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About
English bloke. Binge drinker and ASBO gamer. Player of old games and new, I like tattoos, strong drinks, loud music, Scottish sun sets and traveling. I am also Determined to convince people of the merits of Fox McCloud's' thousand yard stare.


haunting


I look like this in my mind:



I actually look like this:



I've changed my avatar to Johnny the Homicidal Maniac, I look a little like this in real life...


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PSN ID:Baboon_Baron
Steam ID:BABOON_BARON
Wii U code:BaboonBaron
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How lovely was that wee update from Niero? There has been some losses within the Destructoid community recently, but the thing i love dearly about this site is that no matter what happens the community rallies and we continue to have fun, continue to argue like drunk beavers and of course we know when to STFUAJPG!

 However, I've been a reasonably active member of the community when i can, and i have a few little ideas for the team. I'm not going to go down the "Dtoid sucks now!" road, as i don't think that at all. But as someone who works hard and is unable to be constantly active, but really appreciates regular additions, I think there are a couple of small changes and ideas that might benefit everyone.

Dtoid mammies and daddies- I'm not trying to step on your toes at all i've no idea how a website works- these are just ideas. Thank you for all your hard work.

 MORE PROMOTED COMMUNITY BLOGS

I got promoted to the front page once. It was that piece about video game tattoo etiquette. It was such an amazing feeling not only to receive the support and praise from the community, but also to have something i'd written provoke discussion, debate and communication. People were showing pictures and stories of their tattoos, it was pretty sweet.

There are regularly some amazing articles being loaded onto the community blogs. Some of them do require a proof read and a tidy up, but the content of them shines through. I would love to see more being put forward, opinions, stories, artwork, music... pretty much anything promoted. It gives the community that lovely warm feeling to see their work put forward, and it will mean more clicks for the Dtoid coffers. Mr Andy Dixon does an amazing job, but sometimes great works sink without a trace despite being upvoted a good few times.

 

MORE VARIETY IN THOSE PROMOTED/ENCOURAGED

We all come from a million different countries, backgrounds, races, sexes, classes and political views. So it would be fun to see some more stuff about the community, what they're into, what their other passions were. The ten things... and the ten fetishes blogs were SO cool as we could touch on other things that matter without detracting from our overwhelming love of videogames.

 It builds communities, and it offers us all a quick 5 minute read we can fit into our working day. its also a fun way of getting to know each other and to get us talking about other issues despite games. As games and internet culture go hand in hand, we can merge them to get us talking about all sorts. I don't just mean gamergate and the portrayal of women, we could be talking about other issues that matter to us.

 

COLUMNS-NOT JUST A SEGA VERSON OF TETRIS

Who remembers "the memory card" series? i adored it. many hours were spent reminiscing over some gamings great moments. It picked moments that i had forgotten, moments that i'd never experienced and moments that i remember fondly. Some of the Dtoid staff as well as some of the more prolific bloggers could begin writing columns with regular promote dates.

It would ease some pressure on slow news days, because the full time staff would know Occams column on gamings best invisible walls was ready to print or RedNeckPeak will be dropping another great observation. Plus, it would make finding new writers easier, as it would give normal bloggers a chance, without overwhelming them and getting in the way of their careers or commitments.

 

PUBLISH AT DIFFERENT TIMES, ACROSS THE WORLD

I'm in Britain, so when i wake up most of the 'merican Dtoid articles have been up and commented. I know that there are Dtoid staff all over the world, so why don't they get some publishing access? maybe have someone working the weekends too, even if its just a few bits and pieces to tide us over. I find a marked drop off at times and at weekends and i don't think it would be too difficult to coordinate amongst editors, contributors and community members to make Dtoid a consistent 24 hour gaming and culture site.

 

  Maybe these are silly ideas, but i really like this site, and i really like the community. I'd much rather see some amateur writing, some silly writing and some non game writing than no writing at all. The will of the community is a resource, you can use us...in sexy and non sexy ways depending on mood.

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I don’t scare easily. I never have, whilst I love horror in all its forms it rarely scares me properly. Never the type of scare that keeps you awake, that has you reaching for another drink and another cigarette, and that makes you wish someone would say it going to be alright.  I think it’s because I know its fiction, and how could make believe scare you? There are no aliens, no bumps in the night or bogymen coming for me, just taxes and exes, oven meals and bitter Scottish weather, none of which is particularly scary.

What keeps me up at night are my memories. Those gnawing pangs of past mistakes, misspent days or words I can’t take back.  I’ve battled depression for as long as I can remember, and when you mix those dark and morbid thoughts with an overactive imagination and a mind full of questions, your left with sleepless nights and regrets. Friedrich Nietzsche put it best,

If you gaze into the abyss the abyss gazes into you."

That’s why Spec Ops: The Line is the singular most terrifying game ever made.

SPOILERS AHEAD-Normally I wouldn’t emphasise this so much, but if you haven’t played this game stop reading and play it. You'll thank me.

You back? Good.

Spec Ops: The Line is both a 3rd person shooter and a hell ride into the human psyche. I’m not going to wax lyrical about the reasonably solid game play, or even its superb plot. What we’re here to discuss is why it’s terrifying.  The horror that the game causes works on multiple levels, and its only when those pieces begin to fit together and you turn that camera on the wretched soul clinging to a control pad do you see the true power that this game processes.

It begins so simply. Like all great descents you don’t even realise that you’re being dragged down. The game begins and for the first few hours you’re firing off bullets and ploughing through insurgents as if it’s Call of Duty with Resident Evil controls. The action gets more and more heated, the violence of lost Dubai begins to increase. The voices over the radio begin to get more and more urgent, the soldiers under your command get more and more reluctant yet more insistent that we report back to HQ. When suddenly and yet so gradually you realise you’re changing. Your voice over the coms is getting more frayed and desperate, you grip on the controller is getting more frantic and each bullet is more valuable than its last fellow. This is not your average shooter, Captain Walker is far more than an avatar, he is you, changing gradually. Acts of violence that you would have baulked at in the first half become common place in the second. You brush off the murder of hundreds of men. Using weapons of such devilish design becomes normal. You have gradually become inhuman, and only when you stop to take a breath do you see how different Captain Walker has become, how angry and blood soaked he is, and how you, the player were the one who led these men through hell itself.

You and Walker become shells of the people you once were. Or perhaps your mask slipped and the true evil that has bubbled beneath the surface all these years is showing its face. Spec Ops: The Line makes you the monster. Without even realising it, those binary good/bad choices it throws at you are not what they seem- they are shades of grey. Its only when the game is over, and you read the tales of others experiences do you realise you didn’t have to do all those monstrous things to progress. You didn’t need to pass judgement on those men, you could have walked away… but you didn’t. You could have fired in the air to scare the civilians who were hanging your comrade… but you didn’t. You opened fire, you executed those men. You took life and death into your hands and you made your decision. Spec Ops: The Line plays with your associations of military shooters. You as the player, have been programmed that fighting is duty, that killing the enemy is progression and that victory and safety is only a check point away. Only when the credits roll do you see how far you have sunk, only then do you question your actions. And NO ONE has chose the path of least resistance.

And the game knows it. Gradually the messages on the loading screens start to change. The game reminds you that it’s just a game, that none of it is real. The game breaks the 4th wall to tell you that it’s all make believe. But it is real. All you have to do is look in a newspaper, read a military book or hear of the horrific things humans are doing to each other all over the world to know that it’s not all make believe. And even if this game is fiction, you’re the one pulling the trigger, you’re the one who didn’t even try to go back for back up, and you’re the one that skipped over to the white phosphorus and weaponised it. You’re the one who continued to play the game, despite it being about horrible men doing horrible things. The load screen knows it too, pushing your buttons and rubbing salt into your wounds. Until right when the perfect storm is at its most chaotic, when the only way for you and your team is through the centre of hell does it twist the knife perfectly.

It’s the signature of a game that knows what it’s done to its player. Spec Ops: The Line makes the player hate themselves. It holds up a mirror to what’s bubbling beneath the surface of us all. Spec Ops: The Line doesn’t need buckets of viscera, it doesn’t need jump scares and creepy atmospherics. It chills the player to the core because it forces the player to look at themselves. It forces us to think of our own actions, it makes us think of those millions of NPC’s we’ve gunned down over the years with smiles on our faces. Perhaps we’re not as damaged and unhinged as Captain Walker is, but we are not saints. We are after all, simulating murder for fun. We are soaking ourselves in the mire of man’s misery. Perhaps we are all capable of inhuman atrocities given the circumstances. Now tell me one thing more terrifying than that.  

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I bet you didn't know that I’m an amateur DJ under the name of Y so Serious? Well why would you, we hardly talk after that embarrassing incident with the horseradish. I was going to make a normal blog list with my favourite bits of game music, then i thought id mix them together for your listening pleasure! Please note I’m not very good at it, and there’s some glaring mistakes, but if you've half an hour you never want back have a listen! 

I hope you enjoy D-toid massive, 

CLICK HERE... NO NOT THERE! THAT TURNS OFF MY FRIDGE!

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The question of a favourite game is harder than it first seems. I, like many of my fellow D-toiders have a space in our hearts for the classics, the cult favourites and the unique gems, and we will (and happily do) argue about where they belong in the great ranking and why people should play them. But to pick one and raise it about all others has to be a personal thing. There is a inherit danger of picking a “safe choice”, a Silent Hill 2 or a Bioshock, because these are widely loved, we can be blind to their failings.

 Therefore I think to pick a game to be your favourite game of all time; you have to love it for its failings. You have to love it no matter what, and to para-phrase Twilight, you have to love it unconditionally.  And that is why, for me, Starfox 64 is the greatest video game ever made.

Picture if you will, a young boy of twelve on a cold Scottish Christmas morning, he rips at the festive wrapping paper of a suspiciously big box, he knows what it is. It’s the game he’s wanted for months and months. Its Lylat Wars (Starfox 64 in the rest of world) for the Nintendo 64, and with that gift came hundreds of hours of fun and adventure.

Buuuuut, there’s far more to this story that sheer nostalgia. I could tell you about my obsessive playing of its predecessor on the SNES- Starwing, I could tell you about stealing my father’s phone headset so I felt more like I was barking orders at my fellow pilots, even though it was plugged into NOTHING. I could tell you how it played in black and white because I couldn’t afford a colour television. But they’re not the reasons why Starfox 64 is my all time favourite. It’s my favourite because of a few simple reasons that are seldom matched, never bettered.

Simple, elegant precision.

Hammering the fire button will kill the bad guys, waggling the stick moves the plane, pretty simple right? Yes its very simple, but building from this simplicity Nintendo were able to put each and everyone of us behind the controls of an arwing and be able to pilot it quickly. But with time and practise, particularly in the games “all range” free combat sections, you could duck and weave, somersault and lock on, barrel roll and bomb like the Luke Skywalker/Top gun hybrid you’ve always known you were.

“Simple to pick up, difficult to master” might as well be the mantra to making a good video game. Grasping the subtly of the Arwing, the Landmaster and the Submarine took hours and hours of the players life. To score the highest points, to unlock all the secrets and to explore the Lylat system completely required this level of graft. But it wasn’t a requirement. If you wanted to blast through the baddies and save the universe, you could- In a couple of hours, if you were pretty good to start with. At no point does Starfox 64 force you to come back, but you will… to see the next set piece, meet the next boss or visit the next planet. And that will take dedication.

 

Admit it... you wanted the medals

More than a new world…a new universe.

Too much is explained these days, not enough is left to the imagination. And a young pre-teen with a fascination for talking animals in space has A LOT of imagination. Starfox 64 tapped into this perfectly, and represents one of several “loveable flaws” I spoke of earlier. A new Starfox game will undoubtedly have a fifteen minute intro explaining the Lylat system, Falco’s favourite type of hand cream, what a G-defuser is and what exactly a Slippy is. Not so in the nineties! “Here come the baddies, fill in the rest yourself” might as well have been the blurb on the back of the box. This “choose your own adventure” style of video game writing works perfectly, as you are thrown into a higgledy-piggledy world which makes no sense. So you begin to piece it together your self, making up back stories and ill fated love affairs between the characters.

  The desolation of Zoneless, the evil of the Star wolf team, what Andross even IS… these all were left to the player. And boy did it make the game better. Stories were traded in school yards, lore was hinted at but never delivered as characterisation was expanded by brief snippets of dialogue:

 

And so a legend is born. 

All building to lend the game a film like quality, but a at the same time being so much more than a film as you were controlling it. It was Star Wars, Independence Day and the Labyrinth all at once. Perhaps I have my rose tinted hindsight goggles on, but this was the first post Metal Gear Solid game to improve on the “gaming movie” template. It improved on it because it wasn’t trying to be a thriller, it was trying to be what it was- a frankly ridiculous space opera about animals with lasers. 

Feels… its got them.

So it’s a good game. So it takes ages to master. So its fun to shoot things. So its got crappy but enduring bits. Loads of games have that. What pushes Starfox 64 into “best game ever” territory? It story changes depending on how good you are. And if your really, really good you get to see one of the most magical moments in all gaming. But ONLY if you’re a bad ass. Like megaman’s haddoken, the secret ending to Starfox 64 represents a sorely missed era of gaming, where graft and persistence were awarded.

Picture the scene.

You’ve basted through the hard path scoring staggeringly high point values on every level, none of your co-pilots have crashed out, you’ve  taken on the thrills and spills of that persistent Starwolf team… when you greeted by a SECOND version of Andross. The grotesque floating brain provides a truly memorable dog fight as you duck and weave to avoid its clutches. The final laser shot seals the deal, and the screen whites out…. until….

It’s your father. Your long dead father, reaching from the grave to guide you to the safety he so heroically missed. Is it a dream? Is he really there? There’s no time to wonder about life and death as the complex is collapsing around you. Franticly you follow your fathers’ ship’s trail to the surface, elated to know your re-untied with you father once more. Fox McCloud looks across the emptiness of space for his fathers Arwing which has faded from view, as his colleagues ask if he’s okay he replies with stoic courage:

 Nothing... nothing's wrong.

Not a dry eye in the mutha fukin house.

Its part star wars, part matrix, part daddy complex and part fairy tale. But it comes together at  that moment to make such a lasting impression that even now 15 odd years later, Starfox 64 is still my favourite game. Like I said at the start, an all time favourite has to be personal, and it has to be flawed, and what’s more flawed and personal than a Space fox with iron shoes on missing his dad?

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I'm sitting at home on a Friday morning watching re-runs of the Shield. The dreaded lurgy is swarming all over my beloved city infecting and polluting fine citizens such as myself, so perhaps now is not the ideal time to write an investigation but I feel it's a worthy topic. I warn you, this might be a bit more of a long read than my normal posts. It's more about culture than strictly video games. It'll also be less dick jokes and more social policy, either way, I hope you enjoy. 


   I work an office job. Without giving too much a way (official secrets and all that) it's for the British government. To obtain my lofty appointment, I studied Politics at university, I've always been interested in the way people interact with each other, and particularly I've always been interested in different political theories to promote a better society and ways in which we can cultivate this either through policy or at a grass routes level. Philosophical ideals of a utopian society as well as activism can be fascinating and encourage genuine change in social ideals.
 
What the hell has this got to do with anything? Well recently I've noticed a number of references to Social Justice Warriors, always in a negative light. From the top echelons of gaming media such as Yahtzee Crowshaw's YouTube channel to common grass-type comments on D-toid articles, I've seen references to social justice.
 
This threw me, as personally I've always thought of social justice as a good thing. The traditional definition of social justice is to encourage better behaviours in your fellow human and your self by being aware if how your words and actions can affect others. It's about being socially aware, considerate and respectful. On a philosophical level, it encourages the same values of some religions and moral thoughts but with a societal angle, promoting the improvements to a society as a whole through this considerate attitude, rather than "because god tells me to" or even "because it's wrong". For more information consider some of the teachings of the Buddha, or Glasgow's own Franz Ferdinand:

 

So imagine my surprise when people seemed to think this was a bad thing. Shouldn't we as a community encourage right thought? Arn't racism, sexism and homophobia bad things? I'm sure we can all agree on that right? In fact before my little investigation I would have considered some of our game journalist heroes encourage social justice, promoting good behaviour, calling out those who damage us as a community and promoting unity when possible. Sound familiar? Yeah, it's pretty much what Destructoid promotes. (To me anyway, sorry if this is not universal)
 
So imagine my surprise when I googled Social Justice Warrior.
 

 

For those who don't know (and I didn't, I miss internet things regularly because of work) a Social Justice Warrior takes these principles to the furthest degree. Blaming people and cultures with no evidence or thought process, making massive leaps of logic without forethought, and best of all clawing and biting at people who don't agree with their often convoluted thought process. Here's an example-
 

 

This is not good. This is not progressive. This is just stupid.
 
HOWEVER
 
I'm of the opinion that we shouldn't just point and laugh at people who subscribe to this thought process. There is more to learn from this that just another corner of the internet full of deluded people.
 
The first thing to consider is that despite this often being poorly thought through, and very often without merit, the intention of the poster is reasonably admirable. Okay, so I am assuming that your average SJW isn't just attention seeking, but those who genuinely mean it do so from a good place. Remember it wasn't that long ago that causal homophobia was wide spread, and those who stood up to it we're labeled quickly and harshly. Watch Eddie Murphy's stand up if you don't believe me.  So while some of the attitudes of these SJW's can be difficult and sometimes downright irritating and patronising, on occasion they're highlighting genuine causes,  and drawing attention to causal language that might cause offence can encourage gradual grass roots change.
 
An example you can try at home!

 
BUT!
 
Sadly, this does not apply to the majority of these SJW's... In fact after a little research it seemed the majority of these people are more interested in the attention and the Tumblr points rather than actually provoking right thought and right action. As someone who can sometimes play the moral police to my friends and colleagues I know that understanding the issue is paramount to understanding. Lecturing others on your views will never, ever help anyone when it is not thought through, when it is not supported and when it is not welcome.
 
The latter brings us back to video games, once I had noticed the prevalence of SJW's on certain internet sites I couldn't UNnotice them. Where I work we are encouraged to promote positive attitudes, but only when it is welcome. Social issues are not to everyones taste, some people just straight up do not give a fuck. And when mountains are made out of non existent mole hills, is it really much of a surprise when social action promotes such a negative reaction? Take for example this cutting regarding to the new Smash Bros game...
 

 

It doesn't take a genius to pull this one apart. But underneath all that screaming, there maybe a genuinely good point about the perception of those who use keep fit software, race in Nintendo games and promotion of good body image. Is this the place to discuss it? Christ no.
 
Are these people trolls then? "Maybes aye, maybes naw" as we say in Scotland. Some are, that's for certain, some are desperate for attention and some are trying to score points amongst their contemporaries. But some may genuinely trying to improve things. The old adage, "Don't feed the trolls" seems most fitting, rather than screaming abuse right back at these people, we should be pointing out that now is not the time, encouraging them to explore their ideas in community blogs rather than slap dash comments.
 
It can be hard not to rise to caustic comments particularly when they are about something we love and care about. But the video gaming community is in no position to exclude people or be cruel about their views. Remember  for better and for worse, we are the people who scream racist abuse over Call of Duty, send death threats over twitter, and there's  all that unpleasantness with Miss Sarkisian.
 
I don't know about you, but I've been persecuted and teased for my choice of pass times. Things have moved on leaps and bounds since the old days of strictly for the nerd-core. But the reality is, the common perception of those of us who love our hobby to the existent we love it is that we are socially maladjusted, nearly always white, straight and male, and often opinionated. This maybe thoroughly incorrect, but it is the perceived reality. 
 

 

If we can encourage positive attitudes without them being labeled and bullied as SJW's, we might just be able to improve the perception of our community. We should aim to be welcoming, promoting discussion and forward thinking. Obviously, there are some people who need to be chased out of the barn, but we need to differentiate between the trolls and the attention seekers from those who are genuinely looking to stimulate discussion and change.
 
SJW's remind me of feminism ten years ago. People hear the activist who is shouting loudest, without realising that there are so many people who want to have a nice discussion and change things for the better. That shouting activist may very well not be an activist at all, but an angry bitter individual. If so, just like in the past, we can politely show them the door. But perhaps we could be a little nicer? There may be some good ideas underneath all the noise. But some of these people are vomiting on keyboards, just like so many voices screaming out for attention. They should be pitied not bullied.
 

Peace.
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After a little break I'm returning to my game collection to dig out an old favorite and show why it should be remembered more fondly. Today we're gonna look at Super Ghouls'n Ghosts for the Super Nintendo, the sequel/re-make of the NES' Ghosts'n Goblins. With refreshingly old school plot, Arthur rushes to meet his royal lady only for... Oh no! A monster to capture her. So begins a classic horror platformer romp like only the 16 bit generation could provide. 


 

But here's the thing, Super Ghouls'n Ghosts was a little different from Zombies Ate my Neighbours or Castlevania..... It's Viagra hard. When I call this the Dark Souls of the SNES it's not because of its playful gothic vibe. Like the modern classic by FROM software, SGnG punishes those who rush into situations, cruelly demoralises the arrogant and forces the player to repeat huge chunks of the game when they make a mistake. When I first played this game i made me feel the same way as Super Star Wars did, that I sucked at games and by logical progression so did this game.
 
But just like that story set a long, long time ago, I got better. And gradually I uncovered a really interesting but nerve shreddingly difficult game. You have to learn the patterns, master the deceptively simple controls and take your time (but stay within the limit) to conquer this game. But like Dark Souls and Super Star Wars, this gem is rewarding and thoroughly enjoyable.
 

 

If your good, (and I'm really really not good enough) you can upgrade Arthur's armor with various magical versions. This is nearly impossible as, like other versions in the series one hit reduces Arthur to his under pants, and one more hit puts him six feet under. This is the cruel level of difficulty that I adore about SGnG, just two mistakes and your right back at the start of the level. This one really isn't for the fainthearted, and that's not to mention you have to complete the game twice to get the final ending.

 
The level design is cleverly built around the simple controls, so simple jumps become more challenging. Unlike your Mario's or Megaman's, You're unable to control Arthur's jump trajectory once you've begun the action. This means that the player needs to be able to know the exact distance Arthur can reach, and also be able to change this on the fly using the double jump. Like all great control gimmicks this seems simple, but is far from it when it comes to crunch time.
 

 

  Like some of its 16 bit bed fellows, SGnG manages to walk the line between spooky horror and playful fantasy. Making it more Scooby Doo than Saw, so even when it's at it's most infuriating it's impossible not to enjoy its bright and colourful art style. The levels all hit the familiar spooky notes, haunted ships, graveyards and layers of hell all make welcome appearances. and for those who can stick with it, there is a wealth of well put together levels,
 
SGnG was lost in a maelstrom of good games for the SNES, whilst it did well at the time it is long forgotten. the series has more recent appearances, but none in my view match the perfect leveling of SGnG. This is a series BEGGING for a New Super Mario Bros U style remake, and it would remind people that Team Meat did not invent the hard platformer, some of us have been masochistically punishing ourselves for years!
 

You can get SGnG on pretty much everything in one way or another, I would recommend either Capcom Classics on PS2 or the Wii U version as that save state function will prevent hair loss. 
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