The Real Deal

Rusty's Real Deal Baseball 2//RUSTY’S REAL DEAL BASEBALL

If anyone should have been cynical about Rusty’s Real Deal Baseball, it should have been me.

I’m not a fan of free-to-play games because it undermines the work of developers, devalues games in general and almost never comes across as anything but a greedy money grab. So when you prate that a big selling point to your game is that you’re going to be sold to, I tend to get a little grumpy about it.

I should have by all means ignored Rusty’s Real Deal Baseball, but I’ve heard from more than one place that the mini-games included were good. I have a hard time not believing it, because Nintendo makes great compilations: Nintendo Land, Wii Sports Resort and WarioWare spring to mind. But was I willing to haggle with a virtual anthropomorphic pro-ball has-been to give it a shot?

The answer, surprisingly, is yes.

The biggest problem Rusty’s Real Deal Baseball has isn’t bartering with actual money; it’s that the gaming press slapped the “F2P” label on it and people made assumptions as they are want to do. Would Nintendo have been better served if they had just given the game a base price and had you dicker with an in-game currency? Absolutely. In reality, Rusty is more like an episodic game – you start off by talking with and understanding Rusty and his ordeal, then buying a Nontendo 4DS game to help a puppy out. Each new mini-game you buy pushes the story along and is even separated out into chapters. $4 looks duplicitous at first blush, but squabbling the price down isn’t hard in the least.

I think once it’s all said and done you’re likely to spend $15 for the whole thing, assuming you play along with the haggling mechanic. That’s still far cheaper than if you were to buy into something more traditional like The Walking Dead or The Wolf Among Us.

Rusty's Real Deal Baseball

I guess I’m arguing semantics really; I don’t think anything I have to say will change anyone’s perception of Rusty’s Real Deal Baseball, which is kind of a shame. The deciding factor for me was actually playing the mini-games on offer, and realizing that I’m willing to spend two bucks on a few hours’ worth of entertainment.

The first game you buy is Bat & Switch, which is as it sounds – you batting at balls. The game does a good job of drilling home the notion of nostalgia. It’s quick to remind you of more carefree days just goofing around during the summer. I’m not much for baseball, but even I got wistful at the wind blowing and birds chirping as I watch the clouds loll by and I knock a few balls out of the park. I wish the sound of a bat cracking was more like it is with a wooden bat, but I guess I’ll go along with using an aluminum one and listing to the ping instead.

The way this game makes me feel isn’t unlike Costume Quest or Attack of the Friday Monsters!: A Tokyo Tale in that it puts you in a certain time and place, and that’s definitely a good thing.

The game sets you along the path of trying to reach a certain goal score, but the parameters in doing so vary wildly. At first you just need to hit the ball; depending on your timing and where you hit the ball you are given one, two or three points based on where the ball lies. It later moves on to forcing you to pay attention as the ball is being tossed by three pitching machine-headed guys versus just one or having the ball go invisible in orbit before quickly reappearing in front of you.

My personal favorites involve knowing where to hit the ball. One set of games has the pitcher throwing bombs at you and if you don’t hit it just right it’ll drop in front of you and blow you up. Another has little flying saucers floating in the outfield and you have to hit them by surreptitiously knocking the ball into them. There are fifty challenges in all, which was enough to keep me playing for roughly three hours.

Like I said earlier, this game is very much an episodic affair. As such, I’ll probably hold off before jumping into the next mini-game. And that’s OK; the game doesn’t ham-fistedly try to goad you into haggling with Rusty or bug you with incessant pop-up boxes trying to get you to buy in. This was definitely an experiment on Nintendo’s part, one that will likely not be replicated due to the negative feedback. I’m not willing to let Rusty’s Real Deal Baseball’s charm go to waste just on principle, so I’ll keep playing it off and on for a while.

Who knew I’d be the one to fall into a bizarre pricing scheme?

Treasures from the Man Cave #1 | NF Magazine #8

NF Magazine 8Highlights of this issue include a very thorough retrospective of the Mario Kart series, an editor list on which DS games they’d like to see on Wii u and an interview with the duo behind Nyamyam. Also included is a very boss fold-out poster reminiscent of the Nintendo Power of yore.

Treasures from the Man Cave is a sporadic update of all the gaming paraphernalia that I’ve accrued and now proudly display on top of my entertainment shelf. That’s right — the title is a lie.

The Empty Openness

Ocarina of Time 3D 3//THE LEGEND OF ZELDA: OCARINA OF TIME 3D

As I mentioned in my last post, there’s a certain sense of excitement when you leave the Kokiri Forest in Ocarina of Time for the first time and the camera pans across the vast fields of Hyrule. At first blush it is breath-taking; a kind of defining moment for videogames as it where. Super Mario 64 revolutionized gaming by giving us a taste of what free roaming 3D could be like; Ocarina of Time took it a step further by helping us realize that it could be used to create much bigger worlds than we were used to.

Nowadays you walk out onto Hyrule Field and see…an empty openness.

With the leaps and strides of open worlds have made since then, it’s hard not to be slightly disappointed in the true size of Hyrule. I wish that weren’t the case, but at least I can look back fondly on it and remember how grandiose it once was.

Although they’ve smoothed it over in subsequent games, there’s no denying that Hyrule Field wears its purpose as a hub on its sleeve. Perhaps it’s partially because I’ve kind of taken a more analytical eye while playing this time, but I also think I lose a little bit of imagination each year I get older.

Sad, I know.

On the other hand, I do still enjoy its design. Whereas nowadays games tend to clutter the screen with things to see, there’s something nice about the simplicity of a large field and the occasional fence or tree to break it up a little bit. They added some little flower/grass flourishes to give the 3D a little pop, but it would have been nice to see some kind of animal now and again to remind you that this is supposed to be a living, breathing world.

Likewise, Hyrule Castle Town plays with your expectations to give it a sense of scope that it doesn’t really have. What should be this massive town where denizens from all over Hyrule flock to shop/trade/hang-out is literally the size of your average city block. However, there are plenty of people to talk to and get side quests from, a fair amount of shops/mini-games to peruse and they add a handful of large groups that, while you can’t interact with them, make you think that this place is bigger than it truly is. Add to this the castle and Temple of Time and you have this nice, tidy little biome.

Then there’s Kakariko Village, which still remains one of my favorite towns in gaming. And yes, I’ve seen enough towns to have a preference! While Hyrule Castle Town is definitely an illusion, Kakariko nails the feeling of being a little up-and-coming berg because it’s designed as such. You have these brothers who are constructing things and each of the homes has its own residents for you to chat with. From the over-worked gatekeeper to the angst-ridden son of the foreman, everybody is unique and has personality.

What Ocarina of Time lacks in technical presence it makes up for in charm and earnestness.