Hey, My name is Aaron, I'm half black, I rock an afro, and I've been playing video games for almost all my life.
My Favorite Games in a Series:
Final Fantasy 9
Metal Gear Solid 2(haven't played 4 yet)
Mario Bros World
Kingdom Hearts 1
Resident Evil 4, (haven't played 5)
Armored Core 2, It's the dynasty warriors of mech games, but this one still beats the others.
My interests outside of video games are movies, books,some drawing and painting, and a bit of sports here and there. My favorite superhero is most definitely Batman. I loved every movie in the series, yes including the bad ones, because I have a great love of horrible puns. My favorite movie of all time though has to go to "Back to the Future", that movie is so wholly excellent, I can't even explain it, just see for yourself.
I used to have the actual movie cover featured here, but Mikey came up with such an incredible new one that this needs to be seen by as many people as possible.
Another great interest of mine is giant robots. I think it first started when I saw the power rangers summon the megazord for the first time. After that, I considered colossal sized mechs fighting other giant things to be the ultimate form of combat. So, it's a no brainer that my favorite anime is the Gundam series, and of that, Char Aznable's Sazabi from Char's Counterattack is my favorite gundam. I hope that helps you to know a bit about me.
I'm also in a series of videos on youtube that me and my friends did. It's really bad, but also has a few genuinely awesome moments snuck in there. It's called Pipe Fighters. Check it out if you're bored or have a sadistic need to know everything about me:
I don't make an appearance in this episode, but I'm in all of them after that one.
There are times in my life where I can let fear get the best of me, where I donít feel very capable of doing much more than retreating into my room to try and recover. Other times, its not outright fear but a deep sense of uncertainty that stops me from doing things that I feel are risky, like standing up to people who hurt others. But in spite of my battle with fear, there are times I win out, and take on struggles that may hurt me, and risk those blows that may wound my heart in order to save those I care about from those same troubles. Life is full of moments that ask of us to put ourselves out there, knowing we may get hurt in the process, but it is our courage that keeps us going, especially through the pain.
Courage is an abstraction most videogames struggle to handle, but if there is one series that has done an incredible job representing it, it would be the Legend of Zelda games, specifically through the health bar. Everybody should be pretty aware of what theyíre like; just about every Zelda game has had heart containers and several individual hearts onscreen to represent your overall Ďhealthí. Whenever you take a hit, a little sliver of one of your hearts goes away. Itís a pretty clever visual design, because hearts are a nearly universal symbol of health and vitality.
But, hearts are also representative of other things, especially something very close to the Zelda series and especially Link himself, and thatís courage. Now, I donít think itís a perfect analogy of courage, and in some games it may not have represented that, but thereís certainly an argument for it. First of all, think about the mythology of the series. The triforce is representative of three great virtues: power, wisdom, and courage, to which Link himself is often assigned the piece that symbolizes courage, which he has to travel all over Hyrule to collect.
But in a more practical manner, Link must also go around collecting heart pieces to gain the fortitude to withstand his inevitable fight with Gannondorf. If Link had to face him with the same amount of heart that he had at the beginning, Gannondorf would make short work of him. Now, if you look at what has made Link grow to withstand his enemyís attacks, there isnít much to explain it. Maybe he gained more strength, making his body and muscles tougher, but then why would they use hearts to represent this? Certainly there is no practical explanation for his body to suddenly jumped to be able to take four sword hits instead of five. No, what I suggest is that he gains an expanded determination, and a mental fortitude to overcome the damage done to him.
Think about what he has to do in order to gain these hearts, Link must enter the darkness of dungeons, face trials and traps, and then fight an evil monster, that when defeated leaves behind a heart. Biologically it doesnít make much sense as to why he suddenly got ĎhealthierĎ, but what he has done is go through nothing less than the very definition of a test that proves your courage, and this new heart is a wonderful and practical symbol of his newly proven bravery.
And when he clashes against enemies or is hurt by the environment, he is hurt physically yes, but I would say that those hearts onscreen are more directly representing Linkís ability to shrug off the pain he feels, to have the will to keep on fighting even when he is in mortal peril. It more or less is an active approximation of Links' determination to reach his goals and overcome obstacles.
Sure, there are other examples that you could make to say the LoZ health bar is simply that, a health bar, and maybe I am reading too much into the symbolism of the game. But I beg you not to forget that themes of the series are built upon the value of discovery, and the courage to explore. So what if Miyamoto really meant those hearts to represent health, I know in my heart Link gets more courageous with every beast he slays, and that it has taught me that growing braver takes the strength to use and test your courage each day.
A few may recognize me, but most of you probably don't. I'm just a fellow lover of video games from the back country of North Carolina. I've been following Destructoid for a couple years now, and since then I even posted a few blogs on here about a year and a half ago. Unfortunately I hit a roadblock and never quite got back on track to producing more blogs, even after starting half a dozen different topics that never quite got finished.
Destructoid is such a great community and it was an incredibly fun experience letting you guys see my writings and interacting with you all that I swore to myself I'd one day I'd get back to blogging. Then I started getting behind with video games. I lost my Wii, and never had quite enough money to afford to replace it or ever get a ps3 or 360. It got harder and harder to have anything relevant to talk about because the closest I ever got to most games was by reading about them. Well that changes today!
I am now the proud first time owner of a brand new xbox 360! Damn. Video game systems have come a long ways. The menus, the options, internet, the way it's all...connected, this generation of consoles really is a huge leap ahead of the old one, not just in terms of graphics, but in usability and their place in the home. They really have become like media centers for your house.
Anyways, once all the excitement wore off from buying the console, I realized I didn't actually have any GAMES to play on it! That's where I could use you guys' help. What games would you suggest!? I'm not sure which ones still stand out and are worth playing today since it's been so many years since the system has come out. What games are all the cool kids playing online together these days? Which ones do the dtoiders like to use for FNFs the most?
Here's a list of some I'm considering:
Call of Duty (4 or MW2)
Batman Arkham Asylum
Mass Effect 1&2
Street Fighter 4/Soul Calibur 4/Tekken 6
I hope you guys will take me back! Please, be gentle! I don't even know what blog etiquette is like anymore. I'm glad to finally feel like I can once again add my input to the great games discussion going on here though. See you soon on live, feel free to add me!
Okay, I will not deny the awesomeness of either Kefka, Sephiroth, or any other final fantasy villain for that matter, but merely to explain why in my mind, Kuja would make all the other vilians seem like pansies in comparison. There probably aren't alot of people who agree with me, but I hope to change their minds, or at least let them see my point of view. Here, I come to Kujaís defense as if I were proving his case in a court of law. Iíll let Destructoid be the jury.
Exhibit A: Kujaís theme music is fucking awesome. Itís simple, yet haunting and chilling. Thereís no pretentious choir like Sephirothís One Winged Angel or elaborate and complicated sections to it like Kefkaís but it does itís job of letting you know that the villain is on the scene ready to do some malicious shit.
Exhibit B: Androgyny is frightening due to its sexual ambiguity. The Japanese know this well and use that to their advantage to make their bad guys super scary. You may think Sephiroth is androgynous with all that long flowing hair, and Kefka could bury the pyramids under all that makeup, but they may as well look like the guys in contra compared to all the androgyny that Kuja wields. He unfolds his master plan while talking about it as if it were a play, and we all know Ďplays are for the gaysí. For crying out loud, the man wears a thong on the battlefield! Anybody who does that can't be afraid of whatever you're gonna dish out against them, and is probably more concerned with throwing you off your game before you even face them. To top it all off, heís got a tail. Thatís right, heís not only sexually ambiguous, heís species ambiguous too. Itís almost as if some horrible serial killer blew up a building that somehow held several zoo animals and transsexuals in it, all in an attempt to harvest the corpses so he could sew them together to create a Cirque Du Soleil performer. No villain could even dare to have such a horrific origin story.
Yeah, I reused the image, but it's even more relevant to this blog! Why? Because...
Exhibit C: Kuja kidnaps children and underage girls with the help of twisted midget clown twins! Of course, he says it's for the eidolons trapped inside those supple young bodies, but you know he must get off on that kind of deranged fantasy situation. Even the Child Catcher from Chitty Chitty Bang Bang would be uncomfortable with the stuff Kuja does.
Exhibit D: He rides a fucking silver dragon! Thatís right he rides the famous C-Blog recapper Silverdragon1979!
No other villain has a ride that baller! You can't deny that a silver dragon is one of the most pimpin' transports there is.
Exhibit E: When he goes Ďtranceí all of his hair literally becomes feathers! Sephiroth would be so jealous if he knew. On top of the new look his trance allows him to wipe out your party with a single use of the spell Ultima.
Exhibit F: He went from being a simple doll and lackey for Garland to almost destroying all of life and existence. Not many can claim to even have dreams that big, let alone getting so close to accomplishing them. Kefka may have in fact been successful in bringing on an apocalypse and ending civilization in FF6, but it was Kuja who actually engulfed and destroyed the dying world of Terra for a lark on his way to trying to wipe out the crystal of life. Technically, he was even successful in his plan, killing the party and bringing about Necron, the ultimate harbinger of death. If Zidane and his group hadnít simply refused to stop moving and beat Necron into submission, Kuja would have won.
I rest my case! So, after seeing all this evidence, are you still so sure that your favorite villain could go toe to toe with Kuja and win? Or would he take one look at Kuja and go mad like weaker mortals have? Ask yourselves this before you comment: Who would you be more afraid to be in the same room with, a dude with long hair, a creepy clown, or some freak whose part monkey, part woman and all villain?
Okay guys, since it's a slow weekend, I'll bring some entertainment (hopefully) to the c-blogs. The following is an article I wrote for a college English course given the prompt, "write an essay in the form of a step by step guide." Our teacher encouraged creativity and humor, but I think I went a little bit beyond what he was expecting from us. I wrote a love letter to Back to the Future. This, is that love letter.
Have you ever wanted to go back in time to any major event in our history? Well, now you can with these easy-to-follow directions! In no time at all, youíll have a time traveling machine that will actually work! (Disclaimer: This process is NOT guaranteed to result in a vessel capable of traveling through time) With just Popsicle sticks, some elbow grease, and determination, traveling through time can be possible.
The first step in creating the time machine is gathering all the Popsicle sticks you will need, and trust me, too much will not hurt! A great source for gathering Popsicle sticks is in the frozen foods section of your local grocery store. Iím of course talking about delicious frozen Popsicles! Just buy all that the store has to offer, and then go to any other store that might sell them and buy them as well. After youíve raided every available Popsicle stand, pun intended, bring them home to your refrigerator. Your goal now is to lick your way down to the prize, the Popsicle stick itself. The task of licking this much ice cream might be a little too much for you alone to handle, so invite some friendly neighborhood children in for some as well! Iím sure theyíll come running if they hear you shout, ďI could sure use some help licking all these PopsiclesĒ and youíll be thought of as a very kind person around the neighborhood for being so generous. Iíve also heard that you could buy packs of Popsicle sticks at an arts and crafts store, but who would want to go in such a pretentious place?! And besides, youíve earned a nice spot in the hearts of your fellow citizens.
Next, comes more drastic measures, you are going to have to get your hands on some weapons grade plutonium. Now, you donít just walk into a store and buy plutonium. Itís not that easy, even for some powerful countries, but it can be done! A dangerous but surefire method is to steal it from someone who already has it. In these days of strife and conflict, many terrorist groups could likely have some in their possession. If you choose to obtain it from them, then you will have to infiltrate their ranks first. Learn their language, goals, and become a memberís friend. Then one day casually mention in a conversation that you would like to become one of them, and that access to their weapons grade plutonium wouldnít hurt. I myself have not tried this step, but I will assure you that if you have followed my steps, they will let you see their shiny radioactive plutonium. After that, quickly swipe the biggest sample of the material you can get your hands on and get out of there! Soon the extremists will likely want to have your head on a pike, so you will need to finish the time machine quickly!
Now that youíve acquired the fuel for the time machine, itís time for you to build the part that makes time travel possible, the time-flux capacitor! This is a piece of machinery that has confounded modern science for all of the ages, a device that can actually bend time! But as the movies have taught us, all you need is an epiphany in order to accomplish a little thing like breaking the laws of physics. An epiphany is a moment of realization where you can think clearly about something and are able to imagine a solution to a problem, all while doing something mundane. My personal suggestion for creating an epiphany in this case involves hanging a clock in the bathroom. Not a particularly dangerous thing to do, unless youíre standing on a slippery toilet to do it. While your standing up there, concentrate on the topic of your time machine, cruising through time and picking up hot chicks in the future, let yourself lose balance and when you fall, aim your head for the sink. If you just clip it, and there isnít much blood, youíve hit the sweet spot. This will cause your to have an epiphany abut how the flux capacitor works, and from there itís easy!
Youíve finally gotten all the necessary parts to create the time machine, so letís start building! Now, the way I see it, if youíre going to build a time machine, why not do it with some style? Thatís why the body of the time machine should be built from a 1981 De Lorean. A clichť choice, but one thatís sure to make you popular with the ladies of any time period. Just make sure to watch out for those nuts in the 1950ís whoíll think youíre driving a space ship! Be sure to wear a radiation suit when you insert the plutonium core, as the radiation is lethal. Donít be afraid to use a little force when putting it together, just remember that anything can fit if you make it. Finally, after every piece is up and running, itís important to work on the most critical part, the air freshener. Using the Popsicle sticks that you obtained and a little bit of glue, you can fashion an air freshener in almost any shape, from flower to geodesic dome! After youíve got the design you want, just spray it with your deodorant of choice and you are ready to go! Now, thereís no limit to where and when you can go!
Congratulations, you have put together a time machine, going on an adventure that will only be equaled by the ones you have exploring the time-space continuum. Have fun fellow chrononauts, but remember that there are many pitfalls you will need to watch out for when time traveling, such as stopping yourself from ever being born, creating an alternate timeline because you altered the past ,and being struck by lightning and becoming stuck in the old west. Oh, and donít forget about those terrorists! Stay safe, and remember, you couldnít have done it without this guide!
This is my monument to a little white machine that I had to let go today. Iíll tell you why itís now gone, but before I do that, let me tell you the story of the day I got my Wii.
About a year ago, I had just come into some cash, and at a fortuitous time, because Super Smash Brothers Brawl was about to be released. The smash dojo was pumping out screenshots and gameplay features daily, so hype for the game was at critical mass. Back then, in between going to classes at my local community college (go underachieve without leaving your home!) I would hang out with a high school friend named Drew, who had my class and play Call of Duty 4 online matches. Things were pretty sweet actually.
The Wii was still really hard to find back then, and every time I checked Wal-Mart or GameStop, they would say they were out of them. I was starting to think that I wouldnít actually get my hands on a Wii for the midnight release of brawl. That was unacceptable to me, because in my circle of friends, Iíd get left in the dust if I didnít get my own time to train with the game. Drew would also help out with my quest and let me know if he saw one.
One day, as we were leaving the college, Drew announced that he had to go to Walmart for something and asked if Iíd like to ride along and check for a Wii. I jumped at the chance, but not because I thought I would get one, but because there was nothing else to do between classes. Everything seemed to be business as usual when I got there, no Wii in sight,. As I walked out of there, I decided to also check on the GameStop in the same shopping center, with even less expectation of finding one.
The place was nearly empty because it was only about noon when we got there, and a pretty nice young girl was working. I walked up to the counter, already defeated in my mind and asked if they had any Wiiís in stock. She said yes in a pleasant tone. ďOhĒ I believe I said, and almost walked out without registering what that meant. When it dawned on me, I turned to look at Drew, who had an even better reaction on his face that I must have had. I suddenly felt very happy, but also very nervous. I donít immediately jump onto big decisions like spending money, and so I couldnít help but have some hesitation at the moment.
I withdrew into a corner of the store with him and began to ask, ďWhat do you think I should do? Iíve got the money, but I donít want to just blow it so quick without thinking! Plus, my mom would kill me if she knew I had done something like thatĒ Drew, who doesnít ever think about decisions but simply does them couldnít even believe I was asking this and pushed me back up to the counter. I knew he was right, and so I went through with the transaction and left the store feeling happy but a little shocked at what had happened.
On the way back, Drew shouted, ďDude, you just got a Wii!Ē that made me realize just how excited I should be. I opened up the box, something that always makes the gamer inside me alive with anticipation, and smelled the new electronics smell that enticed me to play it. The moment of unboxing a new system is always exciting, and seeing the pristine parts for the system for the first time made the purchase worth it to me. If you really wanted to stretch for an analogy; itíd be like a mother falling in love with her baby for the first time upon birthing it.
Itís only been about a year since I first got it, but I needed to pay off a debt I owed, TODAY. So that was the quickest thing I could sell and raise the cash needed to pay it. I didnít have an SD card either, so my VC games and super smash brothers brawl save file is vaporized. I watched them format it when they took it. Like watching them euthanize your puppy or something. It sucked. I still have my trusty Ps2 (knock on wood) and brawl will always be played at someone elseís house so my gaming will mostly be the same as it was before.
I donít think Iíll buy another Wii though. Even though I loved the one I had, there isnít much there to draw me back. To be honest, Brawl was the only thing that I bought the Wii for, and besides the virtual console games, the only thing I had for it. The next system purchase for me will either be a Ps3 or a 360. So, why donít you guys tell me about some of the experiences you guys have had with the Wii, good or bad.
For anyone who missed it, Reverend Anthony took time out of his day of stomping on kittens and raping all that is good and happy with the world to personally spit on what many gamers here on destructoid find close to their hearts, JRPGS in this blog. His opening volley was a nice little Indy ďgameĒ called Linear RPG which I actually found to be worth playing, and found hilarious in itís lampooning of JRPG storyline. But the thing is, Anthony took that harmless little game and used it to base his entire argument against the JRPG without considering what people really enjoy about the subgenre. Hopefully I can explain what I think are the reasons we love RPGS/JRPGS and provide direct responses to Anthonysí own attacks against them in a way that you can relate to and understand.
JRPGS are built on ritual. Youíve heard the story a million times before, in the same way, with practically the same character archetypes, and yet you still find yourself attracted to the next shiny new game, which promises to be essentially the same thing, and yet you find that to be a good thing. WHY? Itís because we crave that sameness. We want to grow accustomed to that battle theme that weíll hear literally thousands of times, we want to be able to navigate the menu screen without even looking at the television because of how often weíve specifically used hyper potion, we want to be comforted in the knowledge that every single enemy of the same type can be killed with the same exact formula every friggin time.
I know some of you reading this who love JRPGS will be disagreeing with me on some of those examples, but to some degree my point is true: JRPGS are built to be stable, predictable, and ritualistic. Itís what makes the old ones so endearing to us, because they have become ingrained so strongly in our memories. Every facet of the experience of playing them gets stuck in our heads because we experience it a million times before itís over. What would normally be an annoying and frustrating experience to a non fan becomes familiar and soothing to the fan of JRPGS. Just answer me this: would we feel as connected to characters in RPGs so much if we only went through a dozen battles with them, versus the countless number of battles that we have with them? Stories in RPGS are usually meant to have taken place over a considerable period of time, and because of that, the characters in the game feel closer to each other. This feeling usually is even shared with the player because of the extensive real life hours the player has put into the game through this padding of lather rinse repeat gameplay.
JRPGS are founded upon character interaction. I noticed Linear RPG was missing a critical part of the JRPG experience, the party. Oh sure there was the love interest, or Tseret Nievol as she was cleverly called, but a JRPG isnít the same without a full party. The epic nature of the story of an RPG is meant to show that no one person is capable of tackling such a huge problem like the apocalypse alone. It is only through the power of friendship and all that Captain Planet MaíTi business that the main character ever makes it to the final boss. Lovers of JRPGS also desire to see a variety in what kind of people join the protagonist in his quest, and want to also feel like theyíre a part of such an incredible group.
Some of the best characters in RPGs havenít even been the main characters or even the ones most relevant to the plot. Itís been the minor party members that are simply there to provide a distraction from the main battle that have been the most endearing to fans. Cait Sith, Koromaru, Mog, and many other minor party members have been that special element that changes the partyís dynamic and made the group feel unique to that RPG, and not simply another Mage/Warrior/Thief combo. Without a rounded out party, there is no respite from the problems of the main characters, and no other people for the main character to talk their problems out with. It isn't even possible for the protagonist to handle all the different types of enemies out there without the specialized help of a well rounded cast.
JRPGS have choice, not in battle, or story, but in the methods used to prepare the party. Hereís where the Linear RPG comparison to real RPGs completely breaks down. Nowhere in Linear RPG did you have to stop and check to see if your materia was lined up right so that you wouldnít just be casting Fire on one guy, but the whole group. Nowhere in Linear RPG did you have to re-equip your weapons so that they werenít just the strongest, but the most effective against the particular enemy you were facing. Nowhere did you need to realize that the enemies werenít regular baddies, but Zombified, and you do best to throw some Phoenix Downs on them to insta-kill them. Equipment and Party management in RPGs are a small thing, but are really the one thing that is left mostly up to the player to figure out how to use the way they want to.
The variety of ways that JRPGS uniquely handle leveling up and party management is where the real strategy and playerĎs style shines through. If I were to take a look at one personĎs version of Khimari in Final Fantasy 10, he might not play anything like another personĎs through the nature of the sphere grid. The materia system of FF7 also makes it possible for player customization to create whatever kind of effects you would like for your characters to have in battle. Believe it or not, when I see my friends play RPGS, itís hard not to notice all the little differences that their choices have made in their playstyle.
Good JRPGS have strategy in battle if you do not grind all the damn time. But I will easily concede that if itĎs strategy that game designers want us to use, then they must design a better method of limiting or ending grinding. Many longtime JRPG players seem to fall into either 1 of 2 camps. They either love the grind and come back to the game after itís beaten to try and outgrind themselves, or they challenge themselves to beat the game with as little effort put into grinding as possible. I guess Iím of the second type.
Something I noticed myself doing in Persona 3 relates to this. I found myself getting into a pattern of racing to get to the tops of each segment of the tower that was unlocked without running into too many encounters, which I had learned to avoid extremely well if I wanted, and lock down the teleport that was available at the top. Then after exiting and saving, Iíd play the boss. Sometimes Iíd get my ass beat, and other times, I would hang in there. Iíd look for the patterns in the bossesí attack, seeing what weaknesses my party members would have to him, and work out a plan of attack. With my characters underleveled, each move was a matter of life and death. Iíd restore dead party members, only to have my party wiped out, try again, and the same thing would happen. Eventually Iíd give up and go back to leveling, but with a sweet spot in mind to level up to. You see, thereís a moment in those underpowered battles where youíve been able to weather the worst of the enemies attacks, your party has been brought back to acceptable health levels, and thereís this great sense that the battle is under control and you can see it out to the end if you donít screw anything else up. Itís kind of thrilling when it happens, but itís never there if you always have the advantage of higher levels.
I want to end this by saying that even though I only agree with about 3% of what Reverend Anthony believes, I almost always strongly respect his opinions because he backs them up well, and with great reasons. I feel like this was one of the most inflammatory things Iíve read about games, while also being the most well reasoned, and it made me want to respond back with my own well reasoned and explained love of JRPGS. I hope that this in turn garners some well reasoned and explained comments, but thatís up to you.
P.S. I personally love one personís comment on how to EXPLOIT the leveling system of Linear RPG, that was side splitting.