Why I’ll never buy another Polytron or Phil Fish game

Fez was a game that took years to develop and it enjoyed a strong amount of hype leading up to its release. For those waiting on the game, the wait felt long and painful, but finally the game hit on April 13, 2012. Gamers purchased Fez in droves, and although neither Microsoft nor Polytron released sales numbers, we do know that it sold over 100,000 copies in the early going. All seemed well, but it didn’t take long for people to start finding bugs, glitches, and hiccups in the Fez experience.

And then Polytron patched Fez.

With the patch that Polytron released for Fez, many of the bugs, crashes, and performance issues were resolved, but for a small number of gamers out there, the patch corrupted save files. The only fix was to completely abandon progress and start over, which has proven to be a tough pill to swallow by those affected.

When it became clear that the patch was problematic, Polytron pulled the patch and promised a better fix. The promise, however, would never be fulfilled. After going the rounds of negotiation with Microsoft, Phil Fish, owner/founder of Polytron decided that he’d rather not pony up the cash it costs to issue a second patch (first patch is free, second patch costs money) and just tell those who were affected by the bug, myself included, that they’d have to dump their progress and start the game over.

Well, I don’t want to start over. I don’t feel like I should have to start over. I feel like if you’re going to publish a game on a major platform that you owe it to your supporters to make sure that they get a bug free experience. Phil ranted about how it was expensive to issue a patch. So what, Phil? Fix the game and put out that patch. Eat the money.

What irks me almost as much as my flawed save file is that Phil complained about Microsoft and how it was so terrible that he would be faced with this fee. Cry me a river, Phil. YOU CHOSE TO SIGN AN EXCLUSIVE DEAL WITH MICROSOFT, DON’T TURN AROUND AND WHINE ABOUT IT LATER. Phil has gone on record saying that the exclusivity deal has been a nightmare. Yeah, I bet it sucked having Microsoft market your game aggressively for you, right Phil? I bet it sucked having prime real estate on the Xbox dashboard.

Phil likes to paint himself as a victim, but he knew what he was getting into when he signed the exclusivity agreement. He put out a game that was bugged and then issued a patch that had even worse bugs. If Phil says he was unaware of any potential problems when signing an exclusivity agreement, it was because he was blinded by dollar signs.

And Phil has a history of being a total douchebag. He’s put down PC gamers, media outlets, Microsoft (who offered to work with him on the patch issue and he kicked dust and cried instead), Japanese developers, and his former business partner who was by all accounts horribly misrepresented in Indie Game: The Movie on the account of Phil’s one-sided account of things. All these things could be swallowed until he burned his consumers to save a few bucks, which is often an unforgivable sin in retail.

Well, that’s it. I’m not ever giving Polytron another penny. If they want to make things right, I’ll reconsider, but I have a habit of not dealing with companies that wrong me and then make no attempt to make it right even though it’s fully within their means to do so. Maybe I’m alone, I don’t know, but I just think that Phil Fish’s stance is childish, disrespectful, and greedy.

Bulletstorm Video Review

Here’s our full review for Bulletstorm. Overall it is a great shooter with some intense action, an interesting combat system, and memorable moments throughout the campaign. The pacing is a little uneven, but the second half of the game more than compensates for the game’s slow start. Take a look at the review below.

Final Score: 4 out of 5


Marvel vs Capcom 3: Fate of Two Worlds Review

Marvel vs Capcom 3: Fate of Two Worlds is the much anticipated and awaited follow up to Marvel vs Capcom 2. 11 years in the waiting, fans have been excitedly waiting for this game to finally see a release. This review was posted to YouTube as part of the upcoming Gamer Theory site’s video review library. Take a look.

Final Score: 4 out 5

Microsoft Kinect to cost $149.99, comes with a game

Microsoft has officially announced the price for Kinect this morning, and it will come in at $149.99 and will be bundled with Kinect Adventures. Most games, including Dance Central from Harmonix, are expected to cost $49.99. It remains to be seen how well received this will be by the casual gaming audience, but I have a few opinions on why it’s a steep uphill battle for Microsoft. If you’re hoping to pick up Kinect, at least you know it has some sort of pack in title.

Source: IGN

Review: Deathsmiles

Just recently I did a feature on shoot ‘em up (shmup) games, and one of the main reasons I was feeling shmup fever was due to the release of Deathsmiles for the Xbox 360. Developed by Cave, and published by Aksys, Deathsmiles has actually been around for nearly three years in Japan, so when it was announced that it would be coming to North America, shmup fans like myself were quite happy and surprised.

The game is a horizontal scroller and falls into the bullet hell category. You control one of five different characters that has a tag along familiar through stages packed with macabre style enemies. The gameplay is quite intense and on the harder difficulties it’s extremely challenging, even for seasoned shmup players. The difficulty can be dialed back quite a bit, but honestly the real satisfaction in Deathsmiles comes from getting through the punishing levels with as few deaths as possible.

The gameplay isn’t all that unique, but it does have some nice touches. Rather than multiple lives, the player gets one life and a 3 hit life bar. Bullets decrease the life bar by one, but collisions with enemies only take away 1/2 of a hit. You can pick up items to refill the bar along the way. As you accumulate points, you can increase the 3 hit life bar to 4 or 5, but it takes big scoring to make it happen. For attacks the player can tap the button for a standard shot, hold it for a secondary shot, lock on to have their familiar fire, or fire off a bomb-style attack. As enemies are destroyed, they fire off some smaller bullets (similar to in Ikaruga when dying enemies fire off bullets) that will do you damage, but if they strike your familiar you actually gain points. Also, when enemies are destroyed they’ll typically leave behind an item pickup. As you pick up items, a counter tallies your total. Once you reach 1000 items, you can power up your attacks for a limited time. It’s a simple system, but it all works well.

The story in Deathsmiles is nothing special, but story has never been a focus in the genre. There are two different endings for each character, however, so multiple replays aren’t based slowly on gaining a higher score. I guess there’s enough story dressing on the game to keep it interesting, but there’s nothing truly compelling to make note of.

The style is something that might be a turnoff for some, as it’s pretty heavily anime influenced. Really though, after a few minutes that styling fades into the background as you are jamming your controller stick in all directions to avoid the incoming storm of bullets. While I’m not an anime fan, I do have to admit that it does add some charm to the overall package, but I wouldn’t disagree with anybody that would say that the inclusion of it is a little tough to swallow.

Overall the game is great, even if it is a little expensive. I still feel like this genre can do well, but they need to release these games more often, and they need to hit a better price point. I don’t mind paying $50-$60 for a good shmup, but for such a niche genre they really need to get these down to $20-$30. I would definitely recommend the game without any reservations for shump fans and would advise casual fans to see if they can find it at a lower price. I would caution those who choose to wait that it’s very possible that this game could become quite scarce once the initial shipment sells out.

Overall Score: 8.0 out of 10