Saturday, June 29, 2019
By: Patrick "TheLaw" Morris
In the series final of The Office, Andy Bernard says "I wish there was a way to know you're in the good old days before you’ve actually left them." and I think that quote rings true with almost everyone. We all know what it's like to long for the good old days and to think back about how much better life was. I've been through many phases of my life that I have later looked back on as "the good old days." There was the time I spent in High School with my friends Eric, Dylan, Ben, Billy, and Wes. Then I made friends in college Zach, Ethan, Nathan, and Caitlyn. And later on in college I was lucky enough to call Heather, Lazio, Spencer, Carlos, Ryan, and Sam, some of the fiercest and most loyal people I've ever met, my friends. Regardless of which era of good old days I think back on they're all treasured memories; but the one thing all phases in life have in common is that just like everything else hey all come to an end.
Welcome welcome welcome everyone welcome back to LegalSpeak a ColdNorth Production. I'm TheLawMorris and this is the video essay series where I get to talk about the game I've been playing and what I think of the medium as a whole. You can find everything we do all in one spot over at ColdNorthPro.com. This week is going to be a little different, this week I'll be discussing what Grand Theft Auto Online means to me. So lets get to it.
One of the hardest parts of being an adult and one that nobody warns you about is growing apart from your friends. As everyone's life begins to take shape there is less and less time to spend together until eventually you're really only seeing each other occasionally and living off memories. Growing apart is just a part of life but it doesn’t make it hurt any less. Our lives take us down separate roads and what once was cannot always be.
For me Grand Theft Auto Online started as playing a game with a friend. In the beginning it was just Ben and me. For a while it was every waking moment that wasn’t consumed by work or school was devoted to playing GTAO. Together we ruled the streets of Los Santos, often times we would pick fights with other player characters and sometimes we would win, more often we would lose but it didn’t matter because we were doing it together. Ben is the best friend I've ever had, has been with me through thick and thin and while we were in college we lived an hours drive away from each other. Our lives were starting to take us down those separate paths but as soon as we started playing Grand Theft Auto together suddenly distance was no longer an obstacle, we were hanging out every day again.
Those early days of Grand Theft Auto Online are some of my fondest memories of any video game and it's also probably the most addicted to a video game I have ever been. After several weeks of of this full blown addiction we managed to convince Ethan to buy a PS3 and GTA to play with us. Then through Ethan came Nathan and the four of us together started a group text thread specifically for planning to play GTA. This sounds like such a menial throw away thing and at the time it was, at the time all it was was a game that I was enjoying a lot and a text thread for my friends and I to plan to play together. Over time more people joined us, Gabe, Zach, Tim. Some came and went but still to this day that group chat lives on, the Krang Brain lives on. What started as a way of planning GTA has become my primary means of staying in touch with my closest group of friends.
Together we've spent thousands of hours roaming the streets of Los Santos, the back roads of Blaine County, and the race up Mount Chiliad. We spent so much time in GTAO together that it became more than just a game that I was playing with my friends it became the way I spent time with them. For me Grand Theft Auto Online superseded being just a game, it became so much more than that. GTAO became a place that I went with my friends to hang out.
Over the years our lives have taken all of us in different directions just like they have with all of my other friend groups and I'm not upset by that because like I said it's a natural part of life. It's been more than a year since we last visited Los Santos but we all still participate in the group chat regularly. Grand Theft Auto connected us in an incredibly real way but unlike my previous friend groups it kept us connected. We don’t play together as much as we used to, in fact some of us hardly play anything at all anymore. But we all still carry each other around and can message each other at a moments notice.
It sounds stupid but Grand Theft Auto has done so much for me. When we first started playing I literally didn’t do anything besides school, work, and GTA and because I wasn’t doing anything I inadvertently saved up a significant amount of money that I used to buy the computer I made my very first YouTube video on. I got to know a guy that lived in an entirely different state and now I talk to him almost daily and consider him one of my best friends. I was able to move across the country knowing I would still have this game anchoring me in my relationship with my friends. I was able to find common ground with a new friend in my new area who wound up working his way into the group chat now too. I started a podcast because I wanted to take these conversations my friends and I were having in GTA and put them out there for the world to hear.
To me GTA Online is the reason I play video games. Some games are absolute masterpieces in their medium and I love those. God of War, Majora's Mask, and Metal Gear Solid 3 are all a masterclass in story telling but no matter how much I love those stories they're never as good as the one's I've written with my friends. As I wrote this video and thought about all the good old days I have to look back on not only with the Krang Brain but with everyone, my high school friends, my college friends, and now my gaming friends it became very apparent that I have had a great life and I have so much to look forward to from here, not because of the games or the places or anything else but because of the people. To me Grand Theft Auto Online is the good old days but it’s a good old days that has kept on giving and I will always be thankful for that.
Sunday, June 23, 2019
Saturday, June 22, 2019
By: Patrick "TheLaw" Morris
Welcome welcome welcome everyone welcome back to LegalSpeak a ColdNorth Production. I'm TheLawMorris and this is the video essay series in which I get to talk about the games I've been playing and what I think of the medium as a whole. Now that the dust has settled and we're living in a post E3 world at least until next year, I figured it would be a good time to throw it back to the early nineties so today we are going to be talking about Donkey Kong 94, lets get to it!
Now this is gonna be a new variant on LegalSpeak and I'm calling it the Court of Appeals. It will be a subseries within LegalSpeak where I take another look at an older game through a modern lens. I'll be assessing the merits of the game and how it may have aged. And finally I'll be making a recommendation of if the games hold up and could be enjoyed when played for the first time in modern day.
So for the first court of appeals I'll be reassessing a game that I loved as a kid but never played it beyond the age of seven, I'll be taking a look at Donkey Kong '94 for the Nintendo Gameboy. When I was a kid I was sick on what was apparently a fairly important day of work for my mom so instead of staying home with me she took me to work with her. On the way we stopped at Target and she bought me a silver Gameboy Pocket and because she knew I loved Donkey Kong Country on my Super Nintendo so much she also bought me a copy of Donkey Kong '94 so I would have something to do all day while she worked. I played that game all day and aside from Pokémon it was without a doubt my favorite Gameboy game ever.
Just recently I downloaded the game for my 3DS and played through the entire thing again. And after 101 levels all with their own little quirks and puzzles to solve I'm very happy to say that I was in no way misremembering this game. Donkey Kong '94 was made up of what was even at the time considered old school gameplay that had been proven in what is one of the most iconic arcade cabinets of all time. The control scheme is extremely tight and responsive making for an excellent platforming experience and because the game is based off the original arcade cabinet its not a simple side scroller. While there is some horizontal movement in certain levels the vast majority of screen movement happens on the vertical axis and each individual level is a puzzle not to be progressed through but to be solved. The game involves tons of backtracking through the same area as opposed to a linear path. Each puzzle can be approached in several different ways and it's really left up to the player to figure out how they want to complete each level. The mixture of puzzle solving and skill based platforming makes for a constant trial and error that is supremely satisfying when you figure out the trick to a level that you've been struggling with.
Throughout the game there are more and more mechanics added into the levels with a quick demonstration that smartly teaches the player what they're about to see coming up but in an environment that is so simplistic it in no way gives away the solutions to any specific levels. Players are forced to think about each new mechanic and how it interacts with the mechanics they have already been utilizing making for what eventually becomes mechanics layered on top of mechanics for some really challenging levels with a wide variety of situations to overcome. The game is paced excellently and that is almost entirely a result of when the new mechanics are introduced. The player is given the opportunity to save after a handful of levels beaten which not only keeps everything fresh but also gives a real sense of progression in a very short amount of time. Which leads me to one of the best parts about Donkey Kong '94 which is that it is clearly a game that was designed from the ground up to be played in short bursts because it was made for a handheld console. You were very clearly never meant to sit down with this game the way you would with a home console game and sink 2-3 hours into one play session. It's a game that was intended to be turned on played for a few minutes while on the bus or waiting for an appointment then put back in your pocket until you were ready to play again.
Besides Donkey Kong Country 2 no game is perfect and Donkey Kong '94 is definitely not perfect. But as I was playing through the game I was genuinely having difficulty finding something really detrimental to the entire experience. Then it hit me harder than a barrel I jumped late for: the game is actually pretty limited by its availability. It was originally released in 1994 for the Gameboy then it lay dormant until it was finally rereleased on the 3DS virtual console. This is a fantastic game that can easily be called one of Nintendo's hidden gems and very few people have even gotten the opportunity to play it because Nintendo hasn’t shown it the love it deserves. So it's difficult to find a flaw with the game itself the total lack of availability cripples it before it even has a chance to get into the players hands.
Donkey Kong '94 is criminally underrated. And when looking at it today of course it wont be able to stack up against the major home console releases like Super Mario Odyssey or Breath of the Wild but those aren't really the games that this game should be compared to. A more fair comparison for Donkey Kong '94 in today's market is mobile games. And when compared to mobile games this game is a straight up masterpiece. It was one of the first ever video game remakes that took what was established in the original and expanded on the idea making it a much more complete but more importantly better game with a lot more to offer. If you're thinking about playing Donkey Kong '94 for the first time in 2019 all I can advise for you is to go download that game right now. And if you don’t have a 3DS available to you while I wouldn't recommend buying the entire console just to play Donkey Kong '94 there are so many stellar games both new and old available on the console that you would be a fool not to buy the console and play this game even in 2019.
Did you get to play Donkey Kong '94? What are your thoughts on the game and when did you first play it? Let me know in the comments down below.
If you liked what you heard don’t forget to subscribe for a new video essay and two new podcasts every week! You can find everything we do all in one spot over at ColdNorthPro.com. I'll be back next week with something new to discuss so until then just go play some games.
Saturday, June 8, 2019
By: Patrick "TheLaw" Morris
Welcome welcome welcome everyone welcome back to LegalSpeak A ColdNorth Production. I'm TheLawMorris and this is the video essay series where I get to talk about the games I've been playing and what I think of the medium as a whole. You can see everything we do all in one spot over at ColdNorthPro.com. This week we are going to be discussing where I think the Nintendo Switch falls short and what I think can be done to overcome those shortcomings so lets get right to it.
Now before everyone gets out their pitchforks and gets ready to burn me at the stake let me start by saying that I love the Nintendo Switch. I love the switch as a handheld for just lounging around the house. I love the switch as a home console to play on my living room TV. I love the Switch as a unique local multiplayer focused console, a throwback to a bygone era. But no matter how much I love the Switch when it comes to leaving the house its not the one that always comes with me. So that got me thinking, why is it that when it comes to taking a gaming console with me I still depend on my 2DS XL for my every day carry and not my Switch?
Nintendo has dominated the handheld market since the introduction of the Gameboy in 1989. There have been a small handful of real contenders that have put up a decent fight over the years like the Sega Gamegear and more recently the PSP but even at the height of their popularity those consoles were still a distant second to whatever Nintendo was offering at the time. While it's not the biggest sales wise physically the Switch is the biggest Nintendo handheld to date. It's an extremely personal device and when used at home the size of the console is no problem whatsoever but as soon as you leave the comfort of your own home it becomes very apparent that the Switch is not a small device. In the home it's manageable but on a train, bus or plane it becomes almost unwieldy. I consider the switch borderline to big but this cant be the only reason my switch rarely leaves my house.
In 2012 I owned both a 3DS XL and a PlayStation Vita I loved both of those consoles and had games I played on both but when it came to leaving the house there was really only one that I took with me and that was my 3DS. Even at the smaller screen size and overall footprint the Vita was still unable to edge out the 3DS as my every day carry console of choice. So why did I prefer my 3DS XL to my Vita way back in 2012 and why do I prefer my 2DS XL to my Switch today? Form factor.
Nintendo's Switch and Sony's last handheld share a similar form factor, a slab design held horizontally with controls on either side and a large screen in the middle. The 3DS and 2DS XL on the other hand both feature a clamshell design. Now I don’t just prefer a clamshell design for no reason, what really kill the slab design of the Vita and the Switch is the exposed screen. Way back in 2003 Nintendo made an adjustment to their Gameboy Advance line by implementing the SP and with the SP came what I consider to be the two most significant improvements ever made to handheld consoles: a lit screen and a clamshell design. I know the first SP was front lit but I am still going to give it to them they were definitely on the right track. The clamshell design protected the screen and controls, and made the entire console significantly more pocketable and in turn more portable. It was a design that worked so well that with the exception of the standard 2DS Nintendo would continue to iterate on that same design for the next 14 years.
But then the Switch came along and gone was the clamshell design that could easily fold up and be thrown into a bag or put in my back pocket without having to worry about the screen or controls. As soon as the gigantic screen was left exposed I immediately knew I was going to have to carry a case at all times. It took me a few tries but eventually I found a case that I actually really like watching Bob Wulff on The Wulff Den, you can find a link to their channel and a link to the case I bought in the description. So I found a case that I liked but that doesn’t change the fact that even having a case at all slows down the entire playing experience. Now what was pulling my 2DS out of my pocket flipping it open and playing has turned into taking the Switch out of my bag, taking it out of its case, finding a place to put the case, then turning on the Switch to play. I know it sounds like I'm complaining about very minor things here but the fact of the matter is is that the exposed screen puts me in a position where the time it takes to get into the experience makes it a complete non starter when it is having to compete with pulling my iPhone out of my pocket and browsing reddit. Getting my 2DS out is a comparable amount of effort as getting my phone out (maybe a little more) but widening that gap is a great way to ensure that I don’t spend that public transit commute playing games. The Switch has fallen victim to a similar fate as the iPad: its great for use at home but when taken out and about my iPhone is always more convenient.
So how do I propose Nintendo fixes this whole Swithuation? With the rumors of the Switch mini and the Switch Pro on the horizon it seems more people are hoping for a Switch pro over a Switch mini. But to those people I ask, why? What could be done to make the Switch better enough that it could justify buying a Switch Pro? Sure they could put a 1080p screen in the thing but then that kills battery life. They could up the internal memory but with the 500gb micro sd cards selling for less than a hundred dollars these days im not to concerned with the 32gb standard. And yes they could build it around a faster SOC for better gameplay performance but to that I say I already have a PS4pro and an Xbox one X so if I want something with power Ill just go there. What I want for the future of the Switch is for Nintendo to really lean into the portability aspect of the console.
I want the Switch mini to be a clamshell design at a similar size to the 2DS XL possibly a bit bigger. Beef up the controls with bigger and better buttons than the ones on the joy con and use two full size circle pads in place of analog sticks. Pack all those controls into the bottom half of the device and give the player plenty of room to move around on that surface. Then fill the top portion up with screen. Even if the screen has to be a bit smaller that’s fine with me if it means it wont be constantly exposed. Nintendo make the Switch Flip and I will be ready to buy on day one.
What do you think about the possibility of a smaller more portable Switch with a clamshell design? Let me know in the comments down below.
If you're new here don’t forget to subscribe for a new video essay and two new podcasts every week. You can find everything we do all in one spot over at ColdNorthPro.com. I'll be back next week talking about my predictions for E3 2019 so until then just go play some games.
By: Patrick "TheLaw" Morris
Welcome welcome welcome everyone welcome back to LegalSpeak a ColdNorth Production. I'm TheLawMorris and this is the video essay series where I get to talk about the games I've been playing and what I think of the medium as a whole. You can find everything we do including both of our podcasts all in one spot over at ColdNorthPro.com. Now I've been trying to make these things a bit shorter but whenever I sit down to write it just keeps pouring out of me like I'm lactose intolerant and I've just woken up at 3AM after taco night so please bear with me, I'm working on it. Anyway this week I'm crazy excited to share my wild theory about the next generation of Xbox so lets get right to it!
So everyone makes E3 predictions videos and who can blame them they're all super fun! I'll have a whole load of predictions on our podcast HardReset right before the actual conference but today I'm going to go into a bit more detail about my biggest and boldest E3 prediction not only this year but my biggest one ever. I couldn’t wait to get this out so here it is: the next generation of Xbox codenamed Scarlett will be released later this year and Microsoft is going to tell us all about it at their E3 conference.
Now before I start connecting red string and chasing after my own Pepe Silvia I need you to make one small leap just so we can all get rolling on the same page, I need us all to agree that Halo Infinite will almost certainly be a launch title for the Scarlet. With the exceptions of Halo 2 and 5 both of which there are reasonable explanations for, Halo games show up at two E3's. They're announced via a teaser then gameplay is shown off the next year and they come out 3-6 months after their second E3. Halo 2 got it's teaser in 2002 because Microsoft needed to keep the momentum going on their new console and Halo 5 was eventually released in 2015 but was announced in 2013 as a show of good faith that Microsoft's flagship series would definitely be coming to the yet to be released Xbox One. But aside from those two the pattern is solid. Halo 3 was revealed at E3 2006 reappeared at E3 2007 and released in September of 2007. Halo Reach announced in 2009, reappeared in 2010 and released in September 2010. Halo 4 announced in 2011, reappeared in 2012 and released in November 2012. Halo Infinite was announced at E3 2018 and has been confirmed to be present on the Microsoft stage at E3 this year. So if the pattern holds that points to a fall 2019 release.
And that’s not the only pattern that supports the idea. For almost twenty year the industry has been comprised of three major players: Sony, Microsoft, and Nintendo. And for almost twenty years whenever a new console generation comes along one of the big three launches a year ahead of the other two. Sony released the PS2 in 2000, Microsoft and Nintendo followed in 2001. Microsoft launched the Xbox 360 in 2005, Sony and Nintendo followed in 2006. Nintendo pooped out the Wii U in 2012, Sony and Microsoft launched a year later in 2013. After the Wired article and hearing some of the headlining features of the PlayStation 5 media and fans alike are all starting to feel like a fall 2020 release window is imminent. The Switch is an enigma and we know Nintendo wont have or wouldn’t even want to have a successor ready in 2020 much less 2019 so Nintendo is out. So who is left to fill that year early spot that will presumably be fall 2019? Microsoft.
And with the current state of the market why wouldn’t Microsoft want to be the first to pop champagne on their new console? The Xbox One era has been a rough six year for the Xbox bran,d stumbling before the race even began and never really being able to recover. Every time a new console generation starts the industry hits a gigantic reset button and everything is wiped clean. Everyone starts back at square one and they have to fight for the same customers they already had all over again. Since the introduction of the Xbox One X Microsoft has been able to not entirely stop but significantly slow the bleeding and over the past few years especially since the introduction of the half step consoles the tide has slowly been turning in Microsoft's favor. I think that Sony announcing backwards compatibility for the PS5 is a response to this turning of the tide. Sony is trying to carry over the investment that the consumers have in the PS4 ecosystem into the PS5 to keep some of those customers.
Late last year Sony officially announced that they would not be making an appearance at E3 2019, Microsoft then quickly announced that they definitely would be at E3 2019. And ever since then both Phil Spencer and the Xbox PR team have not been shy about hyping up the show implying that they’ve been given an opportunity and they're not going to let it go to waste. So if Microsoft is bringing the big guns to E3 then what bigger gun to bring than the first of the next generation of consoles?
If Phil Spencer were to take the stage and show us Cyberpunk 2077, Gears 5, Forza 12 or whatever one they're on now, Playground's Fable game, a look at whatever the Initiative has been working on and layout a roadmap for the next year or two of Xbox then close the show with Halo Infinite and a November release date for the Scarlet it would easily go down as one of the most significant moments in E3 history. Microsoft put their foot in their mouth hard with the Xbox One announcement and every time they said TV or Sports they just forced that foot in deeper; with a November 2019 release date and a $499 price tag not only would Microsoft not have a foot in their mouth they will have taken that foot and planted it firmly up Sony's ass.
So anything could happen at E3 and as it stands it looks like Microsoft has the potential to steal not only the show but potentially the entire next generation. But like I said ANYTHING could happen, as my friend Ethan mentioned historically anytime Microsoft is given a layup opportunity they turn it into a dumpster fire situation, anyone else remember Zune music? So we'll just have to wait and see, I wont be surprised if I'm dead wrong but Ill be very excited if it turns out im right.
What do you think Microsoft will have to show us at E3? Let me know in the comments down below.
Thanks for watching my video! If you loved what you heard don’t forget to subscribe for a new video every week. Don’t forget to check out our gaming podcast HardReset and our movies podcast NoRefunds the podcast that watches bad movies so you don’t have to. You can find everything we do all in one spot over at ColdNorthPro.com links to everything will be in the description down below. Next week could be the Gorgeous Ben Reynolds episode…you'll just have to tune in to find out. Until then though just go play some games!