Saturday, June 30

You Ping, I Pong

It's safe to say I suck at arcade classics.

A guy down the road is building mini arcade machines packed with retro games and not only did I bomb out of Space Invaders in under a minute (granted I was distracted by a certain little girl who kept running off) but I was beaten at Galaga by a three year old.

I also downloaded a version of Pong on my iPhone created by Melbourne's Australian Centre For The Moving Image (ACMI) for their new Game Masters exhibit. Despite the game's simple concept and approach, my score is far from impressive.

The first ACMI Pong loss was chalked up to not realizing how to control the paddles properly. I'm used to sliding my finger rather than an aggressive tap. The subsequent demoralizing losses are clearly due to a lack of talent.

The game can be used with the exhibit to unlock a bonus round however if you are outside of Melbourne or don't plan on making the trip before 28 October this isn't really of benefit.

Game Masters is an exhibit celebrating the world's most influential video game designers. It includes over 125 playable games across arcade, PC, console and mobile platforms and showcases the work of over 30 game designers.

For more information on Game Masters visit and for more info on the custom arcade machines made by the guy down the street, stay tuned to Unbearable Dutch.

Friday, June 22

Stress head

You'll have to forgive me, dear readers; it's been a stressful week and I've had trouble finding the time to play anything save for a few rounds of Ski Safari.

For the next week, I'll be holidaying in Melbourne. I doubt I'll be able to post anything, especially given that iOS seems to hate Blogger more than life itself. Even though I'll be away from by home consoles, I'll be keen to log some time with my dedicated gaming portables; perhaps even moreso now, given that last week I predicted their eventual demise last week.

Stay safe and enjoy yourselves.



Tuesday, June 19

inFamous: Festival of Blood Review (PS3): Treehouse of Horror

While episodic gaming hasn't exactly taken off like I thought it would, it's a formula that I believe has a great deal of merit if executed correctly. Sonic 4 is probably the best example of what not to do, but Telltale Games are on to something with their distribution model. Games like Alan Wake and Resident Evil: Revelations aren't episodic in terms of transaction and packaging, but the thirty minutes to an hour of action with a cliffhanger and story recap bracket was a great way to keep players engaged. inFamous: Festival of Blood feels like a new sort of episodic experience, the gaming equivalent of a Treehouse of Horror episode: a bite-sized (by comparison) "What if?" scenario for players to ponder. While I had my reservations -- mainly on account of me being allergic to vampires during their period of cultural relevance -- this experiment works and is easy to recommend.

Festival of Blood uses inFamous 2's combat, strong movement mechanics and a significant portion of the New Marais cityscape as the foundation for its 4 hours of horrifying questing. Most of Cole's superpowers have made the transition too, though some require a fair bit of staking and item smashing for them to be unlocked. There's not many new abilities thrown into the mix, but those that are born from the concept: your melee weapon is now a giant stake, you can feast on the citizens of New Marais and -- wait for it -- transform into a swarm of bats and fly! You need blood (read: to feast) in order to fly, and this new movement mechanic makes getting around even more joyful than inFamous 2's end game.

The only weak part of the package is the combat. Festival of Blood takes place solely at night, so unless you turn up the brightness, it's difficult to ascertain how far gone Cole really is. When you come across enemies like the Firstborn -- that are capable of unstoppable flurries of projectile attacks -- or any great quantity of Banshees, the frustration factor increases ten fold. To survive such encounters, combat devolves into a non-stop festival of forward rolls. That, and the camera can take on a personality of its own when you engage in melee combat in tight spaces. Don't get me wrong, the action is far from broken, but I came close to lofting my controller out the window on several occasions.

I won't address presentation in any great level of detail, as you've essentially got one third of New Marais in a permanent state of nightfall. Don't get me wrong, the Pyre Night festival is thick with Creole atmosphere and beautiful lighting effects; but if you've played inFamous 2, you'll know exactly what to expect. Speaking of Creole, the jazzy score accentuates the action perfectly. As per my evaluation of inFamous 2's soundtrack, it's a vastly different sound to that found in your average sandbox action game. Festival of Blood is a visual and aural feast.

It may be short, but inFamous: Festival of Blood is well worth your time and money. The horror episode concept works well and I hope it's something that Sucker Punch experiments with again. The combat may be frustrating at times, but the wonderful movement mechanics and strong presentation make for one of the most enjoyable games available via the PlayStation Network.

Saturday, June 16

E3 2012: Where dedicated gaming handhelds went to die

I'm a handheld enthusiast; have been since I first saw the full colour glory of the Sega Game Gear.

The proliferation of cheap games for Android and iOS tablets and smartphones has meant tough times for the dedicated gaming handheld. The Nintendo 3DS has its price slashed within months of release and the PlayStation Vita has been subject to many a gloomy prediction (including my own) thanks to a lack of support from retailers and a high cost of entry. These machines need a shot in the arm... a series of announcements that would make them relevant to gamers the world over. If ever there were a venue for such announcements, it was the Electronic Entertainment Expo 2012 (E3 2012).

I read articles and tweets, watched trailers and sat on the edge of my seat as liveblogs of the Big Three's press conferences hit the web. I waited for proof of life, for a reason to believe in the future of my favourite platforms; but the news never came.

With regards to the Playstation Vita, we may have seen footage of Assassin's Creed: Liberation, PlayStation All-Stars Battle Royale and had the announcement of Call of Duty: Black Ops: Declassified, but it felt like the system was glossed over during Sony's presser. Think about it: the handful of games, apps and functionality (Cross Play and PSone support) seen during the conference had been revealed before E3 2012 (in some cases, well beforehand). Even news of the incoming YouTube app hit the web before the 3 day event began.

Most troubling of all, Sony have at least twenty-five games to show for the troubled handheld, but I wasn't to know that based on the coverage of the event that I saw. If not for a good friend -- who pointed me to a NeoGAF thread on June 7 -- I would've only had a handful of games to look forward to between now and the end of the year. Don't get me wrong: things are still bleak, but at least the system's survival hinges on more than a Super Smash Brothers clone and some franchise tie-ins of which we've seen less than a minute of actual gameplay footage.

Then we turn to the Nintendo 3DS, which fared worse than the Vita in terms of the amount of games on show. During the Nintendo conference proper, there was a scant showing for the portable with New Super Mario Bros 2, Paper Mario: Sticker Star and Luigi's Mansion: Dark Moon being the only games shown in any great detail. Even with a third party sizzle reel Nintendo could only bring the 3DS game count to just over a handful on the day.

During the painful 3DS Software Showcase that was broadcast the following day, handheld enthusiasts were subjected to more forced chemistry between Nintendo's North American executive team. Even though we were treated to prolonged coverage of the three aforementioned and highly anticipated first party titles, we only saw hints of another handful of underwhelming titles being developed outside of Nintendo's stables. After more than two hours of woefully-delivered PR speak and carefully-edited videos, we emerged with just over ten titles to hold on for.

For the dedicated gaming handheld enthusiast, alarm bells should be ringing. With roughly forty titles on our horizon, and suspicious absences from Monster Hunter 3G for 3DS and Killzone for the Vita, I genuinely fear that our time may be at an end. Mario's master, Shigeru Miyamoto is hinting at a new generation of portables, but I can't help but feel that such talk is premature with two machines struggling to find support from developers thanks to the mobile and tablet goldmine still offering big dividends to all takers.

E3 2012 was Sony and Nintendo's chance to create enthusiasm for their handheld devices, but instead they got press attention for all the wrong reasons. Consumers need a reason to get excited for the Vita and the 3DS, or else we'll all be turning to our phones to get our game on. For me, that's a worst case scenario; as I love the responsiveness and sense of enjoyment that's only possible with buttons and sticks if you've got some to spare.

Are you a handheld enthusiast? What did E3 2012 mean for your passion?

Wednesday, June 13

All Hyped Up And Nowhere To Go

It seemed like yesterday when I was thinking about E3 and wondering what impressive tech, gaming and innovations would be uncovered at the gaming industries biggest convention.

But while it's no longer January, E3 has come and gone and I'm not really any more the wiser. Here's a quick rundown based on a bunch of other sites that did all the running around for me.

None of the big three (Microsoft, Sony, Nintendo) are bringing out a new console or platform this year. Well technically Nintendo's WiiU is launching but that was announced last year. The most impressive tech was the unveiling of Unreal Engine 4 which is set to be the next big platform of next-gen gaming.

It felt like Halo 4 and COD: Black Ops 2 were announced as the doors opened with other developers essentially following suit and revealing their new releases straight off the bat.

Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance, Gears of War Judgement, Forza 4, Tomb Raider (yet another one), Splinter Cell: Blacklist, SimCity, Dead Space 3, Borderlands 2, Assassins Creed III, Star Wars 1313 and Crysis 3 were all presented to an eager crowd despite many (if not all?) we're already promoted well before E3.

One game that did excite and intrigue me was Rocksmith. As you may have guessed it's in a similar vein to Guitar Hero/Rock Band but instead uses an actual guitar. A simple plug adapter turns your electric guitar into a controller and the game teaches you to play a range of classics.

Coming later this year is Doom 3 BFG Edition. While you can expect more of the same awesomeness experienced from the franchise, one extra feature you can expect is a virtual reality version.

As you can see from the video, there are a few cool features to look forward to despite the hefty, potential price tag.

E3 2012 wasn't the most exciting for news but some awesome looking new releases are coming soon and are sure to eat up our hard earned dollars.

Keep an eye out for more follow up stories on the key games coming soon (I've been too lazy to send off the 360 so I have to write about something!)

Note: Thanks to IGN for all the running around. They're a bunch of good eggs with their finger squarely on the pulse. Be sure to check out their other bits and pieces here.

Tuesday, June 12

Resistance: Burning Skies Review (PSV): When the music ends

I've always been a bit awkward in social situations: none more so than the school dance that had me vying for the affections of young women that I haven't seen -- in most cases -- for about a decade. If I did manage a dance, I could never quite figure out what to do when the music stopped. Should I have gone in for the kiss? Engaged in small talk? Should I have walked away? I never knew what to do, and if you'll forgive the analogy, nor does Resistance: Burning Skies when the guns stop blazing and the music settles.

As I've discussed before, Burning Skies does a lot to turn players off: there's the lacklustre visuals, the nonsensical save system, and the completely disposable story that adds nothing to proceedings. Online multiplayer is ostensibly broken too. Even if you did have a compatible modem/router set up, hit detection and damage modelling are a little wacky and there's not enough unlockables to keep players hooked for long.

So, after these observations, I'd forgive you thinking this is a lost cause. I'd forgive you, but you'd be wrong! Not super wrong... just slightly mistaken. Why? Resistance: Burning Skies gets some shooter fundamentals right.
There's an expansive and upgradeable arsenal with series' staples like the Bullseye, the M5A2 Carbine and the Auger (that still shoots through walls!). There's also new additions like the shotgun/explosive crossbow hybrid that is the Mule, and the Mauler: a joyous union of minigun and flamethrower. There's some solid boss fights, innovative controls and enjoyable set pieces. When you're actually shooting things, Resistance: Burning Skies is worth the price of admission.

Innovative controls in a first person shooter! Who'd have thunk it? Using touch controls for preparing and, on occasion, using secondary fire doesn't feel intrusive, but natural in most instances. Sure, it's not groundbreaking, but it does allow for precise placement of grenades and targeting with alternate fire modes. The new control method doesn't get in the way of the action, it enhances it.

Save for the painful, final boss fight, Burning Skies' firefights shine. The cover system -- which I had predicted to be unable to handle any great amount of stress -- works for all but the final level, where hiding spots are few and far between. Enemies, while not exactly varied, appear in respectable numbers; some even move with frightening speed and agility. Whenever I was shooting aliens in this game, I was having fun. 

When the enemy numbers thin out, things fall apart. The story is fairly uneventful, and Riley's achievements seem meagre in comparison to that of his contemporaries: Hale and Grayson. There are only really two characters given any great amount of camera time here, and while neither are unlikable, you'll struggle to remember them after any small passage of time. It's also worth noting that the campaign only runs for about five hours; although, I actually thought this worked in the game's favour as nothing outstays its welcome. Still, despite a litany of noteworthy problems, I liked this game. I just can't in good conscience recommend it to you.

Dutch note: I bought my copy at JB Hi-Fi which came with a PSN voucher that included a free copy of Resistance: Retribution. Considering that you can opt to play PSP games with two sticks, this is a pretty big bonus; so be sure to check if the copy that you're buying has two vouchers in it.

Saturday, June 9

More thoughts on Resistance: Burning Skies

I really want to like this game. Why is it trying so hard to break my resolve?
Allow me to explain. Resistance: Burning Skies follows the story of Tom Riley -- at least I think that's his name, the story is pretty much dead weight in my opinion -- a New York firefighter whose day goes from bad to worse upon answering a call-out to a factory fire and stumbling into the Chimera invasion. Solid premise, but you're thrown into the action straight away, and the little morsels of story you come across don't really form into anything compelling (or cohesive, for that matter). Cut-scenes are shown in a resolution that would be unacceptable for most smartphones, and support character models' mouths rarely animate in game. It's cut-price narrative in a full-priced affair.

As a firefighter, Tom carries a trusty axe with him throughout the adventure. Using the axe, players can initiate some fairly gruesome melee attack animations (which is good), but the sound will cut out half of the time; meaning the execution is less than convincing. In online multiplayer, melee kills make no sound at all if you successfully connect with your opponent; if you miss, you get a knife-swipey sound. In Resistance: Burning Skies, silence equals success. Issues like this aren't game-breakers, but there's so many little things wrong with this game, so many corners that the developers cut in order to get the product out there.

Online multiplayer is only possible if you've got a certain connection type that doesn't appear possible with my router/modem setup. Thankfully, I'm at my parents' place this weekend and managed to connect to a few matches. Unfortunately, all I really got for my troubles was a gold trophy. I can see potential here, but there's some huge problems with damage scaling and hit detection. Some examples include being hit (and killed) by an opponent's melee attack while standing on the opposite side of a long corridor and unloading an entire clip of a Bullseye into a tagged opponent with no kill to show for it. The maps I played on, however, were perfectly designed for the smaller-scale 4 vs 4 battles that Burning Skies is limited to. Patch this game, allow me to connect and we could have a time sink. In its current state though, I'll be lucky to be able to play it once every month.

Perhaps my biggest issue with the game though is the inability to save at checkpoints. If you're killed in the campaign, you'll find that the checkpoint system is fairly forgiving. If, however, you decide to quit out of the campaign to try multiplayer or use the Vita for other purposes, be prepared for frustration. You'll need to watch the unskippable level intro and make your way back to the point where you quit out. Players, beware!

All of these issues aside, I am genuinely enjoying Burning Skies. It's just a shame that the potential in this package has been compromised by a nothing story and a series of questionable design choices.

Wednesday, June 6

The Demo Downlow: Resistance: Burning Skies (PSV)

The first review I read for Resistance: Burning Skies was less than glowing. Affording Nihilistic's first effort for the PlayStation Vita a score of 2 out of 10, Jim Sterling resolved to test my desire for a first person shooter on the young portable. What was a "must buy" turned into a bargain bin acquisition in minutes.

I read some other reviews, and while they weren't quite as harsh as that seen on Destructoid, they were still fairly uninspiring due to some common observations: ugly, bland and boring. Rather than give up on the game completely, I decided to download the demo and see this mess for myself. While it's not the best FPS on the market, I don't think it's fair to relegate it Review Hell either.

 Welcome to Review Hell!

Don't get me wrong, this game is ugly; but we're still in the early days of the Vita, so I think it's unfair to assume that every game on the system will have graphics on par with home console versions. Mortal Kombat on the Vita looked terrible in most situations and I didn't read a single observation regarding "lacklustre visuals." Perhaps more importantly, the shooting feels somewhat satisfying. Even in spite of muffled sound effects and lack of eye candy, Resistance: Burning Skies handles well, shouldn't that count for something?

The use of touch controls is quite smart in my opinion: secondary fire modes and the throwing of grenades is managed by tapping, pressing, or otherwise swiping the screen. The button controls work just like your average Call of Duty clone, and I found it to be more than functional. There's even a promising cover mechanic that probably won't function too well in the more hectic firefights, but it's good enough for me now.

If it weren't for the fact that I'm fast becoming a collector of Vita games, I'd advise that the trial would do little to convince you to spend at least fifty bucks on the full version. Since I lack any real sense of fiscal discipline, however, you'd best believe that I bought that game.

Sunday, June 3

Fear not, the privileged: our reign will not end with Hitman: Absolution

Trigger warning: rape, violence against women.

If you have eyes, ears and an internet connection, I've no doubt that you've seen the controversial trailer for Hitman: Absolution. There's also a solid chance you've read something of the videogame rape culture that this two-and-a-half minutes of facepalm fuel has brought to the forefront.

To be clear, I am under no illusions: a videogame rape culture exists and I continue to see it first hand. Violence against women is normalised, sexualised in some cases, and there's evidence to suggest that women are subject to "a continuum of threatened violence" in the medium (quoted in McEwan, 2009). Further to that, despite all of the articulate voices that have acknowledged, or otherwise engaged with this topic; I'm confident that my fellow straight males can rest safe in the knowledge that our dominance of discourse regarding videogames will remain unthreatened.

The many arms of privilege
What makes me so sure? Firstly there's this piece by Tom Chick defending the tentacle rape card game, Tentacle Bento. If you haven't heard of the game, feel free to watch this promotional video that still makes me feel ill.

Mr Chick's arguments can be summed up as follows:
  1. The concept of tentacle rape is pure fantasy and can therefore not possibly be harmful to anyone or be linked to "the terrible criminal violation of women".
  2. Tentacle rape doesn't stir his loins in any way, so therefore, the fantasy concept would only appeal to a select few people. 
  3. Having a  readily-available, visual representation of something vile doesn't mean that society condones it.
  4. If Tentacle Bento trivialises rape, then other videogames trivialise other horrible happenings such as murder, war and road rage. Action to ban Tentacle Bento would in turn lead us down the slippery slope of censoring any games that allow socially-unacceptable behaviour.
Mr Chick fails to acknowledge his privileged status and I think that cheapens his argument as a result. As a straight male, there is little here that would cause great offense: all of the game's sexual violence is perpetrated against women characters, there is nothing to challenge his sexuality or make him overly uncomfortable. This game is designed solely for the male gaze; you can even have your wife or girlfriend feature in the game if you pledge enough money towards the game's development. If you're a straight male and not troubled by the game's fantasy concept, there's little chance that you'd give the matter a second thought and I'm sure that Mr Chick's words have given solace to those involved in getting it off the ground.

Mr Chick's article is a response to efforts by Insert Credit's Brandon Sheffield and Kotaku's Luke Plunkett to have the game banned from crowd-sourcing website, Kickstarter. At the very least, I'll agree that Plunkett's effort is little more than a tip of a cap, but Sheffield hit the nail on the head with the following:
Tentacle Bento’s Kickstarter success is the product of a society that doesn’t take sexual assault against women seriously enough. It shows that enough people think it’s “not a big deal.” The argument comparing a game about rape to games about violence is limited by the fact that murder is almost universally penalized in our culture, meaning there is a clear line between fantasy and reality there. With rape and molestation, that line is not so clearly drawn, and it results in “cute” games like Tentacle Bento.
Even in games like Saints Row -- that Chick uses as an example in his retort -- murder may be trivialised, but there are repurcussions for the act (no matter how inconsequential, or how easy they may be to avoid). Going on my limited knowledge of Tentacle Bento, it seems that there are mechanisms to stop players from molesting women, yet there's no consequence for the act; save for the possibility that you may not have abducted as many young women as your competitors. Now let us have a moment of silence for the poor bastard that couldn't rape as many women as the man sitting next to him. The shame that poor bugger must have felt; it must've been unbearable.

However, even with the Kickstarter campaign thwarted, Chick is still able to proudly assert that the naysayers lost the war:  Soda Pop Miniatures were able to manage fundraising from their own website and the game will see release. There's been no cries of condemnation after the fact, just misguided declarations that art has won out over censorship that are (funnily enough) made by people in Chick's position of privilege.

The shame of survival
If you missed Patricia Hernandez's deeply moving article regarding her experience with rape culture in the context of Gears of War multiplayer, can I please strongly suggest you stop what you're doing and read it now?

In my position of privilege, I  previously saw the actions described by the author as nothing more than puerile, frat boy humour. Yes, it was frustrating to be subjected to mock humping and teabagging in a few rounds of Execution, but what did I care? It was just some guys letting off some steam. Worst case scenario, I could quit and cop a small penalty. I've never experienced anything on par with the personal anguish that Hernandez disclosed in such visceral detail, so it's pretty easy for me to dismiss such hijinx.

As someone who's survived such violation, this behaviour becomes something much more powerful and potentially traumatic to the author. Not only can I vouch for the observation that using a woman character's skin paints a target on your forehead, but worse still, her account made me identify the language that I use when describing defeat in competitive environments:

"Those dudes raped me!"
"I got my ass handed to me."
"They had their way with me!"

Such sexualised language is normalised in the context of competitive online gaming. For my part, I'm going to make a conscious effort to cut out this type of banter and instead point out the obvious: my opponents won because of skill, strategy or luck. Possibly a combination of all three, depending on the situation and how highly I think of myself at the time.

Hitmen don't speak
So, that trailer I've assumed that you've seen: what of it, straight male privilege and videogame rape culture?

Rather than regurgitate or otherwise repurpose the observations and opinion of Brendan Keogh (via his blog, Critical Damage), Kotaku Australia's Mark Serrels and CVG's Sarah Ditum, I thought I'd explore that of other outlets. What I saw constituted an unwillingness to engage with this troubling topic at best, and a straight-up denial at worst.
  • Polygon: The trailer is given lip service via a brief blurb
  • Kill Screen: Michael Thomsen wrote a counter argument to Keogh's post that can be summed up by the following quote: "It is possible to depict an act in art without endorsing it". That sounds a little familiar, doesn't it? 
  • Penny Arcade: Unsurprisingly, the team behind the infamous web comic are very dismissive in their assessment of the trailer for IO Interactive's latest effort. Let's not forget that Mike Krahulik and Jerry Holkins have been embroiled in videogame rape culture controversy with the Dickwolves scandal last year. I won't go too much further into their coverage as there's someone (specifically, Foz Meadows) who's already done so in a fashion far more eloquent than I could hope to emulate. Long story short, Krahulik takes a similar approach to that which Tom Chick did with Tentacle Bento, dismissing the trailer as pure fantasy that is sexually unappealing to him thus undoing any arguments regarding hyper sexualisation and rape culture.
  • Penny Arcade Report: Senior Editor, Ben Kuchera hasn't yet published anything about the trailer to the website, but he has spoken of it via Twitter. Kuchera asserts that most videogame blogs run content that is offensive to women, so he "can't work up any outrage" or otherwise engage with the trailer. He did, however, include Kill Screen's counter argument to Keogh's piece in "The Cut": a page within the Penny Arcade Report site that aims to filter out the best games writing on the web.
  • Gamespot, 1UP and Giant Bomb: Other than the fact that readers are asked to verify their age to view the trailer: nothing to report.  
  • IGN: Apart from this opinion piece from Keza MacDonald (which was ridiculously hard to find using the site's search engine), I found the painfully funny juxtaposition of the website's most popular videos -- this changes often, but I averaged two game trailers and as many as five separate videos of revealing cosplay and lingerie shoots -- with a quote: "The latest Hitman: Absolution trailer pairs gratuitous violence with sexualised imagery to create the most troubling piece of marketing material I think I’ve ever seen."
  • Destructoid: I was sincerely hoping that Jim Sterling would unleash his wrath on the trailer, but instead he turns to the site's readership for their reaction.   
Despite cries of protest, it's pretty clear that hypersexualised action, violence against women and games writing will continue to co-exist in the short term at the very least. The majority of outlets have either refused to engage with the trailer or the rape culture that it represents.

How do you want me to think? 
I can't force you to assume my point of view, but I think the lack of formal engagement with the trailer for Hitman: Absolution represents a failure by the majority of games journalists to hold IO Interactive to account for a marketing campaign that is in poor taste. Forget the "Are games art?" debate and the potential impact such rubbish has on the medium's reputation, and forget that the action depicted in the trailer isn't practical using the awkward stealth mechanics I associate with the series: this advertisement is just plain offensive. I don't think it should be banned, but games and gamers deserve better than this. 

What did you think of the trailer for Hitman: Absolution? Is the reaction (or lack there of) justified?

Saturday, June 2

Raw animal lust in a steamy Tokyo Jungle

When my fellow contributor, Dawson and I were studying marketing at university, I canvassed him and a friend for interest in forming a band. I had no musical talent whatsoever, but was interested in writing music about dolphins romancing other dolphins. It was fodder for a great many jokes at the time, but writing a comedy album was something that I desperately wanted to do.

The desire to write lyrics hasn't faded completely, however, I'm fairly sure music about aquatic life making love has limited commercial appeal. That, and as above, I have no musical talent; I can't even sing.

What do my unrealised musical aspirations have to do with videogames? Well, let me answer that question with a question: Have you seen anything regarding Tokyo Jungle?

What I've seen of the game is far more compelling than anything I could've written, and while I detest violence against animals in videogames, animal-on-animal violence is arguably natural. Sure, a velociraptor wouldn't have encountered a panda during the Cretaceous Period, but you'd imagine a raptor would be pretty far up the food chain if it existed in the modern day. More to the point, this brawler, platformer and animal love simulator is powerfully different to anything else out there on the market. 

Also, what other game have you seen with a trailer narrated by a Pomeranian? 

I'm saddened by the thought that this probably won't see a Western release, but I may just import this one. Even if I have no idea what the fuck is going on.