Back on the Horse

It’s been a little while since I was able to point to recently published work of mine on the Internet or elsewhere, but that time has finally arrived again.

Dave Long reviews Professor Layton and the Curious Village for Nintendo DS.

That link will take you to Crispy Gamer, a new site being led by John Keefer. John is the former Editor In Chief of Gamespy and has ten years in this business at the top level. I consider it a privilege to be able to contribute to the site given all the name writers that are contributing to it right alongside me.

Special thanks goes to the folks that gave me a good reference and helped me establish myself in the media throughout my writing career, especially Steve Bauman who gave me that first chance in the pages of Computer Games Magazine and Phil Hansen at Evil Avatar who helped me get the notice of Steve by having me as a second in command of his site for awhile. I’ve also gotten a lot of help from Tom Chick, Jason Cross, Ben Sones and of course the mighty GamerDad, Andrew Bub. Extra special thanks to them as well.

As for the review, Professor Layton didn’t capture me quite the way I thought it would. I really love the artistic style of the game as well as the voice acting, the story and the characters. The problem is that the puzzles alternate between facile and frustrating and you never really know which side of that coin a puzzle will fall. Sometimes the easiest ones are the hardest to grasp and while I’m usually a really easy going guy, I get pretty miffed when the obvious answer can’t be found for an hour. Worse, sometimes I’d be thinking on a completely different logical level about the puzzle and miss the point entirely. Fortunately, we have GameFAQs so I never got 100% to the point of pitching the game in the trash, but there were moments where I felt like the whole exercise really bogged down on me. As noted in the review, I think the game is best played in short bursts, which is what most people will do. They may never find the frustration I did, but others will and for them this just can’t be wholly recommended despite its high quality.

I really dig the Crispy Gamer review classifications. It’s liberating to be freed from the constraints of numbers, stars or the new black in game scoring, letter grades. I think you’re going to see a lot of “Try It” recommendations from all the writers. It’s an easy way to fall back into that middle ground of “this is pretty good, but maybe not for everyone” which is where I think most games tend to fall. I know I’m going to take it really seriously when I put a “Buy It” on a game because I’m basically saying to you that your money is well spent on that game. We all know a lot of folks don’t get beyond that rating and the “Hot” “Not” part of reviews, so I think it’s more important than ever to really nail that rating at CG.

This is just the beginning for me and Crispy. I’ve got more work lined up for the site including something that should be here in the next day or two. I’ve got one of the major releases next week (no, it’s not Super Smash Bros. Brawl) and more to come after that. I’m going to be busy so if this blog doesn’t get updated quite as regularly, don’t be surprised. I’ll be back as soon as things slow down again.

Be sure to check out some of the other great writers at Crispy Gamer and check in there often. Mr. Troy Goodfellow, whose blog I link to, is also part of the team and I think he’s one of the best in his strategy/wargame corner of gaming. Mr. Chick should also have a column there soon and I know you won’t want to miss that. Steve Kent is another contributor who you might recognize because of a book he wrote. If you haven’t read that book, you need to do so. I think it’s required reading for those not well-versed in the hobby, especially if you’re coming from the PC side and didn’t live through the rest of gaming’s past. Even if you did play Pong in an arcade way back when, there are piles of anecdotes you may never have heard and still reverberate through the industry today. Of course, GamerDad Andrew Bub is also involved at Crispy Gamer so you’ll want to check out his work as well. All the rest of the writers are not personal or Internet acquaintances of mine like Chick, Bub and Goodfellow, but I’m getting to know them and really enjoying what they’re contributing to the site, too. All of them are pros and that’s what makes the site unique. You’re going to get top quality editorial and it’s being overseen by a guy who knows how to bring it to you. That’s a cool thing to be a part of.

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