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Applying C-SMART to Trophy Hunting

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It’s easy to set goals; the classic new year’s resolution being the prime example of this. Anybody can set a goal, but achieving said goal is something else entirely. This is often because we, as a society, love the idea of succeeding – the finished product if you will – but we’re often unwilling to follow the steps required to reap the hypothetical reward. This is where C-SMART comes into play, an approach in which we can set effective and realistic targets. Our goals need to be:

Challenging

Specific

Measurable

Achievable

Relevant

Timely

Often referred to by businesses with a focus on their people, C-SMART can also be implemented into our social lives as a way in which to accelerate our own personal growth. Think of it as a learning bike; it may seem alien at first following all these headings, but very soon the mind conditions itself to think in a drastically different way. It gradually increases focus, willpower, and it may even encourage an internal reflection on what we ultimately want out of life. Now, what does this have to do with PlayStation Trophies? Let’s dig in, we’ve got a lot to talk about.


Commitment and frame of mind

C-SMART implores you, the unproven, to make the first move. Ask yourself the question “what is my goal?” To platinum the game? Complete the story on the hardest difficulty? Acquire all collectibles? If the answer is plain in sight then the specifics have been taken care of. Setting a quality goal is a commitment that only you can be held accountable for, Infamous isn’t going to finish itself so you’d best be on your way. Easy goals aren’t goals at all, they’re the equivalent of comfort food, the embodiment of routine and familiarity and this is dangerous. An effective goal has to challenge us because we need to continuously learn and grow as people – we crave the challenge because we want to come out of the other side stronger than ever.

This is why Platinum trophies (or maximum achievement score if you’re in the Xbox camp) is an ideal candidate for effective target setting for gamers. Platinums inspire confidence and commitment in abundance, they’re an invitation to explore everything your new £50 title has to offer. Platinums represent the ultimate challenges in the average gamer’s lives as they’ll often insist on completion of the hardest difficulty in story mode, and this is no easy feat. A word of warning: don’t confuse a challenge for futile stupidity. This is where “attainable” comes into it, do your research, assess your own untapped potential, and your current skills, to predict the chances of success with any given game. Maybe the idea of platinum-ing Bloodborne sounds great on paper, and the challenge is most certainly present, but is it attainable? Do you have the mindset to conquer the unconquerable in Bloodborne, or are you merely another inhabitant of the Hunter’s Dream?

Benefits of visual trophies and having a spotter

Along the way towards trophy triumph is the inevitable 4th act slump. Trials and tribulations bestowed upon the player have been manageable up to this point, but darkness shrouds the player as they allow themselves to reflect on the magnitude of their situation. This feeling often materializes as “what the hell have I gotten myself into?” While it’s perfectly natural to feel this sentiment, it also validates the need for measurables. “How do I know if what I’m doing is working?” We need to visually see progress in any goals we set to ensure we’re on the right path, to be reminded that we’re perfectly justified in our actions. The Trophy score and the notifications that pop up act as micro-celebrations and a reminder to continue the path. Trophies also provide a little fun, especially the more cryptic ones.

A little competition never hurt anybody, and while your goals are your own it might be other people that ironically determine your success. Having a spotter – someone who’s trophy score is close in line to your own – can provide some much needed fun. That basic need to be the best is empowering, and a game friend can help with this. They can even act as another way in which to measure your own success. Either you, or your buddies can set a tremendous pace in which the other feels obligated to keep up with, or you/they can exceed it. These are all effective ways in which to measure success.


Doing the right things at the right time

Plan, plan, plan, and then plan again. Keep an eye on the trophy list to ensure what you’re doing is absolutely relevant to your goals. It might be fun to complete all the nitty gritty side-missions  in Horizon: Zero Dawn, but not all of them are necessary in earning the coveted platinum trophy. All relevant trophies can either be found on the game’s own trophy list, or you can seek out trophy guide sites like playstation.org – a site dedicated to the procurement of trophies and hints and tips on the best ways of how to tackle them. It could be said that they act like a walkthrough, but regardless they keep things relevant to your goal.

Staying relevant, and doing it in a timely fashion, go hand-in-hand, it is said. We all have lives outside of games, and our time becomes more precious as we get older which is why it’s now more important than ever to prioritize. In a game with multiple collectibles and combat requirements, it might be necessary to ask yourself whether you can combine trophies. Whilst seeking out the random newspaper clippings and objects in The Order: 1886, could you also fry 30 enemies with the only decent gun in the game that soon gets taken away from you? If the platinum requires you to achieve maximum leveling up, could this go in conjunction with completion of the main quests? Grouping different trophies together through trophy research benefits the player’s time-keeping and it ensures you’re keeping to a plan.

Conclusion

Most people will argue that C-SMART and trophy hunting remove the fun from gaming; an exercise in obsession and price justification, but it really is just a bit of fun and it is surprisingly addictive as you earn each platinum. As I mentioned previously, it needn’t just be incorporated into business, or trophy hunting, it can also help turn your life around, for those who need a change. As with most things, don’t knock it until you’ve tried it. All I ask is that you try this strategy for yourself, be smart, be C-SMART.

Films, games and music: the big three! If you like any of these, chances are we're going to get on just fine. I'm just a balding, goggle-eyed 26-year old Masters graduate from the UK, and I'm here to talk games! Let's dance.

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Games

‘Tecmo Bowl, the Godfather of NFL Games

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Tecmo Bowl Retrospective

Tecmo Bowl was a big deal back in 1989!

With Madden growing more popular and even more complex every year, we sometimes forget about the game that started it all.

I cannot stress the importance of Tecmo Bowl twenty-nine years after its release. Originally an arcade game, Tecmo Bowl was ported to the Nintendo Entertainment System by the makers of such classics as Ninja Gaiden, Mighty Bomb Jack, and Solomon’s Key, and it took everyone by surprise by just how good it was. Nobody expected the Japanese developers of puzzle games and 2D platformers to succeed in creating a sports game, much less an American sports game, but they did. Named NES Sports Game of the Year, Tecmo Bowl provided players with the best football experience found on the NES console back in 1989 and it paved the way for what became the biggest trend in sports games to this day.

Although Tecmo didn’t have the official NFL license to use the actual team names and logos (the teams in the game are identified by their home city or state), the game features players from 12 NFL franchises due to being licensed by the NFLPA (National Football League Players Association). Nowadays this doesn’t seem like a big deal but back in 1989 it was huge! Tecmo Bowl features some of football’s greatest players including John Elway, Bo Jackson, Marcus Allen, Mike Singletary, Joe Montana, Ronnie Lott, Walter Payton, and Dan Marino, and when it shipped 29 years ago, it changed everything for sports video games.

Long before football video games became just as complex as real-life football, Tecmo Bowl laid the groundwork for what would be the standard moving forward. There aren’t many plays to choose from but you’re given the choice of 4 plays while on offense and another 4 while on defense. In addition, the game features three different modes: Single Player, Two Player, and Coaching mode which allows you to call plays while letting the CPU control the players on the field. The simple and responsive controls work perfectly within the framework of the game, and it is this simplicity that makes the game fun to play to this day. And regardless if you know don’t know much about the sport, anyone can easily follow along thanks to the broadcast camera view and two-button controls.

Tecmo_Celebration_1280w

Tecmo Bowl is a seemingly effortless game in which everything falls neatly into place. It stripped football down to its basic elements and created a fun arcade experience anyone can enjoy. Tecmo Bowl was Madden before Madden was a household name. It’s the game that started the football franchise craze in video games and laid the groundwork for the even better, Tecmo Super Bowl. American football games have come a long way over the years, but what hasn’t changed is the sheer enjoyment any football fan can have when playing Tecmo Bowl.

Tecmo Bowl is without a doubt the granddaddy of football games, and there’s something to be said for the back-to-basics formula that Tecmo Bowl employed. With technological enhancements in gameplay, graphics, power, and speed, the original Tecmo Bowl seems incredibly dated in 2016, but surprisingly the game holds up nearly three decades later.

Side Note: There were two NES versions of the game released in the U.S. The first release is easily identified by its black and gold seal of quality and the second version by its white and gold seal. It should also be noted that the names of players were removed on the virtual console release.

Tecmo Bowl
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Game Reviews

‘Coffee Talk’ Review: The Best Brew in Town

Coffee Talk is as quaint as your local coffee shop. It’s relatively short, wonderfully sweet, and absolutely committed to the art form of telling a story through a video game screen.

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It’s 9:00pm. The rain just started coming down softly a few minutes ago, and the street outside is reflecting the lights above it. Neon signs shine brightly in the distance, although it’s hard to make out the words. You unlock the doors to the coffee shop and wipe down the counters in order to get them clean for the customers. The rain makes a soft sound as it hits the glass and passerby speed up their walking pace to avoid it. The bells chime as a tall, green orc walks in and sits down at your table in silence. You wonder what their story is…

I wanted to set the tone for this review because of how important atmosphere and audio/visual design is in the world of Coffee Talk. While it’s easy to boil the game down as a visual novel-type experience, it’s honestly so much more than that. A unique cast of characters, incredible user interface, and a mysterious protagonist combine to form the most enjoyable experience I’ve had this year on Switch.

Coffee Talk
Some of the subject matter can be pretty serious in nature…

Coffee Talk is beautiful because of how simple it is. The entire game takes place within a single coffee shop. As the barista, you’re tasked with making drinks for the patrons of the shop as well as making conversations with them. The twist is that earth is populated with creatures like orcs, werewolves, and succubi. The relationship between the various races is handled very well throughout the story, and some interesting parallels are made to the real world.

Making drinks is as simple as putting together a combination of three ingredients and hitting the ‘Serve’ button. If a unique drink is made, it will be added to a recipe list that can be referenced on the barista’s cell phone. This is where the awesome user interface comes in, as the phone has a series of apps that can be accessed at any moment in the game. One app houses your recipe list, another acts as a facebook for the characters in the game, one allows you to switch between songs, and the other houses a series of short stories that one of the characters in the game writes as it progresses. It’s one of the coolest parts of the whole experience and helps it stand out from other games in the genre.

Coffee Talk is as quaint as your local coffee shop. It’s relatively short, wonderfully sweet, and absolutely committed to the art form of telling a story through a video game screen.

Coffee Talk cycles between talking with customers and making drinks for them. In the beginning, they will ask for basic beverages that can be brewed on the fly. Later on however, they may ask for a specific type of drink that has a unique title. These drinks often have certain descriptive features that hint at other possibilities in terms of unique dialogue. If the wrong drink is made, you’ll have five chances to trash it and make a new one. If the wrong drink is made, don’t expect the customer to be pleased about it.

The gameplay really is not the focus here though; it’s the characters and their stories that take center stage. An elf with relationship issues, a writer that can’t seem to pin down her next story, and an alien whose sole goal is to mate with an earthling are just a few of the examples of the characters you’ll meet during the story. There are tons of memorable moments throughout Coffee Talk, with every character bringing something unique to the table. The barista develops an interesting relationship with many of these characters as well.

Coffee Talk
Appearances can often be deceiving in this game.

Even though serving the wrong drinks can change some of the dialogue, don’t expect any sort of options or branching paths in terms of the story. It’s not that kind of experience; the story should simply be enjoyed for what it is. I found myself glued to the screen at the end of each of the in-game days, waiting to see what would happen in the morning. The first playthrough also doesn’t answer all of the game’s questions, as the second one is filled with all kinds of surprises that I won’t spoil here.


Coffee Talk is as quaint as your local coffee shop. It’s relatively short, wonderfully sweet, and absolutely committed to the art form of telling a story through a video game screen. It’s an easy recommendation for anyone who loves video games, not just visual novel fans. There are characters in the game that I’ll certainly be thinking about for a long time, especially when the setting brings out the best in them. Don’t pass this one up.

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Games

The Magic of Nintendo: How Mario and Zelda Connect us to Our Inner Child

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Magic of Nintendo

Nintendo is special. Many excellent developers depend upon story or progression systems to entice engagement, but not Nintendo. Nintendo games captivate because of their immediate charm. There is no need for a payoff. The games, themselves, are enough: they elicit feelings, hard to find in adulthood. Through intrepid discovery, playful presentation, and unfiltered whimsy, the best of Nintendo connects gamers to their childlike selves.

The heart of any great Nintendo game is discovery and no encounter encapsulates this better than Breath of the Wild’s Eventide Island. First, finding the island requires genuine gumption. Found far from Hyrule’s shore, the island is only clearly visible from other islands, and even then, it’s only a speck in the distance. Reaching the island requires players to brave the open ocean and head towards something … that could be nothing. Then, upon arriving on the beach, a spirit takes all the player’s gear, including clothes and food. Link, literally, is left in his underwear. From there, players must make clever use of Link’s base skills in order to steal enemy weapons and make traps. The scenario creates a marvelous sense of self-sufficiency brought on by one’s own desire to discover. The player comes to the island purely of their own choosing, tackles the sea, and then overcomes obstacles without the aid of their strongest tools. The game turns players into plucky children who are discovering they can take care of themselves.

The intrepidity of Breath of the Wild and other Nintendo greats mirrors the feelings Shigeru Miyamoto, the father of many Nintendo franchises, experienced as a child. “I can still recall the kind of sensation I had when I was in a small river, and I was searching with my hands beneath a rock, and something hit my finger, and I noticed it was a fish,” Miyamoto told the New Yorker. “That’s something that I just can’t express in words. It’s such an unusual situation.” In sequences like Eventide Island, players don’t just understand what Miyamoto describes, they feel it: Apprehension gives way to exhilaration as the unknown becomes a place of play.

 Nintendo’s intrepid gameplay is often amplified by playful presentation with Super Mario World 2: Yoshi’s Island being the quintessential example. The game’s visuals, defined by pastel colors and simple hand-drawings, appear crayoned by a child while the celestial chimes that punctuate the jubilant soundtrack evoke shooting stars. The overall effect cannot be understated. It takes the surreal and turns it real, allowing players to interact, tangibly, with imagination.

Super Mario Odyssey Wooden Kingdom

Even if one removes the presentation and gameplay from Nintendo’s masterpieces, an unabashed creativity remains that bucks norm and convention. The arbiter is fun; reason and logic have no say. For instance, Super Mario Odyssey’s Wooded Kingdom, takes place in a post-apocalyptic setting akin to Nier Automata. Players explore the metal remnants of a civilization that has become a lush home to robotic beings. However, unlike Nier, the dark undertones of the past have no bearing on the game or those who inhabit its universe. The post-apocalyptic setting is just a fun backdrop. It’s as though a bunch of children got together, began playing with toys, and one of the kids brought along his sibling’s adult action figures. There is no attention paid to the context, only unfiltered imagination.

When they’re at their best the creators at Nintendo invite gamers to come and play, like a parent arranging a play date. Pulled along by joyful gameplay that expands in unforeseen ways, players desire to play for the sake of play. It’s a halcyon state of being: No messy thoughts or contradiction, just joy.

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