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9:53 PM on 05.02.2013

Nintendo Paradise

Itís Thursday!† This week in the blog is the idea of the Wii U as a destination for Nintendo Paradise.

Sound familiar?† You may have seen it mentioned in various places around the internet as a few writers have made some commentary on the subject.† Having said that, the notion originally stemmed from the most recent 8-4 Play podcast when the question about how to save the Wii U came up.† Ryan Payton, of Metal Gear and Republique fame, was asked directly about how he would approach saving the floundering system and his response was to turn the console into a Nintendo Paradise.† The premise of the idea being to take the console and turn it into the one stop for the entire history of Nintendo. †

Is this necessarily a bad idea?

The Wii U has not been making waves since itís release period in the holidays.† That isnít just with sales, but in game releases and game announcements as well.† Soon after the consoleís initial onslaught of software the well very quickly dried up leaving Wii U owners with little to keep them occupied. †

Initially Nintendo took flack by extending their game launch window a period of five months placing it into March of 2013.† However the sad reality is that even with the massive window they gave themselves to get launch software out there were key titles from that period that are still nowhere to be seen.† The most notable game being Pikmin 3 which was to be one of their first large titles. It now has slipped out to August 2013, a staggering nine months after the system launched. †

With even Nintendoís notoriously strong first party titles slipping it is easy to see the system starting to falter.† Third party games are allegedly being dumped.† Even this yearís Madden installment is skipping the Wii U.† If Nintendo canít make a compelling offer to keep new third party games on their platform along with the new console offerings it wonít be long until the notion of a third party game on the Wii U without any incentive from Nintendo would be far fetched.†

It is easy to look at this and fall into the chicken and the egg scenario.† Nintendo cannot sell systems if there are no games for it.† On the other hand developers wonít make games for the system if the console isnít selling.† The one advantage that Nintendo has is itís ability to churn out great first party software, but without that injection the console has nowhere to go. †

There are two things that Nintendo needs at this moment, software and momentum.† Both of these can be achieved by leveraging the system into the idea of a Nintendo paradise. †

They have a healthy catalog of games from the past few decades that people would be willing to pay for that could easily fill the void of proper new releases for the floundering console.† The announcement of Earthbound and the outpouring of joy from that is more than evidence to this claim.† You can already see the potential of the system based off of the offerings already available on the original Wii system and GameBoy Advance games have been announced to be on the way.† Even further it isnít out of the realm of possibility for Nintendo to extend itís Virtual Console to include GameCube essentially making the Wii U that one stop shop for Nintendo nostalgia. †

Going into E3 Nintendo could use as much positivity towards the system that it can muster.† We already know that they arenít going to have a proper conference like in the past, but there will be Nintendo Direct to keep everyone up to date on the announcements.† It is hard to tell at this point whether that will be a mistake, but itís safe to assume that letting momentum completely dry up with the next generation hardware from Microsoft and Sony on the way is. †

So at the end of the day is there anything wrong with Nintendo secluding themselves to their paradise?† Honestly, their software has proven over and again that it can stand up to the test of time.† If there is anything else to offer here it would be to ask Nintendo to open the flood gates on the Virtual Console.† The slim pickings at itís launch and trickling out one or two new additions a week will not cut it.† However, the notion of having a Nintendo system that can play the backlog from NES through the GameCube along with Nintendoís new Wii U offerings is compelling on its own, even if it takes the role of a companion system. †

-Mike   read

5:51 PM on 04.25.2013


The 3DS and itís library of stellar titles are quickly leading to the platform becoming worthy of the Nintendo handheld legacy. With that in mind, on the eve of itís eighteenth anniversary, now is absolutely time to talk about the big daddy of 3D game consoles, the big brother of the 3DS (the Mario to itís Luigi if you will) the 3DS Prime.

You know...


It came from the third dimension. With its own brain. Itís own voice. Itís own legs. Thereís only one problem.... It needs games. Also a shit ton of batteries.

Whenever I read about the people that have taken the painstaking measures to collect every game for a system like the NES or PlayStation 2 I know how proud they feel. It is quite an accomplishment to be able to financially afford, acquire and store all of that equipment and games. I can say that I stand proud among them with my collection of all the Virtual Boy games released in North America. It was super hard because there were fourteen of them released!

I have to say growing up this was a really popular system with my friends and I. We loved to go camping with it in my backyard, which was perfect because unlike that lousy Game Boy brick which ainít got no time for no backlights we could play all night long. Although seriously Nintendo where was that link cable? We called you incessantly about it for like a year! Clearly the developers were behind it too with the massive support of games for the system! Now that all of that unhappiness is behind us it is time for the happiest, most joyful, cheeriest and bestest moment of them all: the top five list!

I thought about doing a top ten list, but that would be unfair to the other four games!

Top five Virtual Boy 3-D games for a 3-D world in the hizzle:

#5 - Galactic Pinball: I have never been a huge fan of pinball games. Quite frankly I am horrible at them. If I were playing a pinball machine at an arcade I might as well give my money to that homeless guy because at least I would feel good about that. However there was always something endearing about this game. The crazy pinball tables, Samusí ship randomly showing up, random asteroids raining down and never once coming close to topping my friend's high score on my copy of the game.

Best Quote: ďGrab your portable Virtual Boy and enter the virtual realm of three dimensional pinball in outer space!!

#4 - Mario Clash: Probably the best way to describe this is classic Mario Bros. arcade game in 3D. There was a front and back area that you could be in on every stage with varying verticality and you would have to jump back and forth trying to eliminate all the enemies by using the enemies. Itís the Mario game that everyone wanted on the system except for the lack of side scrolling levels, Princess saving and power ups! But at least with the 3D effect you can throw a turtle shell at your own face!

#3 - Marioís Tennis: Itís Tennis. With Mario! Seriously itís Marioís FIRST Tennis game! Sick of Mario appearing in every sports games? Please hop in your DeLorian and head back to 1995. Now that you are there send in your picture personalized envelope to Nintendo Power warning about the dangerous precedent that this game will send. Seriously though this tennis game was always a blast to play. This should have been the game that would use the two player link cable that never released.

#2 - Vertical Force: I rarely if ever hear anyone mention this game when talking about the system. I feel like I may be the only person that liked this game. Although realistically considering the platform it is on it is more likely I am the only person who has ever played it. Itís an on rails shooter in the vein of Gradius developed by Hudson Soft and published by Nintendo. It had two different planes (pun intended) where your ship could fly, collect power ups, shoot enemies and be rad. Come on, Mav, do some of that pilot shit!

#1 - Wario Land: ďI didnít see that coming!Ē - Said no one ever.

This game has made every list of best Virtual Boy games ever made and is probably the only game on the platform that has ever occasionally appeared on any overall top list for anything else. This should have been the Nintendo showcase game for the Virtual Boy from the get go. Itís excellent. It mashes the traditional Wario Land gameplay and adds a second level in the background to take advantage of the 3D. If you need any other reason to play this game you can always pretend that all the gold and treasure that Wario accumulates through the game will somehow fund the purchase of the batteries needed to actually play and complete it!

So are you upset that I left Red Alarm off this list? Tough. Game sucks.

So with all of these great games I am sure you just finished reading this list and thought to yourself what could have possibly gone wrong with this system? Well, let me set the record straight once and for all. It wasnít because it was expensive. It wasnít because people were afraid of their eyes rotting inside out from playing. It wasnít even because you needed a days worth of power output from a nuclear power plant inside a multitude of AA batteries to play it.

It was because Nintendo loved it too much.

So Nintendo will you please release these on the Virtual Boy 2ís Virtual Console?

-Mike   read

6:16 PM on 04.11.2013

Do You Need to Have It Spelled Out?

Why it is important to let the player forge their own opinions.

Warning: While this blog does not directly discuss the ultimate outcome of BioShock Infinite plot points from the game are mentioned. I do not recommend reading until after you have finished the game.

Over the last few days some major pieces criticizing BioShock Infinite have come out. Iím not here to criticize the criticism. I think it is fantastic that so many different opinions and viewpoints on this game are coming out and being shared. However there is one point that really resonated with me while I was reading Daniel Goldingís piece.

ď[Letting] the player decide how they feel,Ē is not respecting your audienceís intelligence in these situations; it is a cop-out of the highest order.Ē In that quote Golding was referring specifically about the subjects of racism and Wounded Knee present in BioShock Infinite.
Iíve had time to think about it over the past few days. It was so heavily on my mind that when I would briefly wake up during sleep it was the first thing that I thought of. Where is the point where the game developer should step in and directly influence the emotional narrative by telling you how you should feel? Or should they?

Itís an incredibly important question that I am sure many developers face when crafting a rich narrative. I think that much will ultimately depend on the game and the end goal of the story. The reason that this statement resonated so much for me with this game is the fact that when I finished it and had time to reflect on it ultimately it was the fact that I was left to decide how I should feel that was what I appreciated the most.

A few weeks ago I had mentioned how one of the most striking things about the opening hour of BioShock Infinite is how I felt like a sinner nearly immediately. The fact that I consider myself more of an agnostic as opposed to tied to a religion is one such reason that had struck me. The other more prominent reason is that this world is so developed and rich that I had little problem letting myself become immersed in the world of Columbia. From first setting foot inside the lighthouse at the outset and even more so with my first footsteps inside of the church in Columbia you are bombarded by religious messaging and even partake in a baptism. When I was reborn inside the city and free to start pursuing Elizabeth I felt like the denizens of Columbia had appropriately relayed their expectations of me. There was a point early on where I found an honor shop and accidentally took money. I felt bad for it, but not because the game told me I was wrong. I wasnít arrested and there wasnít a Linkís Awakening type of scolding where I would be called THEIF for the remainder of my play time. The game toyed with my morality and pitted it against me.

It was soon after that where my morality is questioned again and itís also the first major introduction to racism in the game. Early in the introduction to Columbia you stumble upon a lottery. The prize for winning ends up being a shocking moment and ultimately unmasks Columbiaís darker side. You are asked to throw a ball at an interracial couple. The choice itself may seem a bit simplistic as it is presented: throw the ball at the couple, the announcer or as a few people have come to realize you can let the timer run out and do nothing. It is here where the first major instance of letting a player feel what they want kicks in. When the choice presented itself to me I was stunned. I donít know if it was because this beautiful and idyllic city was crushed by the weight of the impending choice or if it was because I hadnít really been presented a choice in a game that ultimately questioned MY morality. The world of Columbia wanted me to throw the ball at the couple but my gut was sickened at the thought. One point to consider is that regardless of your choice the outcome ultimately will always be the same. You will always be stopped and discovered as the false prophet. Realistically this all could have been rendered as a cutscene showing Booker ready to throw the ball and left unsure to the player what his was intentions were. However it is through the power of choice and forcing the player to be a participant in the act that intensifies the emotional impact of how the events play out. Racism is woven into the fabric of this world as much as patriotism, religion and quantum physics. The developers donít and shouldnít feel the need to tell me how I should feel. I was given enough background to make my own choices and feel the emotional impact of them.

Another point of ire in the conversations being built about BioShock Infinite is the subject of Wounded Knee. If you were like me, which I wouldnít be surprised if there was a good portion of the gaming community that was, I had very little idea of what it was when I started playing the game. I had heard of it before, but knew very little beyond that. What it refers to is a massacre that took place where US Calvary opened fire and killed at least 150 Native Americans (some estimates as high as 300) some of them women and children and many of them are unarmed. It is an absolute tragedy.

Yes, the Hall of Heroes is a jingoist mess of an interpretation of what happened at Wounded Knee, but you are in Columbia. As they say the winners write history and you are seeing Comstockís rewritten history page. I donít know if there was a better way that they could have relayed the real world ramifications of what happened without shattering the looking glass into the world of Columbia. However, as is the case in many places in Columbia, finding anything depicted in an extreme fashion is a nod to the player that commentary is being made. When I was presented with this area I paused the game and read up on the subject and reflected on it.

The ramifications of what happened at Wounded Knee ripple through the entire game. From the start on the boat Booker is handed a box with his name on it that calls out that he was part of the Calvary during the battle. The fact that he was part of what took place at Wounded Knee shapes this entire game and world. He is a man trying to cope with what he had done. He is looking for forgiveness. He tore his world and family apart with the gambling and alcohol because of it. Itís this aftermath and guilt of this battle that ultimately leads to the idea of baptism and being forgiven and reborn. The story is there, but it isnít spelled out for players. It isnít Irrational Gamesí place or intention to tell you how you should feel about the Wounded Knee Massacre. It is in the hands of the gamer to piece together the real world moral consequences that Booker had suffered and ultimately how you, the player, feel about them.

At the end of the day and game I am glad that Ken Levine didnít hold my hand through this process. It is one thing for a narrative to be written that tells you how you should feel, but it is a skillful narrative that allows you to feel through the world provided to you. I honestly feel a mutual level of respect with the developers that they feel I am intelligent enough to see their intentions without stopping to constantly remind me how I should feel at any given moment like is commonplace in some games.

I think itís that level of trust that made a moment like this more impactful

-Mike   read

10:34 PM on 04.04.2013

The Pile of Shame

Do you have a pile of games next to your television? Have you ever experienced buying a new video game before finishing the one you are currently playing? Have you created a list of games you are playing or own and havenít played in order to help you decide what you should play next? If any of these statements apply to you it is possible that you suffer from something scientists are calling a pile of shame.

The first step in correcting the problem is by acknowledging it. A lot of gamers arenít willing to admit that they have a problem.

ďMy name is Mike and I have a pile of shame.Ē

Once you admit the problem the best recommended treatment is to stop buying new games until you have finished the ones that are waiting for you. If you canít do that maybe sharing your story can help others.

Here is my story:

Metal Gear Solid 3: I never owned a PlayStation 2, but having owned a GameCube I became a huge fan of the Metal Gear Solid games introduced through Metal Gear Solid: Twin Snakes. I was dying to see where the series went after Shadow Moses. At one point Metal Gear Solid 2 seriously had me walk into a store with the intent of buying a PS2 just to play it, but second thoughts snuck in and I walked away. Nearly 10 years later I purchased the Metal Gear Solid HD collection. I knew what to expect going into Metal Gear Solid 2, but not how much finishing it would crush my ambition to carry right on into the next game. The further surprising detail is before the HD collection I owned zero copies of Metal Gear Solid 3, but within a few months I owned three (PS3, Vita and 3DS). Considering the fact that I quite literally could play this anywhere now I really donít have any reason to avoid this.

Last Story: So Operation Rainfall happened. I bought Xenoblade on the day of itís release and coincidentally had a week of vacation just after it came out. I played that game for hours. It is easily the longest game I have ever played and despite a few issues I enjoyed it quite a lot. When the events all played out and XSeed announced that they were publishing Last Story I was overjoyed. I preordered my copy, picked it up on launch day and put it on my shelf. I havenít even opened it yet. Next up: Pandoraís Tower.

Shadow of the Colossus: So when the ICO and Shadow of the Colossus HD collection came out I was really excited. I had been hearing a lot of love for these two games for such a long time that I couldnít have been more excited. Then I played ICO and was slightly disappointed. The gameplay wasnít great, but artistically and emotionally you could see the evolution this game introduced to the medium. Then I started Shadow completely unsure of what to expect considering how much ICO hype was levied at me. It was... AMAZING! There was so much detail and adventure. I always felt bad when I killed a Colossus! Then I finished the eighth boss, still high on the game, set down the controller and for a reason unbeknownst to me still havenít put it back in again.

PaRappa The Rapper: Soon after I had gotten my Vita I was browsing through the store for fun new things to download and there I saw PaRappa The Rapper! Iíve had a fondness and passing familiarity with the game and never forgot when Retronauts taught me about about the connection with Turtles Have Short Legs. So I downloaded it. I believed. Little did I know the PSP version was broken because the timing was off. So this sadly will stay in the pile of shame until I can play a version that doesnít frustrate me to tears.

Zero Escape: Virtueís Last Reward: By the time I had heard about 999 it was nearly impossible to find. It took a lot of effort to track down a copy so when I finally had secured one I sat down and immediately got stuck on the first puzzle... BUT after that when I started getting things going I had a blast. I ended up with a really crappy first ending (probably the worst one in my estimation) but I fell in love and preceded to get every ending one by one. Not much longer after that itís sequel was announced and I was excited. Couldnít wait to pick it up on day one and play the crap out of it. Current Status: Still Sealed.

Assassinís Creed: So hereís the story. Assassinís Creed 3 was announced. It looked AWESOME. It took place in the US during the Revolutionary War, which seemed like something that really was interesting to me. I really wanted to play the new one, but there is a part of me that wonít jump into a connected sequel without finishing the previous entries first. Many people told me that this game was repetitive, the story connection is thin overall and that I should catch up on Wikipedia. I found myself falling asleep while I was playing just after the second assassination. It has sat on the shelf since.

Dishonored: When it was announced I was skeptical. When it was released I was intrigued. When it went on sale I was sold. When I was sold I havenít thought about it since.

Final Fantasy VII: NO! I swear itís not as bad as you think. I never owned the original PlayStation and I picked this up when it was on sale for 5$ this year. Seriously! February 2013!

Yeah, I admit I definitely have some major gaming ghosts in my closet. If it needs to be said though this pile definitely didnít appear because of a lack of playing games. Iíve already finished more games this year than are on this entire list. I just need more time! And MAYYYBBBEEE to stop buying games faster than I can catch up. Easy solution though, anyone have a time machine or that device in that episode of Doug that added an entirely new day to the week? That would be great.

So how about you? Are you willing to admit your gaming ghosts?


PS. Totally worth skipping pile of shame games to play BioShock Infinite   read

6:28 PM on 03.28.2013

Texts From Bioshock Infinite

Not from characters in the game, but between a friend and myself. The beginning of this game had me thinking about how we discuss games and Bioshock Infinite especially has some serious conversation to be had. I do want to be upfront though and say that there isn't anything in this article that I would consider to be spoilers as no plot specifics are mentioned and discussion is limited to the events that occur within the first hour, mainly the actual introduction to Columbia and is in line with what little I had seen and heard in trailers or previews prior to release. However if you are a purist and do not want to know anything about the game before going in then this is your warning!


March 26th 2:47AM
Note: Spelling and grammatical issues kept intact from the original conversation.

Me: There is already something very curious about this game world.

Me: Whoa fucked up.

Friend: Yeah, I am still taking it all in. So immersing.

Me: It is. Definitely a religious overtone. Just wait till you see what just happened. Itís fucked.

Friend: Hahaha I have heard there is a lot of fucked up social issues present considering the time this is during.

Me: I had too. Didnít hear specifics. Did not expect it to be this.


I had heard about racism being present in Bioshock Infinite months earlier, but honestly was not prepared for the moment when it hit. There was a prompt on the screen essentially asking for me to react to what I saw and I froze. I sat there for what felt like an eternity grasping with my choices and holding my breath in contemplation. Do I do what I need to do to blend in with the crowd? I have a mission to accomplish after all. Or do I do what I feel and know is the right choice. There is a countdown slowly taking away my chance to react so I make it, pause the game and regain my composure.

As I settled myself I felt the need to talk to someone about it right away. I texted my friend who picked up the game at the same time with me and I could see he was playing the game from my friends list. I knew we had to be around the same point in the game, but the tricky thing is while there are of a lot of good moments in the narrative for commentary on serious issues to be made I am trying to walk on eggshells to not ruin the experience for anyone else, which resulted in the vague fishing conversation above.

From the perspective of mainstream games there have been many other games that have brought about conversations about real issues that people face from Lara Croftís sexualization, Star Wars: The Old Republicís attempt at introducing gay characters or Resident Evil 5ís racism. In most instances though the conversation that is brought up here is from an accidental oversight by the developer or because the issue was planned to be a discussion point but handled poorly or taken too lightly. The major difference with how Bioshock Infinite addresses these issues is the world. It isnít trying to be realistic version of our world or one that we are familiar with, but it is going for a world that is realistic, full of atmosphere and fully fleshed out including itís social issues. This is what makes it so believable and discussable.

Trying to checkbox all of the -isms it should be noted that Bioshock Infinite is also full of jingoism


Friend: Iím literally just sitting here listening to ďColombias gayest quartetí perform God only Knows on a flying blimp. This game is amazing and Iím barely playing it yet.

Me: I was too. You are not that far behind me. The world is great but I feel like a sinner.

Friend: LMFAO I have stolen so much money Ahahaha

Me: I KNOW!!! Did you go in the honor shop?

Friend: AHAHAHAHA pillaged that shit HARD

Me: Haha not only did I take the food I took the money in the basket on accident!! Fuuccckk. I feel like the ending is going to ream me.


I felt bad about what I was doing at that point in the game. That is another thing that I truly admire about this game even now. I didnít even have a weapon, nobody was dead by my hand and no where in the game did it imply I was bad, but I felt like a sinner. The word sinner is weird to me and I honestly have never used it once outside of describing this game. I am not a religious person, but this game had that impact on me. This wasnít like Spec Ops: The Line where you murder hundreds of people, gray areas of right and wrong and your squad mates upfront telling you that you are wrong. This is me in a clean, beautiful world that has itís own religious and patriotic order. I was applying those rules to myself without any direct reference from the game and coming to those conclusions. Itís truly a testament to the amazingly deep world that Irrational Games built.


Friend: Ok, Iím coming clean here... I took all that money on purpose. That being said, I feel like after what Booker said, thatís what he would have done anyway.

Me: Probably. But does he even know who the fuck he is??

Friend: Booker? I think so!? At least more so than the other bioshock main characters.

Me: Yeah but the intro quote?

Friend: Maybe so. He seems to know who he is though. Somebody in debt with the wrong men.

Me: But you only know that because you read it.

Friend: Truth


One of the most promising things I see coming out of the next generation conosles is how it could revolutionize the way we talk about games. Even in the text messages with my friend I had to be careful about what I texted to him. I couldnít ruin that moment for him. But with the different ways that people play games the good commentary that could evolve from a game like Bioshock Infinite could take weeks of waiting or finding a like minded group of people from the internet. Social media features of the new systems likely can evolve these conversations and New Super Mario Bros U is a prime example of this. While it is not a platform to discuss any serious issues (unless you want to tackle the fact that every time he breaks a block he is killing a denizen of the Mushroom Kingdom) it really breaks ground in what could be a revolutionary aspect of how we socialize in games. Itís built in functionality to let players leave each other messages at the end of completing an area is ground breaking.

Imagine if this feature was integrated into a game like Bioshock Infinite. If I am playing and get to that insane moment that I need to talk about I could press a button, open up a text bubble and type in a message. My friends who are behind me could see that message when they reach that point or friends who are ahead of me could go back and view messages regarding events that they have already seen. The conversation could take place immediately when it is most relevant to what is happening in the narrative of the game.

Though we donít have that level of social integration built into our games yet I hope that everyone takes the time with Bioshock Infinite to discuss all of the intricate detail that has gone into building that world, Columbia, its denizens and definitely itís real world problems. From nearly the beginning of the video game industryís inception there has been discussion over maturity in games and whether or not they can be considered art. I can tell you two things assuredly. Bioshock Infinite is absolutely art from top to bottom and pixel to polygon. Second, it is truly a game that is mature, but not solely because of violent material, but because of the adult issues that it so skillfully addresses.

As for me the next day when I saw my friend we had a chance to elaborate on the text messages from that night and have a serious discussion about the issues that were at hand in Bioshock Infinite. That is what is important.


...Back to playing Bioshock Infinite...   read

12:11 PM on 03.21.2013

Game Over

When do you consider your games finished? So how challenging do you like your games? In the last generation of consoles I loved a high level of challenge and completion. At that time for me to consider a game beaten it wasnít just about seeing the end credits, but I had to experience every aspect of that game. In games like Wind Waker, Metroid Prime and even Smash Bros. Melee all of the scans, trophies and collectibles had to all be had. I played Resident Evil Remake and Metal Gear Solid: Twin Snakes on every difficulty and strove to open up every unlockable. Even F-Zero GX couldnít slow me down. I poured hours upon hours into that game unlocking everything even finishing the brutal single player on every difficulty level. I remember the sense of accomplishment I had from just those six games alone, but they are just the tip of the iceberg. I owned more than 50 games on the GameCube.

Today I look back at the younger me and give him a thumbs up, but given the same set of games today I donít know if I could fathom going through it again to that same degree. I mean my ego would love the kind of stroking that only a platinum trophy could provide, but today I donít even know if that is enough.

Let me juxtapose past me with present me. Today beating a game is seeing the credits. If I am enjoying a game, but donít see a reason to push on at the current difficulty I have no problems turning it down. I always start a new game at normal difficulty.

So whatís changed? Well the obvious one is where I am in my life. During the GameCube era I was in high school and college with only a part time job to contend with my time. In this generation of consoles I have a full time job, which easily sucks away time I would have spent playing games instead of doing homework. That really only effects the amount of time I have though... I mean I suppose I could still invest the time into one game just over a longer period of time. Right?

Yes, definitely, but if you are putting all of that time into one game do you wait when a new game comes out? Errr... No. Well I canít at least. Another sad side effect of the way I play games now is that I have slowly built a pile of shame. That is not to say that I am leaving that pile neglected, but when a new game comes out that I need to have or a little gem goes on sale I donít feel bad picking it up and saving it for my next open opportunity. Side note: let me tell you that these HD collections will be the death of me. Buying one game is now really like buying three! I guess I would have to admit that these days I am more about quantity of completion over quality. To be fair though there are still some games that will get me to sink the time in to see everything, but it just isnít an every game deal anymore.

Thankfully my pile doesnít even come close to resembling something like this...

The way I play games now is for the experience AND the enjoyment. There are just some things that I never enjoyed. Scanning everything in Metroid Prime? Boring. Worse? Finding out you beat the game and because you missed a scan at the beginning of the game you would have to play through the entire game again just to scan everything... again. To be clear I loved what scanning added, but I wasnít scanning everything because I loved doing it... I was scanning everything because I felt like I had to. Every game I mentioned has examples like this that make doing fun aspects of a game mundane. That isnít to say that I wonít trudge through some boredom just to be tempted by a sweet reward though. A recent example of this is that Super Mario 3D Land offered up some great levels for doing everything. On the other hand in the same franchise New Super Mario Bros. 2 barely enticed me to collect 20,000 coins let alone a million.

Another point to bring up, that I touched on earlier, is difficulty in games. Challenge isnít a reason for me to avoid a game. I am still a huge fan of Fire Emblem and have been since the Game Boy Advance days. For the record, in case you havenít been on the internet in the last month, the latest release on the 3DS is excellent. Even more I just picked up Monster Hunter and am preparing to dump a lot of time into that. If a game is challenging in its nature I am fine with it, but if it is challenging due to a poor design that is where I start to weigh the options. In that regard I have no qualms changing the difficulty anymore. Most will admit that Uncharted: Drakeís Fortune was a good game with flaws. One of those flaws for me was in the shooting mechanics. At one point in the game I was in a kill room where enemies would come out of every hole they could fit themselves through. That room ended up frustrating me so much I walked away from the game for days. I was in the middle of other games that I was really enjoying and wasnít really in any hurry to finish it. I had debated just believing that the game wasnít a match for me and being done with it, but then a light bulb appeared over my head and I brilliantly decided to change the difficulty to get through the section. For me that did the trick. I still was able to experience the game and it balanced the amount of effort I wanted to put into the game versus the return on enjoyment.

On the flip side I have a friend who never finishes games. Never is probably a little harsh, but when I ask him to tell me what games he has finished its like one hand low. One of his gaming problems that he has is that he is obsessed with trophies. Every time when he starts a game he looks at the trophy list, sees what difficulty level rewards the best trophy and starts the game there. Unsurprisingly whenever I ask him why he hasnít finished a game yet his response always ends up coming back to the difficulty. Either it takes him too long to get through a level or he dies too much. He always has a lot of excuses and in the end he has so many great games that he hasnít been able to enjoy the core experience of what they offer because of this. For me that is the point where you let the experience hinder the enjoyment.

Just want to throw in here too that he hasnít finished Journey yet because he doesnít like the fact that he canít get a stranger to get the trophies with him. A great game never completed because of a fear of being unable to complete some arbitrary accomplishment. That isnít the kind of gamer that I am satisfied being anymore. Maybe to me Journey is the best way to sum up my thoughts on this. What you should take away from a game should be itís journey and the experience it offers and everything else is a bonus.



4:57 PM on 03.13.2013

The Rhythm Is Gonna Get You

This post is about video games and music... It wasn't supposed to be. I originally was working on a new blog this week about the Vita and how I think the Sony meeting was a pivotal moment in the handheldís future. I was planning on summoning my inner analyst and then posting it today, but two things happened in the last week that threw a wrench in these plans. Last Thursday I had a chance to finally see Book of Mormon and Monday night I finally finished Gravity Rush and neither of their soundtracks are withdrawing from my head. I have mixed opinions on Gravity Rush as a game, but they nailed the music. Between the two I have been on a music overload/sugar rush/high/eargasm and I have to get it out of my system. This is that post.

This song powered a lot of this blog post.

I donít feel the need to say that I like music. If you ask someone to tell you a little about themselves and they respond that they like music I usually feel like asking if they like to breathe too. Although if I changed the question to ask about video game music I could expect a different response. Game soundtracks can be so varied that I wouldnít be surprised if nearly anyone could find something that they liked, but on the flip side there are some people who see it as a stigma. I have friends who have made off putting comments about a coworker who enjoyed listening to video game music in his car as opposed to whatever is on the radio. Regardless I donít think I need to explain to you that there is a rich music experience in games if you take the time to find it.

When I look at games I never think that the music could make or break the experience, but I always find it can be the nudge that pushes a good game to great (or in Gravity Rushís case okay to almost good). One of my darlings from last gen, Beyond Good and Evil, had a soundtrack that I always felt perfectly blended the gameplay and emotion. It was also that soundtrack that helped push that game into one of my all time favorite games. As games continue to grow bigger in size and scope more developers seem to be keyed in on how much of a difference it can make. Generally last to the party Nintendo even seems to be in on the trend by adding fantastic orchestrated music in Mario Galaxy and Skyward Sword and sharing the love with their recent touring of orchestrated music from Legend of Zelda for the 25th anniversary of the series. Love or hate Smash Bros. Brawl you canít disagree that Sakurai went above and beyond with soundtrack selection and his outreach to the game music professionals.

Even further I donít even know where to begin on games that use music as part of the gameplay. Simply saying that I love them is probably the easiest way to put it, but even a vast understatement. I think this could be a shock to some of you especially considering the fantastic list of game releases last year, but Rhythm Heaven Fever was easily my Game of the Year. That isnít me saying that I didnít play a lot of games last year or have any other great gaming experiences, but I kept coming back to that game. Between itís catchy music and infectious gameplay I would constantly find myself putting it back into my system when I need a quick time filler. Years after its release its DS predecessor still fills the same roll for me on the go (Even after all this time I still need two perfects on that one... Damn Moai!). To this day whenever I hear someone say, ďI suppose,Ē I have to resist clapping it out afterwards like the monkeys do in Fan Club.

Of note Rhythm Heaven Fever actually led to a surprising recent event in my life. I have a younger sister and she isnít much of a gamer. She will play some casual games from time to time with me, but it is few and far between. A few months ago we were up late waiting for some of her friends to arrive in from a long trip from out of town and she asked me to entertain her to pass the time. I agreed to play some games and we tried a bunch of different titles: Rayman Origins, Mario Party, Wii Sports, etc., but nothing really caught her attention for more than a single round. Then I scanned my bookshelf for any other two player games that I owned and Rhythm Heaven caught my eye. As I opened the case and slipped the disk in she asked what it was. As soon as I finished describing it and telling her it was one of my favorite games she bluntly responded that it sounded stupid and she had no rhythm. We started with Ringside and after she struggled through the tutorial and got into the song she fell in love with the game. We played the game for HOURS until her friends arrived. Then, for the first time in my entire life, she took a game from me. She played it for the rest of the weekend with her friends. Every time I walked by I would hear the TV saying, ďWubbadubbadubba Is That True?Ē She even followed through on this a few weeks later by letting me know that her friend loved the game so much she went home and bought it. The game is great, amazing even, but not one single other game in nearly twenty years has come close to that reaction in her.

Pose for the FANS!

As Iím writing this there have been so many games that have come to mind that I wish I could write in length about in this post. I loved the music battle gameplay of Mother 3, playing ďYour The InspirationĒ in Elite Beat Agents, hours and hours of Rock Band and Donkey Konga, importing Jam with the Band, Rhythm Thief and itís mix of Layton and music gameplay, trancing to Rez and Electroplankton, believing in PaRappa, hours of music creation in Mario Paint as a kid... Honestly, I could probably type this list for hours and I am physically restraining myself from adding on any more omissions. Video game music has become such a part of my life its hard to type this and take a step back and realize truly how long and deep it has run.

Before I send this one off I have one last story to share. My aunt was married a little over ten years ago. At the end of the night the DJ pulled the remaining guests together for one final song. He never mentioned it by name, but being the only gamer left that night I recognized what is probably still to this day one of the best video game end credit songs around. It was an instrumental recording of Super Mario Worldís end song. It was game music and everyone from myself to my 70 year old grandmother were kicking our feet in the air like we were in a broadway show. That is a moment that we will never forget, but one that my family would never know was influenced by gaming.

Thanks for reading! I would love to hear about some of your favorite video game music moments in the comments! If there is any game or music that I touched on that you think you would like to see me do a blog post about in the future Iíd love to hear it.

-Mike   read

3:03 PM on 03.07.2013

My Internal Debate on Playstation 4

Like the rest of the world I watched the Playstation Meeting and got my first glimpse of Sonyís next console. None of the game announcements really grabbed me (to be fair though I would probably play most of the games announced... I just wonít be beating down the door of the local game store to get any of them day one), but the system itself has a HUGE amount of potential. I could see myself really enjoying the features and games that are ultimately developed for the system. There is just one issue... I have never bought a console that wasnít Nintendo built! *GASP*

Before I get too far ahead of myself though that statement is a little bullshit. Iíve owned a PS3 for nearly two years and a Vita for nearly a year. The caveat though is that I never actually bought them and I never would have bought them. Both were gifts, although I could say that gifting a Vita could be interpreted as a hateful action (I kid... mostly) and both are appreciated, but I would be lying if I said that at the time it felt completely natural to have them in my home all of a sudden.

I also feel the need to point out is that while I have been solely a Nintendo gamer for most of my life I wouldnít call myself a fan boy. I may have been a one console guy with a huge amount of love for the plumber in green (screw Mario), but at the end of the day I always found myself an avid promoter and believer of the game industry as a whole. I have had many conversations with friends and co-workers who couldnít understand my position. The discussions would always turn to asking how can I only own Nintendo consoles and call myself a gamer/lover of the industry/human/etc. But Iíve always done my best to be informed and have an opinion on industry events I can stand behind regardless of party affiliations even if that meant not agreeing with Nintendo.

Then I met the PS3. I had known it was coming for a little more than a month before it arrived and when it finally found itself on my doorstep I was excited, but I felt like I was cheating on myself holding that little Dual Shock in my hand. Not to mention the fact that I had already purchased five games before it had shown up. If you think your backlogs are bad now try catching up on three generations worth of games that you had always wanted to play suddenly thrust upon you. I can also say that I donít know where I would be now without that sudden backlog to keep me warm through the cold gameless nights that Nintendo had inflicted upon their fans between releases.

So here I find myself sitting on the cusp of Sonyís next console and I find myself wondering if I should take the plunge or not.

Iíve always easily found reasons not to own multiple consoles before. Money was always the easiest one to believe in. It is expensive to own more than one system. You have to purchase overpriced accessories for both and not to mention you could easily have double the amount of platform exclusive games. Then there is the matter of the logistics of hooking it up to my television. When I bought my TV two years ago four HDMI ports was an outrageous amount for me considering I owned exactly zero devices that use HDMI. Now I use all four ports and regularly cycle between all four devices in those inputs. Where will the PS4 plug in?? I canít unplug anything!!

Finally there is silliest, worst, bullshittery excuse that I could think of, who am I if I buy this system? Where will I be if I cross that final threshold?

You know that you have reached the bowels of desperate excuses when that one pops into your mind. It isn't even something that I would sanely believe, but yet it still makes an appearance in my mind.

In all seriousness though, as much as I want to believe in the Dyack one console future it is no where in sight. I canít walk away from the classics that I have grown up with, but I also canít forget the new friends that I have made and battles that had been fought.

Maybe the decision wonít be that hard after all.

(I've been told from a reliable source that this commercial was indeed made to celebrate all that I have accomplished on the Playstation 3)

-Mike   read

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