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10:48 AM on 05.15.2009

Fan Game Watchlist for May: God damn Square Enix edition

Let's start right offwith the 500-pound Nu in the room: the untimely cancellation of Chrono Trigger: Crimson Echoes. Crimson Echoes was a five-year fan project written to fill in the storyline gap between Chrono Trigger and Chrono Cross, in an entirely new adventure using CT’s Super Nintendo engine. About two weeks before its release, Square Enix sent a C&D to Chrono Compendium, the makers of the fangame, to demand an immediate halt to the project and the destruction of all copies and materials related to the game. Though the game was 98% finished, Compendium was forced to comply.

If you’re frustrated or angry, you’re completely justified- and for those who aren't, allow me to attempt to explain why.

This was a new Chrono Trigger game.

A NEW CHRONO TRIGGER GAME.

Really, that should be enough. Square has done nothing with one of its most beloved franchises since 2000, addressing a neglected fanbase with nothing more than half-hearted rereleases on the Playstation and DS. They've shown no interest in actually revisiting Crono's world, in spite of the many questions left unanswered by the two games, and the terrific characters we've been longing to connect again since the mid-90's.

But, that's not what really hurts. What really hurts is that a handful of people took it upon themselves to construct a deep, elaborate love letter to a narrative that Square had long since left for dead. For five years, they toiled away at their tribute to Chrono Trigger.

Then, two weeks before their wishes and ours are realized, Square Enix released the hounds.
That they issued a C&D order on this project through their legal team at the time they did smacks less of a legitimate defense of profit than it does pure spite. Not only will Square not give us a single drop of new Chrono Trigger among their flood of Final Fantasy releases- they're going to make goddamn sure that nobody else can give it to us, either.

In his “Levels of Losing” scale, sports writer Bill Simmons would call this “The Stomach Punch”. It came from out of nowhere, at the worst possible time, and shredded the hopes of thousands to pieces- like Jordan's last- minute jump shot in Utah, or the sudden ending of Half-Life 2.

So, yes. I'm angry. At times, unbearably so. Now, every time I'm even reminded of the original game, I'm only going to be able to think of what might have been. This thing was going to be great. Really great. A culmination of thirteen years of fanhood. Now, even the original Chrono Trigger has turned sour for me- and like Beethoven in A Clockwork Orange, there are some works that simply should never invoke that kind of frustration.

That's why I'm angry. Why many of us are angry. Square has punished Chrono Compendium, punished us all, for enjoying their masterpiece just a little too much.

I realize, however, that on a stage as modest as mine, there is no direct recourse. Internet petitions aren’t worth the paper they’re not printed on. Email and phone-in campaigns are as useful as prank calls. Even a boycott would be miniscule, scattershot, and utterly demolished when Final Fantasy 13 comes out. Even though this is an epic dick move on behalf of Square-Enix, there is no way that I, or any one of us can return this action in kind.

But, if you want to something, anything at all to take from this, something that may prove even the slightest bit useful as we Chrono Trigger fans attempt to move on from this grave disappointment, then simply keep this in mind:

Square-Enix has, for the second time now, treated its most dedicated fans like criminals.

A company is only as good as its reputation- and this is a black mark that shouldn't soon be forgotten. Maybe they'll make it right by putting out a new CT game themselves, or maybe the one other thing we've been aching for all these years- a current-gen Final Fantasy 7 remake. Or, this could be the beginning of a greater legal war on the fandom. Who can say? Whatever happens from here, though, will be done in light of Square Enix as a fan-unfriendly company.

I'd also like to take the time to point out that, in the Destructoid story, I commented that I would “pirate every game Square made, if they'd released anything worthwhile in the past decade”. I posted that out of pure anger and frustration, and I humbly ask to take that back. At the time, I was only thinking about the Final Fantasy series, in which I haven't found a game that piqued my interest since FF9. I wasn't thinking of Kingdom Hearts, or The World Ends With You, or even the Dragon Quest games, all of which have been on my to-play list for quite some time. Moreover, while my feelings on copyright violation are mixed, there's no way to justify doing it out of pure spite, with products I can easily pick up off a Gamestop shelf or borrow from a friend. That's exactly the kind of behavior that engenders these problems in the first place.

So, what’s the lesson here for fangame makers? If you’re working on a Square-Enix hack, do yourself and everyone else a favor: clam up. Take down your website. Post no videos. Keep the project as insular as you possibly can until it’s complete. Give those jerks no rope to hang you with. In keeping with that spirit, I’m not going to post any information- or even acknowledge the existence- of any Square-Enix mods on this column or any other public forum until their final release is already slathered across the internet.

I can’t blame the Chrono Compendium team for their actions, they’re facing a $150,000 fine for all of their hard work. With nowhere near that kind of money to burn on what's effectively a hobby, they had to shut down, and there’s not a single person outside the project who can take them to task for doing just that. For what they accomplished, they did a terrific job, and here’s hoping they can all put their efforts toward a new, less lawsuit-prone project. You, sirs, are the noblest of all of us who yearn for one more trip to the end of time.
Thank you.

With that having been said, let’s have a look at a few projects that Square-Enix hasn’t found a way to shut down yet.


Super Mario 64: The Missing Stars



Just released to the public this week, this is the very first top-to-bottom mod of Super Mario 64. Featuring 38 stars dotted around an entirely new open-world setting, The Missing Stars is a fully-realized challenge, and a wicked one at that.

Like the Lost Levels, the level design in The Missing Stars is designed to be fiendish, with platforms placed tantalizingly out of reach, and goals that require just that extra bit of effort and precision to pull off. You'll be giving every one of Mario's (and Luigi's!) acrobatic tricks a workout in this game.

However, as also with the Lost Levels, the layout lacks a certain charm. The landscape is haphazard and utilitarian, designed to provide a challenge rather than immerse you in its world. In short, it feels more like an obstacle course than a playground.

But, this is admittedly an unfair criticism- Mario 64's level design is tremendous, and that The Missing Stars even invokes it is success enough. The use of classic music from the Mario games (and even a few imports from Zelda, Kirby and Star Fox) bring an added charm to the gameplay. Nintendo could wrap this package up, call it “Mario 64: The Lost Levels”, and roll in the cash.

Have a look at the gameplay- if you think you're up to a new 3D Mario challenge, you can find the ROM patch right here.

[embed]132236:19336[/embed]


Breath of Fire 2 Re-Translation



Speaking of RPGs done wrong, take Breath of Fire 2. One of the more underrated RPGs of the 16-bit era, BoF2 is also one of the most notoriously garbled games in history, with a translation that likely had Ted Woolsley saying “Come on, I'm RIGHT HERE!!”
While working on a German translation, modder Ryusui decided that, while the code was open, it'd be a service to rewrite the English script as well.

The difference? Well, just have a look for yourself. Here's a comparison from the very, very beginning of the game.











The original text is bland, lifeless, and cramped- and doesn't get any better through the course of the game. In rewriting the script, Ryusui removed the biggest obstacle preventing BoF2 from joining the pantheon of great SNES RPGs, and allows it to shine as it was originally intended. I last played Breath of Fire 2 in '96, and while I enjoyed the gameplay, the storyline was simply too garbled and incoherent for me to progress more than halfway. I'm sincerely looking forward now to reliving this story the way it was meant to be told.

Want the retranslation patch for yourself? It's a tricky workaround, but you can get all the files and information you'll need right here.


Mushroom Kingdom Fusion Update

Demo version 0.3 hit the interwebs last month, and it's a doozy: fifteen playable levels, and seven new characters: joining Mario, Luigi, Sonic, Tails, and Arthur on the roster are Wario, Roll, Link, Classic (8-bit) Mario, and Vile (from Mega Man X), as well as work-in-progress versions of Simon Belmont and Ryu Hayabusa. Point your browser over here to download the standalone package, and check out this latest batch of wicked gameplay videos.

Mario vs. Contra
[embed]132236:19337[/embed]

Roll vs. Contra
[embed]132236:19338[/embed]

Wario vs. Doom
[embed]132236:19341[/embed]

Ryu Hayabusa kills Goombas
[embed]132236:19339[/embed]

That's it for this month's Fan Game Watchlist. Tune in this June, when I have a look at a turn-based strategy game that never hit American shores, a couple of ongoing Metroid projects, a few of the better Mario fangames, and as we can always hope, no legal proceedings to speak of. I leave you now with the current list of quality completed fangames and mods, one that will surely be growing in the months to come.

Mother 3 fan translation (patch)
Final Fantasy Tactics 1.3 (patch)
Super Mario 64: The Missing Stars (patch)
Breath of Fire 2 re-translation (patch)   read


7:11 AM on 04.15.2009

Does Facebook make you dumber? Not as much as the news.

Media outlets are pounding away at a recent study linking Facebook use to low grades. Let's have a look.

Time: "Forget the widely unloved redesign. Facebook has committed a greater offense."

CBS 4, Miami: "Study Finds Facebook Usage May Yield Lower Grades"

CBS' Today Show:
[embed]128745:18747[/embed]

Maybe students who use Facebook take harder courses. Maybe Facebook users take more intramural activities than non-users. All alternative explanations completely ignored by the mainstream- but not by the study's original author, who says her own work is "exploratory and inconclusive and should be further researched".

The articles here- and others like them- sometimes point out those comments, or trot out an "expert" to put up a token defense, but any sense of impartiality is undermined by the headlines and lead paragraphs. The message that gets across: "Facebook is bad for you."

I point out this senseless media fluff only to highlight a point I think needs to be made.

I've spent my entire life to this point studying and consuming mainstream media- television, radio, magazines and newspapers. The common thread is that direct, simple explanations sell better than anything else. Make obvious connections. Wrap up complex details into easily-digestible statements. Provide simple explanations for the way the world works and ask your audience to make sweeping generalizations. Whatever the media distorts- and it's a lot- isn't done in the name of promoting a political, social, or corporate agenda. It's all for the sake of entertainment, of creating a world where things somehow make sense, to keep you tuned in and thinking the people who produce your news have any idea what they're actually talking about. Facebook makes you dumber. Lawyers are irredeemable scumbags. Fat people should just put down the Big Mac and get to the gym.

I'm not telling the majority of the Destructoid community anything new. Most people who find their way to this community already see through these kinds of stories better than I do, and Destructoid posts plenty of articles about the media dumbness that ensues every time some study or another remotely links video games to violence or antisocial behavior or OMG TEH TRENCHCOAT MAFIA. But there's someone on this webpage right now who really does need to hear this.

Never believe a news story based on a lone study. Studies are, by nature and purpose, singular data points, not conclusive pieces of evidence, and are only relevant in the long, patient process of peer review. Simplicity and timeliness are the lifeblood of modern media. The people we trust to bring us the world do so entirely in Cliff's Notes.

(This lesson is a good one to keep in mind when all the "Columbine: 10 years later" stories hit the airwaves. Stay tuned.)   read


9:35 AM on 04.09.2009

Fan Game Watchlist for 4.9.2009: Card Sagas Wars is still epic

- Remember Card Sagas Wars, the ultimate crossover fighting game Dtoid first broke last year? After nine months, the site has finally updated again in March, with a few more videos for our Pavlovian salivation.

Fifth epic trailer
[embed]128102:18634[/embed]

Crono vs. Etna
[embed]128102:18636[/embed]

Cloud vs. Soma
[embed]128102:18635[/embed]

There’s no timetable for release, and the creators are just now working on their second set of characters, including Link and Mega Man X, so don’t expect anything playable for a while yet. Still, there’s enough classic awesomeness here to make it worth the wait.



- The KOTOR 2 Sith Lords restoration project trudges on to its latest beta, 1.0b11, inching ever closer to its tantalizing final release. Check out the game’s final trailer, full of both awesomeness and disappointment:

[embed]128102:18637[/embed]

The real release date? When it’s done.



- Metroid SR:388, the fan project we all hope will fill the 2D-Metroid-shaped hole in our lives, still has no demo, but at least there's an updated trailer. Dig this:

[embed]128102:18638[/embed]



- There’s absolutely no shortage of the ambitious mega-project Mushroom Kingdom Fusion floating around online, but now you can find them all in one place: the developers have opened a unified YouTube channel. Here are a few recent highlights:

Vile wrecks Las Vegas
[embed]128102:18639[/embed]

Wario in the War Zone
[embed]128102:18640[/embed]

8-Bit Mario in the dried-up ruins of the original World 2
[embed]128102:18641[/embed]

The most recent beta, released back in November, is now online, find it here.



- In case you haven’t played them yet, check out these completed mods:

Mother 3 Fan Translation: Total Americanization of the modern Nintendo classic. (Patch)
Final Fantasy Tactics 1.3: Rebalanced stats and AI modified to put the tactics back in FFT. A terrific challenge, definitely worth a download (Patch)



Fan Game Watchlst checks in every few weeks on projects of interest in the fangaming community. Know a game or mod you want added to the watchlist? Leave a comment or email [email protected]   read


6:44 AM on 04.08.2009

In the end, this is all we're asking for. (video)

[embed]127937:18611[/embed]

Really, is this too much to ask?   read


1:26 PM on 04.01.2009

Expanded universes: The Slam Masters Wrestling Association



SCORPION: Mike Haggar. I'm going to make this simple for you. I have a plan. I'm here to destroy you, and I've planned that destruction down to every last detail. Everybody has something inside them that can be manipulated. Even you, mighty mayor. I will take everything that's dear to you. I will humble you in front of the entire world. And then, as you're crippled on the mat, at your lowest point ever, I will rip out the darkest parts of your soul for everybody to see. I don't plan on being here long, Mike. My plan is just that good. So come back soon, Mike Haggar. Fight me, like you always have. Return and let the very divinity of Hell itself destroy you. There's only one way this will play out, Mike. My way. Whether you like it or not.
- SMWA Monday Night Massacre, 2/15/1999

The year was 1998. On the backs of Stone Cold Steve Austin and the nWo, professional wrestling was skyrocketing to a level of popularity even higher than the Hulkamania era. The WWF and WCW clashed for TV supremacy every week in the height of the Monday Night Wars, and ECW rose to national prominence with its new pay-per-views.

This surge in popularity naturally led to a new generation of kids scouring the internet for a place to argue about their new passion. They found a community waiting for them at rec.sport.pro-wrestling, and a number of dirt-sheet and commentary websites to fuel their passion. Such was the birth of the internet wrestling community of today.

And as with every community, it was filled with people who thought they could do it better.

Fantasy booking ran rampant. Even more prevalent were e-federations, were people would sign up as real or original characters, and win or lose matches based on the strength of their “roleplays”- written clips, speeches and promos. The stronger your creativity and writing skills, the better your wrestlers performed in general. I myself founded or participated in a dozen of these leagues during the late 90's. But, this isn't about that.

There were people still who wanted to apply their vision of a better wrestling ring to the whole of a business, not just one wrestler. For these people, there was the TNM wrestling simulator.

The brainchild of German programmer Oliver Copp, TNM was in a class by itself for fantasy wrestling, in a day well before the elaborate create-a-wrestler-his-finisher-his-entrance-and-his-everything-else standard in today's wrestling games. This DOS-based, all-text sim was our own Micro League Baseball, with fully customizeable wrestlers, movesets, weapons, matches, managers- anything one could possibly need to bring his own sports opera to life. But this isn't quite about that, either.

In this fertile ground of squared-circle creativity, a Canadian named Kirk McCullough created something awesome.

While other TNM feds used real wrestlers, or a mix of those and some bland original creations, Kirk made something that stood tall above the rest- and he did it with something long-forgotten by wrestling fans and video gamers alike.

Enter the Slam Masters Wrestling Association.



Kirk adapted the ten characters from the obscure Capcom wrestling/fighting hybrid game Saturday Night Slam Masters- including Final Fight star Mike Haggar- surrounded them with a nuanced cast of original creations, and turned them loose on one another. Other Capcom characters came along for the ride as well- Final Fight's Cody and Zangief from Street Fighter were also SMWA mainstays.

He made some twists, of course- replacing fictional locales such as Metro City and- ugh- “Slam City”- with places like New York City and Portland, Oregon, and giving some of them less embarrassing names (“Titanic Tim”, for example, became “Titan” Tim Redbury)

The result was magic.
In a time where most armchair McMahons would simply be content to post card results and the occasional promo, Kirk used his TNM logs to build full, descriptive recaps of every event, every match, every promo. With this, he took the cardboard cutouts of the original Slam Masters, and made them three-dimensional characters, all with their own goals, influences, personalities, and epic battles.

Did you know Biff Slamkovich and Gunloc were once best friends, until the latter came under the influence of a furious xenophobe named Chad Hillsman?

Did you know that Oni lost a bitter feud, and became a being of light to get back at the Japanese mystics who had bested him?

Did you know Alexander “The Grater” has been kicked out of every stable he's ever been a part of?

Did you know The Scorpion held an entire wrestling organization hostage just to get his revenge on Mike Haggar?

These were but a few of the myriad storyline threads woven through McCullough's wrestling world by the time it folded in 1999.

It sounds like fanfiction- and generally, all fantasy booking is- but McCullough did something much greater than your average Cloud/Sephiroth slash fest. He took characters with no definition and defined them. He took a background, and made it a world. It was the cream of the crop in the old TNM community, and everyone knew it. I'm happy to have been a part of it.

The very-web 1.0-website is still up after all these years, check it out at http://olympia.fortunecity.com/dempsey/393/smwa.htm.

For more information on the TNM wrestling simulator, visit http://www.tnm7.com

(Author's note: I know, I know. Punctuality fail.)   read


4:03 AM on 03.26.2009

BEST SHIRT(.woot) EVAR.



Available at shirt.woot.com for as long as it lasts. You buy! You buy now!

Actual content coming this weekend. Stay tuned!   read


4:13 PM on 03.12.2009

How 'bout it? Dtoid NARP Delaware Valley



In the interest of filling in the blank space between Dtoid New York and Dtoid Baltimore/DC on Destructoid's NARP World Domination Map, I'd like to propose a NARP group for the Delaware Valley- the tri-state area encompassing southeastern Pennsylvania, southern New Jersey, and all of Delaware. If you love cheesesteaks, Tastykakes, Ben Franklin and Harry Kalas, leave a comment and tell me what you think about building the NARP of Brotherly Love.   read


8:49 AM on 03.12.2009

Watchmen: One week later (here there be spoilers)

It’s been close to a week since I saw Watchmen. Now that all the fanboy squee has finally subsided, I can share a few possibly-reasonable thoughts about the film.

Naturally, there will be spoilers.

Quite a few of them, in fact.

Enough to ruin the movie for people who haven’t seen it yet.

Ruin it so much that someone might want to throw in a number of useless words and line breaks to make absolutely sure none of them surface above the break.



Hamburger.




There, that should do it.


- There’s one thing the film does better than the original comic books, and this is mostly due to Zack Snyder’s directing. When I read the comics, I learned a great deal about how twisted crimefighters can be- but I saw very, very little of them actually fighting crime. There were occasional references here and there, but there was little to suggest that most of these people were more remarkable than high-end cosplayers. Nite Owl and Silk Spectre got the worst of the melodrama- at no point do we see either of them being even capable of beating up thugs or taking down mobsters. In the few scenes we see them actually doing the hero thing- notably the fire rescue- their actions are noticeably downplayed.

It was refreshing, then, to see Zack Snyder work his action-as-porn magic to give this pair three separate scenes of awesome- rescuing kids from a building, ripping apart a street gang, and busting Rorschach out of prison, In these scenes, Nite Owl and Silk Spectre would look right at home next to the likes of Batman or Spider-Man, and remind us all that this is a story about superheroes, not just people with costumes and complexes.

- I initially didn’t like the music direction; I thought the licensed tunes used in the film sounded like someone threw darts at a pile of Billboard magazines. Looking back, however, I now see the wisdom of using such ubiquitous songs such as “The Times, They Are A-Changin” and “99 Luftballons”- Watchmen is about a world exactly like our own, the sole difference being the existence of superheroes- and the divergence between the two worlds is jarring enough that, without changing a note, Bob Dylan sounds like he’s singing a much different tune.

The one choice I liked from the beginning, however, was “All Along The Watchtower” blaring while Rorschach and Nite Owl are careening towards Ozymandias’ arctic hideout. The fiery guitar and the low, zooming cuts are ripped from every time-to-get-the-bad-guy sequence from every action movie ever made, and even though I knew exactly how their last-ditch effort would end, I still felt my heart race and my fingers grip the armrests. A Pavlovian impulse kicked in somewhere, and, for a few fleeing moments, I honestly forgot the futility I was heading towards. This scene plays the superhero genre completely by the numbers, and in doing so, becomes one of the most subversive pieces of the movie.

- Speaking of Ozy, his characterization was the only big problem I had with this adaptation. The original comic goes out of its way to show that, in his time, Adrian Veidt was a paragon of physical, mental, and spiritual prowess beyond even his fellow vigilantes, making the revelation of his ultimate plan all the more unexpected and devastating. Given that the very theme of Watchmen revolves around the noblest of heroes doing something horrifying for the good of mankind, it was disappointing that Veidt was the only main character not to get a piece of the movie’s gluttonous exposition.

It was a terrific cheap thrill, however, to watch him go tell the energy industrialists to go drill themselves.

- One of my co-workers saw the movie this Wednesday, and he brought up an interesting point- he figured that Watchmen would have been better off as a two-part movie, a la Kill Bill- with the split point being the arrest of Rorschach, and fade-outs of Dr. Manhattan on Mars and the world preparing for nuclear war to establish the setting before fading to black and rolling the credits.

There’s a number of reasons this wouldn’t quite work Kill Bill is sold entirely on its gripping, stylized fight scenes- it doesn’t take a lot of exposition to let the audience know what’s going on. Watchmen, on the other hand, is an obtuse, heady film, crammed with more plot and character than any five non-Batman superhero movies. It’s the cinematic equivalent of drinking a pint of Guinness with a molasses chaser. It takes enough mental effort to absorb its world once- doing it twice seems like an exercise in masochism.

Furthermore, Quentin Tarantino’s earned the public trust. Regardless of what you think of his style, you can walk in to any one of his films and know exactly what you’re getting- a trademark blend of brutality and class, like Frank Sinatra with a samurai sword. Zack Snyder, while notorious for 300, doesn’t have anywhere close to the same amount of cred, plus, he’s working with a property that had, until now, zero public awareness. Does that really sound like something most moviegoers would pay to see the first half of?

Then, of course, there’s the absolute futility of keeping the twist ending under wraps for the entire time. Watchmen’s plot hinges on its final act, knowing it before seeing it in action dulls the point of the entire story.

That being said, Watchmen is a mindbender, more so than most movies that reach mainstream theaters. Even knowing the graphic novel (if there’s any comic that ever deserved to be called this, it’s Watchmen) inside and out, I still had to work my brain to keep up with the myriad threads of backstory and exposition interlaced through the film- at close to three hours, it’s no easy task.

Thus, about halfway through the film, I began to think about how nice an intermission would be right about then.

With its ambitious attempt at world-building, Watchmen feels like a film for another time, when a movie came with a newsreel and a cartoon, and there was always time to interrupt the plot for a 15-minute Gene Kelly dancing sequence.

Zack Snyder took extensive care to maintain the depth, density, and intricacy of Alan Moore’s alternate 1985, and the result is like a hangover after a really good party- one of the best headaches you’ll ever have.

What do you think? Would you have appreciated a 15-minute breather after Rorschach gets hauled off, or Dr. Manhattan's talk-show ambush?   read


5:52 AM on 03.06.2009

Watchmen: Buy all our playsets and toys!

[embed]123914:17879[/embed]

Super awesome brownie points to Harry Partridge for raping our childhoods in a wonderful, wonderful way.   read


1:28 PM on 03.04.2009

Belated musings: A cast of thousands: Travis Touchdown


Oh, Travis, you sociopath otaku, why do we love you so much?

Is it your shiny lightsaber?

Is it your terrific fashion sense?

Is it your expansive knowledge of wrestling moves ?

Is it your ability to make it with saucy French hotness ?

Well, yes.

But, it's more than that. There's something else about you, Travis. There's a reason you've captured the hearts and imaginations of gamers everywhere.

You, Travis, are us.

You live in a small, messy hovel coated from wall-to-wall with anime figures and wrestling masks.

You habitually rent porn and pickup videos.

You're a 27-year-old single white male with no career aspirations to speak of, forced to take dead-end jobs and run errands to make ends meet.

You, sir, are the collective sum of everyone who's ever picked up a controller.

How could we not love you?

How could we not feel a visceral chill every time you throw your lightsaber way up in the air, powerbomb some jerk right into the ground, and have the blade land straight down in the middle of the sucker's chest?

How can we not celebrate every time you carve apart a stage magician, a wannabe superhero, or a Charles Bronson look-alike?

How can we not feel a wonderful little tingle every time you get a little closer to that flirty tease Sylvia?

It's because you are every one of us, Travis, the most perfect player surrogate since Super Mario.

Few of us will ever be badass engineers, or buxom archaeologists, or brooding vagabond warriors. There'll always be some disconnect between the likes of Link, Sub-Zero, and Niko Bellic, and the people who play them.

But you?

At the opening screen, we've already done everything you've managed to do in life, short of buy a lightsaber in an online auction and start cutting down faceless hordes. The entire useful portion of your life starts at the moment we pick up the Wiimote and get to work.

And as you hack and slash through a complex allegory of ththere e pains of a quarter-life crisis, trusting your force and heading toward the garden of madness, we're right with you along the way.

Of course we love you, Travis. We wanna kill our heroes, too.   read


7:55 AM on 02.13.2009

Experience get!

Wow, what a thing to wake up to. I just crawled off of my couch an hour ago, and logged onto Dtoid- and that weird new box in the corner says I rocketed all the way up to 2200something in the Destructoid rankings. How did that happen? I checked my profile, and found an influx of new comments on my most recent attempt at a Monthly Musing. Huh? I thought it was long gone from the c-blog front page. I click the blog link- and there's that green banner staring right back at me.

Promoted?

What the cock?

Am I still dreaming? No, Bender's not outside pushing my car anymore. It's real!

I'm flabbergasted. I'm honored, really. I've been wanting to get a front-page since I started putting more time into blogging, but I really didn't think I'd hit the homerun right away.

So, a sincere, pixel-laden thank you to the Destructoid editorial staff for bending their rules slightly to bring my loose collection of mental brain thoughts into the spotlight. I really can't say how overwhelmed I am.

A few notes:

- Magfest actually took place from January 1-4, 2009- I put the writing in the present tense for stylistic purposes.
- Like a game show, I edited out some parts not affecting the overall purpose of the article- such as the fact that the Xbox 360 froze (as it did all night) during the final riff of "N.I.B.", or that our original second song was "Toxicity" by System of a Down, only to find that it hadn't been downloaded to this particular console. All hardware at Magfest is loaned out from attendees.
- Batthink: Because of the above, I don't know exactly how we did on our first song, but I finished with 89% on Master Exploder medium.
- I still may have some details wrong. My mind gets really fuzzy, so I'm always open to corrections from people more aware of what actually happened than I am.
- I don't think I did enough justice to my bandmates. Without Jordan and the others, I wouldn't have had the chance to get on stage. Thanks guys, you absolutely rocked.

Again, thank you to the Destructoid editorial staff and community for giving me a slightly larger infinitesimally-small slice of cyberspace on which to speak my piece.   read


1:59 PM on 01.26.2009

Arbitrary 10: Game commercials

Not the top. Not the bottom. Just ten.

1. Mercenaries 2: "Oh No You Didn't"

[embed]119297:17215[/embed]

The game, with its mixed reception, hardly does this spot justice. The gleeful, cash-toned rampage makes a terrific sale by itself, but the star of the show is that song. "Oh No You Didn't" is the catchiest tune to hit the internet since "Chocolate Rain", fusing gangsta-rap lyrics with glee-club vocals and a cheery piano recital. But, unlike most message board memes, the advertising company that wrote the song is making real, non-theoretical dollars from their hard work- the song has becoming a PA staple at NFL stadiums across the league. Way to go, Wojahn Bros.: You're the new Gary Glitter.

2. 989 Studios: "I Hate Mall Santas"

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Angry clowns shaking down Santa Claus. How can you lose? 989 Studios made a mess of Twisted Metal, but this campaign was a winner, with Sweet Tooth and his band of midget mischief-makers kidnapping elves and blowing things up. It's a shame more weren't made, nor that 989 couldn't make better games- there may be no person more emblematic of what we love about video games than a psychopathically violent clown. Sweet Tooth: so much wasted potential.

3. Nintendo: "Wii Would Like To Play"

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We gasped, we spit, we twisted ourselves into balloon animal shapes when, in May 2006, Nintendo revealed its simple, three-letter vision to the world: "Wii." Sony and Microsoft fanboys held pep rallies and mock funerals across the internet as Nintendo committed its grand comeback for a word used by potty-training two-year-olds. We prayed it was a joke, and that we'd see a restored, bad-assified "Revolution" at E3, but Reggie and the rest would only show us just how serious they were about their new vision of the video game business. We all know the rest of the story from there: the Wii took the gaming world by storm, smashed sales records, and introduced the joys of headshots, Goomba-stomping, and virtual sports to millions and millions of brand-new customers.

4. Sega: "Genesis Does What Nintendon't"

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In 1990, Nintendo towered over the revived video game industry, having a ridden a robot and a plumber to worldwide prominence. The Big N was as hot as Michael Jackson at the turn of the 90's, and it ate competitors like the Atari 7800 and the Sega Master System for breakfast. Atari would fade from the console game without much of a fuss- but Sega had other plans.

From out of nowhere, Sega threw down the gauntlet. With a library of good-looking arcade ports, sports games, and celebrity-driven franchises, the Genesis took the fight right to Nintendo's doorstep, and kicked off the first true console war. Sega's sales didn't take off right away- it took a certain blue hedgehog to do that- but Genesis never let up, hammering the message home time after time, so by the time the Super NES arrived in late 1991, it found waiting a worthy competitor with legions of fans.

Playgrounds and elementary schools across the nation were thick with heated arguments between the black box and the grey box, and while Nintendo ultimately won the day, Sega left it with a grevious wound- the dreaded "kiddie" label that led to its downfall in the next console war.

5. Tekken 4: "Prepare to Die, Egg"

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If you're reading this website, you've done something like this, no question. A good game commercial really just needs to remind us why we play games in the first place, and this little slice of Enter My Breakfast is no exception.

6. Gamespot: "The Magic Is Gone"

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I'll leave criticism of Gamestop- and it's certainly deserved- to someone more qualified and entertaining than myself. (Oops! I can't! By some freak accident, WhistleBlowerZero's Youtube account is suspended. Very unsuspicious!) This rare, heartwarming moment between a player and his game gets its bittersweet message across plainly and charmingly- taking your games back doesn't mean you're a bad player, or it's a bad game- it's just time to move on. If only all breakups could be this understanding.

7. Link's Awakening: "Zelda Rap 2"

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They tried it once, to unintentionally hilarious results- so when it came time to bring Link to the small screen, Nintendo saw fit to drop another set of fresh beats. Actual cinematography and an actual black guy help things, but we still get lines like this:

"Down with Zelda from the very start!
I got the the heart and smarts to play the part!
D-d-down with Zelda!
Peepin' through with an overhead view cause a man's gotta do what a man's gotta do so
I stay on track. Collect the facts. Never cut slack cause I always watch my back for Jacks... "

Truly, the early 90's were a dark and mysterious time.

8. Mortal Kombat: "Mortal Kombat!!"

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Before Madden, before Halo, before GTA or anything else, there was one day video gamers everywhere circled on their calendars.

September 13, 1993. Mortal Monday.

Mortal Kombat had already broken ground once, bringing the joys of decapitation, electrocution, and amateur heart transplants to the arcade floor. It directly challenged the wisdom that rated-R violence had no place in video games- and we were all hooked. Kombat went quarter-to-quarter with the technically superior Street Fighter 2 with its bonecrushing hits and sadistically satisfying finishing moves, all to the abject horror of parents, teachers, and politicians nationwide.

And now, it was coming to your living room.

What did Midway really need to sell? All they had to do was make the call. Thus, that's all they did, in the best 15 seconds of any fifth-grader's life.

Hype over a home video game release was still a new concept in this day and age- most of the classics of the 8-bit era were discovered by gamers themselves, through trial and error and word of mouth. Midway, instead, saw fit to end the guessing, and launched a marketing blitz that would culminate in one wondrous day- Mortal Monday, 1993. Of course, the violence we got was neutered- gone entirely on the SNES, locked away on the Genesis ("ABACABB" was second only to the Konami code in playground prestige). But, every midnight opening and viral campaign today owes a little something to the day the violence came home.

9. Super Mario Bros. 3: "Global Mario"

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Perhaps only this image can do justice to just how big Mario was in 1991. Just... just look at it. It's a thing of unimaginable beauty. There's nothing more that can be said. It's Mario's planet, we're just living in it.

10. Super Mario Land 2: "Obey Wario"

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This one's a personal favorite. Unlike a certian giant turtle, this brand-new Mario villain had no problems getting all up in your craw. Character debuts don't come any stronger than this. This twisted, slimy version of our favorite plumber was trying to get us to turn our backs on ol' Red, and by golly, we weren't gonna stand for it. Wario was a relatively lifeless sprite in the actual game, but on the strength of this performance, we knew exactly the kind of scummy ne'er-do-well we were stomping into the ground- and damn, did it ever feel good. It's safe to say that without this psychotic grimace tattooed in gamers' minds, Wario would join Wart and Tatanga in the dust bin of also-ran Mario villains, rather than the star of two game series and a regular guest in sports games.

Just... just look at his face in the end. Have you ever seen anything so punchable?   read


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