Wednesday, 30 March 2011

Censorship in Australia

As you may or may not know, I live in Australia. What you probably do know is that our government doesn't exactly love violent video games. As is constantly ridiculed by the rest of the world, quite a few games have either been banned or censored here in the last decade or two. In wake of the recent outrage over the banning of the new Mortal Kombat in Australia, I've decided to talk about our video game laws and why we don't have an R18+ rating. These are the ratings used for television shows and movies here in Australia:

Suitable for all audiences.

Parental guidance recommended for young audiences.

Recommended for mature audiences.

Restricted to ages 15 and over.

Restricted to ages 18 and over.

The problem is that we don't actually HAVE an R18+ rating for video games, because back when squishing goombas was as violent as it got, who would've thought we'd need one? If a video game is violent enough to be rated R18, it is banned in Australia. Of course, this issue has garnered a lot of debate over the years, but nothing has been done about it yet.
Unfortunately, the Attorney-General for every state has to vote yes on issues like these, and the Attorney-General for NSW, Michael Atkinson, decided to vote no, thereby denying us the chance to finally grow up. His reason was basically "violent video games are bad for children". Remind you of anyone? What he and is clueless colleagues don't seem to realize is that a lot of games that SHOULD be rated R18 are being rated MA15 and are therefore accessible to children under the age of 18. An adult is way more likely to buy a child Grand Theft Auto IV if they see it has an MA15 classification rather than a R18 classification (as it does in every other country). Most adults here either decide to import their games from other countries or simply pirate them from the internet.
Perhaps the worst part is the Classification Board's terrible inconsistencies in how they rate games. Gears of War 2, a game in which you can chainsaw people in half, and in one part of the game swim through a pool of blood, was given an MA15+ rating, whereas Left 4 Dead 2 was banned (and later censored) for far less. GTA IV was originally supposed to be censored, but when Rockstar sent the Classification Board an uncensored version of the PC version it was given the all clear. Taking this as a sign that the original game was fine after all, they then released a patch allowing both console versions to be completely uncensored. Aliens vs Predators was another game that faced being banned, until Sega simply appealed the ban, causing the board to change their minds for apparently no reason at all.
EB Games even started a nation-wide petition for the approval of an R18+ rating, called "Grow Up Australia", which gained over 16,000 petitions, contributing to the 58,487 total petitions to the government. Even with all that support it's still not decided whether we WILL get an R18+ rating for video games or not. The deadline has been set for July this year and the politician who replaced Michael Atkinson seems to support the vote. Thankfully, our Home Affairs minister, Brendan O'Connor, is also pro-R18 rating and had this to say about the issue: “We’re becoming the laughing stock of the developed world, where we’re the only country that doesn’t have an R18 classification level for video games." Unfortunately, even if the Attorney-General's DO unanimously decide to support the new rating, it will be too late for games like Left 4 Dead 2, Manhunt and Mortal Kombat.

Monday, 28 March 2011

Games I've been playing lately

Unfortunately, my computer broke a while ago, and I haven't really been playing my Xbox 360 all that much, so the amount of time I've spent gaming recently has been quite small. Most of my gaming time has been spent playing either Nine Hours, Nine Persons, Nine Doors (999), The World Ends With You or Pokemon Black on my DS.

I already reviewed Pokemon Black (see below this post), and the thought of trying to review Nine Hours, Nine Persons, Nine Doors hurts my brain. It's a mix of a choose-your-own-adventure visual novel plus an escape-the-room game for the DS, with an amazing story which has 7 mindfuck endings. All I can say is try it out. It may sound strange, but you should follow a walkthrough, because getting the right order of endings is crucial to your understanding of the overall story (you'll understand if you play it). I'm nowhere near finished The World Ends With You, plus it is 4 years old, so I probably won't be posting any reviews for a few weeks until I get my new computer or some new 360 games.

Until then, I'll probably be posting about gaming news and maybe some opinion-piece sort of articles. Topics may include Australia's retarded censorship laws and Nintendo America's choice to not release the Mother/Earthbound series in English. Feel free to support me by commenting and following!

Also, I added a poll on the side of the page, just to see what everyone's most anticipated games are this year. There was too many for me to choose from, so I ended up making it multi-choice. Vote away!

Sunday, 27 March 2011

Pokemon: Black & White Review

Today, for my first real blog post, I'm going to be doing a mini-review on the new Pokemon games, Black and White. I've been playing Pokemon Black recently on my DS, and I thought this was probably the best place for me to share my opinion.

Black and White are the 5th generation of the Pokemon series, and they bring quite a few new features. Some are great, like the new seasons system, the semi-3D visuals, the animations in battle, the new multiplayer options and of course, the 155 completely new Pokemon to catch. Other small features like poison not affecting Pokemon out of battle and the fact that TM's now have unlimited uses seem small, but they really are great new additions. On the other hand, some features like Triple Battles, Rotational Battles, Pokemon Musicals really just didn't interest me at all.

To be honest, I only just beat the 8th gym leader, and my play time is starting to wane. Why? Because even with all the new features, it's still the same Pokemon game we've played many times before. It really just hasn't changed enough, which isn't to say it's a bad game, just that I'm nowhere near as addicted as I was to the originals.

Two bad things that stuck out to me were the annoying trainer AI and the curiously high encounter rate. I can't stress enough how frustrating it is when a trainer keeps making their Pokemon use a healing move over and over, meaning neither of you are getting anywhere. The AI trainers in this game seem more focused on drawing the battle out as long as possible instead of trying to actually win. The encounter rate also seems higher than ever in this generation, a lot of times I'll finish a battle then take a step forward and be attacked by another Pokemon. It makes it very necessary to carry around a large pile of Max Repels.

Thankfully, and surprisingly, the new set of Pokemon are great, especially bro-tier Pokemon like Herdier and Scrafty: 

Herdier's moustache turns into an untamed beast after evolving, but he's still a massive bro:
Conclusion: This game is fun. It's the same Pokemon that everyone knows and loves. Unfortunately, that's also a bad thing. Even though I say now that it's getting boring, I know that I'll be back for more in a day or two.

Wasn't planning on giving a score, but I guess I better:
The good:
- Battle system is as good as ever
- Great new cast of Pokemon
- Great new visual style
- Interesting story
The bad:
- Not different enough from the last games
- Annoying trainer AI
- Unnecessarily high encounter rate

Welcome to my blog!

So this is going to be the place where I just talk about video games out of sheer boredom. Probably just games I'm playing at the moment, maybe some reviews or I might talk about recent video game news. So, if you're into that sort of thing, help me out by following me and commenting on my posts!