I'm in my 20s, I'm married, and I've been playing games since I was 4. I still remember buying my own NES system at Sears and going home and playing Mario/Duck Hunt. Fast forward to the present, my wife and I now own a PS3, 360, Wii, and Wii U.
As far as contemporary systems go, I also own an iPhone 4 (which I game on very heavily - check out HookChamp), a 3DS XL, the Kinect, the PS Move, a PSP-2000, and a Playstation Vita. If I had to choose a system I had the "best times" with, it would be a two way tie between the Sega Dreamcast and Sony Playstation 2. My favorite game series is Mega Man Classic, but I own every Metal Gear, Devil May Cry, Zelda, Kingdom Hearts, Wario, Tony Hawk, main series Final Fantasy, and Resident Evil game ever released in the US (and a lot more), so it's a close call!
There are too many good games out to count now, but I'm always itching to play my backlog of old PS2 action titles. I'll play anything and everything action-adventure, so if you have a game in mind, drop me a line! I have strong opinions regarding the financial decisions of many publishers, but at the end of the day, I'm willing to give anything a chance; especially if it comes recommended by a community member.
Oh; and in 2012 I started contributing to Destructoid.
Resident Evil 5
Fallout: New Vegas
Dragon Age: Origins
Skies of Arcadia
Lunar 1 and 2
World of Warcraft: All Expansions
Super Mario Galaxy 2
Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 3
Devil May Cry 3
Phantasy Star Online
Ape Escape 1
Rockman and Forte (Megaman and Bass)
Jet Set Radio Future
Ni No Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch
Donkey Kong Country
Final Fantasy Tactics
Pokemon X & Y
Super Mario 3D World
Grand Theft Auto V
Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon
Persona 4 Golden
Tomb Raider (2013)
Luigi's Mansion: Dark Moon
Brave Fencer Musashi
Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance
Far Cry 3
Assassin's Creed III
Retro City Rampage
Guild Wars 2
Binding of Isaac
Kingdoms Of Amalur: Reckoning
Zone of the Enders 2
Kid Icarus: Uprising
Batman: Arkham City
Kingdom Hearts II
Kingdom Hearts 3D: Dream Drop Distance
Dust: An Elysian Tail
Tomb Raider II
Metal Gear Solid 4
Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood
Zombies At My Neighbors
Super Bomberman 2
Mass Effect 2
Mass Effect 3
Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 2
Tony Hawk's Underground 2
Assassin's Creed II
The Legend of Zelda: Link's Awakening
The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time
The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past
The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword
The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind
The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim
Ninja Gaiden Black (Xbox)
Power Stone 2
No More Heroes 2
Secret of Mana
Final Fantasy IV
Final Fantasy X
Super Mario RPG
Super Mario 64
Super Mario World
Super Mario World 2: Yoshi's Island
Super Mario Galaxy
Super Mario 3D Land
Mega Man 8
The Lost Vikings
Bujingai: The Forsaken City
Castlevania: Symphony of the Night
Donkey Kong Country 2: Diddy Kong's Quest
Metal Gear Solid 3: Subsistence
Call of Duty: World at War
Call of Duty: Black Ops
Half Minute Hero
Kirby Super Star
Super Meat Boy
Jamestown: Legend of the Lost Colony
Shantae: Risky's Revenge
Mighty Flip Champs
Child of Eden
Kirby's Dream Course
Shadows of the Damned
Knights of the Old Republic (KOTOR)
[Read on for a description of every Metroid game ever released in the US, and my completion of them all in 2013.]
As 2012 comes to a close, I really enjoyed my opportunity to tackle every Resident Evil, Tony Hawk, Kingdom Hearts, and Wario game ever.
But 2013 is a new year, and that means more opportunities to rediscover and relearn entire franchises. Right now I'm looking at starting off 2013 with Metroid and Kirby, with a potential Castlevania Quest to follow.
I'm outright stating "potential" Quest here because that would be pretty damn daunting. There are over 30 games in the franchise, so even with my usual "USA only" restrictions, it would still be in the neighborhood of 20 games -- a bulk of them following the lengthy RPG model.
Either way, stay tuned, and feel free to recommend anything else you have in mind below in the comments!
The original Metroid, Metroid II, and Super Metroid were among my first ever gaming experiences. Although they were years part, and on completely different systems, I felt like they all added to my growth as a gaming enthusiast.
They all taught me how to observe my surroundings at all times, which would come in handy for Demon's and Dark Souls years later. They instructed me on the art of cartography, and helped me understand world maps and minimaps for years to come in various RPGs and MMOs.
They also helped my twitch skills, which would come in handy for my competitive FPS days. But most of all, they allowed me to escape to another world whenever I needed them to, because it wasn't hard to get sucked into a Metroid game.
A really cool factoid about the Metroid series is the realization that there were never more than two Metroid games for any given console or handheld. A true testament to how the series never truly feels over-saturated.
If you haven't joined me on my Quests before, the way they work is pretty simple. It's kind of like a retrospective, but rather than just give you an overview of a franchise, I'll generally let you know what I thought of the game when it was released, and what I think of it now.
If I didn't provide a complete vision of what the game is like before I replay it, I'll provide an "extended thoughts" section below each applicable entry. I'll update my progress in real time through my blog, and after I finish the entire Quest, I'll share it with you guys on the front page.
Metroid - NES [Owned], Game Boy Advance, Virtual Console, 3DS eShop [Owned]
The concept of granting players permanent upgrades is not a standard mechanic back then. Most games relegated themselves to temporary, fleeting power-ups -- but not Metroid.
Getting the Morph Ball and the Screw Attack were a life changing experience. You actually felt like you were achieving something permanent as you went on your journey with Samus. Another cool aspect of the game is the fact that you essentially "level up" by beating bosses to extend your ammo count, and finding Energy Tanks to increase your HP.
In addition to the sprawling open world map, Metroid also introduced a concept that was fairly unknown to the gaming world, intended or not: sequence breaking.
In a nutshell, sequence breaking is the idea of going to areas "you're not supposed to go to yet" in order to progress through the game, and/or locate new items. This concept would be perfectly realized in Super Metroid, and would slowly cease to exist as game design progressed into more complicated overworlds.
I'll fully admit: even though I play this game regularly, it has not aged well. Those who want to experience Samus' initial outing will most likely want to spring for Zero Mission, which is a re-imagining of the canon, and a remake of the first game.
Metroid II: Return of Samus - Game Boy, 3DS eShop [Owned]
Return of Samus was an odd game indeed. In fact, it's potentially the strangest (and most confusing) game in the entire franchise. Part of the reason is due to the small screen of the original brick Game Boy, among many other facets like a confusing world map, samey looking areas, and more vexing design choices.
Even still, hunting down Metroids was both scary, and fun. You basically spend the entire game hunting various incarnations of Metroids, which gives it a distinct survival horror feeling to it, that isn't as easily replicated throughout the franchise.
There are two new weapons (the "spread-like" Spazer Beam and the Plasma Beam), and new moves like the Space Jump, which allowed you to jump to an infinite degree, or the Spider Ball, which allows Samus to attach to walls. You also start with the Morph Ball, which is a nice touch to provide some continuity from the first game.
As a funny bit of trivia, there were technical difficulties that led to the redesign of Samus' Power and Varia suits. In the original game, these two suits were differentiated by color; seeing as that wasn't an option on the monochrome Game Boy, the Varia suit was updated with rounded shoulders.
Years later, developer Nintendo R&D1 would help create the Game Boy Color -- a device that would have basically solved this issue -- had Metroid II Color not been cancelled.
Super Metroid - SNES, Virtual Console [Owned]
I could basically just say "Super Metroid was one of the greatest games ever created," drop the mic, and I know it would satisfy everyone (especially former Destructoid Editor Chad Concelmo). But instead, I should probably talk about why this game is so great.
I still remember the day I got Super Metroid. I remember coming in fairly reserved, as the intro was a bit slow. But once I landed on Planet Zebes, I was utterly hooked. I played it all day long, and even snuck out of bed to play it past my bedtime. It was one of the longest, and earliest gaming marathons I've ever had in my life, and the telling part of this personal story is the fact that I was playing it two weeks later, at about the same frequency.
I would map out my progress, share tips with my friends, and race for that perfect 100% rating. Speed runs; 100% runs; you name it, I ran them. Although there are a myraid of reasons why Super Metroid is one of the best platformers of all time, I'd probably give credit to the vibrant, living and breathing world of Zebes first and foremost.
I mean, my God guys, Zebes is one of the most wondrous video game realms ever designed, and exploring every nook and cranny was a privilege that is rarely replicated even today in my gaming career.
Metroid Fusion - Game Boy Advance, 3DS eShop Ambassador Program [Owned]
Fusion is yet another solid entry in the series. We're already four games in, and we're still going strong here.
At launch, Fusion was yet again well received by critics and buyers alike, namely due to the drastically new art direction and solid gameplay. If I had to describe it, I would probably call it a portable Super Metroid -- and that's quite the compliment. Because Samus was injected with the Metroid vaccine, it has a real "Alien Resurrection" feel to it, in which she comes full circle with the creatures she once hunted.
There was also a neat little Nintendo extra that involved Metroid Prime GBA<->GameCube functionality, which unlocked the Fusion suit in Prime, and the original Metroid game.
Sadly, the only way to get this outside of tracking down the cart is to obtain it through the now defunct 3DS Ambassador program. Right now, Nintendo has no plans to release the gifted GBA games -- which includes Metroid Fusion.
You also want to know something odd? Every time I think about this game, I think about House M.D. (because Hugh Laurie played it in an episode of House).
Metroid Prime - GameCube, Wii (Metroid Prime: Trilogy) [Owned]
Nintendo could have had a disaster on their hands when they brought Metroid into the 3D realm for the very first time. Coupled with more mature themes and distinct survival horror tones, there was even more of a chance for a disastrous release.
In fact, fans decried the game when it was announced, saying that Nintendo was pandering to the FPS crowd and that the game would be garbage (I totally remember this).
Fortunately, Retro Studios (and producer Shigeru Miyamoto) did right by the franchise -- Metroid Prime took the world by storm. Billed as a "first person adventure" game by Nintendo themselves, Prime wasn't simply an FPS in the raw sense of the term -- it offered a full 3D adventure in the same vein as the King's Field series -- but with that distinct Nintendo charm and polish. Also, the game is canon, and takes place after Metroid, and before Metroid II.
I've only beaten Metroid Prime a few times -- the bulk of which were near launch. Yes, I know, the game is incredible and I should play it more -- but that's what Quests are for, right?
Metroid: Zero Mission - Game Boy Advance [Owned]
Zero Mission is criminally underrepresented and underplayed. It's also one of the hardest games in the entire franchise to find, since the only possible way to play it is through tracking down the original cart. This game is prime for a re-release, although the GBA is stuck within this nebulous state right now where Nintendo isn't headlining it on the 3DS VC, so good luck with that.
Anyways, Zero mission is an ace remake of the first game, plain and simple. In fact, I'd say that it's probably the best game in the entire series (besides maybe Super Metroid) to select as a "starting point" for new fans, as it acclimates them to the very start of the storyline, and contains updated gameplay in stark contrast to the admittedly dated original.
Although it is a remake, it does have new items and all new areas to explore, which makes it worth beating in tandem with the original (hence why I'm including it here!). Also, it's the first game ever that features Samus without her suit, and the first time any system ever housed two Metroid games (the GBA had this and Fusion before the GameCube hosted Prime 1 and 2).
Prime 2 is probably my least familiar game in the series, and one of the only ones I haven't completed. I don't remember what happened around Prime 2's release, but I was extremely busy, and never really got around to playing it.
While Prime 1 came at the perfect time, when I was hurting for GameCube games, and Prime 3 when I was hurting for Wii games, 2 was always kind of a non-issue for me. So, in 2013, the time of reckoning will come for Metroid Prime 2: Echoes, and I'd appreciate it if anyone had anything to share on it while I prepare to take it on.
Metroid Prime Pinball - Nintendo DS [Owned]
What can I say about this game that couldn't be communicated in the title. It's pinball. It's based on Metroid Prime. It uses the DS' two screens to replicate a full board.
The idea allegedly came along when Kensuke Tanabe, Producer for Nintendo, thought that Mario Pinball Land would be a no-brainer combination with Samus' Morph Ball form. So basically, he was allowed to make a game because of that, and it came with a Rumble Pak (for the first time on the Nintendo DS).
All in all, Prime Pinball is not a bad pinball game. It just isn't much more than that, so don't expect the world of me when I recant my experiences in the section below!
Yep, it's pinball. Although there are a number of cool minigames inside each pinball machine theme, you've basically seen this before.
Of course, that doesn't mean it's a *bad* pinball game -- it's actually quite good. Everything is very smooth, from the controls to the animations, it's very cheap if you find a used copy, and it works on your 3DS -- what's not to love?
Metroid Prime Hunters - Nintendo DS [Owned]
Hunters is essentially an attempt to replicate the Metroid Prime console experience on a handheld, taking place in between Prime 1 and 2. In many ways, it succeeds -- in other, more obvious ways, it falls short.
One of the key criticisms (myself included in that group) was the control scheme. If it wasn't busy giving you carpal tunnel, it was being finicky. But if you can overcome that hurdle, you'll find a fairly well put together Metroid flavored handheld FPS, with a decent multiplayer mode (with bots!).
Although I never finished Hunters (I had way too much going on in 2006), I'm ready to finally tackle it in 2013 as part of my Quest.
Hunters, like Kid Icarus: Uprising feels very weird if you have giant hands, because they can cramp very easily by using the ideal control scheme. But you know what, the controls actually work, and they work well.
But that's not the issue here: the problem is the game feels too bland all around. At times, it doesn't even feel like a Metroid game, which is a huge problem. Sometimes, outside of turning into the morph ball and frolicking around, I completely forgot I was playing as Samus.
I understand what they were trying to do, when they set off to create a portable version of Metroid Prime, but in the end, it's unremarkable.
The Nintendo Wii has officially been out for about six years now. In that entire time, only two Metroid games were released for it, only one of them wasn't polarizing.
Metroid Prime 3 was the golden child of the two. Like the first two Prime games, the press and gamers alike ate it up. Pretty much everyone (myself included) fell in love with the new IR heavy control scheme due to the change in pace, and the mesmerizing visuals.
The voice acting also wasn't terrible like Other M, which made the poor voice work presented in that title all the more strange.
Hell, it's not just the voice acting, or even this game in particular: the entire Metroid Prime series is a collective gem. If you haven't played it, get on it.
The stock game is not that hard to find, but if you're gunning for the limited run Metroid Prime Trilogy, plan on spending at least $70 for just the disc. Luckily, I got it at launch!
Metroid: Other M - Wii [Owned]
Other M gets a bum rap. There, I said it.
After nearly six months of listening to people who dumped on the game and taking their word at face value, I finally decided to pick the game up due to a deal I couldn't resist ($20). During the course of that day, I fell in love with the game, despite all of the negative press it had thus far.
You see, Other M has a lot of problems -- but for me, most of them are not gameplay related. Yes, it relegates Samus into an undesirable collection of feminine tropes, and nearly ruins the character.
But personally, I was able to ignore this part of the game by muting every cutscene during the experience, essentially treating it like every other game in the series that has a fairly light narrative.
If you come at it at that angle, it's a much more enjoyable experience. Gameplay wise, the game feels pretty solid, boss fights are extremely fun, and I personally enjoyed the art style quite a bit.
I seriously doubt Team Ninja will have the chance to make an Other M 2. In fact, I wouldn't really want that, as a brand new HD first party/in-house Metroid would make for a much more interesting prospect.
But I still appreciate Other M for what it is. While the Prime trilogy reinvented Samus for a new era, Other M will forever remain, for me, as one of the more interesting games in the franchise -- for better or for worse.
It's not often that I'm impressed by do it yourself projects, but this gaming relating one caught my eye. The perfect marriage of retro and contemporary gaming is what made me so interested -- I love it anytime there's reverence for old school (which is probably why I get along so well with Destructoid's Chad Concelmo!).
One of my wife's co-workers had an awesome idea for his friend's birthday. His friend was a massive Skyrim fan, so he knew that he had to seize the opportunity, and make him something really special.
Initially, he considered ordering this custom Skyrim cartridge off of 72-Pins, but shortly afterwards he thought he would go the extra mile and make it a bit more personal.
After doing some internet matlockery, he came across a template, official Nintendo seals, a font that was as close as you could get to the NES cartridge style, and some laminate to protect the project's integrity. He ended up finding some awesome original retro-themed Skyrim artwork, and everything kind of just came together.
After doing some Photoshop wizardry he pared down the label for an NES cartridge, removed the old one and some yellow residue with Goo-b-gone, and BAM -- instant custom cartridge.
But he wasn't done there, because at this point, it was just pretty to look at -- and that wasn't enough. Using a guide from Instructables, he used a utility knife and a screwdriver to crack into the case and add some functionality to it.
All of this DIY madness makes me want to work on a project of my own -- I think Dark or Demon's Souls would be PERFECT for this.
Haven't you heard? Kirby's Dream Collection is out this week. Last Sunday, to be exact! Good old Nintendo Sunday releases. Jim will be covering it proper on the front page, but I figured I'd share my thoughts with you guys here.
Kirby's Dream Collection is very similar to the Wii's Super Mario All-Stars Limited Edition collection, but it has a little more "juice" to it, and it isn't hard to see why.
Not only does KDC contain Kirby's Dream Land, Kirby's Adventure, Kirby's Dream Land 2, Kirby Super Star, Kirby's Dream Land 3, and Kirby 64: The Crystal Shards, but it also has new challenge stages, a charming mini-booklet on Kirby's history, an in-game museum, and a soundtrack CD.
So how does it stack up?
If you're a hardcore Kirby fan, you probably need this collection. Although the included soundtrack and booklet don't go the extra mile to make this a "must have at all costs" type of deal, they are charming enough to add to the allure of the package.
The rather small booklet mostly contains factoids that us Kirby fanatics already knew, but seeing the original design proposal for the series, and a number of original designs all in one place makes for a great read anytime you want your Kirby fix.
The soundtrack is just one CD (which hilariously states that "you cannot play on your Wii"), and contains a mix of tracks from sixteen Kirby games, as well as three tracks that were recorded for the anniversary celebration. It would have been a bit nicer to get a more fleshed out multi-disc collection, but ultimately it is pretty enjoyable mix for when you just want to drop everything and get your Kirby-dance on.
The in-game Kirby museum is also cool, as it goes through every game throughout the years from 1992-2012 with random world factoids, but it's something you can do in fifteen minutes and never do again. That little adorable puffball has had quite a few games since his birth, but sadly, you can only play six of them on this collection: and the museum constantly reminds you of that.
So what if you're not a fan? Well, if you don't care about anything ancillary, and just wanted updated versions of the six classic games, you are going to be disappointed as hell. To be clear, these are direct ROM dumps and not remade ports on offer.
For instance, in the first Kirby's Dream Land, after clearing the game, you had to reset (turn off/on) your Game Boy unit to play again. Same deal here. If you're the type of person who can't stand lazy designs like this in updated packages, you'll most likely be fairly frustrated here. At the very least, there is GameCube, Classic Controller, and Wii-mote support.
Additionally, a number of these games can be found fairly cheap on the 3DS and WiiWare Virtual Consoles already, which means you wouldn't have to drop $40 on the package of six games to actually own all six. In fact, the only game not available right now is Kirby's Dream Land 2 (which is actually available everywhere but the US on the 3DS VC, and is coming to the US at some point).
The rest you can pick up for $3-10 each digitally, or perhaps even less online. If you're looking to get this for multiplayer, note that only three of the games support 2 or more players -- Kirby Super Star, Kirby's Dream Land 3, and Kirby 64 (and for the uninitiated, Kirby 64's multiplayer is for mini-games only).
Thankfully, unlike the Mario All-Stars Wii release, there is actual new content involved in the form of challenge rooms. These challenge rooms use the same engine as Kirby's Return to Dreamland, but involve all-new experiences. As you race through levels to get the best time and kill as many enemies as possible, you'll unlock more challenges, and even have the opportunity to race Magolor from RTD.
Races are a lot like the King Dedede gourmet races from Kirby Super Star, but a tad more enjoyable, as Magolor is a much more interesting opponent than Dedede ever was given his propensity to zap you while competing. The challenges don't offer a full game, but it's not a mini-game either: it's something more in-between.
All in all, I'm satisfied with the collection, but I wouldn't recommend it to anyone who wasn't a franchise fan. If you're a savvy enough consumer who just wants to casually play the series, you can easily just find these piecemeal for cheaper than the asking price. If you're a true fan however, you might want to pick this one up before it's gone forever.
When I was a community member, I always thought it was really important to get to know who the people on the front page are -- that was a key factor in drawing me to Destructoid, and as a result, I try to respond to as many people as I can, whether it's in the comments on the front page, via a PM, or in the c-blogs.
This is my extended response to all of those people who are looking to either break into the community, feel a lack of community, or want to know how to get involved in writing. Hopefully when you combine the above articles with this one, you'll get a clear Voltron-esque complete picture of who I am.
All of this is written fairly off-the-cuff with no preparation outside of the images -- but then again, that's my style baby!
Chapter 1: Jumping into the unknown
After lurking Destructoid since late 2008, I finally decided to join the community and write a blog under the username "Magnalon," which is a combination of Magna Centipede from Mega Man X2, and Shenlong, which is either a dragon or a Gundam depending on how you look at it. It was about Lord of the Rings Conquest: a game most people hated, or couldn't give a damn about.
It was literally the first gaming blog I ever wrote. Anywhere. Because of Jim Sterling and Jonathan Holmes, two staff members that are widely loved and still here, I was emblazoned to write that one seemingly insignificant blog. I felt like their editorial voices were extremely unique, and gave gaming websites a fresh coat of paint.
My original avatar was Wesker, from Resident Evil. I attempted to engage the community, and talk about the things I liked, and didn't like. I commented quite a bit, for better or for worse, and eventually, I started to learn what types of games nearly every community member enjoyed.
After a few months, I changed my avatar to Legato Bluesummers from the anime Trigun, which you'll see in my profile bar to the right to this day. My blog header has also stayed the same from day one (The Stampede is a Trigun reference, but it's also my old Mech Assault clan's name, which was #1 in the US).
Before I knew it, I was getting emails and comments asking me to grab a beer, or hang out and talk about all of the obscure games that I had talked about in my blog. It was an awesome feeling to say the least, as many other gaming sites' comment sections are just barren wastelands of discussion.
After writing a few c-blogs, I got a small handful of PMs asking if I wrote for any gaming websites. The answer at the time was "no," but I ended up looking for one as a result, and found Gamer Limit.com. At the time, Gamer Limit was a very small site ran by one of the nicest Aussies you'll ever meet.
Within weeks, I started reviewing games, and became the Editor-In-Chief and Co-Owner. After adding another incredible writer named James, who became a Co-Owner with myself and the Founder months down the line, things started rolling.
We were accredited by Metacritic and Gamerankings, with help from James, and the 100+ reviews I had written alongside of other staff. We started getting thousands of daily hits and got an ad deal. We attended two E3s, which I couldn't have done without the help of my fellow staff mates, and James, who heavily helped plan it and set up our business documents.
When I was at E3, I had the opportunity to give Jim, Chad, and Niero a hug, and meet Jonathan Holmes and Anthony Burch, among many others. In terms of coverage, I got extremely sick both years because I over-exerted myself and wrote around twenty previews each year. Despite my illnesses however, my passion for gaming still ran strong. If I went back, I wouldn't have done less: I would have done even more.
But running a website is really hard work. Eventually, we had a few writers who moved on to other publications -- AusGamers and Game Informer to name a few. With increasing responsibilities at home, there was no way I could continue to keep the site as flowing as it once was, and it became extremely stressful. Right now, the site is mainly a more relaxed venue, but I still really enjoy reviewing games on it while I'm not writing here. To date, I have reviewed around 165 games that are viewable on Metacritic and Gamerankings.
While this was all happening, I was still very active on Destructoid. I had my first c-blog promotion, and it felt great. While I was doing well at Gamer Limit, my community presence at Destructoid was steadily growing.
People started to identify me, and a lot of the staff would respond to my comments. I had a "Question of the week" on RetroForce Go!, I was referenced on Podtoid a few times (My obsession with Demon's Souls paid off!), I managed to actually get on the botched Podtoid 100, and I won a "Comment of the Week" contest when that was a thing on the front page.
Even though I'm staff, I still link my old avatar in my profile, which has lead to many people exclaiming "OMG you're Magnalon!?" after they click my profile link on the front page. It's a great feeling, as I've made many friends by clicking on their profile links and seeing that they have similar interests.
If you want a major tip when it comes to community integration -- fill out that profile page with as much information as you're comfortable with!
Chapter 3: Friendship and familiarity
But as I started to rise in both communities, more battles were ahead. As I started to spend more time on Destructoid, I eventually became known as the "c-blog sheriff," or the "c-blog police." This was a term coined by the community, because I would pretty much try and comment on every blog I could get my hands on.
If someone was new, and broke some of the unwritten rules, I'd try to steer them in the right direction. If someone was copying blogs from another site and stealing content, I'd try to investigate so the c-blogs could have as much original content as possible.
Funnily enough I had many arguments this way with various community members. I got into a few heated debates with EternalDeathslayer and SilverDragon in particular. Shortly after contacting them and hashing it out, we got along extremely well. Heck, SilverDragon and his girlfriend (now wife) even came and visited my wife and I down at Disney World!
After some time, I hung up the spurs and retired as sheriff. I felt like many others were rising up in my place, and I had to focus on other projects. But that doesn't mean I stopped interacting! I ran many contests as a community member, and interacted with my friends on a near daily basis. This became extremely hard after seeing some of my favorite people pack up and leave, or quit video games altogether.
So, I started a Twitter account specifically to keep in touch with some of the members who left the community. Over the course of a few years, I started to accumulate a ton of fellow Dtoiders on my account, as well as making connections with people outside of Destructoid, on just about every other gaming outlet on the web.
Chapter 4: Staff
Throughout all my years at Destructoid, I had developed a strong editorial voice, augmented by my knowledge and experience with pretty much every genre and era of gaming: from retro to Modern Warfare.
Dale North and Hamza noticed this, and brought me on as a contributor to Destructoid early in 2012. Due to my reduced role at Gamer Limit, I was able to easily start pumping out content for Destructoid, and it couldn't make me happier.
I don't really have a niche per se, as I pretty much enjoy everything, but I do try to make a point to highlight Nintendo content, as I feel like it was a bit underrepresented before I came in. To hone my skills, I started to freelance (literally for free, and for fun) for a few sites like the retro-centric 1MoreCastle.com.
I feel like things have come full circle. Just a few years ago I was looking outside at the house Destructoid built, and now I'm in it. Yet, I feel like a lot of things have stayed the same: and that's a good thing. I'm still free to write things like this and slum it in the comments. I'm still free to PM people, hang out with some of you, and tweet back and forth with some amazing dudes and dudettes.
Initially, Jim and Jonathan were my inspiration, but eventually, all of Destructoid inspired me. You can easily see why I still love writing here. People have come and gone, but that happens literally everywhere: it's a fact of life.
No matter what happens, for those people I make the effort to keep in contact with: it's like they never left. In fact, some people who don't read the site anymore still contact me about my articles, just because they want to support me -- if that isn't an amazing feeling, I don't know what is!
In light of that, I want to formally say "thank you" to everyone here.
Chapter 5: ???
What does the future bring? I have no idea. What I do know is that I'm mostly in charge of my destiny. If something happened and I couldn't write anymore for the rest of my life, I would regret next to nothing, given how much this community has helped me grow as a person, and given all of the friendships I would still have.
I've gotten a few offers from some smaller websites, but I choose to write here given my history with Destructoid. While I can "never say never" when it comes to my future employment in the writing arena, I do know that I would never accept a job that didn't allow me to continue writing c-blogs, and comment on Destructoid. It's too important to me!
I’ll give it to you straight: if you've played the Diablo III beta, you’ll notice that the game seems fairly limited and droll. Thankfully, the beta itself was probably one of the worst snapshots of the full game.
One of the most deceiving things about the beta is how limited the rune system was at the time, which lead to player outrage for limiting certain skills to certain quick-slots. Essentially, this required a rigid construction of your character, to the point where people called Diablo III “dumbed down”, and vowed to ignore the retail release. This assessment couldn't be farther from the reality.
Most people probably aren’t aware of the game’s “Elective Mode”, hidden tactfully underneath the veneer of the gameplay options menu. This allows you to put any skill in any slot you want, and completely customize your build the way you want it. Hilariously enough I was included in that naive group, as I didn't even discover the option until after I beat the game for the first time.
In addition to the robust skill system (which gives you more abilities as you level up), you’ll immediately notice that the “Rune” system and passive ability system allow you more customization than any dungeon crawler to date. This mechanic would be tiresome if it weren’t for the fact that Runes utterly change how each skill plays out.
For instance, a skill that replenishes your mana may be further augmented to replenish your health as well, changing when the skill is best used in the middle of a hectic boss fight. Alternatively, it could be modified to give you a mana increase over time after activation, which can be helpful in more attrition-oriented fights.
Another Rune may make a non-damaging skill like a trap or an evasive move inflict damage, or root enemies instead of just slowing them; and so on. You can respec instantly at any time (respeccing changes your abilities – this usually costs in-game currency and the use of an NPC in most RPGs, but it is free and clear in D3).
Respeccing mid-fight can be extremely exhilarating, but Blizzard cleverly rewards players at higher levels of difficulty by giving them a stacking “magic find” (a statistic for finding better loot) buff for NOT respeccing during a certain amount of time – genius.
So what good are fancy skills if there are no interesting boss fights to be had? Thankfully, D3 delivers on that front. Bosses are no longer kite, kite, kite, kite, kite, kite; don’t get hit. They’re basically full-on raid encounters, a la your standard MMO – but in a good way.
Unlike most MMOs that require you to have a guild or assemble a swarthy crew, pretty much every boss in the game outside of maybe Inferno Mode can be soloed, provided you have the skill-set.
Typical MMO boss tropes like “stay out of the fire” apply here, but there’s also a number of different circumstances that will require quick thinking, split-second reflexes, and most of all – the drive to keep moving, to avoid various traps. Unlike Diablo 2 (or most dungeon crawlers in general), pretty much every fight is environmental, which means that some sort of other-worldly hazard is out to get you while you’re locked in combat with your foe.
It makes for a pretty interesting gameplay experience, and honestly, the higher levels of difficulty really change the way developers should look at dungeon crawlers as a whole.
To clarify, there is a Normal, Nightmare, Hell, and Inferno Mode, with a maximum player level of 60. At the end of Normal, you should be around Level 30. At the end of Nightmare, you could be anywhere from 45-50 or higher. At the end of Hell, you should be 60, ready to tackle the 60-only Inferno Mode. Right away in Nightmare, I noticed a stark contrast in terms of difficulty – I can’t wait to see what Hell and Inferno are like.
My main character right now is a Demon Hunter. I’m nearly finished with Nightmare Mode right now at level 48, and I’m feeling really good about my first character choice. The Demon Hunter is essentially a ranged rogue of sorts, and is the very definition of a glass cannon. He can get in (and out) of danger at a moment’s notice, but if he’s overrun, that’s pretty much it.
Thankfully he has a ton of traps, slows, escapes, and various other tricks at his disposal to be a more effective force on the battlefield. You don’t have to go the traps/trickery route though, as you can go full DPS by changing up your passive skills to accommodate.
Although the Demon Hunter is the only character I have above level 30, I do have one of every class above level 10. So far what I’m noticing is that the Barbarian just utterly dominates. He has a ton of abilities to hit groups and single targets, and the fact that him and the Monk take 20% less inherent damage than all other classes is pretty insane. I can't complain of course because he can't do *everything*, as every class has their unique signature on group combat. I especially can't complain because I plan on having a level 60 Barbarian myself on day!
The Monk is more of a group-centric character (he has mantras and the like that can heal, and buff the group), but he’s still viable on his own depending on your build. The Witch Doctor is similar to the Demon Hunter in that he’s a major glass cannon, and has a bunch of tricks up his sleeve.
Tactically, the Wizard is just about what you’d expect out of a typical Diablo spell caster, but he has a few really cool abilities (like a time slow dome) that sets him apart from the rest. Surprisingly, although there seems to be a bit of a slant towards the Barbarian (based on my higher level play with my friends), every class is fairly balanced, and I’ve seen success with every type of player.
I also had an opportunity to do Diablo III’s “Cow Level” (I don’t want to ruin it here): suffice to say, given that I spent three hours of preparation grinding for the materials and the 150,000 gold to do it, it was fairly disappointing. Despite the let-down, however, it’s nice to know that you can enter it an unlimited amount of times; unlike Diablo II, where you had to sleaze the system by refraining from killing the Cow King, and could easily do it accidentally with an errant Frost Orb.
So what about the DRM issues you've no doubt been hearing about? Well, as I've stated above, in less than a week I've nearly beaten the game approximately 6 times. I honestly haven't had major issues with the "always-on" requirement, as I've only been dropped from games a few times -- thankfully, my checkpoints were always extremely close by and I only lost 5 minutes of time at maximum (although my XP and gear were completely fine; it was just my short amount of progress that was lost).
I'm not one of those people who generally believes that "even the most minor inconvenience is unacceptable", but I completely agree that always-on DRM is pretty absurd for the single player portion of the game. At the same time, I haven't seen any evidence of duping or account training, so I'm willing to put up with this inconvenience in exchange for the ability to play one of the best dungeon crawlers to date.
Additionally, Blizzard has a good habit of supporting their games, and if Warcraft III and Starcraft I are still being supported, I'd say Diablo III's future is set in stone. If you're taking a stance against the game on principle, I have no issue with that, but at least try the soon-to-be-available free trial if you aren't keen on giving Blizzard any money at this point in the game.
All in all, I’m extremely happy with Diablo III. I plan on playing with all five classes to supplement my Demon Hunter, and I have a swarthy group of friends who plan on doing the same. I’m very excited for Torchlight II, but at the same time, I’m thrilled to see that D3 clearly has legs past the first month of play. If you like dungeon crawlers, you may not be blown away by Diablo III, but you will probably enjoy it.
Because of my time on the cblogs, I met a ton of people that I’ve kept in contact with over the years, and I wouldn’t trade it for anything. Since everyone else is keen on “10ing” again, I figured I would join in on the fun, and try to update or mirror my previous list. Also, I like the above header so I’m reusing it - nyah.
10) I’m still loving life with the wife
My wife and I just bought our first house together a few months ago! We’re still working on updating a few rooms, but overall we’re very happy.
We still play games together, and thankfully we have a lot of the same interests. If I had one bit of relationship advice for people out there, it’s to make sure you spend lots of time with your significant other, and never stop talking (there’s such a thing as an unhealthy amount of time, so just balance it).
9) I love old cartoons
Last time around #9 was reserved for a completely random fact. So my fact for you today is that my favorite vintage cartoon is Scooby Doo.
Sickness update – three years ago I nearly lost my foot due to a crazy infection. Good news – I still have it! At this point I’ve been exercising fairly regularly, and things went pretty much back to normal after I had that fairly horrifying episode.
My advice to everyone is no matter how much you hate the doctor/hospital, think about going every once in a while if someone you care about is telling you to go, even if it’s just for their sake.
7) I have a modest gaming collection
It’s not ChillyBilly or Funk caliber, but it’s something! I mainly collect PS2 games, but I’ve recently begun collecting Xbox 360 games as well – my interests mainly lie in major game series (for instance every Zelda, Metal Gear, and Resident Evil game, among others), the action-adventure genre, and SRPGs.
As far as current systems go -- iOS, Android, PSN, XBLA, WiiWare, eShop, VitaPSN, Steam, Mac App Store – you name it, I have it. I have this OCD-ness about me where I can’t miss anything. Despite the fact that I obviously prefer some platforms and consoles/portables over others, I think every system has its fair share of titles.
I wish I could go back and tell my seven year old self that being a fanboy was idiotic, but obviously I grew and learned things because of the experience. The above picture isn’t my collection, but if you take out a few SEGA systems, it’s accurate.
6) I think Benedict Cumberbatch and Idris Ebla are awesome
Just like Tim Roth in my other list, I think Idris Elba and Benedict Cumberbatch are unsung heroes. They've done a lot of low key work as far as Americans are concerned (some BBC miniseries and films), but Cumberbatch and Elba really made themselves household names with the shows Sherlock, and The Wire, respectively.
This winter, you’ll see Cumberbatch as both Smaug and Sauron in The Hobbit Part 1 – as far as villain roles go in film, that’s pretty awesome stuff!
5) My taste in music is varied
Like my gaming tastes, I’ll pretty much listen to anything except *new* country. In the realm of country, I’ll listen to bluegrass, southern rock, and even 90s country like Garth Brooks – just not newer junk like Carrie Underwood.
Here’s a good array of my tastes:
4) I think Daniel Day Lewis is the best actor of all time
As I said previously, Tom Cruise is my favorite actor. I’m able to diffuse "Tom Cruise the Actor" from "Tom Cruise the Real Life Guy With Issues". He entertains me – you’ve probably heard of the term “popcorn flick” before.
However, I’m real big on art-house/surrealistic film, and I know good acting when I see it. Throughout all of my years watching movies, I think that Daniel Day Lewis is the best actor of all time. Some people would say Brando, some would say Newman, I say good ol’ Bill the Butcher.
Lewis is probably as “method” as you get, and I really respect that. I think acting transcends what you can do on-screen, and he brings an unparalleled energy to the entire set – that should count for something.
3) I watch LOTS of TV
I watch a lot of TV. By a lot, I mean I watch around 10-15 shows on a weekly basis. I’ll watch anything from [good] sitcoms, to dramas, to wacky stuff like Penn and Teller’s Bullsh!t. One of my recent favorites is Sons of Anarchy. I totally judged Sons of Anarchy for three years as “some dumb biker show with Ron Perlman in it”, but it’s actually Hamlet on Wheels with an amazing supporting cast. Pretty awesome stuff.
It would be impossible to list non-current shows that I enjoy, so just holler at me if you like any of the following: Mad Men; Breaking Bad; Grimm; Sons of Anarchy; Justified; Southland; Game of Thrones; House of Lies; Modern Family; Community; Shark Tank; Dragon's Den; Parks and Recreation; Dexter; South Park; New Beavis and Butthead; "Louie"; Alcatraz; Sherlock; Workaholics; Archer; or The League.
I watch a lot more than this -- these are just what I'd consider "good TV".
2) I like just about everything, games wise
In my other “10 blog”, I wrote about how I like the wackiest, strangest games Japan has to offer – but that’s not everything I like. I’m also a huge Call of Duty fan, and I own two copies of Modern Warfare 2 and two Elite subscriptions (for my wife and I).
My wife and I love playing through the Gears of War series. Mass Effect is one of my favorite franchises of all time. One day I’ll be playing Shadows of the Damned, the next, I’ll be hamming it up online in Call of Duty – I’m pretty happy with this arrangement!
1) I still love Dtoid
Over three years ago I joined Dtoid and started writing blogs. Around a year later I was at E3 under my own media outlet – then I came back the following year. I was able to sit in “the big three” conferences and feel the excitement of new product launches. When Nintendo announced Donkey Kong Country Returns, I shouted a fairly loud obscenity and I didn’t care – it was just too exciting!
I owe that experience to Dtoid and its community, among many other life lessons that I couldn’t have learned anywhere else. There’s no way around being cheesy here – I’d love to get a beer with any of you sometime.[youtube]