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.
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!
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.
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.
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?
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.
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!