GXP Gaming Blog

GXP Gaming Blog

No Man’s Sky – Is It Misunderstood Art?

Posted: 24 Jan 2017 02:54 AM PST

No Mans Sky - Is it Art? Review

My first video for 2017 is finally here and it's quite different to my usual reviews and gaming memories. Don't worry though as I'll still be doing those, infact my next retro review should be for "The Mask" on the SNES if all goes well.This video looks at No Man's Sky and how I feel it was possibly a misunderstood experience due to it's misleading hype leading up to release, how it's less about gathering and crafting, and uses the video game medium more as a vehicle to express how it feels to be an outsider, disconnected from the world, alone.

Video Transcript

At a time when I neither owned a PlayStation 4 or would consider myself to be a PC gamer, No Man's Sky took me by surprise. I had no understanding of the relevance or importance of the photo tweeted once the project had gone gold, nor had I really got caught up in the hype and mystery, yet once it was released, I felt it... the overwhelming disappointment from millions of people around the world.The Internet was in uproar due to false promises and misleading information from Sean Murray leading up to the launch. The truth behind these actions is unknown, yet I wonder if it was an attempt to bring focus in a method similar to "clickbait" or misleading headlines in magazines and newspapers, in hope that the less sugar-coated subject matter will get the attention it deserves. In terms of sales it performed brilliantly, but in terms of connecting with people it seemed to fail miserably. The misdirection didn't work.Without the high expectations, the hype, and now that the dust has settled, I still wanted to try No Man's Sky for myself. Is it any good? As a game, no, not really, it can be very frustrating and repetitive, but as an experience it had a greater effect on me, something I hadn't really encountered in a video game before.You start off on an unknown planet after your ship has crashed, which you'll need to repair. No backstory is provided, you're just made aware of a few materials you'll need to get back up and running again. Why you're there doesn't matter, nor does how you got there, you just need to reach your destination; the centre of the Galaxy.The urge for me was to find a place to settle down, stay a while, familiarise myself with my surroundings and cautiously explore the landscape. I wanted to stockpile resources for the journey ahead but the game through design, limits you in a way that presses you to move on. Nowhere feels safe, nowhere feels like home, the world around you no matter how serene is killing you with its toxicity or temperature levels. Sometimes slowly, but it's only a matter of time. Your only respite is in your ship or at random bases scattered about the landscape... if you can reach them before your life support runs out.Out in space, whilst free from the hazards that exist on planets, you're still exposed to risk and danger from hostile ships that attack you. Large space stations offer safety whilst you craft, manage inventory space and trade goods, but they're not adequate for long term stays.In these space stations and occasionally in bases you come across on planets, aliens exist to interact with but they don't speak your language, no one does, apart from a few select NPCs to help you along with specific game mechanics, which I'll address later. You never stumble across a being of your own race. In this galaxy you are unique, but from these interactions it's clear you're nothing special. You are just an outsider, tolerated, served, awaiting the next.Unlike many games that try to make you feel like you are part of a world through character dialogue options, No Man's Sky does not. You're not able to form bonds, connections, relationships with anyone, other than to trade. After all you're just passing through, a traveller, what do they care?The feeling I get with this game is similar to a long journey driving on your own, covering a great distance to reach your destination. You stop off at places to buy food or refuel, meeting people along the way, but no deep friendships are formed. You're still alone, you don't belong there, no one really cares, you're just passing through.In other ways this game can be an expression of those going through life feeling like an outsider, like you don't understand people, you don't speak their language. Sometimes you can figure out a few common themes to get by and interact, understanding or unlocking key words and phrases, but you struggle to connect and build deep meaningful relationships. Surrounded by people you still feel alone.This is my experience of No Man's Sky; a forever lasting journey of self discovery from the perspective of someone disconnected from the world, existing within it and compatible only at a level just good enough to survive, "getting by" on a basic understanding of interaction, not to exchange thoughts, feelings, opinions or ideas. Someone lost, alone, confused by their surroundings and looking for answers, a way to understand their purpose.Theoretically there's others like you out there in the Universe, but the online aspect doesn't allow two players to meet and interact. The idea is teased, both through vague promises and the odd log entries from abandoned stations that talk of removing their suits and being subject to infection and death, possibly reflecting the idea that those who feel disconnected often wonder if there others are out there who feel the same and creating fear of "taking off your armour", exposing the real you to the harsh environment, causing anxiety of the possible negative consequences, how it may do more harm than good.This bleak emotional simulation may be too unsettling for some. Never in a game have I ever felt so utterly alone and so insignificant before. If this was intended I can understand why possibly the methods of previewing and drawing attention to the game leading up to release were so misleading. It would be hard to sell something like this. However, this is just my opinion. I believe No Man's Sky may have been a creative expression of how it feels to be like this, a confused lonely outsider existing in the universe, feeling so out of place in a world that belongs to "No Man"... or woman. After all, games can be art and art is in the eye of the beholder.At this point I would like to just highlight that I am aware of the most recent foundation update and how it provides base building, which is essentially a place to call home, but this feels like it was included to quickly please the masses after such a negative initial launch, just a mere distraction, a way to spend or waste resources. The fact that all associated alien NPCs for this part of the game speak your language, without having to find the relevant knowledge stones like everyone else you need to interact with can somewhat break the gameplay style I experienced. It doesn't have a huge impact on it though as it still feels a very lonely and shallow journey. It adds a level of convenience, a way to personalise a certain area on a planet somewhere, but it doesn't detract from the other points I raised in this video and my interpretation of the core experience.For those of you who have also played this game I would love to hear your thoughts in the comments section below. Did No Man's Sky affect you in the same way? Has this video opened your eyes to a potentially new perspective? Or did you feel the same way on your initial play through? I look forward to finding out.As for me that's all for this video, so please like and share if you enjoyed it and subscribe if you'd like to be notified of more from me in the future. Thanks for watching and I'll see you in the next video.

GXP Gaming Blog

GXP Gaming Blog

2017 Goals and Ambitions

Posted: 11 Jan 2017 04:05 AM PST

MyGamerXP 2017 Goals

MyGamerXP 2017 GoalsSo 2017 is finally here and with it comes reflection and a continued ambition to improve from experience and lessons learned in 2016.I'd just like to start off by saying that although a lot of bad things happened in 2016 (both on a global scale and personally), I still have a lot to be thankful for. My passion for video games and sharing my opinions/experiences online has introduced me to some wonderful people around the world who's love for gaming has helped me connect with and build numerous friendships.For me, 2016 helped build and solidify a network of supportive, kind and helpful individuals who help me with feedback, ideas, questions, and reaching my goals/ambitions of having the time to embrace my hobbies/interests more and enjoy being creative. I won't name them all here, but the likelihood is if you're reading this, you're one of them. Thank you.

My Goals for 2017

It saddens me how often I see goals from people to reach a certain number of followers, subscribers, or earning an amount of money in donations. While reaching milestones does feel amazing and I'm grateful when they happen, it shouldn't be the main objective in my opinion. Every day I seem to find people who claim they're "personalities", spamming links to their simply lazy unedited stream footage on YouTube, interspersed with ostentatious selfies and links to amazon wishlists or donation pages, seemingly only focused on acquiring more subscribers, more views, more likes, more follows, just... numbers.My personal goals for 2017 are: 
  1. To be more organised; so that I can capture footage and edit more regularly, meaning I get to finish more videos for you all this year (I have a lot that are "in progress", that I need to focus on and complete too).
  2. To take on one of my more ambitious projects; as fear of me not being "good enough" yet, not having the equipment I need, time and skills required is really holding me back. I need to embrace one and stick to it, no matter what. Make it the best I can now and try not to worry if I can't match my vision. The main thing is to try.
  3. To connect more with gamers around the world; this has been something I've really enjoyed and met some amazing people. I mainly focus on twitter, but this year I'm going to try and make more of an effort to post on instagram and other platforms/networks. I'm also thinking of doing twitch again once a week if I can. I've done two streams so far and will see how this goes moving forwards. My plan is to do it in a way I can save and use the footage for my videos/reviews as well. I'm sure I will attend PLAY Expo again too, but I may try to go to 1 or 2 more events this year if possible.
The tasks I've set myself are:
  • Create 2 videos a month
  • Use instagram on a daily basis
  • Send out 1 e-mail newsletter each month (sign up here)
  • Post a minimum of 2 times a month on my Patreon page to keep supporters updated on what I'm working on (I think I already do this, but just to make sure)
  • Twitch stream once a week (this is the only one I'm not 100% sure on yet)
There are other goals/tasks I have, such as; "be more ambitious", "upgrade equipment", "try being more relaxed/confident on camera", etc, but these are very dependant on other things, which is why they're not really present here. That said, I will try to be more "myself", more creative, push myself further and try to do my best.

Highlights from 2016

As a side note, I'd just like to list some of my highlights from 2016:
  • Getting MyGamerXP stickers made (thank you Kev and Jess!) that I was able to give out at PLAY Expo, to Patreon supporters and various friends on social media
  • Meeting loads of awesome people at PLAY Expo in Manchester
  • Reaching 1000 subscribers on YouTube (a massive achievement for me!)
  • Having 8 Patreon supporters (thank you all sooo much!!!)
  • Getting Michael Jackson's Moonwalker on the Mega Drive back in my collection
  • Receiving a Mega CD and 32x (wanted one of these for so long!)
  • Receiving my Sonic "build a bear" (thanks Aimee!), Lego Dimensions Back to the Future set (thanks Kim!), and numerous other wonderful gifts from my amazing friends
  • Finally getting my hands on a copy of Skies of Arcadia on the GameCube (another game I've wanted for years!), OutRun on the Mega Drive, and Alien Soldier (thanks Kev!)
  • Finding my old Sonic comics and games magazines from my childhood
  • Finding various old games (including boxed Zelda and Wario Land for Game Boy)
  • Receiving an official hoodie from Sega Europe
  • Buying my PS4
  • The announcement of Sonic Mania
Thank you to everyone who helped make my 2016 awesome; all of you who watched my videos, liked, shared, commented, subscribed, connected with me on twitter, and supported me in other ways too.Here's to 2017! Let's do this...

GXP Gaming Blog

GXP Gaming Blog

James Pond 2 Review (Sega Genesis / Mega Drive)

Posted: 23 Dec 2016 04:17 PM PST

James Pond 2 Review

When it comes to Christmas themed retro games, I often like to have a quick play of James Pond 2 Codename: Robocod at this time of year. Whilst the character started off on the Amiga and this game has been ported to multiple systems such as the Super Nintendo and PlayStation, the version I used to play was on the Mega Drive.There's actually four James Pond games on the Sega Genesis and Mega Drive, with three being the main platformer trilogy and the other a spin-off sports title called "The Aquatic Games". He also made a cameo appearance in "Rolo to the Rescue" which I hope to review in the future.The story behind this game is that Dr. Maybe (a play on Dr. No from James Bond), has infiltrated Santa Claus' main toy factories in the North Pole and is planting bombs disguised as penguins that will detonate within 48 hours. So it's up to you to save Christmas!Your adventure begins in a wintery hub world where you gain access to new areas by going through doors that unlock once the previous one has been completed. There is a fairly well known creative cheat here which provides you with invincibility if you collect each item in order to spell out the word "CHEAT", starting with the cake, then moving onto the hammer, planet Earth, the apple and then a tap. There's also a similar cheat in the first level by spelling out the word "LIVES" with certain items too.Every so often you'll walk through a door that leads to a boss battle. These get progressively harder as you'd expect, so make sure you stock up on as many lives as you can and don't expect to just breeze through it all on your first attempt. James Pond 2 starts off very easy, but I found that it does get noticeably more difficult after the first boss, requiring faster reactions and more precise platforming skill.On your travels you'll find numerous collectibles which help improve your score, earn extra lives, allow you to fly and float down safely, plus you'll gain access vehicles to use such as cars, aeroplanes and even a flying bathtub! This game obviously doesn't take itself too seriously.During gameplay, those of you from the UK will no doubt notice the product placement of McVitie's Penguin Bars scattered about. These fancy chocolate covered bourbon biscuits were very popular at the time and are still enjoyed today.Graphically, James Pond has a very unique style. The levels look colourful and there is a lot of detail with the various enemies, animations and collectables, but in some ways it can also be considered as quite dark and basic. The backgrounds don't display much creativity in my opinion, as they look simple and tiled when you compare it to games like Sonic the Hedgehog, but overall the visuals are fairly pleasing for such an early Mega Drive title.In terms of sound the music is very infectious. These cheerful little melodies will find their way into your brain and it's very likely you'll be humming along to them for days after. Each one is pretty jolly and there's also some nice renditions of Christmas music later on in the game.The controls are nice and responsive which is good considering there's some fairly difficult and frustrating platforming in later levels. The momentum means that at times James' movements can feel a bit slippery, but hey, he's a fish and these physics do come into play later in the game. I also like how his robotic suit allows him to stretch up high and grab onto ceilings. This was a very fun mechanic that allowed for some interesting level design.Speaking of which, James Pond 2 isn't your typical "travel from left to right" platformer. A lot of areas can feel quite maze-like as you need to traverse them in multiple directions. Sometimes there's even multiple exits which can lead onto a bonus level for additional points, which helps add to the replay value if you'd like to discover them all.I did find that some of the later levels did get quite frustrating as there wasn't always a clear indication of where to go and there was a very sneaky bonus area that kept repeating until you found a very tiny exit. There were also moments of extremely precise platforming where one mistake could be very punishing, requiring you to start over. These felt like cheap tactics to me, but that might just be a personal thing and those with more patience may feel different and see it as more of a challenge.Overall I feel that James Pond 2 Codename: Robocod is an enjoyable platformer for the Sega Genesis and Mega Drive. As it was released in 1991, there are more visually impressive titles on the system, but this one still retains a lot of charming character. The gameplay in particular feels very polished. The controls are good and there's a fair amount of challenge… or patience required in later levels. 

GXP Gaming Blog

GXP Gaming Blog

MyGamerXP Q&A 1000 Subscribers Special. Thank You!

Posted: 13 Dec 2016 03:38 AM PST

MyGamerXP 1000 YouTube Subscribers

To mark this special milestone of reaching 1000 YouTube subscribers I wanted to make this thank you video and answer some of the questions you've sent in.You'll learn about retro games and consoles on my wishlist, how many games I currently have in my collection, what I'd do if I won £1000 and much more. I hope you enjoy it.Thanks again to my wonderful Patreon supporters; Lewis, Kev, Jess, Mark, Lucy and Chris. I really appreciate it! You guys are amazing.Thanks also to all of you viewers and subscribers who help make this passion even more rewarding. 

GXP Gaming Blog

GXP Gaming Blog

Pit-Fighter Review (Sega Genesis / Mega Drive)

Posted: 08 Dec 2016 04:16 PM PST

Pit-Fighter Sega Review

Before the days of Street Fighter 2, when I used to go round to my cousin's house we used to play Pit-Fighter! It's certainly not considered a classic by today's standards, but it was fairly popular in it's day. I now own my cousins copy of the game which despite missing a manual, is a still a treasured part of my collection.Pit-Fighter was developed by Atari and released in the arcades in 1990. The game was then ported to just about every other console available, with the Mega Drive and Sega Genesis version being arguably the best of all the home conversions.Digitised sprites of live actors were used to give the game it's more realistic look; a technique that was later used by the legendary Mortal Kombat series. It may have even been what inspired them to go down that route. This wasn't the first game to use digitised sprites, but it's certainly one of the more popular early examples. Unfortunately the Mega Drive version doesn't include those, nor the subtle sprite-scaling technology, but it still looks and feels quite faithful to the arcade original.The basic premise of Pit-Fighter is to defeat all your opponents and earn loads of money. So much in fact, that you have to get a forklift truck to hold you over it. There's three characters to choose from, who are Buzz, Ty and Kato, each with their own unique fighting styles, and with Ty being my personal favourite.With regards to enemies there's essentially eight to beat over eleven rounds, so a couple of them are recycled. There's also a few grudge match bonus rounds where you must defeat a clone of yourself. These mix up the traditional matches a bit as they implement a three-strike system where you earn a point each time knock your opponent down. It sounds simple and straightforward, but it can get pretty tough!In terms of controls I found them to be quite basic, with each character having a standard jump, punch and kick or a special move for pressing A, B and C at the same time. Movement is fluid enough but the game does suffer a bit from collision detection issues when landing your hits. It feels a bit unfair at times and can be very frustrating in the grudge matches.One of the things I really enjoy with Pit-Fighter is the ability to throw objects such as barrels, knives and even motorcycles against each other. If you get knocked into the crowd, the throw you back out, exposing you to an easy hit and some even come out to stab you. It can be quite brutal, but very fun when you have the advantage. On some stages there's even a hidden power pill that makes you super strong! Just be careful and ensure you get to it before your opponent does.Graphically, the game does a good job for such an early title. There's a few recycled enemies and quite a lot of palette swapping to give the impression of more stage backgrounds, but it's not too noticeable. It just feels like there's not a lot of variety, but the gameplay is quite simplistic and repetitive anyway.On the subject of sound, I really like the background music of the first round. Not all of the soundtrack is great, but there is some digitized speech which is impressive for such an old game. The crowd are very clear and it really adds to the atmosphere. Sometimes the end boss (The Masked Warrior) taunts you in between stages as well, but I found that very muffled and hard to understand what he was saying.Pit-Fighter on the Mega Drive also offers a two player co-operative mode which is what me and my cousin used to play all the time. This adds more enemies to fight within each round to balance the difficulty, plus it provides a competitive element of who can earn the most prize money after each fight. 

GXP Gaming Blog

GXP Gaming Blog

House of the Dead 2 with Dad [Quick Play]

Posted: 31 Oct 2016 11:05 AM PDT

House of the Dead 2 Quick Play with Dad

Due to illness I wasn't able to get my Halloween special ready in time this year (sorry!), but thankfully my Dad agreed to join me in this quick play video for House of the Dead 2!We both have a lot of nostalgic memories for this game as we always used to play it in the arcades on holiday. I dread to think how many coins my dad sunk into the machine for us when I was younger. We loved the first game (and completed it) so when House of the Dead 2 came out it was amazing. I think this is our combined favourite title out of the entire series.This video was actually our second attempt (on Normal/Arcade difficulty). I may even upload the first attempt later on this channel or my "extra"/side one as there were some funny moments in that too.If you enjoyed this video and would like to see more of us revisiting old games, please give it a like and let me know in the comments below.