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I'm just a dude in his mid-twenties who loves video games, movies, anime, and a bunch of other stuff. I don't write on a regular basis, so if you came here expecting that, you'll be disappointed. However, I do hope you enjoy the few things I do write here.

I'm a freelance programmer/web designer, so if you need someone to do a webpage or to make a game with, PM me. I'm also working on a game with some fellow Dtoiders, and when we have something solid, I'll talk about it here.

My five favorite games of all time are:

1. Super Mario Galaxy
2. The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker
3. Portal
4. Bioshock
5. Metroid Prime
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Xbox LIVE:GoofierBrute
Steam ID:GoobyPls
Wii U code:GoobyPls89
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    Ah yes Mario Kart, one of the few franchises that invoke feelings of joy and anger; sometimes at the same time. Since its debut on the Super Nintendo in 1992, the Mario Kart series has graced almost every Nintendo console (there was supposedly one planned for the ill-fated Virtual Boy), selling 97.42 million units as of March 2012, won numerous awards over the years, and has become one of the flagship franchises for whatever new home console or handheld Nintendo releases. It’s a series beloved by many people, myself included (in case it wasn’t obvious). I first got into the series with Super Mario Kart, and with the exception of Mario Kart 7, I’ve played every game in the series (even the arcade ones!), some of them to one-hundred percent completion. Over the years however, the series had been criticized on a wide range of issues, from its constant rubber banding, to its unbalanced items (specifically the Blue Shell). 

    While these are valid complaints, I still love the series and its many, many, MANY flaws, and it’s without a doubt one of the best multiplayer experiences you can have on a Nintendo system, if not of all time. At the end of the week, Nintendo is going to release Mario Kart 8, and so to celebrate the eighth console release of the series, I decided to countdown the five best and the five worse courses in the series. Before I start this however, let me go over a couple ground rules: 1) one course per game (otherwise my best list would be dominated by 64 & Double Dash), and 2) no Battle Mode maps. Oh, and these picks are based on my personal tastes and opinions, shouldn’t be taken as fact, etc. And with all that out of the way, let’s start our engines.

BEST

5. Koopa Beach 1 (Super Mario Kart)



    Despite being the first game in the series and setting the ground work for future games going forward, most of Super Mario Kart’s courses leave a lot to be desired. They’re not terrible mind you; it’s just that outside of Rainbow Road, there really isn’t much to set the courses apart from each other besides the number at the end. This makes it all the weirder that one of my favorite courses from that game is Koopa Beach 1, a course that doesn’t have anything that makes it stand out that much, other than bunch of easily avoidable grass patch near the finish line. And yet when I was a kid, I played this course so much as a kid (mostly in Time Trial). What was it that I loved so much? Was it the simplicity of its design, the shortcut that wasn’t really a shortcut its chill theme song, or maybe it could it be chalked up as me being a stupid 7-year old who didn’t know better? I’ll never quite know the answer, but whatever it was that I liked about must have been important, because here I am, a stupid 25-year old who doesn’t know better, talking about it and putting it on my list.

4. Bowser’s Castle 3 (Mario Kart: Super Circuit)



      Bowser’s Castle 3 from Mario Kart: Super Circuit isn’t the most popular course based around the Koopa King’s castle. Hell, the game as a whole doesn’t get as much love as I think it deserves, but that’s a discussion for another day. I will say this about Bowser’s Castle 3 though; it is one of the first courses that I remember getting really excited to play without knowing anything about it. From the moment I saw the foreboding icon on the course select screen that showed a surprisingly scary looking Bowser in front of a thunder laced night sky, I knew I had to check it out. And oh man what a course it was! Taking place what appears to be outside on the top of Bowser’s Castle with some foreboding storm clouds in the background, this course has everything that one associates with a course based on Bowser’s Castle: Thwomps that crush you if aren’t careful, sudden sharp turns, and of course, lava; lots of lava. Add to the fact the course itself is a decent size to race on, and you have one of the few Mario Kart courses that is both fun to play and looks cool at the same time.

3. Waluigi Pinball (Mario Kart DS)



    To say that Waluigi is the Poochie of the Mario universe would be an insult to Poochie. I mean seriously, Wario works because a capital ‘W’ is just an upside ‘M’, but with Waluigi all Nintendo did was just put an ‘Wa’ in front of Luigi and called it a day; that’s just stupid (and yes I’m aware of the fact that Waluigi’s name is based off the word Warui, which is the Japanese word for bad, but that doesn’t make it any less stupid). However, I like to think of myself as someone who looks for the positive in all things negative, so as much as I hate Waluigi, I’ll give him credit where it’s due: he has one of the best courses in Mario Kart DS. Waluigi Pinball is literally what it sounds like; a course that takes place on a giant Pinball Table with Waluigi’s ugly mug all over the place. It’s simple in its design and it’s not very long, but you know what? It all works in the course’s favor, as you start the race by being shot onto the table like a pinball and before long, you’re dodging giant black metallic pinballs, bumpers, and electric flippers as you race your way down the bottom to do it all again. Of course, I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention the awesome sound design, with music and sound effects that do an excellent job in convincing you that you’re racing on a pinball table; seriously, look up the music for Waluigi Pinball; it’s absolutely amazing and is easily on of my favorite music tracks in the entire series. So yeah, I may hate Waluigi as a character, but he has one of the finest courses in Mario Kart history.

2.  Baby Park (Mario Kart: Double Dash!)



    Have you ever played a Mario Kart and said to yourself “man this is fun, but I wish there was some sort of Final Destination-like course to prove that I’m the best Kart player”? If you answered yes, then Baby Park is the course for you. Much like Koopa Beach, this was a course that I played a lot whenever I popped in Double Dash, and for good reason. Basically a simple oval loop in the center of a Yoshi-centric amusement park, what Baby Park lacks in size (it’s the shortest courses in the series to date) or stage hazards, it makes up for in its raw competitive design, with each race consisting of seven laps (five in the DS version) instead of the measly three. And boy what an insane seven laps they are; since there are no major obstacles like hills or winding paths, items like Green Shells and Banana Peels can pose as much of a threat to a first place driver as a Blue Shell or a Lightning bolt. Not only that, but when racing on this course with the speed jacked up to 100cc and above, things get even crazier, with characters able to pick up items a bit faster, and it’s even possibly to overlap some players. At the end of the day, don’t let name Baby Park mislead you. This is a course that separates the pleebs from the pros, a course that causes men to curse like sailors and cry like children. On the harder difficulties, Baby Park will spit you out and break you; and you’ll have fun while it does.

1. Rainbow Road (Mario Kart 64)



    Rainbow Road is usually the last course that players race on, and while they come in all shapes and sizes, the one that appeared in Mario Kart 64 is the one that stands out the most in my mind. I know that there are some hardcore Mario Kart players reading this right now that are probably flipping out right now. “Goof”, I hear them say, “why do you like N64 Rainbow Road? It’s one of the longest, dullest courses in the series!” While I do agree with it being long (seriously, it’s the longest course in the series history), the idea of it being dull couldn’t be further from the truth. The N64 Rainbow Road is a bright, colorful course with multiple hills, plenty of winding paths to powerslide, and constellations in the sky of the (at the time) eight racers, as well as a couple based on a Boo and a Mushrooms. In addition, the Chain Chomps that appear to attack unsuspecting players spice things up in way that doesn’t feel cheap (unlike the Thwomps on the SNES version of Rainbow Road), and while some people may bemoan the course for having railings, I for one was always happy with them being there, since it meant that victories were based on skill and not by who could be pushed off the course the most (looking at you Mario Kart Wii). And of course, no discussion of MK 64 Rainbow Road would be complete without mentioning the truly amazing song that accompanies it; which is nothing short of amazing, although I prefer the F-Zero remix. In fact, amazing is the word I use to describe the entire course; it embodies everything that a Mario Kart courses should be; it’s fun, challenging, and an absolute blast to play. And with its return to Mario Kart 8, I’ll be playing this course constantly; even if it has been relegated to one giant lap this time.



    So yeah, those were my favorite Mario Kart courses, but I know why you’re all really here. So without further ado, here are what I think are the worse courses in the series:



WORST

5. Desert Hills (Mario Kart DS)



    When I’m writing up what I think about these courses, I try to the best of my ability describe why I love these courses, either because they were well designed, looked good, etc. And I imagine, that for my worst section, I can hopefully explain to you why I hated these courses. However, for the life of me, I can’t really tell you why I hate Desert Hill from Mario Kart DS so much. Ever since I first played it, I just had an irrational hatred of this course. Maybe it’s the fact that the course winds a bit at the beginning, or maybe I never liked the hazards on this course (Pokeys and that asshole sun from Super Mario Bros. 3). Maybe it was because it was easier on the higher cups for me to go from first place to last place with no hope of recovering; or maybe it was all of the above, though the problem with that is that other courses are like that too, and even they don’t frustrate me as much as Desert Hill does. Hell, my beloved Rainbow Road and Baby Park are guilty of this. I know that this sounds like a copout, but for the life of me I can’t figure out why I hate this course. My personal vendetta against this course is why it’s even on this list, but it’s also the reason it isn’t any higher.

4. Rainbow Road (Mario Kart: Super Circuit)



    As much as I loved the MK 64 version of Rainbow Road, that love has unfortunately not translated to later iterations in the series. The Rainbow Road in Mario Kart: Super Circuit is one of those courses. While it definitely looks and sound nice (the Paper Mario version of Bowser's Castle is pretty cool), the course itself is really poorly designed. While the sudden sharp turns and humps on the sides of the road that can send players flying off the course are annoying, it’s the two jumps at the end of the course that really put it on this list. While the first jump is somewhat manageable (albeit a little cramped), it’s the second one that always annoyed me. I lost count the number of times I overshot that second jump, causing me to fall of the course and most likely costing me the race, usually on the last lap. Now I know some of you are going to read this and say I probably suck, and to those people I say yeah, I really do. But that’s no excuse for a course this messed up and chaotic; to make matters worse, Super Circuit also has every course from the original game packed in, including the original Rainbow Road. And when a course from a racing game that came out in 1992 is better than one from a game that came out nine years later, something isn’t right.

3. Choco Island 2 (Super Mario Kart)



    As I was coming up with this list, thinking of what course I would talk about, I had four courses in mind from Super Mario Kart: Donut Plains 3(for the broken bridge at the beginning), Vanilla Lake 1 & 2 (because ice levels in general can burn in hell), and Choco Island 2 (for that mud patch near the end of the race). It was a close call, but ultimately, I chose Choco Island 2. Why? Because like those courses I mentioned, this course has appeared in future entries in the series, specifically Super Circuit & DS. However, unlike those courses, Choco Island 2’s design hasn’t changed at all; it has the same winding path at the beginning, the same ill-placed ramps, and most importantly, the same mudslick toward the end of the course that turns the race into a war of attrition. I know that I sound like a broken record by constantly bringing up the mudslick, but it’s the reason this course is even here on the list. It makes races on the course challenging, and not in a good way, punishing players who decide to pick a racer that isn’t a medium weight class, which at the time was only Mario and Luigi. As I said earlier, most of the courses in Super Mario Kart are at best, dull and unforgettable; at worst, they’re Choco Island 2.

2. Wario’s Gold Mine (Mario Kart Wii)



    I didn’t like Mario Kart Wii. While it built upon the online mode introduced in Mario Kart DS, added some really cool Mario characters to the roster (Rosalina!), and introduced bikes and tricks, the cheap A.I. and lackluster courses really weighed the game down for me. Most of the courses in this game are bad, but none of them are Wario’s Gold Mine bad. Wario’s Gold Mine looks and feels like a course that was put together by the dev team at three in the morning because they needed to meet a quota. I can somewhat forgive the winding paths and lack of railings throughout the course, and while annoying, the mine carts and bats aren’t enough to make me hate this course, though they certainly don’t help. No, what puts this course near the top of my worst list are the half-pipes the course employs, both at the beginning and then end of the course. They’re both so out of the way and redundant, that any benefit you get for using them is instantly negated by the fact that three or four racers have passed you by; hell with one of them, it’s very easy to land wrong and fall of the course(believe me, this has happened to me before)! I get what they were trying to do with this course, but it’s a bunch of minor annoyances that add ultimately add it up to one enormous headache. It’s so bad, that whenever I played the Flower Cup in Mario Kart Wii, I would make sure I get first place in the three previous races, since I knew there was no way in hell I was going to do well on this course. I actually like Wario, he’s an interesting character, and he’s had some pretty awesome courses named after him; Wario’s Gold Mine isn’t one of them.

1. Toad’s Turnpike (Mario Kart 64)



    I hate this course so much. I’m honestly tempted just to write “fuck Toad’s Turnpike” repeatedly and just leave it at that, but I like to think I’m better than that, so I’ll put my nostalgic anger aside for a bit and explain as best I can my hatred for this course while keeping the swearing to a minimum (though I can’t make any promises). You know how I said Wario’s Gold Mine was made up of a bunch of minor annoyances to make things frustrating? Toad’s Turnpike is much worse than that, with problems running the gambit from poorly placed item boxes that force you on the left side of the course at all times (right in Mirror Mode) if you want a chance to pick up an item, to cars and trucks that block your way on key parts of the course, forcing you to try and navigate small cramped pathways to avoid getting hit by said cars and trucks, which is made even more difficult by the fact that their speed is determined by what engine class you pick (so in 50 cc they’re super slow, but crank it up to 150 cc and suddenly it’s Fast & Furious), as well as avoid the traditional Mario Kart shenanigans like Shells, Banana Peels, and whichever jerks that got the Star and Thunderbolt. Want to know the best (worst) part of this course? In Mirror Mode, you’re going AGAINST traffic, because the developers decided that bobbing in and out of traffic wasn’t difficult enough. Now before anyone gets the wrong idea, I have beaten this course before, but whenever I did I never felt a sense of accomplishment; I felt tired and drained. But more importantly I never had fun when I played this course, which is the number one goal for any Mario Kart course. This course was my personal Water Temple, a low point of what’s otherwise an excellent game that still haunts me to this day. So yeah, in other words, fuck Toad’s Turnpike.



    So yeah, those were the Mario Kart courses that I thought were the best and the worst. What do you guys think? Do you agree, disagree with my choices? Maybe you’re upset that I didn’t include Kalimari Desert (a.k.a. that course from 64 with the train)? Regardless, if you read all the way through, you’re awesome, and I hope to see you beautiful people online when Mario Kart 8 comes out this Friday.








Hi everybody, I'm Destructoid user GoofierBrute. You may know me as that one unfunny guy on the front page. You know that one guy, with the hair? Yeah, that's me. Anyway, I've been trying to get into writing regularly on here, since that was what initially brought me to Dtoid (more on that later) way back in the late 2000s. Andy recently posted a post on the front page asking Dtoiders to tell the community 10 things about themselves, so killing two birds with one stone, here are 10 things you didn't know about me. 

1. I'm currently working on a game.
So yeah, I'm working on a game with some friends I first met on Dtoid's TF2 server (yeah we have one of those in case you didn't know). It's a 2D platformer about a fish that one day grows appendages. We don't have much other than some truly amazing art by our artist and bits of a level, but once we have something more solid, I'll post something here to promote (pinky promise). As for what my role is, I'm one of the two programmers on the project. Speaking of programming....



2. I have a Bachelor of Science degree in Software Development.
I mentioned this briefly in an earlier post about The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time, but to those who don't know, I currently hold a Bachelor of Science degree in Game Software Development. Which is just a fancy way of say I'm a programmer of video games. I always loved video games when I was a kid and knew I wanted to make them when I got older, but since I couldn't draw to save my life, the only other option was programming (which is funny since I sucked at Math when I was a kid, and Math is a necessity if you want to program). It's challenging at times, and isn't for those who are impatient, but I don't think there's anything else that I would rather do. Outside of working on that game (which I'm doing out of a labor of love), I'm currently unemployed at the moment, so if you have need of a programmer or web designer (I do both), hit me up. 

3. I use to play water polo and do swimming in high school.
In high school, I was a lot thinner than I am now, and that was due in part to the fact that for three years I played Water Polo and did swimming for my high school. For those of you who don't know what Water Polo is, it's like Rugby, but in a pool and a slightly more violent. At my high school, we were often consider the "gay" sport due to the fact that guys had to wear Speedos, but man were we tough as nails, both inside and outside the pool (seriously, most of teammates were what we call in the business "fucking metal"). While water polo did a lot to get me in shape and somewhat build my confidence, it was swimming that I loved more. I was clearly in the minority, but I just loved swimming because victory or defeat was based on how well I did individually (outside of relays obviously), and I even got most improved junior varsity player my first year, and a Letterman jacket my other two years. Granted, it wasn't perfect (the coaches were dicks, politics played a big role in who moved up to varsity, and most of the players were Prima Donnas), but outside of starting my freshman year instead of my sophomore year, I wouldn't change a thing about my time there.

4. I honestly don't remember when I first joined Destructoid.
Okay that's not entirely true. I do remember joining sometime in the late 2000s, but other than that I'm drawing a blank. I do know that Nick Chester was Editor-In-Chief at the time, and that I commented on how ass Final Fantasy XII was, but other than I got nothing. But at the end of the day it doesn't matter, because in the four-fiveish years I've been here, Dtoid has become my second family. *cue generic 90s sitcom cheesy AW sound*



5. I used to frequently visit 4chan.
Wait, put down your torches and pitchforks for a second and hear me out. Now, I know 4chan and its user tend to have a reputation for being....unsavory sorts, but that's mostly because everyone assumes the entire site is like /b/, which is 4chan's most popular board, which is entirely untrue, but I digress. During my time at 4chan, I'd mainly visit the /v/, otherwise known as the Video Game board. Thanks to that board (and /a/), I got involved in some pretty interesting discussions, had a few laughs at someone's expense, and got some pretty awesome pictures. Hell, /v/ was how I first heard of Destructoid, after someone there linked an interesting c-blog about Earthbound. I agree that 4chan kind of sucks, and rarely visit them, but it's thanks to them that I'm here typing this, so blame them.

6. My first non-Nintendo console was a Xbox 360.
So I make no secret of the fact that I'm a huge Nintendo fan. Hell, three of my favorite games of all time are from the big N. And so when the Wii came out, I got it as soon as I could. What I quickly realized was that there were going to be a lot of games that my Wii wouldn't handle, and since my laptop and PC were both ass, I knew I needed something to play the games my Wii couldn't handle. In Christmas in 2007, my dad asked if I wanted a PS3 or 360; at the time, the 360 was killing it, so that's what I went with. While my 360 introduced me to some great games (including one of my favorite JRPGs of all time Tales of Vesperia), I ultimately regretted getting it. A lot of the games I got could be played on my better PC and laptop, the fact that I had to pay for online sucked, and I had one of the older white models, which meant red ringing(though to be fair, my only red ringed once, and that was three years after I got it). Overall, I liked my 360, but if I had a do over, I'd probably get the PS3 instead.

7. Many of my favorite games of all time I didn't play until I was older.
EarthboundThe Legend of Zelda: A Link To the Past, Super Metroid, & Final Fantasy VI are some of the best games the SNES has to offer, and are some of my favorite games of all time. The problem is that I didn't play these games until they were at least a decade old. You see, even though I owned a SNES as a kid, I mostly played games like Super Mario World and Donkey Kong Country(which are both excellent games, by the way). It wasn't until much later when I got a SNES emulator when I finally played these games and saw what the big deal was, and I loved them. Most people ask me if I reget playing these games sooner, and honestly I don't. As a kid, there was no way in hell I would have appreciated these games for what they were; hell the only reason I got Ocarina of Time was because my parents were tricked into thinking it was like Mario. Now that I'm older, I can appreciate these games subtle nuances in which the gameplay and the story complement each other. Plus if I get stuck, I can always use GameFaqs.



8. Queen is my favorite band of all time.
I wish there was more that I could say, but yeah I love Queen. Their songs are amazing, and I always stop what I'm doing to listen them on the radio or when they show up on my music player. Hell, when my friends and I did karaoke, I would always look for the Queen songs and would rock out to them. So yeah, Queen is awesome. What more is there to say?

9. I used to work at Walmart.
Well, technically I was a third party vendor working for Sony to get people to buy PS3s and Moves, but I was assigned to work in a Walmart. Where most of the people didn't speak English. And it was during Christmas. And at one point a guy in a yellow raincoat talked to me about the Most Interesting Man in The World getting anal probed. You ever have a job that you absolutely hate, but you only do it for the money? That was my Wal-Mart job. Never again.

10. I was diagnosed with ADD as a kid.
Ending this on a somewhat serious note, when I was a kid, I was diagnosed as having ADD. As a kid, I was already ostracized for liking video games, so having to take pills everyday to make sure I could focus didn't help things. Still, I was able to overcome it, and while I still have trouble focusing sometimes, I feel that I'm ab-SQUIRREL!

So yeah, those are 10 things you didn't know about me. I probably should have done this sooner, but oh well. Better late than never right? If you made through all of this, you're awesome. I don't really have much else to say, so here's a picture of a gentleman cat:



Good night, and good luck.









Whenever there’s a discussion on the greatest games of all time, it safe to assume that The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time is going to be brought up at some point. And why shouldn’t it be?  It revolutionized the Zelda series by introducing the ability to lock onto targets and having context sensitive button prompts, becoming the gold standard for action adventure games for years to come.  It sold 7.6 million copies in its lifetime (not counting the numerous ports and the 3DS remake), won numerous awards, and was even named the “highest rated game ever reviewed” in the Guinness Book of World Records in 2008 and 2010; in other words, people really love Ocarina of Time. I’m one of those people (in case it wasn’t painfully obvious); it’s easily in my top ten favorite games of all time, alongside other instant classics like the original Super Mario Galaxy & Half-Life 2. But my love for the N64 classic is a bit different from most people. Don’t get me wrong; I loved everything about the game, but for me Ocarina of Time was more than just a really good game. It came out at time when I was still young and relatively new to gaming, and as I got older, it became my go to game when I was feeling down (which happened a lot in grade school and junior high), keeping me both sane and helping to realize what I wanted to do with my life.

I suppose I should start from the beginning. Even though my first console was a Super Nintendo, it wasn’t until I got my Nintendo 64 that I really started to get into video games. I got my N64 in the summer of 1997, as a present from my parents for doing really good on my report card, with a copy of the classic Super Mario 64 and Mario Kart 64. Eventually, other games would begin filling up my library, such as Diddy Kong Racing, Yoshi’s Story, Tetrisphere(which had an awesome soundtrack), Banjo-Kazooie, and Star Fox 64 (and I only got that last one because I kept annoying my parents with the video that I got from Nintendo Power promoting the game).  You may have noticed that outside of Star Fox 64, the games I first owned for the N64 were either platformers or games that were mostly aimed at a younger audience (I hesitate to use the word “kiddie”), and that’s because my parents were worried about me playing games that weren’t age appropriate. But that all changed in the winter of 1998, when my parents got me two games that would change my life forever: Pokemon Blue(which is a story for another day), and The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time.



Of the two games, it was actually Ocarina that I was the least familiar with. While Pokemon was quickly becoming a cultural phenomenon at the time, I knew absolutely nothing about this game with the sword and shield on its box; and I found out later that only reason my parents got me the game in the first place was because the sales guy at the store convinced them that it was just like the Mario games I loved so much. No sooner after booting up the game, starting a new file named after myself (in all caps because I was weird like that), and watched the opening cutscene did I starting asking questions. Who was that girl fleeing on horseback? Who was the boy in the green tunic; is that who I’m going to play as? Why won’t this fairy shut up? What’s up with that tree? Why can’t I jump? Why do I have a sword? Why can’t I control the camera like in Super Mario 64? Why won’t this fairy shut up? What the hell is Z-Targeting? OH MY GOD WHY WON’T THIS FAIRY SHUT UP? One thing was clear though; this was nothing like any game that I had played before.

After a bit of trial and error (and by trial and error I mean I died a lot, stopped playing, and asking my neighbor what to do in the first dungeon), I eventually figured out what to do and what not to do, and before long my initial confusion and frustration turned into joy and excitement. I still remember how sad I first felt when despite my best efforts, the Great Deku Tree still died, or how my jaw dropped when I first entered Hyrule Field. I remember my heart racing as I snuck through Hyrule Castle to meet the elusive Princess Zelda in a stealth segment that wouldn’t feel out of place in Metal Gear Solid. I remember laughing at the serious head of the Goron tribe Darunia dancing like an idiot after playing Saria’s Song, and being confused at Princess Ruto’s romantic advances before giving me the last Spirtual Stone. And when I first encountered Ganondorf after collecting all three Spiritual Stones, I knew that he was different than any villain I had seen in previous games. He had bigger ambitions than kidnapping a princess; he wanted to take over the world, and would do anything he could to achieve that goal, and when he successfully took over Hyrule in the second part of the game, I was determined to do everything in my power to restore the beautiful land of Hyrule that he ruined (even if it meant going through that damn Water Temple). Ocarina showed me that games could not only be fun, but have deep and engrossing stories with interesting characters and worlds to explore, and it was during these early playthroughs that I told myself these were the kind of games I wanted to make when I was older. I played it almost non-stop during that Christmas break, but when school started up again, it would take on a much more important role in my life.



You see, school kind of sucked for me as a kid. Right before I entered the second grade, my parents enrolled me and my sister into a K-8 Catholic School (since they felt that it would help us get a better education), and I would stay there until I graduated the 8[sup]th[/sup] grade. I hated most (if not all) of my time there. Most of my classmates made fun of me because of my weight and my love of video games and all things nerdy, and would even spread rumors about me as the years went on, causing quite a few of the younger kids to be afraid of me. I didn’t have many friends, and the few I did have I would often drive away because of my increasingly hostile attitude (I’ll be the first to admit that I wasn’t an easy kid to get along with). Teachers would move or reassign students so as to not have them cause me trouble, which very rarely worked. Hell, one of the few happy moments of my time there was when I was elected Student Council President, only to find out later that many of my classmates voted for me because they either A)felt sorry for me, B) wanted me to fail, or C) didn’t like my opponent.  Add to the fact that my parents would always argue about me whenever I came home crying from school (which was a lot), and you can imagine that things weren’t exactly pleasant for me in my younger days. It was during this time that Ocarina of Time began to take on more significant role in my life, and it became more than just a game. It was my escape from a life that I wanted to run away; I guess you could call it my safety blanket. In Ocarina of Time, I was the one riding around Hyrule on Epona. I was the one wielding the Master Sword. I was strong and brave, things that I felt I wasn’t in the real world. In the game, I was somebody; I was the Hero of Time. And in those dark times, it was the one thing that kept me (somewhat) sane.

So far, this year hasn’t been one of my better ones. Some personal stuff has hit me and my family pretty hard, my job prospects aren’t going as well as I had hoped, and I’m turning twenty five years old this year, resulting in me questioning some of my life choices up to this point. Why am I telling you this, and what does it have to do with Ocarina of Time? Because of all the things that Ocarina of Time did for me when I was younger, the single most important thing that game did for me was this: it taught me that things are going to get better. They will always get better, no matter how dark they seem. And much like I made it through the Water Temple, I made it through grade school and junior high. I made it through high school (which didn’t suck as much as grade school and junior high, but still sucked). I made it through college and got my degree in Software Development (Major in Game Development). I can and will make it through this rough patch in my life as well. Games will come and go; what was considered classic years ago might be considered outdated now.  But for me, Ocarina of Time will always hold a special place in my heart for providing me a safe haven whenever things were at its darkest, and for inspiring me to follow my dream of becoming a world famous video game developer someday, nor should I ever give up on that dream, no matter how hard things got. Well that, and the fact that the game was also really good.
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Despite JRPGs being a dime a dozen on handhelds, there's been a lot of buzz surrounding Bravely Default. After releasing in Japan in 2012, many gamers in the West petitoned Square-Enix to localize it. Despite some weird tweets on Bravely Default's Twitter page and some unconfirmed reports of the game being localized at GDC last year, Square remained quite, causing many gamers to wonder if were getting the game. We finally got our answer on an April Nintendo Direct, where not only was it announced that the West was getting Bravely Default, but that it was being published by Nintendo themselves. Even better, the game was coming out in 2013....in Europe. The States would have to wait until February 7, 2014 to get it's 3DS JRPG fix, but thankfully Nintendo of America realized that the wait would be unbearable for some people (me), so they realized the a demo of the game on the 3DS eShop earlier today. After playing it for a few hours, I was left asking myself one question: WHY ISN'T FEBRUARY YET?

One of the first things you'll notice the minute you boot up the demo (besides the amazing music playing on the Title Screen), is that the demo takes place in a town called Ancheim and the area surrounding it, which is supposedly exclusive to the demo. The four heroes (Tiz, Agnes, Ringabel, and Edea) have come to the town to at the request of its mayor, who needs the four heroes help with some problems that the townsfolk have been experiencing. This usually involves you talking to someone in town, killing certain monsters, and then giving them a certain number of a specific item that a monster drops (though the demo does emphasize that the final game is not setup like this). As you complete certain quests, you get specific items that you can transfer over to the main game when it comes out (more on that later). Other than the quests having to be done in a specific order (you can't go onto the next one until you complete the one you're already on), I absolutely love this setup. It strikes a perfect balance between familiarizing the player with the core concepts of the game (going on quests, battling, etc.), while at the same time setting it in area that is separate from the main game, thus keeping spoilers to a minimum. The area is big and diverse enough that you can explore and grind to your hearts content without feeling constricted.



Combat follows the basic turn based gameplay of older Final Fantasy games, but with two interesting twists: the Brave and the Default systems. Here's how battling works: each character has a set of Brave Points(BP for short), with most actions during combat (attacking, using abilities, using items) costing a certain number of Brave Points. The Default command (which is Defense in other games) lets you give up a turn in exchange for earning an extra Brave Point. The Brave command is where things get interesting: using the Brave Points saved up in battle, you can use the Brave command to attack an enemy multiple times, heal your party multiple times, or even buff yourself up before unleashing a devastating attack. You don't necessarily need to use Brave Points to use the Brave command; you can use it even if you have zero BP, though the trade-off is you can't move for a number of turns based on how many times you attacked (for example, if you have zero BP and you Brave twice, you can't attack for two turns). Additionally, enemies can also use Brave and Default and in fact certain attacks take away or add Brave Points, adding a layer to the combat and guaranteeing that battles are never dull.

This level of depth carries over into the job system. Following the same structure as Final Fantasy V The Four Heroes of Light, each of the four characters can be assigned a job that gives them special abilities and attacks to use in battle, such as using healing magic or gaining the ability to use a jumping attack; as you level up, you gain access to certain abilities within that class, such as protecting an ally in Critical addition or the ability to survive a critical attack. In addition, you can also assign your class special abilities from other classes; for example, you can have a Knight that can use White Magic or you can have a White Mage use Black Magic. While I don't how many or what jobs the final game will start you off with, the demo gives you a wide variety of classes to use, and include the a mix of traditional classes like Mages and Knights, while including some interesting ones like Performers and Valkyries (which are basically Dragoons from Final Fantasy games). In addition, the demo also gives you access to each of these classes base abilities, letting you experiment with a wide variety of classes to make your ideal team.



Earlier I said that you can transfer content from the demo into the main game. Whenever you complete certain tasks or reach certain milestones during the demo, you'll get a one of seven item packs that has specific items like Potions and Antidotes, which will then be transferred to the game when it comes out next month; how that's going to happen remains to be seen. In addition, the demo has StreetPass functionality, and works the same as it will work in the final game, in that you have people come to your village and help you rebuild it, after it was destroyed in an earthquake during the course of the main game. Both the item packs can be transferred from the demo to the main game. Unfortunately, you won't be able to transfer your character's levels (or their job levels), the items you buy and earn in the demo, or any of the abilities that you learn. I wasn't expecting that, but it should be noted. Also, every bit of dialog is silent, though in the final game, it'll be mostly voiced.

So overall, should you get the demo? Honestly, it really depends on how excited you are for Bravely Default. If you've been on the fence of getting the game, this demo isn't going to change your mind. However, people who have been excited for the game owe it to themselves to get this. It does everything a demo is supposed to do: it gives you a basic taste of what the final game will be like, and it gets you excited for the final product. It also gives players who are going to buy the full game an excellent incentive to play through the whole demo. While good demos don't necessary mean a good final game, if Bravely Default is as good as it's demo, we just might have another solid RPG to add to the 3DS's already solid library. Now, if you'll excuse me, my 3DS just finished charging, and I'm going back to playing some more Bravely Default.
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As I’m typing this out, the video game industry is finally taking a chance to breath after two weeks of non-stop surprise announcements and controversy. Nintendo, after announcing that Earthbound was finally coming to the Virtual Console and we were getting a sequel to A Link to The Past, dropped a bombshell that it’s not holding a traditional press conference at this year’s E3. Meanwhile, Microsoft finally announced that they’ll be showing off the next Xbox at a press event up in Richmond, Washington, hopefully finally putting to rest the rumors of an always online console. Finally, a Kotaku writer got into hot water over a video game…again. Oh, and Activision showed off a teaser trailer for a new Call of Duty game, called Call of Duty: Ghosts, which will we’ll see more of at the aforementioned Microsoft event. But I mean, really, Call of Duty is a yearly franchise that sells millions of copies, with the latest game in series, Black Ops 2, selling 7.5 million copies in the first month alone; the fact that we’re getting shouldn't really be that surprising or controversial, right?

And yet not long after the game was official announced, the Internet wasted no time in letting their opinions be known about this new Call of Duty.  Gaming websites and Youtube were flooded with comments ranging from your typical knee jerk reaction of “LOL COD IS FOR KIDDIES AND THE FRANCHISE IS SHIT” to the always clever “who cares, it’s just going to be like the last Call of Duty”. And while there were some people who were genuinely excited to hear more about the game, it was obvious that the majority of people were not looking forward to the newest entry in the franchise. As of the time of me writing this sentence, the debut teaser trailer has 75 positive, 215 thumbs down over on the Gametrailers website.  Normally, I wouldn’t respond to this kind of negativity or I would dismiss it as the Internet being, well, the Internet, but in this case I feel it’s time to address because A) this outpouring of nerd rage was over a TEASER TRAILER, and B) it’s starting to get old really fast.



Now before I go any further, let me just address the elephant in the room: no, I do not like the Call of Duty franchise. I’ve never liked the series, even back in the early 2000s, when they were set in World War II. I think they’re repetitive, dull, lifeless, games with mediocre multiplayer that aren’t worth the sixty dollar price tag. Which of course begs the question: why should I care than that people are being negative to a franchise that I myself openly admitted to not liking? Why should I defend a franchise that clearly doesn’t need defending?  The simple answer to both these questions is this: because Call of Duty is a series that was never made to be liked by me and people like me. And honestly, I’m okay with that.

That’s because Call of Duty games are aimed at a certain type of individual; the kind of person who likes high octane fast paced action, where every level in the single player campaign plays out like an interactive Michael Bay movie. Where every multiplayer match is a contest to see who can get a high enough killstreak to use the drone strikes. In other words, it’s made for people that aren’t me. While I personally enjoy the occasionally game of Serious Sam, when it comes to first person shooters, I often find myself leaning towards the single player focused experience, such as the always classic Half-Life 2 or more recent classics like Bioshock or its most recent sequel Bioshock Infinite. And if I feel like playing and interacting with other people, I have Team Fortress 2 and Left 4 Dead 2. This doesn’t even include the first person shooter/RPG hybirds like Deus Ex: Human Revolution and Borderlands1 & 2.  



Granted, there’s nothing wrong with liking the kind of gaming experience that Call of Duty provides. Based on its 100 million dollar sales as of November of 2011, it’s clear that the guys at Infinity Ward and Treyarch have a winning formula. They don’t need to win me over or seek my approval of what they’re doing, nor would I want them to. Infinite Ward and Treyarch should be able to make the games that they want to make without worrying about whether or not people like me are satisfied. That’s not to say that they should rest on their laurels and keep making the same game year after year, and in fact based on Black Ops II it seems that they are trying to get out of their comfort zone, at least when it comes to single player campaign.

So to those of you who are looking forward to hearing more about Call of Duty: Ghosts and plan on buying it, I say awesome, and I hope you have a great time with it. To those of you who don’t like it, just let it go. You aren't doing yourself any favors by complaining about something that wasn't made for you and never will be. The sooner you accept that and let it go, the better off you’ll be.  Call of Duty: Ghosts isn't the only game that’s coming out this year, with plenty of other heavy hitters like Grand Theft Auto V and Rayman Legends coming out in September, and that’s not even counting the unannounced games that have yet to be seen at E3 this year. Besides, there are more important things to get mad over.
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