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Posts tagged “Mark of the Ninja

Stealth Gaming

I may have mentioned in the past (repeatedly) that I have no intention of streaming myself playing games because I would be all kinds of boring. I am patient, thorough, I double back, take very precaution, and repeat myself over and over until I feel like I’ve done something right. It makes the collection of RPGs I play considerably slower paced, strategy games tend to be drawn out advances and heavily fortified positions, and for stealth games it makes me… well, equally dull to watch, but it also means I do fairly well.

Before discussing stealth games, first take a look at this Extra Credits video that delves into what makes Mark of the Ninja delivers stealth mechanics that make for an engaging game and what it is that makes stealth games engaging in themselves.

Also note the comment about living the fantasy of a badass ninja, I’ll be revisiting that point.

I have been playing a lot of Dishonored 2 lately, Bethesda’s Thief-like stealth game that perfectly captures the essence of the Thief games while weaving in spectral powers of a dark god. The forces that operate against you have challenges and means to counteract your incredible abilities, technology capable of killing you with a single arc of electricity, strolling automatons that cannot be so easily felled, and powers counter to your own. These make you less of an indomitable assassin, a knife in the dark, and make you a more fragile predator, meaning every confrontation risks death.

But the pleasure comes in the patience. The same excessive attention to detail trains you to enjoy sitting on a lamppost for half an hour watching the city guardsmen wandering to and from, lounging against walls and the attending civilians, memorising their movements, and preparing a plan to isolate and kill each and every one of them, so that you can walk free and uninterrupted. Or… whatever, I suppose you could just go around them and leave them alive, but why take the risk? Some of them have money, some of them can’t be avoided if you want a particular piece of equipment, might as well carve and slice your way around.

In many ways a stealth game has a lot more in common with a puzzle solver like Myst, being almost meditative in their demand for care, attention, a willingness to take multiple attempts at the same problem until that moment where you feel as though you have got it right. The key difference is that stealth has a varying scale of “right”.

“Could I have done that better?”

“I took damage, let me try that again.”

“Someone saw me, I don’t like that.”

Most, if not all games of the genre reinforce some of these thought processes by noting how often you’re noticed, your kill-count, how much of the potential loot you found, but there is so much that we self impose. We can always heal ourselves (at least most of the time) we can always recover resources, but I for one like to lose none of the above. Expended ammunition is a sword swing not taken, and perhaps the arrow was easier, but now it’s gone. Blood spilled is a misstep, or a hit you should never have taken.

The act of escaping discovery can be a giddy thrill if you can escape, but often the act of fleeing the scene of your crimes can lead you into a worse situation, so plotting your escape routes becomes part of the joy of the hunt, while you wait patiently for your pursuers to give up the chase and come to the conclusion that you’ve fled, so that you can resume the process.

I found myself recently playing Dishonored, and reliving the same moment repeatedly so that I could get it exactly right:

In behind the guard and kill him, put the maid to sleep, start stealing everything from the room- wait, is that machine dormant or will that switch on if I get too close… oh!

Ok, kill the guard and- dammit she’s seen me.

Ok, kill the guard, whoops, oh gods, now the machine’s awake…

From the bookshelf this time, the chandelier is doing nothing for me. Kill the guard, knock out the maid, start work on the machi- ahh dammit!

Ok, all done, break open the container to get what’s inside and… oh dammit, you people heard that?

This became a game of “ring the dinner bell”, the room I was in offered advantages and the potential to set traps, lie in wait, and be exactly where I needed to be at every available opportunity, so smashing open that cabinet became an invitation, goading people to join me. I must have occupied the same room for an hour, wholly unsatisfied until everything was in my pockets and everyone anywhere close was dead, unconscious or dismantled.

Considering your own thought processes while playing a game can help you to become a better writer and designer. Consider what motivates you to take certain actions. What outcome do you deem a failure? What kind of options do you want to open up to your players, and what are they likely to pursue? Does possession of an expendable item give you a desire to use the item or to save it for the proverbial “rainy day” that never comes? I’ve been considering ways and means to implement stealth as a central mechanism to my own games, how the games that I run use stealth, and what I can do to make the process as engaging and involved as Dishonored, Thief, Mark of the Ninja, or even the Batman-Arkham series.

Next time you play a game consider the thought processes, what’s a victory, what’s a failure, and how you measure your own success. I can’t stop thinking like this any more, and I refuse to be alone in my inability to play a game without considering design elements!

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Top 10 Stealth Games

GeekOut Top 10s

A genre for the patient, for those who delight in the predatory thrill of watching their victim from the shadows, braced and ready to strike them down when they are least aware. Stealth gamers are a weird bunch, mad people who turn off the lights when they walk into a room, weird habits in day to day life, but when sneaking up on their unsuspecting victims to pick their pocket, slit their throat, or a kancho.

Assassins, thieves, ninjas, and spies, those who stalk the darkness, all are gathered here in our Top 10 favourite Stealth Games.


Top 10

10) Styx

A novel character for the stealth genre, you play as Styx the Goblin!

A sequel to Of Orcs and Men, the goblin is infiltrating a huge facility filled with humans, in pursuit of relics and prized objects including the Heart of The Tree, a source of infinite power and effectively a stand-in for mana or magicka. He’s quick witted, sharp tongued and foul mouthed, a merciless killer with a bad memory.

I’ll admit I found the controls clunky, and at times the game was very visually “busy”, but levels were vast and intricate, with many approaches to the same goal, and a collection of mystical powers to help you along. Removing most of the RPG elements from the original but plunging you back into that world that saw humanity as the enemy, there is a sequel to Styx on its way and as yet, no sign of an RPG follow up.

9) Alpha Protocol

When I suggest a game that combines firearms, gadgets, martial arts and stealth*, you probably think of some crazy epic spy game. Well, that’s kind of what we got with Alpha Protocol, a title which promised so much, but yet sort of fell short of the hurdle. It didn’t matter though, the game picked up one hell of a following, even though a lot of people seemed to only like it retrospectively.

Through each mission, you have the option to go ham and just kill everything in sight, but you also are given the ability to play the game in the stealthiest way you can. After all, why should you waste all of your bullets on a thug, when you can wait, hide, sneak and kill the big bads before they know what’s hit them? Avoid cameras, thugs and being in the light – A great combination for an espionage RPG!

* This was a quote from Wikipedia. Go figure!

8) Aragami

Aragami takes the darkness out of stealth with bright, vivid colours and interesting lands, making you think twice about how you hide.

Here’s one we discovered in researching this list but neither Tim or I have ever played. It’s currently sitting quietly on my Steam Wishlist until payday because wow does it ever look pretty. An army of light has oppressed a people, and only a warrior born of shadow itself can take destroy them, but he must do so in a single night, as he will dissolve with the dawn.

Aragami uses the shadows to incredible effect, teleporting anywhere with a deep enough shadow, utilising weapons, ambush, and goddamn shadow dragons to take down his enemies to free the Shadow Empress and throw off the tyranny of light.

Not going to say too much more, I’m going to play this game and I don’t want to dig too deeply into the plot. Watch this space… closely.

7) Deus Ex

With a strong story, but with even strong side-missions, this game allows you to go ham, or to take a more tactical, stealthy route. The stealth is more satisfying than going mad in this game!

On a similar vein to our earlier entry, Alpha Protocol, Deus Ex was the first of its kind, arguably. You played as a special agent, Adam Jensen, or JC Denton if you go that far back and you have to deal with the conflict between normal humans and augs, the mechanically-augmented humans who are thought of to be nothing more than a nuisance to society. A bleak world, filled with gangs, guns, hacking and crafting!

We couldn’t really decide on a specific Deus Ex game, as we feel they are all excellent games. But hey, if you’re new to Deus Ex yourself, you really should check it out. Here, we wrote a review recently for Deus Ex: Mankind Divided, so go and check it out! You don’t really need to know the previous titles to get into a Deus Ex game!

6) Splinter Cell

Splinter Cell features interesting mechanics such as heat detection and night vision!

Tom Clancy is a bit of a genius when it comes to action/strategy and stealth, allowing you to play as a black-ops agent called Sam Fisher. With his training, Sam is incredibly gifted and able to infiltrate and destroy from within. Featuring lighting which makes a massive difference to whether or not you’re seen, Splinter Cell is one of those games that is written by a storyteller who is absorbed with his work.

The series as a whole has always been a good point for Ubisoft, which isn’t too big of a surprise, when you consider how many big titles Ubisoft really has these days. The series is proudly represented by the goggles that Sam Fisher wears, allowing him to see heat levels, gain night vision and see electrical levels. As an interesting aside, originally Tom Clancy didn’t expect to put the goggles into the game, thinking they couldn’t be made into a reality. A few years later, they were made for real. Go figure!

5) Dishonored

Dishonored is a game which allows you to truly play how you want to… And it’s so rewarding to be unseen!

Though it only makes the halfway point on our list this remains my favourite stealth game. Taking much of the format of Thief, plunging you into a similar Victoriana style world of intrigue and shadow, and mixing in the powers of a dark and mysterious god, The Outsider. In the streets of Dunwall the disgraced bodyguard and agent of the Empress, Corvo Attano carves his way to redemption.

The game and its sequel (haven’t played the latest yet) are superb, including illusion and reality bending powers with technologies in an intricately fashioned world at war with itself. The powers may step up the action pace, but patience is well rewarded, and I have spent many a contented hour sitting on a lamppost, watching, waiting for the ideal moment to strike!

4) Mark of the Ninja

With brutal cutscenes and swift execution, this game is visually stylish! Fit for a ninja!

One of the best iterations of the genre in 2D, the Unnamed Ninja is a master of shadows, distraction, and terror, not so great at catching bullets. Though he becomes vulnerable when surrounded or rumbled, when stalking from shadow to shadow he is lethal, lightly springing from cover to cover, ceilings, rooftops and lampposts.

A tale of revenge, madness, and tattoos, by accepting the mark your character has accepted his task until insanity consumes him, Spoilers not realising that it already has, and that his longtime companion has been a hallucination born of madness from the beginning End Spoilers although it’s a six year old game at this point so if you haven’t played already then get it on your to-do list.

3) Hitman

One of the most iconic assassins in video game history

Spawning one of video games most recognisable assassins, Agent 47, Hitman is a franchise that started on a pretty average foot. It wasn’t really considered great, but people liked it enough that when they announced a second game, gamers went to get it. With Hitman 2 released, the series got better and better, being up for nominations for game of the year awards. The gameplay is simplistic, yet allows you to do things your way, with stealth killing being a major part of the objective.

With a franchise that has been around for 18 years, you’d be forgiven for forgetting to put Hitman in this list. We felt it wasn’t only fitting to have the assassination game making the Top 10, but we felt it was a strong enough contender for our Top 3 spot. The game is incredibly stylish for what it is; a truly unique example of what the stealth game genre could be. It’s brutal, but it’s a franchise that improved significantly from its lowly beginnings.

2) Metal Gear Solid

Tapping on walls to draw out enemies? A trope was born!

Metal Gear Solid sees you playing as Solid Snake, as you attempt to find and destroy the fabled Metal Gear. You move your way around as Snake by trying to keep out of the sight of the guards, the cameras and sentries. What makes Metal Gear Solid stand out over a lot of other stealth games is instead of just hiding around the corner, you can jump into a cardboard box, which guards will be, a little skeptical about but hey, it’s just a box!

You can say a lot for the classic stealth game, but it even went into the effects of being uncovered if you smoke your cigarettes. Whilst this isn’t the best message to send to children, the game was rated as Mature by the ESRB, which for the PlayStation wasn’t a common sight. Nevertheless, Metal Gear Solid features so much stealth action, with lots of fun quirky humour, whilst delivering a brutally brilliant plot. This is one of the best and most important stealth games released, period.

I would argue this was the true king of stealth games, but actually it came out the same year as our number one spot…

1) Thief II: The Metal Age

It may look clunky now, but at the time this was revolutionary.

The indisputable king of the genre, and generally considered to be the greatest title in the series. It took the concepts as laid out by Thief and improved upon them, cleaning up awkward controls, deepening the atmosphere, and improving visuals which – in a game where vision is a critical component – made the stealth more immersive.

Thief was a masterpiece, that offered a wide range of approaches and solutions to the same task, and Garrett an incredible protagonist, brilliantly ambiguous, walking a moral tightrope: he’ll save the city, but he’ll leave a trail of bodies in his wake. Without loyalty to anyone but himself, anyone wanting him to do anything that his indomitable skills in subterfuge and larceny, must make him see how it can benefit himself.

Shame about the fourth game. It was ok I guess. Personally I liked Deadly Shadows the most, but I respect Metal Age far too much to argue its place at number 1.


Honourable Mentions

Here we shed some light on those who slipped our immediate notice, but we couldn’t let them slink by without drawing attention to them. Here for all to see, are our honourable mentions.

Batman: Arkham City

An underrated game for stealth, although it is fair to say the game doesn’t necessarily implement it to be a core part of the gameplay.

It’s a shame we can’t include this in the proper list, as the stealth elements of the Arkham games are brilliantly executed but woven in with a well balanced combination of puzzle solving and action adventure. As the League of Shadows finest drop-out, Batman is a master of silent movement, distraction, and ambush tactics, brutally taking down opponents before they have a chance to react.

Using the environment, and the Crusader’s range of expensive tech from his classic grapple, to powerful x-ray vision, he’s taken down heavily armed goons by the dozen, taken out Victor Zsasz without him even knowing he was in the building. All around a great game, but I particularly loved the stealth moments, enough to give them a nod here.

Monaco

 

 

Getting a bunch of criminals together to commit some stealthy heists, with stealth kills and getting around the lights, the cameras and trying to steal as much money as you can along the way. You can play solo, or co-op for up to four people, which is a really nice touch! The game wasn’t a massive success on the Xbox, but it received much greater success over on Steam. At £10.99, it’s not a bad price!

We couldn’t put Monaco into the main list for a few reasons. For one, neither of us had played it, but from what we have seen of it, we’re pretty aware of how it plays and there’s a great sense of pacing in the game. As well as this, the game is very vibrant, albeit perhaps a little bit too vibrant for me at times. I love colours in games, but this really is sensory overload. But that genuinely is part of the appeal.


Not a soul left alive, not a valuable left in place, even the ones that were nailed down, and not a trace of who was here before, looks like our list is over for another week. While we clean up and try to get to the bottom of this, we must plan ahead to ensure this never happens again. Maybe if we hire more guards, and tell them not to give up searching and never dismiss anything as “just the wind”, especially after they’ve just taken a crossbow bolt to the neck.

Cast your vote for next week’s Geeky Top 10!

Did your favourite give us the slip? Have we been overlooking something obvious? Did you find our list to be out of order? Put us right in the comments down below, and on our Facebook and Twitter pages. We’ll see you next week!

But you won’t see us, until it’s too late…


Video Game Review: Mark of the Ninja

The life of a ninja is one in the shadows; keep concealed and make sure you kill silently. Mark of the Ninja is a Stealth/Action game which features some genuinely stunningly stylistic artwork and animation. But does the game hold water when it comes to being a fun game where you go around as a ninja, or does the stealth mechanics detract from an otherwise fun action game? Join Timlah as we check out Klei Entertainment’s slash-y fun.

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Top 10 Sidekicks in Games

Sidekicks, the oft-forgotten but ultimately necessary addition to any great main character. Let’s face it, what is Batman without Robin? Sure, we all care about the main guy more, but let’s face the facts: The sidekick serves more purpose than just comedic effect, (although some seem tied into this role.) Some are actually intelligent, capable and sometimes are more rounded than the main characters themselves.

In honour of all of the best secondary characters out there, as voted by you, this week we’re dedicated to bringing you our Top 10 Sidekicks in Games.

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Top 10

10) CL4-TP – Borderlands 2

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Specifically Borderlands 2. Why? In the first in the series CL4-TP units were everywhere, each had their own variation on the basic personality type of arrogant and cowardly, and they would eventually come to rise up against their Hyperion masters and endeavour to assimilate various main characters. In the pre-sequel, the Interplanetary Ninja Assassin model becomes a playable character.

In Borderlands 2, that same Claptrap is the last of his kind, living in a mausoleum made of his broken friends. Hard to feel bad for him though, while he is essential to the plot, he spends most of the first chapter referring to you as “Minion” while shaking in a corner as you deal with his problems. He’s full of catchphrases and soundbites, and every one makes you want to throw him off Sanctuary just to watch him bounce. Sadly for us all, he’s necessary.

9) Lydia – Skyrim

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Otherwise known as Housecarl to the Thane of Whiterun, trap springer, arrow catcher, and “Dammit, get out of the way!” there is no more dedicated a sidekick than Lydia. Willing to fling herself into danger in the name of her Thane, no matter the consequences, literally no matter what the consequences, good/bad/irritating, it doesn’t matter.

She can take a beating, and she is sworn to carry your burdens, so she’s not all bad. And worst case scenario you can always tell her to go home. She’ll even stand in the cold and unfurnished shell of Breezehome, diligently awaiting your return. She’s not quite so keen as Oblivion’s adoring fan, but at least she has a name.

8) Ora – Mark of the Ninja

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Ahh, here we go, a sidekick who knows what she’s for!

Mark of the Ninja’s Marked rarely sees his companion Ora except when she drops in to inform him of security measures up ahead that he may not have seen already, or critical changes in the situation. After that she vanishes, presumably to go deal with things off-screen while you get on with the game. She may very well be running her own little mission for all you care, but stays broadly by your side for when you need her most.

There may be a reason for this however [SPOILERS] Ora may very well be a hallucination brought about by the markings on the Ninja protagonist, and you are eventually faced with the possibility of killing your friend and ally, or possibly slipping into psychosis [SPOILERS OVER]. She’s a creepy question mark hovering over your narrative, but she’s also indispensible.

7) Murray, The Curse of Monkey Island

Murray

“I am Murray, the evil demonic skull! Muwahahaha!”

Murray is an interesting character overall. He’s a comedic relief, in a game series known for its humorous dialogue. The Curse of Monkey Island has a relatively ‘serious’ plot, in that you are trying to save Elaine from being a solid gold statue and defeat the evil pirate LeChuck.

Technically, this demonic talking skull isn’t really a sidekick, but in some situations he certainly acts like one. He gives you little hints and tips, all whilst realising the inevitability of his circumstances, (y’know, being just a skull means you can’t do much.) Whilst he’s snarky and nasty to you a good 95% of the time, he not only sometimes just appears out of the blue, (questionable how a talking skull gets about so much), but he’ll even go in your inventory and talk when you open it. At least he’s always there for you. Annoyingly.

6) Ellie, The Last of Us

Ellie

The Last of Us is a game that took the world by storm and for good reason. The protagonist, Joel (not to be confused with our very own Joel,) loses his daughter and becomes a bit of a negative person. However, when push comes to shove, he is tasked with looking after Ellie and the two form a fantastic duo.

Perhaps it’s the strange bond of humanity that makes these two characters an absolutely believable team, or perhaps it’s the direness of the situations they’ve been faced with. Whatever the reason for these two and how they manage to look after one another, Ellie holds her own at such a young age. She makes a lot of sense in terms of character development and she’s up there amongst the most awesome youngen in video games.

Naughty Dog, you can be proud of yourselves for portraying Ellie so well in this. She’s the real hero to me.

5) Potato GLADoS – Portal 2

We struggled with this one, but frankly Wheatley made a far more interesting villain than sidekick. Somehow GLADoS’s journey from AI with god delusions – all-powerful within her self-contained domain – to science fair project with a personality disorder made her far more compelling a companion.

The excursion into Aperture’s abandoned projects and the narrative that unfolded their made her presence far more interesting, and her assistance felling the mad moron drunk with science was invaluable. Ok so her reward for restoring her to her rightful place was not killing you, considering her attitude towards you over the last eight years, you got off lightly.

4) Glottis vs Pey’J, Grim Fandango vs Beyond Good and Evil

Peyj vs Glottis

This town ain’t big enough for two non-human engineer sidekicks. It’s time for you to cast your vote as to which of these two behemoths are video games best engineer sidekick, but first, let’s explain who these two are.

Glottis, the Demon engineer who isn’t allowed to torch anything bigger than a cigarette without a form signed by the boss himself. After Manny manages to get a signature for Glottis to do his thing to Mannys company car, Glottis becomes Mannys personal driver. Turning the car into the Bone Wagon that we all know and love, Glottis is a fun and incredibly enthusiastic character. He understands rules, but most importantly: He values loyalty and friendship above all else.

Pey’J is a Sus Sapien. If you don’t know what that means, it’s basically a pig human. Don’t be fooled by his gruff looks though, Pey’J is also an incredibly loyal character, but unlike Glottis, his head is way more down to earth and clearly understands the importance of Jades discoveries. He likes to create electronic devices for himself and Jade, often to help Jade out… But sometimes just be cause he enjoys making things. Conversely to Glottis, he doesn’t like driving, but he’s a master mechanic and engineer.

3) Luigi

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Luigi needs no introduction what so ever. The guy has his own stories and his own games that he goes through. Recently, there was even a year in his honour. If you missed out on that, then you missed out on a special part of the Mario universe. However, the Green Plumber is often picked over his own brother, which begs the question: Is he a sidekick, or an alternative hero at this point of time? Originally, he certainly was introduced as a sidekick, being the player two to Mario.

We can’t be too wrong with this one. Many other websites with similar Top 10 themes rate Luigi as a highly dependable character. With videos such as the below to support him too, whose to say he doesn’t deserve a top 3 spot? Honestly, the next two sidekicks however… They take it to the next level.

2) Tails – Sonic

Ok, so he’s not quite so good as Sonic, not as fast and not all that useful in multiplayer. But the twin-tailed fox has something unique that makes him surprisingly handy at exactly the right moment, and isn’t that ultimately what makes a sidekick perfect? Miles “Tails” Prower doesn’t exactly seize the spotlight but there are times you’d father rather you were flying than rushing past everything at breakneck speeds.

Unlike Knuckles – the third addition to the Sonic team – who has his own stuff to get on with unless he’s needed, Tails is friend and admirer to Sonic. Though he can increasingly depend on himself without the blue speedster watching his back, Sonic can always depend on him when he’s in a fix.

Plus he’s ginger. Gotta represent!

1) Alyx Vance, Half Life 2

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Alyx Vance is, for all intensive purposes, the perfect Non-Playable Character and I cannot fault her at all. She’s logical, she’s believable, she’s very intelligent and she’s very athletic and helpful. There’s no reason to dislike Alyx, even if you’ve never played Half Life 2, you will at least know of her. She’s considered one of the greatest NPCs of all time by many, she’s full of presence in Half Life 2 and she’s likeable.

What helps is that throughout Half Life 2, you meet characters who are good for helping you out. Alyx is a constant reminder that friendship and devotion to a cause can be a powerful combination. She cares deeply about Gordon Freeman, the silent crowbar wielding protagonist, which is apparent. Combine this with stellar AI which possibly helps her be one of the smartest AIs in video games at that, it’s apparent she’s the perfect sidekick.

I know for a fact right now that if nothing else, there’s one GeekOut reader who’ll see this at the number one spot and be fist pumping and will never stop talking about it, because the guy never shuts up (and we love him for it). He knows who he is.


Honourable Mention

We’ve been through the motions of our Top 10 but now that the heroes helpers have been honoured, it’s time to have a look at some more sidekicks who didn’t quite make the cut for the full list. Nevermind, they’re still winners to us, even if they’re rarely remembered. We remembered them… Wait, that’s not how this works! We remember these characters for very specific reasons and here’s why!

Navi, The Legend of Zelda

ARGH!!! STOP IT NAVI!!!

Actually, the whole issue of Navi being an annoying character is slightly inflated by the internet. Hear me out here – I don’t remember playing Ocarina of Time and having Navi saying this all that often. Yes it is somewhat annoying when she does decide to go on a “hey listen” rant, but that’s probably because you’re not actually, y’know, paying attention to what she has to say? She’s there to help and she tries her damned best.

Instead, she’s become a bit of a mocking point for the internet. A real shame, too. She is only doing her job.

Hey, listen!

Pikachu – Pokémon Yellow

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The infamous and least useful “Fourth Starter” was the first Pokémon to stalk you through the Kanto realm because he refused to stay in a pokéball. Well go to hell you stuck-up glorified battery! And stop turning your nose up and threatening to shock me whenever I try to talk to you. I have to go through Brock’s gym with you and a pidgey, that’s gonna be like trying to demolish a building with a pamphlet!

Much like in the anime, the pikachu in Pokémon Yellow edition grows to like you in time. He’s not entirely useless despite the fact that you can’t evolve him without losing the entertaining bouncy sprite following you around, and with it losing one of the most unique features of the game (certainly at the time, not so much anymore).


Quite so Watson, it’s time for us to wrap up this weeks Top 10. Much like our sidekicks that made the cut, this list is secondary to them. Hey, some of these may be scoffed at but we truly felt they deserved a mention. Don’t forget to hit that vote button for our next list!

As always though, we wouldn’t make these lists without you, the readers. Please cast your votes and let us know in the comments below, or over on Facebook and Twitter: Do you think our choices were right for this, or are there any characters you feel deserves a mention? Did we put these in the wrong order? Is Alyx Vance really the top sidekick in video gaming, even above Luigi and Tails?! Let us know your thoughts and we’ll see you all again next week for another Top 10.

 


Blogversation – Atmosphere 2

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As with any artform, for a game to be truly immersive it must evoke an emotion. A game can be good without being immersive, but when you walk away from a game having assimilated its’ ways and habits as your own, you know that game had you hooked. Games can fill us with wonder, dread, excitement, or even sadness, at times without so much as speaking a word.

Thief: Deadly Shadows, and Mark of the Ninja. Two exceptional games with similar stealth-based gameplay, Thief being first person and Mark of the Ninja being a side-scroller. Now some of you may disagree with me here, but Thief was a substantially more atmospheric game. While both games require you to stick to the shadows, only in Thief did I find my heart in my mouth as someone passed within inches of me before dropping in behind to snatch from their belt gave a  thrill that Mark of the Ninja did not muster. Is Mark of the Ninja a bad game? No! But it lacked in atmosphere.

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