Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

Crap I Found This Week

March 17, 2013

It’s almost Spring, and that means yard sale and flea market season are in full swing! It’s the perfect time to go out and finds some awesome games for cheap, as people clean out their garages and attics and sell the treasures they find. Let’s see what I found this week.

Digital Camera
At the flea market, I found a vendor selling Nintendo DS games for $4 each. I picked up Pokemon White, Pokemon Ranger 2 and Zelda: Phantom Hourglass

Digital Camera
More often than not, whenever I find Nintendo consoles in the wild, they’re missing the AV cables. Which is why when I found these two at my local ReStore for $1 each, I snapped them up. Also found a Gameboy Micro AC adapter, which tend to be hard to find as well.

Digital Camera
And finally, I don’t often find PS1 games in the CD bin at Goodwill, but when I do, it’s Mega Man Legends 2. A cool $5 purchase.

Advertisements

Wreck-It Ralph

March 2, 2013

I finally got around to watching Wreck-It Ralph at my local second-run theater this past weekend, and it’s not only just a great movie, it’s a great video game movie. After twenty years of crap movies based on video games, it turns out the key was to base the movie on a non-existent game. Who knew?

The movie looks and sounds incredible, from chiptune music to the amazing worlds built for games such as Hero’s Duty (Doodie! Ha!) and Sugar Rush, one with dark spires and threatening clouds, the other with hills made of powdered donuts and sun filled skies. Special detail is paid to even the minor background characters, who even in full CGI still sport limited frames of animation.

Of course, none of this would matter if the plot wasn’t any good, but fortunately the story is quick and smart. Despite the metric ton of game character cameos presented in the movie’s first fifteen minutes, they quickly fade away as the story revolves around Ralph, a video game bad guy who wants to become a hero, and Vanellope Von Schweetz, a glitch character Ralph comes across in Sugar Rush who wishes to win the big race. Naturally, shenanigans ensue, and while the plot is formulaic and predicable (well, mostly, there was one reveal at the end that honestly surprised me), it’s still well done and enjoyable. It’s very lighthearted and doesn’t take itself too seriously; even one character’s dramatic backstory is played for laughs, simply because of how hilariously over the top it is. A highly recommended watch, even if you’re not all that into video games.

Tales of a Coin Rush Convert

September 7, 2012

Only about two weeks after its release, New Super Mario Bros. 2 is certainly a polarizing title among Nintendo fans, with many people complaining that it’s a cheap cash-in, reusing assets from the Wii edition to create a rushed game, while others look past the familiar graphics and sound to find solid gameplay and level design. While the debate about the merits of the game will likely go on for some time (my opinion… I have yet to play a bad Mario game, and this isn’t one of them) one of the key new features touted for this release is the Coin Rush mode, which challenges you to dash through three randomly selected courses in a limited amount of time, grabbing as many coins as possible. One could look at it as a very shallow way to add gameplay to a game that’s already lacking in gametime. And in all honesty, when the game released, I could have cared less about Coin Rush, as long as I had a decent single-player game to enjoy. Coin Rush mode was the furthest thing from my mind when I picked up the game.

…So why can’t I stop playing it?

Like most things Nintendo, the concept is very easy to grasp, but difficult to master. The first couple of runs will likely only net you a few hundred coins, barely enough to even register on the looming counter ticking slowly up to the 1,000,000 goal. But you begin to learn new tricks and tactics, such as new Gold Mushrooms worth 50 coins appearing where 1up-Shrooms were placed in the regular game. Or snagging Star Coins now add more coins to your total. Or the fact that snagging the Gold Flower will double the values of these items, and gives you even more coins for bashing baddies. You will soon find yourself replaying the same courses over and over again in order to develop new strategies and find new ways to maximize your coin total.

But things get even more interesting in with Streetpass. It’s very much an extension of the “Time Trial” Streetpass tags in Super Mario 3D Land, in which you suddenly find yourself challenged by some stranger who has the AUDACITY to think he’s a better player than you. How dare this fool, this jerk, this ASSHOLE, come into my 3DS and challenge me! He must be destroyed! And the glee you feel when you beat his own record, as well as the rage when you discover he somehow doubled your own coin count, is its own incentive to keep playing. I know many people lament the lack of online leaderboards (which, in all possiblity, be added in a future update patch), but I find the Streetpass method to be much more personal. With online leaderboards, you go out looking for trouble. With Streetpass, it almost feels like an invasion you must ward off with feats of AWESOMENESS.

Nintendo has also mentioned they plan to sell Coin Rush course packs via the eShop in the future, with brand new courses to rush through, which is a wonderful idea to extend the life of the game. New Super Mario Bros. 2 may not be the most original Mario title in recent years, but Coin Rush is amazingly addictive and fun, challenging you to make that one perfect run, and then spread your legend through Streetpass.

Five Fave Non-Nintendo games

April 12, 2012

Let me get one thing clear. I LOVE Nintendo. In a purely plutonic way, mind you. Though they have made a mis-step or two along the way, the last twenty-five-plus years have been filled with awesomeness. But, I will admit, it’s not an exclusive relationship. I enjoy titles on other platforms; maybe not so much to actually purchase said platforms, but I’m not shy about trying out the latest 360 or PS3 game on a friend’s system if it looks interesting enough. So what is the point of this? I thought it’d be fun to list five of my favorite non-Nintendo system games, starting with


Virtua Cop 1 & 2
A friend of mine loaned me his Sega Saturn and a selection of games for a month. Despite such classics are Magical Knight Rayearth and NiGHTS, most of my time was sunk in Virtua Cop. It’s a short, mindless arcade shooter, but dammit, it’s FUN. It’s especially fun in co-op mode, which eventually degrades into seeing who can shoot the most civilians. I actually ended up buying a used Sega Saturn for the express purpose of playing Virtua Cop once in a while. The fact we never saw this ported to the Wii is a tragedy.


Parappa the Rapper
I’m actually pretty bad at this one, but it’s just so goofy and fun. It’s pretty obvious that this was the inspiration for rhythm games such as Rock Band and Rhythm Heaven. I actually find myself muttering “Kick, Punch, it’s all in the mind” from time to time… perhaps I should get that checked…


Bonk’s Revenge
From the same friend who loaned me his Saturn came a trip to Turbo-Grafx-16 land. I had read about Bonk’s Adventure in an issue of Gamepro, and it looked like a lot of fun. Bonk’s Revenge apparently took the same sense of fun, and made it totally insane. It has a very warped sense of humor, and the animation is top notch. The head-bonking mechanic was kind of clunky, but it also added to the charm. Years later, I wasted no time downloading it onto my Virtual Console.


Sonic the Hedgehog 2

Yes, back in the “Bit Wars” I was firmly on the side of Nintendo, but I still found myself interested in the Sega Genesis library. My local Service Merchandise store (God, I’m dating myself here) had a Genesis on display, and during the entire time the Genesis was available, it always had Sonic the Hedgehog 2 playing. I enjoyed the synthesiser soundtrack, and the graphics were nice and colorful, which made me a bit envious, at least until I got a Super NES later on. I always got stuck in the second act of Chemical Plant though, drowning in that gross pink water, or whatever it was. Still, a fun game, and arguably the best Sonic game ever.


Crazy Taxi

AYE YAI YAI YAI YAI!!!!!” Yeah, you remember that track from the Offspring blaring into your ears as soon as you sat down in the arcade cabinet. And admit it… you enjoyed the hell out of it. Crazy Taxi was an amazingly fun arcade game, and hilarous when you attempt to run over pedestrians and repeatedly crash into oncoming traffic. The Dreamcast port was equally fun, as that game clocked the most time on my friend’s system back in college.

There ya go, five of my fave non-Nintendo games. Don’t be a system hater! It’s fine to be loyal to one system if that’s what you want, but variety is the spice of life, and it doesn’t hurt to branch out once in a while.

Giana Sisters DS

November 22, 2011

Bit of history to start out with… when Super Mario Bros. was released in the mid-80s, there were no shortage of copycats that sprouted up to take advantage of the renewed side scrolling genre. But one game stood above the others as the most blatant rip-off of Nintendo’s mascot, The Great Giana Sisters, which was released for the Commodore 64 and the Amiga (among other PC systems). How blatant a rip-off? Just take a look at a screenshot from the game…

Yeah. Published by Rainbow Arts in 1987, it was pulled from shelves almost immediately due to pressure from Nintendo’s legal team, though one could hardly blame Nintendo for wanting to nip blatant copycats in the bud. Hard to find, it was widely sought after by collectors and few people knew about the game until game emulation via the internet began to sprout up in the mid 90s.

Over twenty years later, a new Giana Sisters game was developed and released (officially!) on the Nintendo DS in Europe, titled simply Giana Sisters DS. Oddly enough, it only features one sister, Giana, though perhaps one could consider her powered-up “punk” form as a separate character. The game featured eight different worlds, filled with bite sized, yet at times tough levels filled with tiny platforms to maneuver and quirky enemies to avoid and defeat. The gameplay certainly won’t challenge Mario’s crown anytime soon, but it’s solid and enjoyable. The graphics are well animated and the characters all have cute animations to them. The music is very catchy and remenicent of the game’s Commodore origins, with a very chip-tune vibe to it. The game even features recreations of the original game’s levels, provided you find enough hidden gems to unlock them. Overall, despite it’s brief length and occasional cheap difficulty, it’s a great title worth playing.

Despite growing interest of the title, it remained a European exclusive for years, as stateside release dates were announced and passed over. Even Nintendo Power reviewed the game in its February 2011 issue, giving it a 9 out of 10, yet no release was in sight. With the Nintendo DS in its last year of life, it seemed like importing the increasingly expensive title was the only option for those who wanted to play it.

However, last month, the game was quietly released by publisher Destineer to several internet sites, such as Newegg.com, for the low, low price of twenty bucks. Seeing as how the game has yet to be available on more mainstream sites like Amazon.com, or even in normal brick and mortar stores, this game has the potential to become a collector’s item in the future, much like the internet store exclusive Electroplankton or Pokemon Box.

Much like it’s original release. If you’re even remotely interested in this title, I highly suggest picking it up before it’s too late.

Cool S#*%: Gamecube Interactive Demo Disc #9

November 20, 2011

Spent the last two and a half hours playing some Skyward Sword (spoiler: it’s frackin’ AWESOME), but I thought I’d take a break from the game and touch on a bit of history about that purple box that celebrated its tenth birthday last week, the Gamecube. While it was the least popular in terms of sales, it was always number one in our hearts (dawwwwwwwwwwww).

It was a different beast than previous Nintendo consoles in many ways, but one way in particular in the fact that the Gamecube was the first (and to date, only) Nintendo console that had multi-game playable demos available in stores. Before that, store demo units were usually limited to one game, which was an obvious side effect of sticking with the cartridge medium. But with the Cube, we finally saw a change, as we saw demo discs with timed game segments consisting of anywhere between two to seven different games. There were even GBA demos that could be played via emulator, almost like a Gameboy Player or Super Gameboy, complete with a unique screen border! A few of the demo discs even allowed you to download data to your own GBA games, the most famous example being the “Berry Glitch” patch for Pokemon Ruby and Sapphire, which fixed a glitch and gave you a shiny Pokemon to boot.

I have one of these store demo discs… okay, several…

Fine. I’ve got thirty-one out of the thirty-five that were eventually released. I had friends in the electronics department at Wal-Mart, all right? Just don’t tell Nintendo, or they’ll take away my Fun Club membership. I won’t go into detail on all of them, so I’ll just pick one at random, Disc #9, which was released in late 2002.

This volume contained two demo games for Metroid Prime and Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker. Surprisingly, when I started up the Prime demo, it actually had an option for progressive scan! Impressive. The demo itself is pretty much just the beginning of the game, as you venture into the abandoned space station only to confront a huge insect like monster. Since the demo is limited to ten minutes, you really have to work hard to make your way to the boss. Still, this little demo is much more enjoyable than all of Other M. I kid! I kid!

Not really.

The Wind Waker demo features three different segments. “Dungeon”, drops you into the Dragon Roost Cavern, “Stealth” has you venturing into the Forsaken Fortress, and “Boss” pits you against the firey Gohma. The rest of the disc is filled with videos of Metroid Prime, Wind Waker, 1080 Avalanche, Wario World and Black & Bruised (a punch out clone that I’ve never played, actually), as well as an ESRB Ratings video featuring some baseball player. This was also the first disc featuring a new, flashier menu system, most likely in an effort to inform people that the Gamecube was not “teh kiddie”.

There were many other demo discs released for the system, and some featured some interesting differences from the final retail versions that would appear, though through Nintendo’s typically odd way of distributing these discs, they were not easy to get your hands on and took a bit of work to obtain. But as the world slowly moves towards digital downloads, it’s nice to have a bit of history you can hold in your hands.

Bustin’ makes me feel good!

October 17, 2011

With Halloween approaching, I turn once again to my usual binging of watching both the incredibly awesome Ghostbusters movie, as well as the animated series. Of course, a couple of years ago gamers were treated to a new Ghostbusters adventure, with Ghostbusters: The Video Game, which served as a third movie of sorts, taking place shortly after the events of Ghostbusters 2.

“Generally you don’t see that kind of behavior from a household appliance.”
There were essentially two different versions of the game, an HD version for the PS3/360 consoles featuring realistic graphics and a version for the Wii, which adapted to the smaller horsepower by giving the characters a more stylized look, which was, rather appealing actually. Kind of looked like what we’d get if Pixar was tasked with creating a Ghostbusters sequel. I compared notes with a friend of mine who owns the PS3 version (I, naturally, got the Wii version), and we discovered that each version followed the same basic plot, but they also had exclusive levels and bosses unique to each version, which is actually kind of cool. The plot, by the way, takes place two years after the second movie. Instead of playing as one of the main Ghostbusters, you play as a new rookie Ghostbuster, and join the others on various missions, which range from the fancy hotel from the first movie to the weird and errie “ghost world”. The dialouge in the game is outstanding, and easily the highlight of the game. The writing is witty and clever, and there is no shortage of amusing riffs between the Ghostbusters as you bust ghosts. There are also nods to the movies to be found in the game, such as the painting of Vigo the Carpathian hanging out in the basement of the firehouse, who talks to you on occassion (usually with amusing results). The game also uses the score from the movies as background music, though sadly the familiar Ghostbusters theme can only be heard during the end credits sequence (which turns out to be a target shooting minigame featuring a certain green ghost).

“What we have here is what we call a non-repeating phantasm, or a class-5 free roaming vapor, real nasty one too.”
Of course, the biggest difference between the two versions is play control. While the HD version went with traditional controls, the Wii version essentially turns the Wiimote into your own personal proton blaster. You wrangle ghosts by zapping them with your beam, then following the prompts to swing your Wiimote and smash the ghosts into objects, weakening them. Once they’re weak enough to be captured, you swing out the nunchuck to toss out a ghost trap and send the ghost packing! It’s actually pretty immersive, and it can get physically tiring as well! But like they say, being a Ghostbuster isn’t easy. The other Ghostbusters will also help you out, reviving you when you run out of energy, giving you general advice, or helping you wrangle a pesky spirit. Fortunately, it appears Egon has worked out the kinks with the whole total protonic reversal thing, so you don’t have to worry about crossing the streams. The PKE meter also comes into play, taking after Metroid Prime by allowing you to scan and obtain records of ghosts you encounter.

“Well, there’s something you don’t see every day.”
Of course, the game isn’t perfect. There will be a few occasions when a Wiimote swing doesn’t register, and you lose the grip on your ghost. I’ve also encountered a few glitches that forced me to restart a level, including one where the boss I was fighting actually fell through the floor, leaving me no way to complete the stage. There are also a few frustrating segments. One in particular, in the sewer stage in the later half of the game, involves a puzzle where you must cross a river of slime while pulling levers with your proton pack with perfect timing, otherwise you take a dunk in the river. It took me about twenty tries to get it right. Fortunately, checkpoints are frequent and your lives are unlimited, so that does help alleviate some frustration.

“Venkman, shorten your stream! I don’t want my face burned off! “
So, should you check out Ghostbusters: The Video Game this halloween? Absolutely. It’s a fun romp, no matter which version you pick up. Some of the technical flaws can be annoying, but it more than makes up for it with some entertaining gameplay and excellent writing. Plus, it can be found for under twenty smackers, which makes it a total no-brainer.

The Return of the fall… and further fallening of Sonic the Hedgehog (Part 2)

October 5, 2011

Previously, I said that after many months of waiting for a price drop, I finally picked up Sonic Colors for the Wii. This came after many disappointments from the blue rodent, and even after many glowing reviews I was hesitant, but after it dropped to just over $19, I decided to risk it. After several days, it arrived on my doorstep. I tore open the package and popped the disc in. This was it. Sonic’s last chance.

Oh boy… another 4Kids worthy intro video… horrible singing… though the music itself ain’t that bad. Aw, dammit, the song’s in my head now.

Hey, the orchestrated version on the title screen is actually pretty damn good. And you can actually control the camera… nice.

What? No long winded cinema scene about evil clones, ancient gods or werehogs? Right into the action? That’s… damn, thanks Sega! And the music is pretty damn good here, no talentless hack singing about racing through a theme park? Control’s a little squirrely, but nothing I can’t quickly get used to. The 2D segments are full of platforming goodness, the level designs are interesting, the 3D segments are quick and to the point, there are occasional cut scenes, but they’re actually kind of amusing and well acted, and…

Oh my God…

I…. LIKE THIS.

They did it. They finally did it.

A Sonic game that doesn’t suck, isn’t merely mediocre, but is actually GOOD!

I spent the whole game waiting for the other shoe to drop… thankfully, I can say that it never did. The whole game (well, maybe not the 2 player mode, more on that later), has a certain polish to it, it actually feels like, well, EFFORT was put into it. Little touches, such as the fact you can jump and break through the results score at the end of a stage to find random 1ups, stand out to me. The camera, probably Sonic’s biggest enemy, has finally been fixed; the only issue I ever had was when it drew back from the action too far, to a point where I had a hard time seeing Sonic, but those instances were few and far between. The music is outstanding, enshewing the Pearl Jam from previous entries for a more orchestrated/electropop feel. Also worth noting is the voice acting, which is vastly improved by recasting Sonic and Tails. Robotnik, however, nearly steals the show, as he is constantly speaking over the park’s P.A. system, and each smartass comment is more hilarious than the last.

The plot is also fairly lighthearted this time around… no ancient gods or evil clones here, just Robotnik acting like a dick, creating an interstellar amusement park as a cover for kidnapping aliens to use as a power source to, you guessed it, take over the world.
Of course, none of this would matter if the gameplay wasn’t any good. Fortunately, the gameplay (finally) delivers, with (mostly) 2D platforming action, interspersed with 3D speed segments, and it all controls rather well. The aliens Sonic rescues also give him the “Color” powers of the game, allowing him to burrow through the ground or hover in the air, which gives you plenty of opportunites to explore the levels and find hidden areas, and you’ll have to explore them all to unlock hidden levels within the 8-bit themed “Sonic Simulator”, which is basically a 2 player mode that works much better in theory than in practice. Fortunately, you can play through it in single player mode.

They even found a way to make the water levels in a Sonic game not only tolerable, but actually FUN. The only negative thing I can say about the game is that the difficulty spikes pretty high in the last few stages, mainly due to poorly placed (or in one case, lack of) checkpoints. That, and the credits song is an auto-tuned piece of garbage. But hey, those are all minor notes in what is Sonic’s best game since his 16-bit days. If you enjoy platformers, then by all means, check out Sonic’s latest adventure. It’s a Sonic game that finally makes him a contender against that pesky plumber again.

I think it was in the game’s fourth world, Planet Wisp, when it finally clicked… I was jumping around, smashing through blocks and zipping through tight spots, when I realized… hey, I’m actually ENJOYING this. THIS… this is what Sonic should’ve been all along. No tag teaming with his shitty friends. No manditory fishing games. No epic final battle with a demon god. And no making out with a human. Just Sonic bouncing along a bunch of grassy hills, gaining enough speed to leap up and grab some rings. That’s all we need, Sega. Just keep that in mind and Sonic will be just fine.

The fall… and further fallening of Sonic the Hedgehog

October 1, 2011


My Wavebird skidded across the floor… why, you might ask? Well, I had thrown it out of frustration while playing Sonic Heroes. It was 2004, after the whole “Sega Goes Third Party” dealie, and this was Sonic’s first brand new multi-platform game. This was the one, they promised, the one that would return to the fun of the Genesis titles (oh, how many times they would re-use THAT line over the years). I somewhat enjoyed the two Sonic Adventure games, in spite of the horrid level designs that would plague the latter halves of both of the titles, not to mention that gawd-awful camera.

And here it was, years later, and I was still having the same issues, only moreso. I was in some stupid haunted house stage, trying to get Sonic and his loser friends through to the end. The level design was insipid, and the camera had somehow gotten worse, deciding right in the middle of a jump that it should cut to a different angle, causing me to plummet to my death. But it was one segment that caused me to just turn the game off forever… to get across a bottomless pit, I had to homing attack a series of enemies. Only one problem… half the time Sonic would not auto target an enemy, and plummet to his death. I could NOT get past that segment due to the stupid camera and awful controls. Finally, I said those three magic words I’m sure anyone probably said while playing a modern Sonic game.

“Fuck this SHIT.”

I pressed the power switch on my Gamecube, took out the disc and put it back in its case, never to be played again. Fifty bucks down the drain, that I could’ve spent on a GOOD game. Or some decent entrees at a good restaurant. Or fifty 20oz bottles of Pepsi.

The next several years were not kind at all to Sonic… not in the least. Things only went downhill after Heroes, with some terrible spin-offs like Sonic Riders and Sonic and the Secret Rings, culminating with the universally reviled “Sonic 2006“, which most assumed would be the death-kneel for the series. The only bright spot was Sonic Rush on the DS, which was decent, if only because it was a 2-D platformer that kept the spirit of the Genesis games alive. And in all honesty, I was disappointed. I was a Nintendo kid growing up, but I still enjoyed playing the Sonic games on my friend’s Genesis. I wasn’t a console snob; I’d play anything if it was fun. So it was kind of sad to see Sonic go out like this, with the best memory gamers would have of modern day Sonic was his appearance in Super Smash Bros. Brawl.

When Sonic Unleashed was revealed, it showed a lot of promise, with a comprimise of both 2-D and 3-D gameplay, and many people believed it could finally be the game that redeemed Sonic. Even I started to believe that Sega learned from their mistakes and stopped shoving in more stupid friends and pointless gimmicks…

Until that damn werehog showed up.

At that point, I gave up hope. Sega had learned nothing, and Sonic was doomed to suck. Not that it mattered much to me, as Nintendo was providing plenty of platforming love in the shape of Super Mario Galaxy and New Super Mario Bros. Wii. Even when a new, Wii exclusive Sonic game was announced, I dismissed it, expecting some other stupid gimmick to be involved.

Then the reviews and player feedback started to come out. And it was almost all POSITIVE. Sega had actually pulled off the impossible, brought out an enjoyable Sonic game that wasn’t filled with gimmicks, horrible controls, or an insipid story involving clones or ancient gods. But still, I resisted. I’d been burned too many times already, and I wasn’t going to be fooled by that blue bastard again. I told myself that if I ever saw the game for under twenty bucks, I would pick it up, since I could probably recoup my purchase by reselling it if it sucked. And for nearly a year, it stayed in the $40-50 range.

Then, one day, while browsing Amazon.com, I saw it marked down to $19.16.

“Oh, fine. What the hell.”

I placed it into my shopping cart and clicked ‘Check Out’.

to be continued

 

1000 Days of Wii Fit

September 23, 2011

I got a pleasant surprise when I booted up my copy of Wii Fit this morning… I have spent exactly 1000 days using it since received it as a Christmas gift nearly four years ago. I hadn’t planned on picking it up, but considering I was teetering on the edge of obesity at a touch over 200 lbs, I decided to give it a shot.

Forty pounds lighter, and several clothing sizes slimmer, I’d say it was worth it.

I’m not gonna say that Wii Fit was the only thing that got me back into medium size shirts. I also changed my diet, as well as added another game to my routine, Dance Dance Revolution. And it took a while for the results to show, I did experience some periods when I actually gained more weight. And there were days when I had to force myself to do my routine. But I kept at it.

The past year I’ve sort of plateaued, and I seem to stuck at around 160, which actually is average for my height. I would love to drop down to 150 eventually, but I feel good about what I’ve accomplished, I have more energy, and not to brag, I look pretty darn good.

So I know a lot of gamers out there like to bag on Wii Fit, but for me, it’s helped me lose some extra pounds and in general made me feel better about myself.

Thanks Wii Fit!