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Ballistic's blog

3:27 PM on 02.02.2009

Another "Ten things..."post. I know, this will stop at some point.

Well, I know the best time to do these blogs have passed, but I'm still doing this because it's almost a requirement at this point. When I came to the C-blogs last night and saw the state that they were in I was almost disapointed, because I really underestimated just how much quality you guys put into these things. But as I read them, I found out so much cool interesting stuff about everyone that I got the urge to do one myself.

1. My favorite author is Stephen King, and of his 40+ books, I love his 'Dark Tower' series the best. It was my obsession in high school, when he finally released the last of the books in the series. I was actually disapointed with most of the stuff in the final books, except for the ending, that was perfect to me. Roland of Gilead is one of the biggest badasses in fiction. If you claim to be a Tower Junkie like me, then let me know down in the comments, I love to hear from fellow fans.

2. I'm in a series of short films on youtube that my friends and I did. It's called Pipe Fighters, and in it we fight each other with pipes in alleyways using really fake superpowers, with a story thrown in there. It's about as terrible as it sounds, but it's hilarious for that, sort of like watching wrestling. Related to filming this, I have done some kind of illegal things, but the most hilarious one has to be the time the cops showed up as we were filming with me in a santa suit in front of the courthouse at night. Good Times, good times.
phony commercial advertising a lego set for pipe fighters. I'm the morbidly obese half black one.

3. As a child, when my used super nintendo refused to play any more games, I took it out back and bashed it to pieces with a hammer. I think I even did something similar with my nintendo. I'm not sure just how the retro fans are gonna take that, but my number 4 might be worse...

4. I hate the dreamcast. Maybe hate is too strong, I really dislike the whole concept of the dreamcast. At the time it was released, I thought it was really stupid because it had video memory cards that left gaping holes in the controller when they weren't there, and the cord attached to the controller from the bottom instead of the top. Never played any games on it, but at the time I thought it was retarded.

5. I've been tazered in the but-tocks. That's also on film.

6. My drive to draw and read are slowly dying, and that really makes me sad. In my teenage years, if I wasn't playing games, I was either reading, or drawing something I was reading about or playing. It's been a part of who I am for the longest time, but now that I'm getting older and 'mature', if that's actually possible, I haven't done much of either. It's something I really want to try and fix, but don't know how. I'll try and upload some of my earlier stuff on here at some point.

7. I've shot one of my friends directly in the eye with an automatic airsoft gun. We occasionally play games of airsoft at night, specifically a match where everyone hunts down my friend Blake because he's an excellent Sniper and will usually kill us before we kill him. One night, I was given an automatic to use when I'm normally stuck with the single shot cheaper guns. Somehow that kind of made me mad with power and I went hunting for Blake based on the sound he was making walking through the forest. Well, he made a noise trying to shoot at me, and I whip-turned and let off a half dozen shots in the direction of his sound. I thought he was playing a trick on me when he let out a scream but didn't come out from hiding.

8. I have several nicknames, but many many people know me as "Toby". It's a stupid and complicated yet simple story how I got that nickname.

9. I've owned 3 playstation 2's. The first was a refurbished one from gamestop that I ended up pulling off my dresser because I pulled my controller too fast. The second one is a story in it's own right because my friends pooled their money together and bought that one used online one year for Christmas. That one eventually succumbed to the Disk Read Errors. The third I recently bought refurbished at gamestop, but I got a warranty and it's been great this entire time, Knock On Wood.

10. Milk and Goldfish crackers are my lifeblood. I could live off of nothing but that for several days at a time.

Well, for anyone who took the time to read this, thank you!   read

5:51 PM on 01.31.2009

Playing With Others: Life Lessons Learned from Super Smash Bros. Melee

I know, who freaking releases their monthly musings article on the last possible day? Well, if you know me (and you probably donĎt), then you know I procrastinate like crazy, but thatís actually not the cause of this delay. This delay comes from my problem with not knowing how to tackle this monthís topic of playing with others. My mindís been trying to approach it from several different ways, but with failure every time. But hereís hoping I hit the nail on the head this time.

Super Smash Bros Melee was an obvious pick for the subject of multiplayer gaming for me because Iíve never gained as much experience in playing any other game, or learned so much from playing a game with other people. Iím not just talking about things Iíve learned about relating to how to play the game either, I mean Iíve learned freaking life lessons from this stuff. And I didnít even realize just how influential itís been in these recent years until just now.

Do you know the feeling of having a skill within yourself that you are so trained in that you have utter confidence in your ability to perform it well? Itís something that I had never truly felt until I gained it from playing Melee so much. You really canít get that satisfaction in yourself unless you have it tested against others regularly, and multiplayer games shines in that area. Itís kind of ridiculous to say that I have self confidence in myself because of video games, but I have seen the difference itís made in me after these years. I know that the confidence Iíve gained has given me the courage to try other things that are difficult for me, and has in effect, made me more of a sociable and well rounded person. In fact, I would probably still be a lurker on Destructoid instead of a contributing poster if melee hadnĎt instilled a greater sense of pride in my gaming ability.

Hanging out with friends, and sparring against your friends, whether it be in real life or virtually, are two different things. You can talk to your friends and gain close personal knowledge of who they really are, and still not know them at all the way you do if you were to face them in combat. That sounds like something youĎd hear Snake say in Metal Gear Solid, but IĎve found that itĎs true. Thereís a different sort of knowledge of your friendís mind thatís given to you when you have to guess their attacksí and their strategies against you. I know my friend Seth will always go after the guy who gets above 100 damage first, and makes sure to kill anyone who continues to try get back on the stage after almost dying. I know my friend Casey is much better at single combat and tries to stay out of the fray that a four player match creates, only to clean up against the last man standing. I know my friend Chris looks for opportunities to get into those same frays that Casey sometimes avoids just hoping to send everyone flying, but is also sometimes vengeful and will hunt you down for something you could have done to him.

These are little things, but they speak of deeper parts of their personalities. We know each other better for the quirks that we have in these melee matches than we have through half our conversations. And through all this continual sparring and fighting comes a great sense of brotherhood. We all have the mutual feeling that if one of us got challenged to a game, the rest of us would be there to back us up and root for us, then kick our ass if we lost. In effect, itís helped me to understand them and be closer friends with them, and that has also opened my eyes to see how important friends really are.

Playing with others has been such an important thing with me. I know that it must be the backbone of what all makes us feel united as a single group of gamers, and especially for this community at Destructoid. I really wish I could join you guys in Friday Night Fights, but I still have to use dialup, so itís a little out of the question. I could tell a million stories about all the matches my friends have had, I could even write lengthy descriptions of each of my friends and what itís like to play with them, but I think this was the best way to capture the whole effect of how great it has been to play Melee with my friends.   read

10:08 PM on 12.07.2008

Persona 3 makes me wanna JIZZ. IN. MY PANTS.


If you don't wanna read without pictures, just watch the video and go to bed. For those who came for Persona 3, continue.

I just needed an excuse to post that video, honestly. But sincerely, I am really very impressed and enamored by Persona 3. Me playing it all started with Dale North's review of Persona 4, which finally broke my long held stance that I wasn't missing out by not playing those games. Until I read it, I didn't know what everyone was going crazy about it for. But the next day, yesterday in fact, I found myself in the local Gamestop, and one of my old friends was working. He innocently asked if I was looking for anything specific, and that turned into a 10 minute long search by him to find the store's one remaining copy of Persona 3: FES. His determination to get that damned thing made me feel bad enough to kill any miserliness about my spending and so I took it home with me.

First of all, let me say, I haven't played very far into the game, maybe 10 hours at best, It's almost the full moon and I don't know what's going to happen, but this game has some personality to it. I use that word loosely because when I say personality, somebody could really take it to mean that it's too into itself, and 'why the hell did they have to make it so you shoot yourself in the head to summon your persona, it's just a gimmick', but they'd have to be retarded for even thinking that. When you peel away all the extra layers of style and gimmicky coolness that surrounds the game's youth oriented characters, it really has a living realistic world at work that draws you in. Things didn't entirely click for me until I was introduced to the daunting tower Tartarus, which is the only real dungeon to the game. Having to balance that and School/relationships is really one of my favorite experiences in video games this year.

After I passed that mark, I was constantly smiling to myself for lack of a better way to express how the game was growing on me. I would find myself saying such things as, 'man I really should go to bed early so I can feel better in school tomorrow' and, 'I hope she likes me, I hope she calls me before I go to bed tonight' and it be because I both cared about my character AND because it affected my battle stats. This is the exact manner of gameplay that I have dreamed about creating when I had fantasies of being a game creator. It doesn't even matter that I didn't get to do it my way, I'm still having a blast, and I'm feeling this way for doing stupid stuff that I've done in real life with dread and boredom! BRILLIANT!!

This was a last minute blog, so I apologize for the lack of pictures to keep your minds from wandering, but seriously I have to tell you, if you like RPGs, but think they're all the same, go play this one, I can't explain to you why, you just have to PLAY IT.

And JIZZ. IN. YOUR PANTS.   read

4:11 PM on 12.05.2008

Yippee Ki-yay Motherf- Oops, cannot say thatÖ

Destructoid has been an excellent place to get the news about games youíre interested in, and has opened my eyes to several great titles I would not have known about had I ignored this place. But nothingís perfect, and that means not even Destructoid can cover every upcoming promising game. Recently one series that seems to have slipped through the cracks has come to my attention. No one is talking about the gaming legend Matt Hazard! Never heard of him? Thatís funny, heís done a plethora of games, spanning back to the arcades in 1983 in The Adventure of Matt In Hazard Land, A Fistful of Hazard in the year of my birth 1987, and even the Japanese game Goonzilla versus Mega-Matt in 1993. Unfortunately, as the years have gone on, heís dropped off the radar of most gamers and has sunk to the level of many unfortunate mascots of yesteryear and is only seen in party games and the typical kart racer these days. Is none of this ringing a bell for you? Were you too young to have experienced the savagery of a Hazard game? Could it possibly be that your retro knowledge of old games is *dun-dun-dun* incomplete?!? Find out on the next installment of Destructoid Blog-C!

Seriously though, calm down, read on.

All of this and more information about Matt Hazard can be found out at this awesome site, a viral marketing ploy to create a sense of history for the new game Eat Lead: The Return of Matt Hazard, the true topic of this Blog. Iím really surprised that the first place I heard about this game was not destructoid, but my newest GameInformer. Surely someone should have found it interesting and latched on to this project, but mysteriously, I did some searching on the site and found almost nothing but the typical news blurb about it. Well, itís time to drop some knowledge on you folks, so hereís some info on this upcoming title.

The real hook of the game is that itís a hilarious parody of your typical action hero archetype in videogames, and of games in general. The story starts when Matt Hazard is contacted by his old publisher, Marathon Megasoft about reviving his career as a figurehead of videogame carnage, finding out only too late that itís a giant trap. As he makes his way through the typical meatpacking plant level, killing goons with his arsenal of guns and bad one liners, the fallen enemies are mysteriously re-coded into zombies from a previous game heís starred in. You see, the game heís supposed to be playing in now is being hacked by someone out to kill Matt using his old enemies. This leads to some really unique moments that I hope will be used fully to great extent.


The premise and script for this game were concocted by Dave Ellis, an award winning games writer previously known for writing the script for Dead Head Fred. Further giving the production of this game credit is the fact that the great Will Arnett from Arrested Development is doing the voice of Matt Hazard, giving him a gruff yet comedic over-serious tone. Also lined up to voice of Megasoft executive, Wally Wellesley, is Neil Patrick Harris, AKA Doogie Houser. Hearing Arnettís voice for Matt is great, and his delivery of some of the goofed up one-liners like the title of this blog are priceless. Check out some of the videos for your own appraisal of his work.


Ultimately though, this is a videogame weíre talking about here, so for all this hilarity and parody, gameplay has to work well for the game to be any good. There is very little known about Vicious Cycle Software, the developer of Matt Hazard, which is based in Chapel Hill NC, besides the fact that they did the previously mentioned Dead Head Fred. Up until now theyíve mostly done childrenís games, but nothing quite as ambitious as this current project. Videos for the game look like thereís an adequate cover system in place, and it uses the now commonplace third person perspective.


Itís hard to tell just how good or bad this game could end up being, but nonetheless, I think that this is a gamersí game, and people should be aware of it. So, what do you guys think?   read

1:37 PM on 12.01.2008

Why I am the most excited about the new Prince of Persia

This entire year has been a great one for gaming, despite what the outsider analysts would say because of the lack of name brand releases. Even the hounding recession that goes on nearly worldwide has done little to hurt the sales of games. Several acclaimed games have come and gone, from Little Big Planet to Gears 2 to Left4Dead. But throughout this year, besides my unavoidable obsession with MGS4, which I will never get to playÖ I have really only been looking forward to one game with true excitement and anticipation to see how it turns out. Thatís been Prince of Persia. Iím excited because I honestly donít know if itíll end up being a classic, or a forgotten promise.

This game is practically a series reboot due to the level of changes that they have made to it. The classic prince from the sands of time trilogy is gone. For that matter, the awesome time shifting abilities that came with the dagger of time are also removed. Heck, anything that you knew from the original series have been thrown out at this point. Except for the general theme of an acrobatic young Persian man in a similarly Persian styled location. This makes you wonder just what in the hell were the developers thinking on this one, because the last generationsí Prince games ranged from good action/platform games to excellently told genre defining platform games. They didnít really need to do anything but put out another chapter in the princeís story and people would buy it, and all would be the same from years previous. But they didnít do that, and that has me wondering, maybe even hoping, if they have a really excellent idea in store for us with this next game.

Talking about new aspects of the game, the female partners that the other games have only used minimally or with no relation to gameplay, have been replaced with Elika. From all the statements Iíve gathered, she has been made completely integral to each element of the game. Platforming can only be done through the help of Elikaís assisted jumps and magic. She deals magical damage that makes the enemies react differently. She moves the story along through interacting with her and removing the pestilence from the land in each area. And possibly most shocking of all, she destroys any need for a game over screen by saving the Prince from any deaths he could experience through falling down one of the games many infinite chasms. It sounds like you arenít simply playing as the prince but a combination of the prince and Elika, as if they were melded into one mind with two bodies with which to move around. This is a highly dangerous tactic by the developers, because teammates for you to worry about have hardly ever worked well in video games.

And yet, Ben Mattes, the producer seems to be so sure of how successful they were that he bet his job on Elika not being in the playersí way. I donít know just what was going on in his head when he said that, but that takes either impressive levels of idiocy or some huge balls. Interestingly, Elika wasnít described as a character for you to empathize with like Yorda in Ico, but is meant to elicit an experience closer to how you feel about a useful item in your inventory. Iím not so sure what to think of that comment. If thatís their goal, why even have all those actions be performed by a character, why not have those functions just go to some awesome weapon similar to the sands of time? Maybe they have plans to use these general good feelings that will likely be fostered by Elika being useful to their advantage in telling a heart wrenching story. Who knows. But what I do know it does is make me excited to find out how it will play out.

As if the introduction of a new partner to the game wasnít enough, theyíve also decided to drop a new style on the Persian flavored world in Prince of Persia. If other fans of the series were anything like me, when they found out they were a little bit perplexed, and even a bit more hesitant. I couldnít decide if something like that was necessary let alone whether I liked the style at first. However, after hearing their reasoning, I understand the need to differentiate the game from Ubisoftís brother title, ďAssassinís CreedĒ, which takes the route of realism. As for the art style, I think it best speaks for itself in the trailers. I wasnít able to get a grasp of what they were shooting for by simply looking at pictures of the game. I mean, sure it looks like an interactive fairy tale on paper, but thatĎs flat and unimpressive. But you donít get it through your head that you play this until you see it in motion. It all clicked for me when I saw this yearsí E3 trailer. It floored me with the song by Sigur Ros setting the mood and inviting me into an all too beautiful world for me to explore and traverse. The animation, something that I find to be key to how immersive a game is, for the most part looks like it does justice to the ridiculously-fluid-for-itís-time last gen Prince of Persia. I think simply watching this game will be satisfying in ways that other developers should take note of.

The element of the game that Iím most apprehensive about is actually the gameplay, the one thing that hasnít really faltered throughout the seriesí uneven progress. First of all, no dagger of time? eff-this! That sums up part of my beef with the gamesí new story direction. I loved the ability to go back and fix the last mistake you just made with the dagger, and Iím afraid that not having it is gonna really flare up any kind of irritation that the platforming or fighting got away with because you could undo it. It also means that if they try and compensate by giving you less fiendish puzzles to get through, we could end up seeing a very neutered version of the platforming that we all know and love with the series. The saving grace of this issue could be how well Elika is implemented, but itĎs hard to tell just how those chips will fall.

The other side of the equation though, fighting, has been handled differently with each iteration of the PoP games, yet it has always remained brutal and challenging. This time the developers have come up with a new philosophy for the fighting in this game, trying to make each encounter with Ahrimanís emissaries feel like the equivalent of a boss fight in other games. A noble pursuit, and one that made me sit up and take notice of how they were doing it. The team plans on limiting the number of enemies, and will try and break up the now tired back and forth of a sword fight with cinematic camera cuts, and a combo like system using a button for any action involving Elika, the princesĎ glove, and jumping each. In theory, it sounds like a cool idea, and one that would get rid of any need to learn combos, since youíre making them up as you go. But Nick Chesterís recent evaluation of the combat when he played a demo has me worried that it gets repetitive, and is too easy to win. If thatís how it remains in the final build, then a great deal of the gameís potential worth to hardcore fans has been lost.

Ultimately, Iím excited about this new Prince of Persia, because I see it as a chance for a new exhilarating adventure in a world that could only be realized in the space of a video game. Mind you, right now, itís just the hope of it being an exhilarating experience, but itís still got me pretty excited to see what kind of opinions it gets. I think with a game like this, the creative potential is huge, and therefore, even if itís not that great or is poorly executed, it is still worth talking about and even worth pondering what could have been.   read

1:01 PM on 11.27.2008

Taste: You got peanut butter in my video games? (Happy Thanksgiving)

Happy thanksgiving everybody! Iíve been wondering when was a good time to publish this blog, and Thanksgiving seems to be about the best opportunity to talk about food related video game interests. So as you sit down to the computer, relaxed and nicely engorged from the undoubtedly wonderful meal that youíve just had, lets do something really gluttonous, and talk about MORE food. For a long time, itís been recognized that great video game music can aid in remembering a moment from a game with great clarity. And of course, seeing a gameís classic characters or locations will also bring to mind what it was like to play it. But recently I have realized that there is another form of association in videogames which I have experienced. When I taste just the right foods, I immediately have memories of a time when I was playing a video game and consuming that same food. I donít know of many games or foods like that, but it sticks out in my mind as something unique and worth mentioning.

Back in high school, I had long hassle-free summer breaks between school years. Usually that gave me huge periods of time to play especially long games like RPGs. Itís really surprising that game companies donít take advantage of this and release more games over the summer for younger players who have the time to play them then. Anyways, one particular summer, I borrowed Grand Theft Auto: Vice City from a friend, maybe one or two years after it had been released. I took a whole month out of my summer to play that game and steal/blow up as many cars as I could get my hands on. In the real world, I was lazily lying around, playing this game and eating a new brand of party mix chips which had Dorritos, Cheetos, and Pretzels all in one bag that got you closer to a heart attack with each mouthful. Soon, that was my snack of choice while going on a rampage through the city. Eventually, I made my way through the story missions until it was time to take vengeance on my betraying buddy Lance. I took back my place as the Mafia kingpin of that city of vice, and ended my killing spree. Strangely, I lost my taste for the party mix, and went back to my regular combination of Goldfish Crackers and pretzel sticks. A couple months after that, I ended up buying those same party mix chips again, and found that as soon as I started noshing I was mentally back in Vice City, sexing up hookers and avoiding the po-po. It was almost as vivid as actually re-experiencing that one especially unproductive month that summer. I didnít realized how ingrained some of those moments in the game were in me until that happened.

Another clearly memorable game that is connected to a particular food is Jakk 3, which I played just last year. This time the food was freshly baked biscuits. I canít say why, but for the longest time, me and my brother have loved biscuits with butter and jelly on them. Around the time that I was playing through the early Haven city missions in Jakk 3, I happened to pick up some biscuits from the store and shared them with my family. It was really a good experience to have with everyone standing around the kitchen, waiting for the biscuits to turn that appetizing shade of golden brown, and talking or laughing while we ate them. We ended up doing this a couple more times because we liked it so much, and I would always go back to playing Jakk 3 when I had my belly full of that buttery baked goodness. Earlier this year, I was brought back to those times when I ate some more of those biscuits, and also recalled those treacherous missions in Jakk requiring you to gain ancientsí technology in the belly of long forgotten crypts and tombs. Iím glad Jakk 3 is tied to the taste of biscuits and family times, and hopefully Iíll remember them if I play it again, getting hungry for more biscuits.

But these are not the only examples that come to mind when gamers eat and play at the same time. Iím sure everyone has some game that they associate with eating pizza when sitting around the console with your buddies, passing around the controller, and trash talking all night long. It just goes with the territory when you have good friends who enjoy the same games as you. Pizza will be there, and it will be consumed while you play video games. For me, I think itís hard to call just which game most strongly sticks with the taste of pizza. I have to say that I did play a TON of Halo 2 and 3 at my friend Blakeís house, often when there was pizza in abundance, and with a mountain dew close by. But I also recall that with Super Smash Bros and even Tekken 5, pizza made itís way to the party. I guess pizza is too much of an all purpose gamer food for it to be connected to one specific game.

I think developers have only just begun to really explore how we not only interact with video games, but how they interact with us. Just imagine how much impact a game would have if you were so fully immersed in it that you could touch, taste, and smell, as well as hear and see the world that they have created for you to explore. To me, video games already create such strong impression, that the prospect almost frightens me with how deeply I would find myself immersed in virtual reality, when there is a nice one already provided for us. Anyways, I hope that was a interesting diversion for everyone who read this, and once again, HAPPY THANKSGIVING!   read

8:08 PM on 11.10.2008

Introduction Post

Hi everybody!

My name is Aaron a.k.a. Ballistic as you will come to know me. I've been a browser of Destructoid for quite a long time, and a user for some time as well, but I haven't made my presence known to many people until now, but there's a chance you might have seen my comments by now. I think this is a great site for interesting conversations about awesome games with cool people. But I decided it wasn't right to simply take from this place, no, I believe it's important to give back. So, I hope that I can bring an interesting point of view to the blogs that hasn't quite been filled by all the other colorful characters here. I thought I'd start out this introduction post by telling you about me and my full personal gaming history, but realized that would be boring, lame, and predictable. Instead, I'll just tell you about the games that have had the biggest impact on my life and even my personality, hopefully that's a bit more worth reading to you guys. These would definitely be some of my favorite games, but I also have many more that I really enjoy and think are great. I will apologize up front, this is a long blog. But, I felt that I wouldn't be doing myself justice without putting on here what you see. For those of the short attention span, I have put some nice shiny pictures to guide you, so be at ease. If you really don't have the time or are lazy like me, just pick one game and read that paragraph. I'll meet you down at the end of the post.

Games that have most influenced me the most (with spoilers for those who haven't played them)

Super Mario World- Although the original Super Mario Bros was one of the first games I ever played, and 3 is the most iconic and had arguably better level design, Super Mario World is the most influential to me. There was always a certain mystique about this game when I first owned it as a kid. I remember calling up my next door neighbor because of my incredible excitement when a warp pipe's exit brought me out in view of bowsers' castle. I was always exploring every inch of each level, constantly on the watch for anything that might lead to a secret area. When I discovered the star road, I would not give up on the brutal challenge of those levels until I found out where every exit lead to. This was the first game I ever beat, and it no doubt makes my top ten video game boss fights and endings because of how awesome it was when I first completed it. When I played this game, I think it was similar to the way others have claimed they felt when they first played one of the Zelda games. I don't think that the new 3d Mario games have quite captured that same sense of exploration and challenge that the 2d ones have always possessed, but Galaxy sure is pretty to look at.

Tekken 3- I didn't realize just how much I loved this game until I happened to watch the opening cinematic on youtube the other day. I was instantly reminded of why I played this game; because it KICKED ASS. The opening cinematic's music, introduction of characters, and just plain and simple martial arts action feel that the movie had are all just a sample of the full game. My introduction to Tekken was from my experience with a PlayStation demo that I had when I first got my system. I played that demo to death, making me a fan of many of the games on it. But Tekken 3 stuck out because it was multiplayer, and allowed me to endlessly play matches with my cheap little brother who always chose Eddy Gordo, leaving me stuck with Ling Xiaoyu. I ended up buying the game later on and played it even more, coming to know it like the back of my hand. I got all the secret characters and watched my favorite endings through the cinema in between matches of tekken volleyball and tekken force. This game had it ALL. To this day, my favorite character is Bryan Fury, that dude is one crazy bastard who laughs maniacally in the face of a tank blast and his combos will brutally break your face! I think Tekken's third installment is the high point of the series, even though others have included more characters or even more features.

Armored Core 2- If I haven't made it clear by my sidebar and my icon, let me just say this again: I love giant robots. Armored Core allows me to experience very vividly, not what it would be like to be a giant robot, but to pilot one, making it closer to a simulator than an action game. Unfortunately, I believe the series has pushed itself out of sight of being fun and moved too far into the technical side of things, at least, that's how it was during the ps2 era. I also think the series had the best balance of fun and strategy in the second installment, when I happened to get into it the most. My best friend in middle school had a ps2 along with this game and whenever I came over on the weekends, we would take turns playing it. We would switch up between the missions and the arena, trying to garner enough credits to buy the next shiniest weapon in the shop so we could get more credits, so we could buy the next shiniest weapon in the shop . . .we never got tired of it. Often when we weren't playing the game, We were thinking about playing the game, or talking about playing the game, or drawing pictures of how our core should look when it was perfected. By the time I got my own ps2, my friend had moved away, but the first game I bought was of course Armored Core 2. Unfortunately, it wasn't quite the same experience anymore without someone to talk about it with. However, the taste for the series has never left me, and I'll always be in search for the next shiniest weapon to get more credits...

Final Fantasy 9- This is possibly my favorite game of all time. This is also the first final fantasy game I had ever played, making me pretty late to the party. Until I played 9, I never knew how strongly a game could make you feel. That changed as I found myself right alongside the party in their quest to save the world. I was completely floored when I got to the end of the first disc and realized that I very much cared about what happened to these adventurers as if they were my friends. The other final fantasies are great (although I've never quite agreed with the 7 fanboys' claims of greatness), but what made me connect with this one was the cast of characters. I thought Zidane was really cool and fun just to see him interact with the others, completely unlike the emotionally troubled protagonists of other games. I empathized with Steiner's loyalty and fierce determination to do what was right for his kingdom. But, the character I most related to was the little black mage Vivi. When I first played this game, I was very much like how he was in the beginning; quiet and unsure of himself. But as he was put through the trails of the group's journey, and endured the shock of his origins, he became an incredibly strong character. I now find myself having gone through life and become more like Vivi after his trials. His own part in the story's ending makes me choke up even to this day. I honestly hope I never stop liking this game, because it speaks of a part of myself that I never want to lose, my wholesome love of life . Alright, I'll quit with the sappiness, but if I have my way, I'll be making as many worthwhile blogs as I can think of related to this game.

Metal Gear Solid 2- Like many other great video game series (what's the plural of series, serieses, serii?), I wasn't even aware of how good Metal Gear Solid was until years after it gained fame. I ended up buying it on a whim because it was 5 bucks used at a gamestop. I didn't know what I was getting myself into. The first thing I did was try and read the 300 page report on Shadow Moses, then woke up and realized I had fallen asleep to the sound of my own confusion. I played the tanker story, not knowing just how disappointing it would be to countless others when they found out that they wouldn't be controlling Snake for the rest of the game. I was still marveling at just how weird and cinematic the game was at that point. Now, to clarify, before I played this game, I had only had negative experiences with stealth portions of otherwise action/platformers/rpgs and didn't think I could ever like a game based entirely around stealth. Metal Gear Solid, though not the most realistic stealth game, made me love stealth action, which I thought was impossible. Yeah, Raiden was kinda whiny, and when you also think of his conversations with Rose, it seemed more like a soap opera than a 'rescue the president' mission. But I happily accepted all those pointless conversations for just a glimpse of Glory deflecting gunshots effortlessly, or Vamp running on water. I could not believe just how cool some of the boss characters were, and their fights were even cooler! The fight with the Harrier? incredible, even better than most movies! When Raiden takes on a near endless supply of RAY's? How the hell is that not more talked about?! But the crowning moment for me, my favorite moment in all of metal gear, is when Kojima starts messing with your mind. I'm talking about when Raiden escapes from his torture, naked and disoriented, and starts to get calls from Colonel that don't make any damn sense. And then when he actually says 'put down the game and take a break', Hideo made me really freak out at just how awesome that moment was. When I let one of my other friends play through the game, they actually called me when they got to that point and demanded that I tell them what the hell was going on. Each time I play through that game again I feel a bit more like it could end up being my favorite game. Whether it is or isn't, I think 2 should get a bit more respect out of people who like the series.

Super Smash Bros Melee/Brawl-Anybody whose played this game with a bunch of friends regularly knows why I would find these games awesome. There is just something so gratifying and fun about whipping a baseball bat across hyrule temple to nail pikachu and dash your friend's hopes of staying in the match to the floor, along with his freshly broken controller. I never owned a gamecube, but I played melee whenever I came over to my melee playing friend's house. We played that game so much, and fought against each other so frequently and brutally that we became damn near experts. Particularly in my friend Seth, I found a great sparring partner. I always felt like we were Goku and Krillin from Dragon Ball, truly enjoying a great fight simply for the love of a great challenge and the exhilaration that comes from pushing our skills to the limit. What the game had to offer us in the way of challenge simply didn't hold a candle to what a good 4 human player scrap could. As we found out that Brawl was in development we grew more and more hyped for the game, playing melee whenever possible. We even competed in one of those gamestop held competitions for brawl during the midnight release. That actually was an epic disaster because almost all of us lost, which I will always blame on the wii controller setup being the only thing available at our store. Yeah, yeah, I'm a sore loser. I would not consider melee superior to brawl or brawl superior to melee, because I find that they provide different functions. Melee is more of an environment for those with quick reflexes and on the spot decision making skills, where you can be as creative and play expertly at the expense of fair competition from others. Brawl is a much more level playing field that is strategic and thought producing, often giving the victory to those who know how to use the items and level to their advantage.


Kingdom Hearts- This is the level to which I have been influenced by Kingdom Hearts: I am writing and drawing a comic for me and five of my closest friends about us being in the series. Yes, I know, that's FANFICTION, something only the psychos and obsessives do, but I'm more than willing to go down that horrible path for both Kingdom Hearts and my friends. When I first saw the commercials for the game, I wasn't sure what to think of it. It looked cool and different, but also really strange, almost awkward. But, eventually I ended up getting to play it, and all my doubts were gone after I found myself on destiny islands taking on tidus, wakka, and selphie in a 3 on one match. I really loved Sora and his friends, and at the time I could relate to them because I still felt like a kid. When I got to hollow bastion, unaware of what was going happen, I was really there in the moment with Sora, feeling shocked and vulnerable as he lost his power and had to rely on Beast to help him get inside the castle. It was a very powerful experience to me, and made me like Beast a bit better for being my protector for a while. The original Kingdom Hearts used the Disney characters to great effect, bringing up emotions that you felt as you first watched those famous movies as a kid.

Games that I also think are really awesome:
Knights of the Old Republic
Guitar Hero
Front Mission 4
Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 2
Mario Kart
Zelda Windwaker
Shadow of the Collosus
Call of Duty 4
Xenosaga Series (Haven't played Xenogears, I really want to though)
and many more. . .

If you've read everything up to this far, congratulations, pat yourself on the back. There's juice and cookies waiting at the finish line. I hope you guys enjoyed reading about some of my favorite games, I think that should give you a pretty good idea of where I'm coming from when I say that I really love games.

P.S. Guys, don't take Mr. Sadistic's catch phrase from him. Let him say it, otherwise it won't mean nothin.   read

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