that it can only be opened through the use of this App.  These blue “Nomad” chests are essentially telling you to stop playing every time you come across one in the game.  Why?  Plus, as an added annoyance, it is impossible to get 100% completion of AC: Unity without the use of this App because some of the Relic collectibles that count toward that percentage can only be unlocked through its use.  Bummer for me and anyone else without a smartphone.  Thanks for penalizing us, Ubisoft.

Round 3: Here’s where we get to be confused by Destiny.  The majority of the world’s fiction and backstory in destiny is in text document.  This is okay.  I loved collection lore and data book entries in Metroid: Prime.  In Destiny, these entries on on cards.  Okay.  These cards are not in the game, but can only be viewed online on developer Bungie’s website.  WHY?!  What is the purpose of this.  What do you gain from making us jump through hoops, Bungie?

Conclusion: Maybe it’s not perfectly clear to me how, but there is clearly some marketing or digital rights advantage to making everyone who buys your game set up online access for your website.  The problem is that so far, whatever benefit it brings to the Publishers and Developers of the game, it comes at the expense of gamer’s goodwill.  The only out of game thing that I opted into on purpose was Club Nintendo, where you filled out actual marketing surveys when you registered your game online.  The difference was that Club Nintendo actually gave you a reason to do it by mailing you cool PHYSICAL rewards of your choosing (I have a Majora’s Mask 2-disc soundtrack and a 3DS carrying case to show for it) or free classic games for download.  Not just letting you have the color red in Assassin’s Creed.  They actually made it worth your time and at least you knew what you were doing.  With Uplay, I just feel like I’m being tricked somehow.  So naturally, Club Nintendo is now being discontinued.  BULLSH*T!!


So… I kind of whet off this week.  But, whether you agree or disagree, give us a comment or e-mail at and check out Daily D Pad on Youtube.  Thanks for reading!

On If Collectibles Are Any Fun

There’s a fine line in games between collectibles being fun and collectibles being a chore.  I’ve been brooding on this a bit recently as I’ve been playing Assassin’s Creed: Unity, a game (like its previous AC entries) with more collectibles than you can shake a stick at.  Between the regular chests, locked chests, Initiate chests, Nomad chests, and cockades, there are almost 400 boxes and doodads to look for in the world.  Actually, I shouldn’t say “look.”  While some do require a little sleuthing, 90% or so are posted on your map and are just a matter of running to the icon and grabbing the item.  The world is big enough that you’ll spend a lot of time just running to get chests.  Like I said, some do require a little work, mostly if the chest is in a big building and you have to figure out which window to climb into, but most are pretty straightforward and when your running from  chest to chest on a seemingly never ending collect-a-thon, the whole task starts to seem a little bit more like a chore than a fun game.  This is a problem.  So what makes a collectible okay and what makes them drive us crazy?

An example of a collectible I don’t mind is the three star coins in each level of recent Mario Games.  These are well hidden, but there’s a certain logic to them that makes sussing out their locations feel like a battle of wits between the player and developers.  Noticing a small indent and finding a secret path and a star coin makes you feel like a genius.  Trying to figure out how the developers are tricking you is fun and when you get all of the star-coins in a world, you unlock a bonus level, a nice tangible reward.  There’s also the nice fact that Nintendo usually balances the difficulty well.  Some searches will have you scratching your noggin, but when you figure it out, you’ll wonder how you didn’t see it coming.  Plus, with the use of collectibles in 2D games, there’s only so much real estate to explore if you’re stumped and just start checking every possible surface. Which brings me to the first of the problems with collectibles.

One of the things that annoys me most with collectibles is when they’re impossible.  For example if you found every collectible treasure in the Uncharted trilogy on your own… you’re straight up lying because that is impossible.  The treasures were tiny dots in huge levels, and they could be almost anywhere.  Sure, some of them are pretty doable.  Go down a less traveled path in the climbing sections and there was a good chance you might find one.  But then they would put a tiny glimmer on the tip of a statue near the roof of a monument in a massive cavern that you have to shoot (and mind you, no in game instruction ever mentions that shooting glimmers is a thing that you should be looking to do).  When you shoot the glimmer it falls to the ground and you can collect it as a treasure.  Given the scale of the game’s environments and the difficulty of noticing on of these glimmers in the games’ lighting, it could take hundreds to thousands of hours of painstakingly combing the environments to find every treasure on your own.  Instead, people do what I did and they use the crowdsourcing resource of the internet so they can get the platinum trophy without losing their mind.  Another game that did something like this was Star Fox: Assault.  There were five S-Flags hidden in each level.  Not only could they be anywhere, but about half of them were INVISIBLE!  You had to shoot them to make them appear.  There were several huge environments in that game and I suspect if some Guide-writing service like Prima Games hadn’t collaborated with the developers (and then had readers put the info on the internet), people would still be looking for those flags; and that game came out in 2005!

Then, of course, there’s the less offensive but still not particularly enjoyable sin that Assassin’s Creed commits of simply having too many collectibles that don’t get you much for the effort (some pocket change level money and a couple color schemes for your clothes), and all without the collecting itself involving any gameplay mechanics.  Part of the reason the Mario Star-coins are satisfying to get is that when one is placed tantalizing out of your reach and you execute a perfect triple jump, wall jump, or sequence of enemy stomps in order to get yourself to it, the game is making you earn it through gameplay.  Most of the chests in AC require the same set of “gameplay” skills that are required to use a GPS to drive to your friends house.  But at least you can do it without help from the internet if you want to.


Comment or e-mail us at if you have any thoughts on collectibles or anything else. Plus be sure to check out Daily D Pad on Youtube.  Till next time!

Indies Vs. AAA for Game of the Year

With the proximity to the Golden Globe awards recently, I saw a discussion about the award ability of long-form TV shows versus short-form TV shows (don’t worry; this will wrap back to games in a bit).  The argument that was made was that the quality of mini-series and those TV shows branded as “event series;” i.e. shows with 6-13 episode seasons rather that the full 22 episode seasons of regular network programs, is almost always superior.  Short season shows move quicker, have denser plots, and often their scripts have had more time to be polished.  Even the best full 22 episode shows are going to have some “filler” episodes in which little of long term importance happens.  Hence, from a critical perspective, short form shows have a higher average quality and are more awardable.

The reason that this discussion reflects on video games is that I have felt for several years that there should be separate Game of the Year categories for AAA games and so-called “indie” games, by which I mean more the genre of short form digital games than technically “independent” games from a publishing perspective.  After all, titles like Resogun and Child of Light are published by Sony and Ubisoft respectively, but are small games developed by small teams.  But I digress.  I think there is a fundamental difference in challenge between developing a AAA game like Call of Duty or Assassin’s Creed or Final Fantasy, and a small scale game like Child of Light or Resogun or Journey.

Large-scale game development has a certain responsibility to deliver  a certain value.  When a game costs $60 at retail, the consumer expects a certain level of content and polish.  As such most AAA games a certain length, a variety of unique game mechanics and a need to hit a broad enough audience to make their money back.  A smaller game can work on a single excellent game mechanic and simply stop when that mechanic is exhausted, even if its only a few hours of gameplay.  There’s nothing wrong with this, but it’s a very different way of building something from what a large game must do.  When it’s strings hook is worn out, a AAA developer must come up with another to continue the adventure.  There is a reason why the Academy Awards have separate Oscars for Film and Short Film.  The type of experience and story for each is unique and what works for one does not necessarily work for the other.  A game like Journey works on a simple strait forward premise that is short enough to make a distinct impression and then exit before it wears out its welcome.  If Journey were a 30-hour, our even 10-hour game, I don’t think it would work as well.

In a way it may seem I am simply making excuses for AAA developers.  To some extent this is true.  A big game almost always has some part of it that doesn’t work as well and drags things down.  It’s simply harder to maintain quality over a longer stretch of time.  Of course, indie developers have their own sets of difficulties, usually in budget and man-power intensive areas such as graphics and scale.  And of course, games don’t fit as neatly into categories as, say, short films, which for the purpose of the Oscars are defined as film of less than 40 minutes.  Depending on the player, a game may take a range of time to complete.  As such, it would make more sense for the game creators to categorize the game themselves, much how Emmy and Golden Globe submitted TV shows decide whether to run a Drama or Comedy.  With the increasing dichotomy of the game space split between small independent creators and huge, AAA game productions, I think it would benefit both parties to be judged only on their own merits rather than try to compare the scale and detail or AC: Unity’s Paris to something small but beautifully artistic like Child of Light or Transistor.  No matter what though,  with the variety of good games, it’s a good time to be a gamer!


It may have been a long winter break, with my life being a bit busy, but the dailydpad is back and the weekly posts are too.  As always, please follow us and send us feedback at and check out Daily D Pad on youtube.  See you next week!


Is Bayonetta 2 (or video games in general) Sexist?

Admittedly, this is a topic that one could write a thesis paper on (and this has probably been done), but I wanted to look at one particular fact of the argument today, coming off of a conversation I had with this this site’s video host, Tomarris.  With the recent release of Bayonetta 2 on Wii U, a game series well known for the over-sexualization of its titular character, I had mentioned that it was a shame a game getting such good reviews for its gameplay had to drag itself down with such juvenile humor and sexism.  This led to a discussion of whether video games in general are sexist, to which Tomarris made the argument that while they certainly make unrealistic representations of people, they do so equally with men and women and are therefore not sexist.  I wasn’t sure if this was true, but it was a compelling point and it made me decide to dig into the concept of sexism a little bit, both with regards to Bayonetta and with video games in general.

Bayonetta, as a character and as a game, provides an interesting challenge as part of the sexism debate.  The video game itself may contain plenty of pervy camera angles, but the character itself would seem to be the exact model of feminist empowerment.  This may in fact be a product of how the game was constructed.  It is, by virtue of being an over-the-top action game, empowering to the player and therefore the character of Bayonetta.  In the game, she kicks ass and takes names, owns her sexuality, but does not function as an object to any in-game character.  One of the games producers at Platinum Games, Akiko Kuroda was quoted in one of the promotional videos saying, “So being a female myself, I think it’s really awesome to see a strong female lead, and it’s something I can relate to, I’d really like to see her continue to play a big role.”  On the other hand, the director of Bayonetta 2, Yusuke Hashimoto, and the chief animator, Takaaki Yamaguchi, are both men, which may explain why the game has so many crotch shots and why the walking animation has such exaggerated hip-swinging to it.  It reminded me of the PC mod a few years ago for Dragon Age, where the modders put the female animation onto the male character model to show how ridiculous it looked to have the female “seductive running” being done by a guy.

Something worth noting is that both the first and second Bayonetta games actually pass the Bechdel Test with flying colors.  For those of you who don’t know, the Bechdel Test is a minimum bar popularized by a feminist comic strip that is often used now to judge the portrayal of women in film and TV.  To pass the Bechdel Test, the product must contain: a) at least two named female characters who b) talk to each other about c) something other than a man.  It’s not deeply scientific, but does say something about the depth of female characters in any given fiction.  To give you an idea, only about half of the movies in 2013 passed the test with failures by the vast majority of big blockbuster and action movies. So in that sense, the fact that the Bayonetta universe is populated with many female characters who talk to each other almost exclusively about things other than men would seem to combine with the empowering gameplay to make Bayonetta clearly avoid sexism and in fact serve to empower women.  Still, there is a rebuttal to this argument that we cannot ignore.  That is, video games are a very different medium than film and TV and as such the Bechdel Test may be partially invalidated by some other aspects of the game.  It has been argued before that the relationship that should be tested in the video game environment should not primarily be the one between the characters, but between the character and the player.  Does the game assume and/or cater to the assumption of a heterosexual male holding the controller?  Despite the intentional campiness of Bayonetta’s scripting, this is a test the game demonstratively fails.  This game, as well as many others, know that the male eye is, for better or worse, drawn to certain alluring representations, and has shown little qualms about catering and counting on that guilty pleasure in their audience, despite the long held understanding that overindulging in this is seen as objectifying to women.  So in the case of Bayonetta, it seems that the character is feminist, but the perspective is objectifying.  But does this mean the game is sexist?

To settle this question, we need to look at a broader topic.  By definition, “sexism” as a term refers to unequal treatment of men and women in some way.  Such a definition requires scope by its very nature.  If that scope is limited to Bayonetta, it would seem that it’s male characters are not objectified to the same extent, though one does get a crotch close up as he is almost run over by a motorcycle. On the other hand, the few male characters that there are in the game come off as bumbling, slightly stupid, and fairly useless.  So as far as equality goes, they don’t seem to be faring much better than the women.  It’s an interesting perspective.  If we look at Grand Theft Auto, a series that is routinely criticized for negative portrayals of women, it is also true that its portrayals of men are also overwhelmingly negative.  So is there really an imbalance that would allow us to use the definition of the term “sexism?”  The argument is certainly not as clear cut as it has been portrayed.  Bayonetta, as we’ve discussed, has strong positive and negative aspects to it.  Which of these is stronger is open to as much debate as one wishes, but my instinct is that in the war between empowerment and objectivism, it breaks even or possible empowerment wins by a slight margin.  I would therefore say that Bayonetta is not a sexist property.  However, the video game industry as a whole, where there is an in-game achievement for looking up the main character’s skirt in Lollipop Chainsaw, may come up slightly on the other side.  I think its close though, especially in the face of Tomarris’s argument.  The male characters in video games are overwhelmingly rugged, handsome, muscly beacons of masculinity that may be attractive to a female player, but just make the rest of us feel inadequate.  On balance (perhaps just because men are more visually oriented, or just less mature) there are more pervy, “objectifying” instances of females than males in video games and that is certainly something video game designers should be aware of.  However, it seems like accusations of sexism in the industry as a whole are overblown in this light.  That said, the instances of unrealistically perfect characters who are funnier, better looking, and more confident than we are, continue to be as rampant as ever in video games as well as everywhere in media because the consumer (us) doesn’t want to read, watch, or play as uninteresting, average people.  So maybe we should work on that.


Another long one, but its a big topic.  Have some input on the subjects of sexism, video games, or anything really?  Let us know in the comments or e-mail us at  Also, check out videos on Youtube at Daily D Pad.

Is it Okay to Put DLC on the Main Menu?

The recent release of Destiny kicks off a busy Fall for exciting new releases.  Tons of triple-A games are coming out in the next few weeks and months.  But up till now, there hasn’t been that much to play on PS4 and Xbox One.  As a result, the game I’ve played most on these consoles recently is a small shooter for the PS4 called Resogun.  For those who don’t know, it plays like a simplified twin-stick shooter.  I say “simplified” because part of the premise is that you can only shoot horizontally, left or right, as you move your Galaga-like craft around the stage.  As an aside, the game is excellent though short, technically only having 5 levels.  Being excellent but short, the player might be expected to finish the game wanting more.  This brings me to my topic for today, which has to do with the placement of DLC in Resogun, an issue that started to peeve me with the release of Mario Kart 8, the recent racing game from Nintendo, but has now annoyed me enough to warrant a good venting.

The main menus of Resogun and Mario Kart 8 are actually very similar considering the disparity of genres.  Both contain the following options: Single Player, Local Multi-player, Online Multiplayer, Options, and Shop.  The Shop option takes the player to a place that lets the player purchase and download add-on content.  In the case of Resogun, it directs you to the Playstation Network Store, where you can buy the “Heroes” expansion for Resogun, containing two new modes and a bunch of unlockable trophies.  In Mario Kart 8, it takes you to the Nintendo e-Shop where you can buy 2 packs of additional characters to play as and two sets of Courses to race on.  This is fine with me.  While it is true that both the PS4 and Wii U have buttons on their controllers that let you instantly go to their respective online stores to purchase DLC add-ons without quitting the game, I can understand the desire to put a place in the game were players would see it and think to check the store.  Otherwise, I might not know there was any Resogun DLC at all unless I happened to check the store on my own just on a hunch.  Having a place for DLC seems reasonable.  But both games go a step further, which is where we get into the meat of today’s topic.

One menu deeper from the main menu in Resogun, there is a curious thing.  If I select “Single Player” from the main menu in the game, it gives me another menu with four options: Arcade Mode, Single Level, Survival, and Demolition Mode.  However, the latter two of these options are greyed out, so the player can only choose Arcade and Single Level.  At first, you might think the other two must be unlocked.  After all, the “Master” option on the difficulty select screen is greyed out in the exact same way.  But if you try to select Survival or Demolition Mode, the game give you the message that these modes are part of the “Heroes” DLC for Resogun, which can be purchased for $5.99 from the Playstation Store.  Mario Kart 8 does something very similar.  When go to the character select screen, the bottom row of characters has a colored band on them.  If you try to select any of those characters, the game will inform you that they are part of the upcoming DLC packs and asks if you want to pre-order the DLC for $11.99.  The same situation exists for the last two sets of courses on the Course select screen.

Downloadable Content is by definition an add-on to an existing game.  So, seeing these options, it would be fair to wonder how options exist in the menus for game modes, characters, ext. that didn’t exist when the original game was finished (I can’t confirm for Resogun, but Nintendo expressly stated that they did not begin work on the DLC characters and courses until after the original game had shipped).  Well the answer is that in both cases, mandatory software updates to both games added the menu items after their original release.  As you might be able to tell from my tone thus far, I have an objection to SONY and Nintendo automatically placing these menu item into the games of consumers who have not chosen to buy the content that these menu items are for.

Essentially, this tactic amounts to a dirty marketing strategy.  And in the end, it offends the same sense that many gamers today have when they hear, for example, about Activision developing the DLC content for Call of Duty concurrently with the regular game, but choosing to hold those muti-player maps and bonus items back to be sold piecemeal to the consumer at a premium after we have already purchased the main game.  Gamers feel, perhaps rightfully so (though that is an argument for another day) that they are being tricked into buying an incomplete product and resent paying more to experience everything a game has to offer.  This is a feeling that SONY and Nintendo are using in reverse to drive sales and advertise their DLC in Resogun and Mario Kart 8.  Even though they didn’t actually hold back content, by putting the DLC menus in front of gamers that have’t purchased DLC in this way, they are making us feel that our games are incomplete and temping us to pay to complete them.  Whether that is fair from a logical supply/demand ethics standpoint is debatable, but I can testify that when I select “Single Player” in Resogun and fully half of the Modes that are displayed are inaccessible, I certainly feel like my game is missing something, and I fully feel myself being manipulated by SONY.

SONY and Nintendo are essentially going the extra step to dangle a product in front of you and deny you access unless you pay.  This is the equivalent of the grocery store finding a way to make it so that you don’t need to choose to shop for food to see their products, but instead they come uninvited into your home and put a bunch of delicious looking food on your shelves that you can’t touch unless you pay a premium.  It seems ridiculous, doesn’t it? It’s actually just like the mini-bars in Hotels.  And we all know how reasonably priced those items are, right?  $5.00 seems reasonable for a bottle of water (sarcasm)!  Temptation is powerful, which also raises an ethical question for children, especially considering that both company’s digital stores allow you to store credit card information and then are dangling products in front of children that are just a few clicks from purchase.  Just last year, Consumer rights groups in the European Union got a new set of laws passed restricting just this sort of tactic in downloadable games for phones because too many children were being tricked into spending large sums of money on micro-transactions in games while playing on their (or their parent’s) phones.  Maybe we are not yet at the point of legislation with home consoles, but we seem to be heading in that direction.  I for one have concluded that I would prefer all parts of a product, including its menus, to stay in the store until I choose to go to the store myself purchase it.


Sorry for such a lengthy article this week, but this one really got my goat (so to speak).  What do you think about DLC and micro-transactions being forced in front of consumers?  Let us know at or by leaving a comment.  Also, check out Daily D Pad on YouTube!


Role Playing Games are Better When They’re Friendly

Last week, an ESRB leak revealed that Final Fantasy IV was being ported to mobile and computer platforms.  By coincidence, I happened to be playing Final Fantasy IV right now, specifically the Nintendo DS remake.  Why was I playing a game that is almost 10 years old (more if you mean the NES original version, but anyway…)?  Well, it’s a symptom of a problem I often have where I get excited for a game and start playing it when I first get it, but then something comes up, I don’t have time to finish it and I never get back to it.  I a similar problem I’ve had with some books.  Books, like video games, are lengthy experiences and when some time has passed and the plot isn’t fresh anymore, I can’t bring myself to just finish the thing without a refresher, so I always start from the beginning.  When I’ve already failed to finish once before, this means I tend to wait until I know that I’m going to have the time to finish.  In the case of an RPG, that can take awhile.

Anyway, this has all been a lengthy way of getting around to my wondering why some games seem easier to get back to than others.  I realized that it comes down to intimidation factor.  I played an obscene amount of Pokemon earlier this year and I realize that Pokemon is so easy to go back to because it’s super friendly.  The whole thing is framed a fun adventure, there’s lots of people to help you, and the worst that happens is you lose a match and “white out” which is a weird form of denial about losing that is part of the greater brand of weird that exists in Pokemon.  But I digress.  Far from being friendly, FF IV is filled with hostile environments and situations that make it clear that it is you, the player, versus the game in a battle of attrition.  For example in the desert after meeting Rydia early on, if you grind for experience points in the desert before  going into the next dungeon, you occasionally and randomly come across an overpowered sand-worm that slaughters you in two hits even though all the other enemies in the area are weak.  This kind of thing happens all the time in the game.  You can die at any time and God help you if you don’t save after every little bit of progress.  This is a game where the first of the four elemental Bosses “dies” than after you cross the bridge to get your reward, attack you from behind so all your weak support characters are in the front line and can get mowed down.  The game constantly tries to trick you and every time you make it to a town, there is a palpable sense of relief.

Of course (and this is something I’ve mentioned before on this blog), with greater adversity comes a greater sense of achievement.  I’m about halfway through my current play through, but when I finish I know I’ll remember for a long time my experience with FF IV and the satisfaction that came with overcoming it.  With Pokemon, the long term challenge comes from the after-game content and the player vs. player modes.  The single player story has always been a bit of a pushover.  Still, I feel like many more people have finished a Pokemon game than have finished a Final Fantasy game.


Send your thoughts to and take a look at the videos on the Daily D Pad YouTube channel.  This muddled post hopefully served some food for thought, but we’ll be back with another video game argument section in the next couple days.  Stay tuned!


The Stupid Things We Do for %100 Completion

It seems like this problem might be a growing one with the popularity of Achievements on Xbox and Trophy Hunting on Playstation, but even when it comes to in-game rewards in older games, we sometimes do some ridiculous stuff to “finish” a game.
Perhaps it is presumptuous of me to use a royal “we,” as I certainly don’t know how your OCD, dear reader, stacks up against mine, but I do at least know that I’m not alone in the world of crazy %100ers. But let me give you an example of my own neurosis. This past week, in anticipation of the upcoming release of Super Smash Bros 4 (the 3DS version comes out in less than a month!), I went back to polish off and put away my copy of Super Smash Bros. Brawl.

For those who don’t know, there are 544 trophies and 700 individual stickers to collect in   my favorite Wii fighting game.  So doing everything means investing some time.  Most of the trophies require the completion of specific objectives.  I had finished most of these years ago when the game first came out, but I still had to collect a bunch of the single player trophies that require hitting enemies with a specific trophy stand item to unlock and two requirement based ones: defeat the boss battles arcade mode on the hardest difficulty, and collect %100 of the stickers.  Through more hours of effort than I will admit to here, I finished getting all the trophies save the Stickers trophy; and this is where its gets silly.

If you do a YouTube search for “Brawl Sticker Factory,” you’ll get a pretty good idea of what I found myself involved in.  Stickers appear randomly during regular matches in Super Smash Bros Brawl as well as when you defeat enemies in the single player.  But when you’re short a few (I need 24 more when I started), the easiest way to ensure you get the sticker you need is to collect a huge number.  After all, there is only a 1 in 700 chance of getting that last sticker (actually less because of pre-set rarity levels, but whatever).  So I created a custom stage with conveyor belts, played with custom rules with only sandbags as items (when all the other items are off, the sandbags real ease stickers when hit), parked my character in a corner and tapped the “A” button nonstop for 10 minutes while the conveyor belts funneled the sandbags to me.  In a 10 minute match, I collected about 150 stickers.  Then repeat.  It took me about 5 hours of this, usually done while listening to a podcast or watching Sunday Night Football to get every last sticker.  If that doesn’t sound fun, its because it isn’t, though it is probably a good way to get carpel tunnel syndrome.

By hour five, I certainly thought “what the Hell am I doing?”  But of course, I kept going until I got them all.  Now, I know I’m probably a little sick in the head, but I’m not the only one.  I recently saw the number of hours it takes to get the Platinum trophy in Killzone: Shadow Fall, and let me tell you that’s one I won’t be doing.  Let me just say this to video game designers out there: please make collecting stuff in your games fun, because I can’t help myself.  Oh, well.


What have you done to get %100 completion in a video game?  Let us know by commenting or e-mailing us at!  And be sure to check us out on YouTube at Daily D Pad.  Thanks for reading!


Online Multiplayer takes investment.

Here’s the thing.  I’m an online multiplayer dabbler.  I like to mess around with it some, but I’ve never gone full in on a game.  Unfortunately, it seems like the current online space requires more and more in the way of serious dedication to have a good time online.

There was a time when almost all multiplay was local.  When I was in middle school and high school, I would have friends over and we would play Super Smash Bros, FIFA, and Need for Speed long into the night.  Some of my fondest memories are of playing double elimination tournaments in Need for Speed: Underground 2.  We’d spend hours taking turns customizing our cars for the big showdown and organize our own brackets since only two people could race at once.  Or we’d take turns wrecking havoc in GTA: San Andreas.  And of course there was always the one kid who wouldn’t do anything dangerous so that his turn would go forever.  We hated that kid.  Anyway, I digress.  My issue is that people don’t seem to play video games in the same room with each other anymore.  And I have a specific problem with the new brand.

At the end of the day, my issue is this: online game are like sports.  Now I love sports, but sports require practice, teamwork, and they aren’t any fun if you always lose.  When I finish the single player in a Call of Duty game, or Uncharted, or even Mario Kart, I think, “won’t it be fun to take my skills and mess around in multiplayer for a bit.”  I always somehow think that it will be a fun little epilogue.  The problem is that it’s a completely different game.  People are obviously a lot smarter than AI opponents but the real problem is that when I hop in, say, a Call of Duty match just to have some fun, everyone else there has played the map 150 times, knows what to do, where to be, and possibly has a bunch of friends on their team with headsets to better coordinate my death.  So what ends up happening is that I run around a corner and get blasted in the face before I can react because they know that that’s a choke-point.  Or I stop moving for one second and get shot in the back.  At the end of the match, I have 15 death and 2 kills and the whole thing just seems stupid.

Now I want to be clear, I’m not condemning online multiplayer here.  What I’m saying is that in my desire for variety in the games I play (and indeed that I also watch some TV, play some sports, etc.) means that I’ve never had one game that I’ve committed enough multiplayer time to to be good enough for me to enjoy myself.  There’s a whole set of people who learned Call of Duty, and with the flurry of similar-feeling multiplay shooters out there, have staked hills that I don’t have the patience to climb.  In the end, it seems to me that the sport of online gaming is something that you do right or you don’t do at all.  What’s it they say, the mark of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results?

Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to go try a little Last of Us factions mode…


Do you enjoy online multiplayer?  To tell me what I’m doing wrong, comment or send an e-mail to  Check back here every week for more gaming commentary and take a look at Daily D-Pad on Youtube for some cool videos!


Nintendo is doing Mario Kart 8 DLC Right

With the budget of AAA games today, companies are looking to bolster the bottom line more and more with DownLoadable Content that releases after the original game releases.  These add-ons vary from Maps for multiplayer, to addition story driven sequences, to simple tweaks, like character skins and new difficulty levels.  This content has a big profit margin for publishers and developers because the start-up cost is so low.  The programmers already did all the R&D, the engine is built, most of the art assets are already done, all it takes is a little bit of creativity to rearrange what has already been built in a new way and ask $15 for the optional add-on.

The problem is that over time it seems like DLC has become less about us buying some cool Bonus stuff after-the-fact and more about paying again for things that should have already been in the game.  Part of this feeling comes from companies like Activision building the DLC for Call of Duty before the game even releases, but then holding back the already built content to release to consumer piecemeal for a premium price.  Nowadays, if you want to experience everything in a game, expect to pay $120, not $60 over the life of the product.

Then there is Nintendo.  We got our first taste of how the Big N does DLC when they released New Super Luigi U as an add-on for New Super Mario Bros U, the 2D platforming launch game for Wii U.  For those $15 dollars, you got 80 levels!  Nintendo remixed almost every level in the original game to be completed the Luigi, who handled completely differently and was required to finish every level in less than 100 seconds, effectively making the whole DLC a giant speed run.  Between the amount of content and new way to play, it was pretty hard to get mad at that.  Plus Nintendo didn’t work on it until the original game had already come out.

And now we have the announcement of the DLC packs coming to Mario Kart 8.  Nintendo has already released three new Cars and a new set of tires for the racing game for FREE (though Mercedes paid something: for more on that see the article below), but for the next two pieces, the total cost is only $12 for 16 new courses, 6 new characters and 8 new Vehicles.  Sure, the programming overhead is done and some assets might be reusable, but this DLC is half as big as the entire original game!  And once again, Nintendo didn’t start until the original game was done (and didn’t make the original game any smaller to compensate).  By offering fantastic value, proper fan service, and doing one thing at a time, Nintendo is showing everyone else how to do DLC right.  Now if only they would release some proper old-school Battle areas…

-The DPad Bulls

Are you looking forward the Mario Kart 8 DLC?  Tell us your opinion in the comments or e-mail us at  Check back here every week for new articles and be sure to go to our Youtube Channel: Daily D Pad.  Thanks for reading.