The PSTV is Nothing, But a Failure

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I was one of the people who got really excited when Sony announced the PSTV. Even though, Sony gave me good reasons to buy one at full price, I wisely decided to wait a while to get mine. After using it for a couple months, I can tell the PSTV is nothing but a disappointment for me. There’s a lot of frustration on it, mainly when the PSTV seemed to have so much potential that was wasted. How awesome will be having such a small and cheap device that can connect to Netflix and YouTube, and it is still able to stream PS4 games and let us play PSN games. Should be amazing, but it isn’t. The first big concern is related to the lack of applications for PSTV. If Sony has developed the PSTV to compete against Chromecast and Apple TV, they were not able to provide the consumers the most basic apps. The PSTV doesn’t have apps such as Netflix and YouTube. It doesn’t make any sense. Even the product’s name is misplaced in this case. They should not call it PSTV, there’s no really much “TV” on it. It is not a huge deal as long as the other PlayStation consoles (PS3 and PS4) still got those apps.

Moreover, my biggest concern with PSTV comes from where it should not fail by any means: the gaming department. In theory, players are able to play most Vita games on the PSTV. But just in theory, because at least half of my games don’t work on it. I mainly bought the device because of this feature. PS Vita has so many good games that deserve being played on a big TV. Unfortunately, due to Vita’s touch screen, which could not be implemented in a regular TV, many games are not compatible with PSTV. However, Sony screwed some games that should work just fine. One of the examples is the game Hot Shot Golf: World Invitational. I have been a fan of the series since the PS1 era. So, I decided to give it a try after playing it on my friend’s PSNow account. For those who don’t know, PSNow is a paid subscription that allows players to stream a bunch of PlayStation games. The majority of the games come from the PS3 generation. It works like a Netflix for games. For my disappointment, even though Hot Shot Golf is available on PSNow, it is not compatible with PSTV. There’s almost no touch screen feature on that game. Sony should work on adapting most of the games that are not compatible by now. If I own the game, I want to be able to play it on my PSTV.

I don’t regret buying the PSTV for two reasons: I spent only 39 bucks, and I’m able to play Persona 4 Golden, which is by far my favorite Vita game, on the big screen. But, I’m kind of disappointed with Sony. They don’t invest on PSTV or PS Vita. Both devices have a lot of potential. They are just concerned with PlayStation 4 success. Shame on you Sony, you guys could be even bigger than you already are.

Some Tendencies Need to Die (Part I)

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I consider myself neither an old school gamer nor a modern kid who only plays new stuff. I usually play a lot of modern games for sure, but my favorite games come from the 6th generation, the PS2 generation to be more precise. However, there are a lot of things in this last two generations (7th and 8th) that annoys me so much. One of them is the online gaming. Don’t get me wrong, playing online is awesome for most kind of games, but they don’t work for all of them. Besides, a few games should focus on online gaming. Call of Duty is a good example of a game that should provide a better online experience than offline. However, I don’t want to see even a game such as Call of Duty not having an offline campaign (they already did it for PS3/Xbox 360 consumers in the new Black Ops 3). The industry seems not to believe on me, they do think online gaming should be implemented in every single game. Furthermore, they are really into focusing on online gaming for many titles that really doesn’t fit the style. I tell you, it doesn’t work like that. I miss playing games offline with my friends. But, it is not the only problem. Some games are even not considering offline campaigns anymore, in order to provide a better online experience.

One of my big disappointments comes from one my favorite racing franchises of all time: Need for Speed. I remember having a blast playing games such as Need for Speed Most Wanted, Carbon, and my favorite Underground 2 in my PS2. When they announced that a new Need for Speed was coming out this year resembling the classic underground series, I almost have a heart attack. Could even throw away more than 60 bucks for a game like that. However, as almost always, the industry is doing something wrong once more time. The new Need for Speed will be an online game. They have already done the same thing in the last installment: Need for Speed Rivals, which is a barely average game. This decision disappoints me in so many ways. I think an online component can enhance the player enjoyment, but it should work much more like an additional experience, by any means the unique experience the game will offer. I remember myself playing the old campaigns on the PS2, and it was amazing. Why the industry thinks the online component is so important for gamers nowadays. Another huge problem comes from the lack of balance that most gamers face online. Many of us (like myself) don’t have time to play games all day long (I wish I had). When you play against guys who play almost every single day, it is not fun at all. These 12-year-old kids will destroy most of us who don’t have time to practice very often.

A good solution for the industry is a better analysis of the games that do need an online experience and those who don’t. It is unforgettable that a racing game will offer an online-only experience. FPS and RPG’s are more susceptible to online-only gaming experiences. However, most kind of games should not be online-only. Playing online is awesome for every game as long as it works as an additional feature, not the main and only one.

Caring about Video Game Characters

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Even though a video game character can be as authentic and iconic as Super Mario or Link from The Legend of Zelda, it is difficult to imagine the player caring about them by any means. Someone can argue they don’t seem real, or they are not even able to show human feelings such as love, fear, passion, etc. However, the video game industry has been changing so much in the last few years. The last console generation is showing off amazing graphics that can even make people not know how to distinguish a game or a movie. Graphics are really important, but it is not enough to make a video game character believable. Many games are using graphics to make a character sound, look, and act more like a human being, but only one game has reached a level that it is almost impossible not to care about the characters in the game. This game is The Last of Us. For those who don’t know, The Last of Us is a Playstation exclusive title published by Sony and produced by their own studio Naughty Dog. The game was released in 2013 on Playstation 3. One year later, the game was remastered for the Playstation 4.

The Last of Us tells a story about a man named Joel, who loses his daughter at the very beginning of the game in a sort of zombie outbreak, and found himself 20 years later on a mission to escort a little girl across a devastated United States. She is supposedly the only human being immune from the bacteria. Looking at the plot, it doesn’t sound unique or compelling, but trust me, it is. What makes them believable are probably the things they’ve been through during the game. Ellie, the little girl, is probably one of my favorite characters of all time. She doesn’t know anything about our world; she was born in the middle of the apocalypse. For instance, her thoughts about the simplicity of our world are an incredible experience to think about. The world is shitty as you can imagine, and she is wondering why girls in our time are thinking about dating guys while life is so tough (at least for her).

Besides, the game even shows that the most terrifying creature in the world is not the sort of zombies, but other human beings. People usually kill each other just for the sake of getting a different pair of shoes or protecting themselves against innocent fellows. Furthermore, Joel, who is the sort of hero in this tale, is not the good guy who helps everyone else. Joel is a human, and has feelings just like you and me. His decisions are questionable, very questionable actually. He does his best to protect Ellie. They evolve a relationship that makes both forget the world they are living in. He treats Ellie as a daughter in the development of the game. In the player prospective, it is just amazing how it evolves. At the beginning of the game, you and Joel don’t know Ellie, but after losing his daughter, the player can feel a little bit what life means for Joel. Then, the game jumps 20 years, and after meeting Ellie, the player feels she could be a good reason for Joel to keep fighting for his and her life. As you can imagine, many bad things happen to them, and it just makes them stronger. At the middle of the game, the player cares about Ellie just as he was Joel. She is very special for him, and you (the player) are able to understand why it happens. No big spoilers ahead, but at the end of the game, you understand the questionable decisions Joel makes. He is not going to let Ellie die for the sake of saving the human race. She is too important for him. When I played The Last of Us, I totally understood Joel’s decisions, and felt they were right. As Collin Moriarty wrote in his review about the game at IGN in 2013, “The Last of Us is a masterpiece, a case study in how games can immerse you, tell a fascinating story, and make you really care about their characters.”

Different Country = Different Life

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I have decided to write about other things besides videogames in this blog. It has been a lot of stuff going on recently. Have just moved back to my hometown in Brazil two months ago. I can already tell how life is different down here. First, there are many positive points about being in my city. Family and close friends are always around. It was something that I usually missed in the USA. Don’t get me wrong, I just love all my American, Chinese and Latino friends that I’ve met in the USA, but have to admit I was missing my really close friends. Otherwise, expressing ourselves in a second language is not the same, but it is a topic for other post. However, being in Brazil brings a lot of problems that I have got over in the USA. The traffic jams are one of the worst things here. I lived in San Francisco for 3 months during a summer internship, and the traffic is not even close to my hometown. It is kind of funny, because I actually work for the same company in Brazil doing the very same thing. I have goggled it, and I live further from the office in San Francisco than in my hometown. But, as you can guess, I spend one more hour to get to work here than in San Fran. It is really annoying.

Furthermore, Brazil has a lot of things to learn from the USA public transportation. I don’t understand why I cannot recharge my transportation card using my credit card. Believe it or not, they only accept cash. If you know me, you know how much I hate having cash in my pocket. Mainly, when I am living in a country that is not safe as the USA. Also, I got a really bad impression about the World Cup in Brazil after coming back. My city, Belo Horizonte, was one the host cities (actually the awful game against Germany was here). I was hoping for big changes on the transportation system in BH, but I’m really disappointed with it. We haven’t gotten any big changes in the transportation department. There are some big buses that kind of work in some cities in the Brazilian south. The government is even expanding those buses to the Olympics in Rio. However, they are completely useless in my city. They can make your life easier if you are going to the stadium. But for someone who needs to cross the city in order to commute to work, they have no effect in my daily life. Again, believe it or not, one of the biggest cities in Brazil does not have a subway system. Okay, the traffic jams were and still are my main nightmare about coming back to Brazil, but they are not the only one.

It is kind of difficult to feel safe in Brazil. I didn’t feel safe in San Fran either, but in Brazil things are far worst. I cannot quote Indiana, because Bloomington is probably the safest place on earth. Going to work and school carrying a Mac Book in my backpack, which costs thousands in Brazil, brings a fear that I haven’t felt in a while. This sensation is probably the result of being robbed twice in my neighborhood, which is considered one of the bests in BH. The last biggest point that I need to get along is the relationships with Brazilians. Brazilians are, and myself were very open to deal with people. But, after living for almost two years in the USA, I feel like it is not a good thing at all. It is probably easier to start a conversation with someone in Brazil than in the USA. Moreover, if you want to just get to know someone, Brazil is probably better than the USA. However, for a long-term relationship such as a friend or a girlfriend, it is not as good as in the USA. I’m not saying I don’t trust in Brazilians because they talk to anyone, but I feel like my relationships in the USA are stronger than those from Brazil, even though I was missing my Brazilian friends so much. If you read it, please, leave your comments below. Thanks for being here.

Games Are Not Just Games

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Games are not just games. What I mean by that is a game can go far beyond a bunch of pixels on the screen. I got this idea based on one of my favorite games ever. Believe it or not, I’m talking about Crash Team Racing (most known as CTR) on the PS1. Some of my friends have never played this game. They actually made fun of me, few weeks ago when they showed up at my apartment and I was playing it on my PS3. In the very same room (which I usually call game room), I can play a game called Mario Kart 8. What I can say about Mario Kart 8, the game is close to perfect. Graphics look gorgeous on the Wii U, they are shinny and clear, the controls are perfect, the game is really fun and they actually released a DLC that worth my money (which really surprised me considering a bunch of incomplete video games we’ve gotten last year, waiting for gamers buy the DLC and actually have the game that should be released at first shot).

What cannot be compared between the person playing Mario Kart 8 and CTR are the emotions it brings to me. When I used to play CTR, I was a kid. I have none responsibilities in my life. I had a sweet hollow in my brain that allows me occupying it with my favorite games. People are also an important aspect of it. I used to play CTR with my cousins, we are almost the same age, and playing with these guys is something that I won’t ever forget. I remember spending entire summer breaks playing CTR with them, not only CTR but we also played Vigilant 8 2nd Offense, Winning Eleven something (we love soccer as I mentioned in my first post), Bomberman 5, so on and so forth. These moments are unforgettable.

The person playing Mario Kart 8 doesn’t have the same time to enjoy games at all. Right now, life is kind of messy. Just broke up, deciding whether or not getting my Master (and even where), missing family and close friends, and some other fishy stuff going on. The fun of playing Mario Kart 8, which I recognize being much superior than CTR is not the same. The emotions involved in playing both games are much different, the video game played in a good moment of your life, is much more than what the game really is by itself. Crash Team Racing is not only a good game for me, but also brings so good memories that the game is able to be more enjoyed than the incredible Mario Kart 8. As I started this idea, games are not only games; games are pieces of memories that brings emotions for players. This is one of the reasons we appreciate them so much.

Coming Back to the Video Games World

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So, I can enjoy video games again. After spending the last five years studying as hard as I could for College, I’m able to come back to the video game world. Coming back to video games raised one question, which game console should I buy? Two companies are part of my childhood: Nintendo and Sony. I had a SNES as my first game console, but have to admit my favorite consoles were my PS1 and PS2. Unfortunately, I had to skip the PS3, at least, in its current generation. Before choosing which console buy, I had the opportunity to try my roommate’s Wii U and Xbox 360, and oh my gosh, how games such as Mario Kart 8 and Smash Bros are so much fun. However, I didn’t fall in love with the Wii U. There are few games available, the tablet controller is a little bit unnecessary, games are really expensive and they rarely have discounts on our favorite retails. Considering all these facts, there was no better choice than buying a Sony console. I made some research and decided skip the PS3 generation and jump to the next. I bought a PS4, and this game console just blows my mind. Games such as The Last of Us Remastered, GTA 5 and FIFA 15 (I’m still Brazilian and soccer is much more than a sport for us) are really well done games. I still feel the PS4 has a small library, but it can be considered normal for almost any brand new console. But, I was still missing something. The last generation seemed really cool. I read some reviews and decided to buy a PS3 too. No regrets anyways. Bioshock Infinite, God of War III and Red Dead Redemption are already among my favorite games ever. Coming back to gaming was one of my best choices recently. What have you guys played in the last few months? Let me know on the comments.