Saturday, February 29, 2020


By: Patrick "TheLaw" Morris

We have all been in a situation in which either by choice or out of necessity we've needed GameStop for something or another. But in recent years those GameStop trips that have happened out of necessity have been happening more and more infrequently. Physical media is dying and with everything becoming nearly immediately accessible even physical video games can be delivered to your front door in many cases as quickly as the very next day. Over the years GameStop has undergone some major revisions in an effort to compete in an increasingly crowded space; but a few changes in the market have left a nostalgic niche that if committed to could become GameStop's salvation.

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. As GameStop locations keep closing and the future of the company looks more dire every day I thought it would be appropriate to talk about a way that I think they could right the ship before sinking it altogether. So lets talk about GameStop.

Now before we get into this I want to make it very clear that I have never worked for GameStop. I don’t have any insider information about their financials. And what I will be discussing in this video is based off anecdotal stories from other youtubers and friends who have worked for the company. While I don’t have any financial reports I do have degree in economics with an emphasis in industrial organization so this isn't baseless speculation…its educated speculation.

GameStop has a laundry list of problems, way to many problems to address in one video. So for this video I'll be focusing on a handful of their biggest problems and how those things can be overcome.

At the top of that list is image. GameStop has a major image problem. People don’t like GameStop and it feels like every time they get the opportunity to prove to their customers that they are a corporation that can and should be supported it seems as though GameStop actively tries to make the situation worse. Shopping at GameStop has become widely recognized as a ripoff that should really only be resorted to in the most desperate of circumstances. The company is constantly fucking over their customers and has nothing in place to create an sense of customer loyalty. Their sales policies are maliciously vague and predatory and in some cases even hypocritical.

One of the last times I shopped at GameStop was when I went  to buy a copy of Prey 2017. The clerk told me they had one new copy left but she wasn’t able to find it. After asking a supervisor she was informed that the last new copy they had was the shelf model. The clerk then went to the shelf and pulled down the box then took the disc out of the drawer and put it in the case. I asked why this was considered a new copy of the game and was told that it had never been played. When I pointed out that while it may have not been played it had been opened and if the roles were reversed and I was trying to sell them an opened game that had never been played it would be considered used. The clerk told me that this was a matter of company policy and there wasn’t anything she could do about it. I wasn’t mad at her at all and am under no impression that this was somehow her policy, she was just an employee put in a bad situation by the company she worked for. A company that apparently didn’t care about openly holding their customers to a different standard than themselves.

And the second most prevalent issue currently facing GameStop from my perspective is radical mismanagement. The corporate management has created terrible working conditions for their in store employees. There are stories all over the internet of employees not getting paid for overtime, being offered what are frankly disrespectful raises after working for the company for years, and even being terminated for not adhering to policies when the equipment provided like time clocks and security systems prevents them from adhering to those policies. GameStop has spread themselves to thin opening way, way to many stores. I can think of multiple places where there are at least three GameStop stores all within reasonable walking distance from one another. Stores so close to eachother that if one store doesn’t have what I want I have literally just walked to another GameStop and bought it there. And finally GameStop management hasn’t been able to focus on what they want to sell. GameStop has become more of a store front for Think Geek type garbage than it is a store that sells video games.

But a few things have changed in recent years that have created what I see as opportunity for the company. Game collecting has always been a thing but in the past couple years as we hurdle toward the inevitable all digital future game collecting has become a much more popular and financially viable hobby. People collect all sorts of different games for many different reasons, retro game collecting offers a unique collection and the potential for better resale value. And modern games and consoles offer both current players and collectors the opportunity to keep their collections current. But that's where GameStop should draw the line, provide a place for customers to collect retro and modern games and consoles but all the merchandising and cheap crap needs to be completely done away with.

In the nineties Blockbuster was a force to be reckoned with. In the aughts Blockbuster was still a giant but having to compete with new players and new technologies in the market. In the early teens Blockbuster was circling the drain. And now in the early 20's the total number of Blockbuster locations has been reduced from their all time high of over 9000 to just one. Many factors contributed to the downfall of the once household name the chief amongst them being streaming and renting. Simply put: renting physical media is stupid. And the introduction and improvement of streaming technologies made that convenience factor to much to overcome. But one thing Blockbuster did right all the way up until the end was the experience. The experience of browsing all the movies both new and old and discussing what to watch with your friends, family, and in many cases other people in the store is one that streaming services were never able to replicate.

A lot needs to change for GameStop to be a viable business again. Change wont happen overnight and trust cant be immediately regained but if GameStop corporate can commit to a focused vision for their future then over time they can carve out a place for themselves and become a mainstay in the video game industry once again.

First and foremost GameStop needs to be exactly that, a place to stop for games. They need to focus on selling video games, and video game consoles of all eras. When I went to Blockbuster on Friday nights as a kid my friends and I would look at everything there was available, we would discuss the kinds of games we liked and what we didn’t like, then we would choose a game we all wanted to play and scrape together five dollars to rent it. When I need to buy an older game for my collection today it usually involves taking a risk on spending what is sometimes not an insignificant amount of money online without being able to check it myself for the quality that is so important in collecting. GameStop can offer a solution to both of these things. By focusing on games and offering games of every era in every store they could build a reputation as a place that can reliably offer high quality retro games that can be seen and held before purchasing. By focusing on games the company can have shelves and shelves full of games and not think geek bullshit to recreate that browsing experience for future generations to have. By focusing on games GameStop can change what they do to be relevant again.

And their policies need to be updated as well. GameStop needs to offer more pro consumer policies that will build customer loyalty. It's become a meme that GameStop offers some of the worst trade in values of any industry in some cases offering as little as $17 for a game that has just come out and is currently selling new for $60 then putting that used copy back on the shelf for $55. GameStop needs customers to keep coming back to sell their games and preventing those customers from feeling taken advantage of as they leave the store after having sold some games will lead to those customers coming back more often. Customer loyalty is a point I keep harping on in this video and that’s only because of how insanely important it is. Customer rewards programs are commonplace in almost every industry, some of those programs charge a premium and GameStop's powerup rewards is one of those. But for what it offers the powerup rewards program is a complete joke. GameStop needs to completely cut their powerup rewards program and replace it with a free loyalty program in which customers earn rewards points towards discounts. GameStop is in a place in which they need to give their customers something for nothing and a rewards program is an excellent way to do that.

And while building that customer loyalty GameStop needs to work to repair their image and moral compass and that starts with how they treat their employees. The company is notorious for pressuring their representatives to push their programs and used games. GameStop, look at me right now, give me your full attention because you need to hear this: STOP DOING THAT! Stop pressuring your employees to sell your customers the wrong product because that’s what's more profitable right now. Coach your employees to offer those things or even pitch them but stop making your employees feel as though they are being held at gunpoint to sign x amount of people up for powerup rewards every shift! Think about they kinds of people that work in the stores, by and large they're almost all just people who love video games and want to work around video games. GameStop's employees are their greatest asset as those people are the ones that mold that customer experience. Those people need to be paid more, a happy worker is a busy worker and paying people more makes people happier.

And finally close all your small stores and open fewer medium blockbuster sized stores. But that’s insanely expensive so make that a long term goal.

Jesus christ I feel like this turned into a massive rant that was way longer than I meant it to be. I don’t really know how to end this video besides saying thank you for coming to my ted talk.

Do you think GameStop can turn it around? Let me know in the comments down below. And while youre down there make sure to hit that subscribe button for a new video every week. You can see everything we do including both of our podcasts all in one spot over at, I'll be back next week talking about something else entirely so until then just go play some games!

Saturday, February 22, 2020

Luigi's Mansion 3

By: Patrick "TheLaw" Morris

It's to be expected that as a series continues it should develop in one way or another. In some cases like God of War that evolution can be a very very good thing but in other cases like Gears 5 it can be detrimental to the series moving forward. But it's when a series remains stagnant that it starts to feel less interesting and more like a cash grab than anything else. Luigi's Mansion is a series that hasn’t had much time in the limelight and as a result, has been missing the opportunity to clearly define its personality and what it has to offer. At the launch of the GameCube Nintendo released a genuinely weird game that over the years has become loved by the Nintendo community. Now in 2019 with what should have been a marriage of what made the first two entries in the Luigi's Mansion series good the third outing misses the mark while falling into some familiar pitfalls.

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. The GameCube is my favorite console of all time and the game I got on launch day was Luigi's Mansion so it inherently holds a special place in my heart. Now with the third entry in the series, I fear I may be chasing the ghost of what Luigi's Mansion started as. Let's talk about Luigi's Mansion 3.

Of all the things that made the first Luigi's Mansion game so weird, it was the gameplay that stood out the most. Luigi's Mansion was the Mario game Nintendo had to offer at the launch of the GameCube putting the same weight on it's back as Mario 64 and Super Mario World had carried before it. And the gameplay of Luigi's Mansion was different, to say the least. The act of exploring the mansion, sucking up ghosts, and unlocking new areas wasn’t at all what players had come to expect from a Mario game but its something we warmed to none the less. Where the gameplay of Mario was fast, explosive, and bombastic Luigi's Mansion was slow, explorative, and bracing which set the stage for the future of the series.

While many changes have been made to Luigi's very own spin-off series one thing that has always been constant is the core gameplay experience and the new features added to that in this third outing make for the most enjoyable Luigi's Mansion gameplay to date. Luigi's Mansion 3 features less enemy variety but more combat abilities moving the burden of variance from who you're fighting to how you're fighting. New mechanics like the plunger and Gooigi are used to complicate and add a new level of complexity to not only the puzzle-solving but the combat as well. Specifically, these two new mechanics change the combat in the game from being fairly simple and monotonous to being what can easily be described as an actual combat system. And on top of all of this Luigi now has the ability to slam Ghosts either into each other or other items around the room which is just incredibly satisfying.

Combat is excellent in Luigi's Mansion 3 and while isn't the best part of the game it is sadly the most consistent part of the game. The other major part of gameplay in any Luigi's Mansion game is the puzzle solving. Just like combat, the puzzles are at an all-time high for the series but unlike the combat, they don’t stay there. It seems as though for every gratifying gem found behind a 3 step puzzle off the beaten path there is also an offensively obtuse door or hidden pathway needing to be revealed via the dark light that is mandatory to progress. I understand hiding the optional collectibles behind those sorts of barriers with no indication to the fact that it's there. In fact, I would even encourage that behavior as it functions as a type of reward for the completionists of the world. But to have multiple points in the main storyline of the game that required me to look up how to move forward and even after seeing a solution I was still left wondering how I was ignorantly prohibitive at best and maliciously obtuse at worst.

Over the years the Luigi's Mansion series hasn’t really had much of a chance to evolve and carve out its own identity and as a result, the ideations of the audience might not be in line with Nintendo's vision for the future. For a first entry in a new series based on an existing IP the first Luigi's Mansion game had a surprising amount of personality but what really made the game so incredibly engrossing was its Metroidvania like exploration. The game was called Luigi's Mansion and it was entirely about Luigi exploring a haunted mansion on a spooky night. As the player progresses they unlock more and more parts of the mansion having to backtrack throughout all while making mental notes of significant places or doors to unlock. Of all the things the first game did right it was that exploration that it really nailed.

Dark Moon (the second game in the series) was much more straight forward and ran into some trouble when it came to escalation. Like I mentioned before it is expected that with each subsequent entry in a series there is an expectation of escalation and in an attempt to escalate the stakes and environment the developers of Dark Moon moved from a single Mansion to a series of Mansions, a haunted neighborhood if you will. E Gadd's lab functioned as a home base and level select screen dispatching Luigi out to each house for a series of straightforward levels. Audiences were less enthused by this more linear and level-based format and the game was rightfully criticized for it. But what Dark Moon did really well was humor. Dark Moon takes the comedy and character of the first game and amplifies it making what is a much more straightforward game just as if not more enjoyable than its predecessor by being genuinely funny.

Luigi's Mansion 3 sadly takes the worst of both previous games and leaves the individual elements of what made those games good on the cutting room floor. Not only does Luigi's Mansion 3 not live up to the personality and humor of Dark Moon but it somehow displays less character than the first game. Dark Moon features Luigi being hilarious in both cutscenes and gameplay through dialogue (if you can call it that) and body language. In the third game yes Luigi is funny in cutscenes but all that charm from his angst and fear in moment to moment gameplay through body language is gone. We don’t hear the fear in his voice as he calls out for Mario periodically like he did in Dark Moon only when we manually trigger it which the player is never taught how to do. And the biggest shame of the entire game is that the exploration of the first game which would be perfectly suited for a haunted hotel environment is almost entirely forgotten.

The cardinal of Luigi's Mansion 3 is the straight forward nature of the game. While the first game functioned as somewhat of a Metroidvania and the second game was slighted for not doing that same thing it would only be natural to assume and expect the third game to go back to the same exploration style of the first. But instead, the developers opted for a more straight forward level-based format similar to Dark Moon but simply disguised the level select screen as an elevator. The setting of the third game was perfect for a Luigi's Mansion experience similar to that of the first game but what we got was…well, it wasn’t that.

So yes gameplay and combat are miles ahead of the other two games and some minor tweaking in the dialogue and prompts for exploration could have brought some more personality into the mix. But ultimately the missed opportunity of a haunted hotel to explore and learn every nook and cranny of and instead of getting themed levels that the player is very rarely asked to return to just makes it impossible to rank Luigi's Mansion 3 anywhere but at the bottom of the barrel for the series.

Which Luigi's Mansion game is your favorite and why am I wrong? Let me know in the comments down below. Don’t forget to check out everything we do include our movies podcast NoRefunds the podcast that watches bad movies so you don’t have to all in one spot over at I'll be back next week talking about something else entirely so until then just go play some games!

Saturday, February 15, 2020

Resident Evil 2...again

By: Patrick "TheLaw" Morris

Capcom's Resident Evil franchise has never been a stranger to innovative ideas and taking risks. In 1998 Resident Evil 2 featured two distinctly different single-player campaigns that saw the player controlling two main characters both of which needed to be played to experience the entirety of the story. In 2019 when Paradox Studios remade the Capcom classic they didn’t shy away from the innovation brought forward 21 years prior. Revisiting RE2 for its built-in second playthrough a year after its release it was only natural for some things to feel better, and some to feel worse, but ultimately the innovation from 1998 made for a really unique way to experience a game I loved for the first time all over again. 

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. Resident Evil 2 was one of my favorite games of 2019 really only being outdone in my eyes by Control. But while I enjoyed it a lot I only played through one of the two main characters stories telling myself I would come back and play Leon's story eventually. Well eventually finally came and now it's time for us to talk about Resident Evil 2 again.

Some elements of this video might be considered spoilers for a game that has been out for 22 years and again for another year. So…keep that in mind I guess.

For the purposes of this video please keep in mind that I did the first playthrough as Claire and the second as Leon.

A lot of the two campaigns of RE2 are the same. Both Leon and Claire have to do the medallion puzzles in the police station, both characters end up in the sewers, and both end up tackling the crisis in the greenhouse of the underground NEST laboratory. And while a lot of it is the same there is enough variance between the two that they feel significantly different enough to justify the second playthrough. Both characters have to find all the medallions but the second time through the police station the player is under the constant pressure of being pursued by Mr. X. Leon's journey takes him further underground to the jail cells in the parking garage area while Claire's path takes her up to the police chief's office where she learns of his extreme corruption. And both Characters encounter their own companion who accompanies them throughout the night. Combat and gameplay remain the same for both main characters only differing significantly when playing as either Sherry Birkin or Ada Wong. I said it after my first playthrough and it still holds true that while this might not be my personal favorite style of Resident Evil gameplay this is clearly what Resident Evil was always intended to be.

There was a lot in the second playthrough that was essentially if not the exact same as the first playthrough but some elements were better the second time through. Pacing the second time around wasn’t necessarily better or worse than the first but appropriately faster. Where the first run was slow and extremely creepy, knowing the basic idea of what was coming and when made the pacing of the second run feel much more like an action horror game as opposed to a survival horror game.

But where the Leon storyline really stood out head and shoulders above Claire's was in the characters and their development. Throughout my first playthrough, I was all about seeing Leon and Claire getting together at the end of the game. Resident Evil has always been the video game equivalent of a popcorn movie and it's only natural for the male and female leads of a popcorn movie to end up together before the credits roll. But after playing Leon's story I can't help but feel like the relationship between Leon and Ada is better developed and feels more earned. And when comparing the two campaigns there is really no doubt in my mind that I enjoyed both playing as and the story beats covered by Ada much more than Sherry. Ada had her own personality and motivation and was more than just someone for the player to protect and her presence had a much more meaningful and longer-lasting effect on the overall story.

But not everything was better in the second playthrough. Even though Mr. X's presence helped to move the pace of the game along making it feel much faster and shorter the second time through he was still the single largest detractor in my enjoyment of the game. The Police Station has always been the best environment of the game and bringing Mr. X in so early essentially ruined the enjoyment of that area. As the player explores the police station they are able to get their bearings, stock up on their weapons and supplies, and unlock new rooms at their leisure. But bringing Mr. X in so early forces that exploration to directly compete with the rushed nature of constantly running away from the tyrant. This competition forced the two mechanics to fight for their time in the spotlight and rather than complementing one another they just made for a frustrating experience.

Another way the second playthrough fell short was in the inconsistencies in the storytelling, but I do believe this was exasperated by playing Claire first and Leon second. While the storytelling in a vacuum was fine in both playthroughs when evaluated in the context of having already played one the second felt…odd. In Claire's playthrough, Birkin kills Mr. X after Sherry and Claire escape the orphanage, having already known this I told a friend of mine that was watching me play that we had seen the last of Mr. X after his encounter with Ada. But then he continued to show up. He showed up in the greenhouse, and again in for the final boss encounter. Mr. X was supposed to have been long dead at the hand…or claw I guess, of Birkin but instead, I was having to fight him on a very stupid very long elevator ride. And despite his resurgence in the NEST lab and his being the final boss Mr. X's presence was rarely felt throughout the back half of the game. While this would have been fine Leon only crossed paths with Birkin four times throughout the whole game and his story was almost entirely untold. So going through Leon's playthrough there was a distinct feeling of lacking a big bad presence in the back half of the game.

The idea of two separate campaigns was both excellent and extremely innovative in 1998, and while I appreciate the effort Paradox Studios went to in an effort to modernize the sensibilities of the original game I think that some adjustments could have been made to make the game more digestible. Whether they are offered as the default or an option a "modern" mode in which the entire story was told all in one playthrough could have been more fun to play through and overcome some of the challenges faced by splitting the game in two. If the campaign had jumped back and forth between Leon and Claire showing their progress through the night and even allowed the player to experience both Sherry and Ada's sections in the same playthrough it would have been less true to the original but avoided some of the pitfalls brought on by that format. The logical fallacies of both Leon and Claire completing the same puzzles, the absence of a villainous presence being counteracted by Mr. X being inexplicably alive in the back half of the game, and the emotional roller coaster of rooting for Leon to end up with both Ada and Claire could all be resolved by combining the content of both campaigns into one.

But the Resident Evil 3 remake is just a few months away. Originally Resident Evil 3 was intended to be nothing more than a spin-off of Resident Evil 2 built entirely around the tyrant mechanic. It wasn’t until Capcom decided that the benefit of having another numbered entry of the series come out so quickly after the original RE2 would be advantageous that the spin-off called nemesis would don the 3 moniker and the true Resident Evil 3 would become the spin-off eventually known as Code Veronica. So the follow up to my second favorite game of 2019 might be based entirely around my least favorite parts of that game. There really isn't anything I can do besides just hope that Paradox Studios takes more liberties this year than they did last year and the tyrant sequences and puzzle sections are more separated making for a more stop and go experience.

Overall I thoroughly enjoyed the Resident Evil 2 remake both times I played it. While the second playthrough felt more expedited and was held back in some ways by nature of it being a second playthrough, it still felt fresh and was able to provide that feeling of a first playthrough again better than most games can. So what did you guys think of Resident Evil 2 and what do you want to come after the RE3 remake? Would you rather see Resident Evil 8 or a full-on RE4 remake? Let me know in the comments down below. And while you're down there don’t forget to subscribe for a new video every week. You can see everything we do including both of our podcasts all in one spot over at I'll be back next week talking about something else entirely so until then just go play some games.

Saturday, February 8, 2020

Launch Titles

By: Patrick "TheLaw" Morris

When we think back on the video games that have defined each generation the ones that immediately come to mind are of two varieties: those that are considered the best, and the ones that came first. A lot rides on the quality of  games available in a console's infancy and often times it isn't the hardware developers who get the chance to determine their own destiny but the software developers. Launch titles are expected to be firing on all cylinders right out of the gate and whether or not they achieve that can dictate the fate of a console, and sometimes even a company, as we move forward into what's looking to be a more iterative and universally backwards compatible future there might be just one more chance at truly great launch titles. 

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. This week we won't be discussing any one game in specific but what the games we will be discussing have in common is that they all came first. Let's talk about launch titles.

The stakes are high for launch titles and the deck is stacked against those developers who are either foolish enough or unlucky enough to have to make a launch title. Very similarly to people consoles really only get one first impression and recovering from a bad first impression can take years. Having good games launching alongside new hardware sets the tone for not only the next year or two but likely the entire generation. Launch titles have the power to either build huge momentum or put a console in a deep hole and they do both of those things extremely quickly.

Under ideal circumstances, a launch title can catapult a console to immediate greatness the way Tetris did for the Game Boy in 1989, but in some cases, a console can lean to heavily on one launch title expecting a Tetris effect to take place and it can lead to the console's quick demise. In late 2011 and early 2012 (depending on which region of the world you were in at the time) Sony released the PlayStation Vita, the packed to the gills follow up to their debut handheld the PSP. On paper the Vita checked almost every box, what was at the time considered a huge five-inch OLED display, dual analog sticks for precise controls, a touch screen and rear touchpad for even more control inputs, an incredibly powerful CPU that was said to sport nearly the power of the PlayStation 3 and even an 3G option all packed down into a sleek elegant looking package. All of this came at a premium but it was one Sony seemed to think people were willing to pay for such a powerful handheld. But one of the boxes Sony didn’t take extra care to check was software.

In their haste to develop the most powerful handheld, anyone could imagine Sony found themselves leaning heavily on Bend Studios Uncharted: Golden Abyss and Sony Liverpool's Wipeout 2048. While both were excellent games they didn’t have the prowess to carry a console and the Vita quickly found itself tumbling into obscurity. When competing with the less powerful, less polished, and more gimmicky Nintendo 3DS the choice on paper seemed an obvious one. But where Vita owners had great hardware and a small selection of mediocre games the 3DS both looked and felt like a toy but it would be the games that would determine the winner in the last generation of handhelds in which Nintendo had any real competition.

Graphics, feel, and replayability have been the tentpoles that every great launch title in history has incorporated. Without all three a launch title can go from being great to largely forgettable and change the coveted momentum into a dreaded ball and chain shackled to one's ankle. When making a first impression visuals are key, graphically a game has to look like it couldn’t have been achieved on whatever the last generation of consoles was. Early in a consoles life before players have become accustomed to the new normal of visual fidelity is when those players will play a new game just to look at how impressive it is visually. I mean I played through about two-thirds of Killzone Shadowfall before realizing it was an extremely mediocre game that was visually one of the most impressive games I had ever seen. If a launch title cant wow it's audience visually then it is in no way destined for greatness.

I've said it before and I am under no impression that I am the first to say it but for a huge percentage of players gameplay is king. A game without good gameplay is one that will have difficulty standing up to the pressures of a normal climate, but when the added weight of being a launch title is factored in a game without great gameplay buckles under said weight. In order for the gameplay of a launch title to be considered great it has to feel revolutionary. It has to feel distinctly next-gen, like there's no way it could have been accomplished with that old hardware that you treasured just hours before. At the launch of the original Xbox Bungie released Halo and with it they popularized a control scheme that we still use to this day: the dual-stick layout. Microsoft wasn’t the first to add a second analog stick to their controller, Sony beat them to that by a little over four and a half years. They weren't even the first to use the left stick to move and the right stick to look around, Argonaut Games did that in the Alien Resurrection licensed game in 2000. But what Bungie did was they made what others had done before them feel natural. Halo did something that had been so clunky in the last generation the only games to do it either required two controllers or were panned for that exact control scheme. Halo felt extremely next-gen and as a result, it flourished.

And finally, a launch title has to keep its players constantly thirsty for more. Some of the best games I've ever played are ones that I've played through once and never gone back to because I had gotten what I felt was a satisfactory experience. But launch titles aren't afforded that luxury, they have to be the reason people keep coming back to that shiny new console as opposed to playing their older consoles that undoubtedly have better games. In 2005 when I got my Xbox 360 Call of Duty 2 offered a decent single-player experience but that multiplayer was excellent and it was what kept me from going back to the original Xbox to keep playing Halo 2 or Chronicles of Riddick. A launch title that can keep offering an enjoyable experience even after the player has seen all it has to offer is one that can potentially hit that elusive state of excellence. Launch titles that can somehow manage to pack all three of these major tentpoles into a game that's ready on day one for hardware the developers undoubtedly have very little experiencing with have the chance at writing their name amongst the stars like Mario 64, Halo, Twilight Princess, and as a very personal addition Tony Hawk's Underground 2 Remix. It's a tall order but it has been done…but can it be done anymore?

I don’t know if you’ve heard but there's a new generation of Xbox and PlayStation launching later this year and by the looks of it this could be the last chance for romance when it comes to launch titles. Microsoft has already been upfront about there not being any first-party Xbox Series X exclusives for at least a year. This is undoubtedly them referencing the PC market, the fact that they will continue to support the Xbox One family of consoles, and potentially alluding to the yet to be announced weaker Xbox Series S. But Microsoft has also confirmed to an extent both backward and forward compatibility. So it seems as though all Xbox One games will run on the Series X and moving forward Series X will be able to run games optimized for whatever iteration of Xbox comes after it. The keyword there being iteration. The Xbox seems to be headed in a much more iterative and PC like direction effectively ending launch titles entirely. Could Halo Infinite be the last proper Xbox launch title?

Things seem to be much less certain on the PlayStation side. As of now there really aren't any obvious launch titles that will have the capability to move consoles in the way Halo Infinite will. For a long time, I was thinking that Ghost of Tsushima was going to be a launch title for the PS5 and straddle the generation by also offering a less polished less impressive PS4 version but then Sony announced the game will be coming this summer several months prior to the announced holiday window for the PS5. With The Last of Us Part 2 coming in May then Ghost of Tsushima in "summer" so potentially as far back as early September that would leave very little room for Ghost of Tsushima to breathe if a new first-party Sony game were coming with the launch of the PS5. And even if that was Sony's plan the only one it could reasonably be would be the inevitable Horizon Zero Dawn sequel which we most certainly would have heard of by now. So with that then I suppose the best we can hope for would be a PS5 enhanced version of these major Sony games which will definitely struggle to sell consoles when compared with the prospect of an all-new game. And even then we still have to address the possibility of backwards compatibility looming overhead making it so that the best potential we could hope for would be some sort of PS5 patch to improve on existing PS4 games.

So while the age of launch titles may be coming to an end their presence and weight have undeniably shaped the gaming landscape into what we see today. From Super Mario Bros to Mario 64, to Halo, and Call of Duty 2 launch titles are still some of my most vivid memories and some of the games I most closely associate with their respective consoles. What are some of your favorite launch titles and which one do you think is the best of all time? Let me know in the comments down below. While you're down there don’t forget to hit the subscribe button for a new video every week. You can see everything we do including both of our podcasts all in one spot over at I will be back next week talking about something else entirely so until then just go play some games. 

Saturday, February 1, 2020

LegalSpeak Crash Bandicoot The Huge Adventure

Crash Bandicoot The Huge Adventure

By: Patrick "TheLaw" Morris

We live in an age of remakes and remasters. It seems as though every few months we're hearing about another remake of a classic game coming to modern consoles. As someone who has yet to find a limit to the sheer quantity of nostalgia they are willing to tolerate I personally cant get enough of these games. Halo, Fable, Shadow of the Colossus, it was really just a matter of time until the Original PlayStation's two biggest Mascots got their fifteen minutes in the spotlight. In 2017 a ground up remake of the first three Crash Bandicoot games was released and it was developed by a studio that was more familiar with Crash than most people realized. When we look back on the Crash Bandicoot games the original four that were made by Naughty Dog are the ones that spring to everyone's mind, after that it all becomes a blur of indistinguishable shovelware on a downward trajectory; but if we sift through that shovelware there are a few gems that prove that Vicarious Visions has been the true Naughty Dog successor for nearly two decades.

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. Having been born in 1990 I was the perfect age to dive deep into the original Crash Bandicoot trilogy and having always been big into handhelds I was eagerly awaiting the day when Crash would make his big debut on the Game Boy Advance. This week I played through Crash Bandicoot: The Huge Adventure again for the first time since it was originally released in February of 2002. So it's time to talk about Crash Bandicoot: The Huge Adventure.

When Sony was making their first foray into the video game industry and attempting to go toe to toe with their own countrymen who had stabbed them in the back just a few years earlier it was clear that they would need a mascot to unite behind. Cue Naughty Dog and the jean short wearing orange bandicoot. The first three Crash games were honestly fantastic and in my opinion have held up better than games starring a certain mustached plumber. Platforming was precise and very difficult at times, music was extremely memorable, the art style was so perfectly nineties but still holds just oozes cool today, and the character design was unique. The original crash games offered a perfect level of cool that was clearly meant for an older crowd than Mario without feeling to try hard like Sonic. They were a technical marvel at the time and proved to be one of the many silver bullets Sony would need to take on Nintendo.

 Vicarious Visions remade the games from the ground up and released all three on one disc in 2017. While the art style feels a bit more on the family friendly side than the originals edge it still captures the essence of what Crash was supposed to look like. If the remakes prove anything it's that while they are a bit simplistic by modern standards they absolutely hold up as timeless platformers. And those first three games plus the 1999 cart racer Crash Team Racing are the ones that everyone thinks of when they think back on the golden years of Crash Bandicoot. But Vicarious Visions' Huge Adventure should absolutely be held in the same regard.

Crash Bandicoot: The Huge Adventure is a shockingly accurate approximation of its home console counterparts. As it turns out 2017 wasn’t the first time Vicarious Visions had demonstrated that they were capable of nearly perfectly capturing the essence of Crash. The studio took everything that was essential in making a Crash game and scaled it all down to fit on a Game Boy Advance. The sprite art looks so good that it could be a passable lie to tell someone that the sprites came first and were later converted to polygons for the 3D capabilities of the PlayStation 1. Environments look incredible, animations are spot on and the music is pitch perfect. But where The Huge Adventure really nails the Crash Bandicoot brand is in how it feels. Movement feels weighty and significant while not feeling to fast. All of Crash's go to powerup moves earned throughout each game are present and effectively implemented into levels. The game does a fantastic job of emulating the feeling of momentum carrying through from a running jump into the landing. When combined with the stellar visuals adapted for the less powerful hardware and the feeling of the gameplay The Huge Adventure could easily pass as the original Crash game that was released on some non existent 16bit generation of PlayStation that preceded the PlayStation 1.

While all the elements of an excellent Crash game are present there are some points where Vicarious Visions had to make some obvious concessions to pack the game onto a 32 megabyte cartridge. Crash games have never shyed away from recycling environments to save space and development time but The Huge Adventure is easily the worst offender of the actually good Crash games. I felt as though I was seeing the same space station, ice cavern, and jungle landscape on repeat throughout the entire game. Another place where The Huge Adventure struggles to keep pace with its console counterparts is in level variation. Despite Vicarious Visions doing an excellent job in scaling everything down there are some level types that simply don’t work on the Game Boy Advance. Crash started off code named "Sonic's ass" as a reference to the perspective Naughty Dog was pursuing, and that "Sonic's ass" perspective became a major differentiator for the series. But that iconic perspective is almost entirely absent in The Huge Adventure. The limitations forced upon Vicarious Visions by the hardware they were developing for meant that almost every level is either side scrolling while running, side scrolling while swimming, or running toward the camera (a perspective that is unanimously praised by players everywhere.) From time to time there would be a bullet hell plane based level but those were more frustrating than they were relieving. The Huge Adventure was Vicarious Visions proving that the cracks in the armor were a product of the hardware not the creators.

After Naughty Dog and Universal parted ways the Crash Bandicoot IP stayed with Universal and was later acquired by Activision. In the years since that departure there have been many developers that have taken a crack at recreating the magic of those first four Naughty Dog games. Traveller's Tales had their chance in the early 2000's, Radical took over in the late 2000's, Eurocom and Dimps were both responsible for some spin off party games, and even Toys for Bob had a chance at implementing crash into their popular toys to life Skylanders series. But of everyone who has tried nobody but Vicarious Visions has been able to even come close to the high water mark set by Naughty Dog. Not only were they responsible for the GBA games but they were the ones that brought Crash back from the dead with the N-Sane trilogy AND they added to that with their own original level via a free update that if you didn’t know was original you would have thought was just one you didn’t remember as well as others. Vicarious Visions is obviously the single developer that has the best understanding of what Crash should be in the 2020's and the most capable of making a good crash game. So please Activision, please! Just put Vicarious Visions on an all new Crash game and call it Crash Bandicoot 4!

So while the vast majority of people remember there being four really great Crash games there's a small group of us that loved that damn Bandicoot on the little purple portable as well. And while those games were excellent they're more relevant than ever as the case for Vicarious Visions to take over and revive the mainline Crash Bandicoot series. Vicarious didn’t invent Crash but 18 years ago they proved to us all that they really understand Crash.

So what do you think? Are you in favor of a Crash Bandicoot 4 or am I just shouting into the void? Let me know in the comments down below. And while you're down there don’t forget to subscribe for a new video every week! You can see everything we do including both of our podcasts all in one spot over at I'll be back next week talking about something else entirely I havent really decided yet so until then just go play some games.