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Jared Ari's blog

5:32 PM on 07.08.2015

I just played Banjo-Kazooie for the first time, and I loved it.

The Nintendo 64 was the first console I ever owned all to myself. It provided countless hours of entertainment. From Ocarina of Time to Mario 64 to Pokemon Snap, the console was the gift that kept on giving. And I didn't even enjoy everything it had to offer.

As some of you already know, Donkey Kong 64 is one of my most beloved treasures. At the time, I had no idea that there were other games just like it. About a week ago, I played through Banjo-Kazooie for the first time. And I loved it. Everything about DK64 that I remember so fondly is intact in Rare's 1998 title. Goofy characters, vibrant colors, a strong soundtrack, wacky level design. How did I miss out on this game the first time around?

Without spoiling anything for others like myself, I'll just say that the story is simple. Banjo's sister Tooty has been kidnapped by a repulsive witch named Gruntilda, and the ultimate goal is to save Tooty and stop Grunty's menacing poetry once and for all. Along the way, you meet a cast of cooky animal characters, and the voodoo witch-doctor Mumbo Jumbo even lets you play as different animals, yourself. As a baby alligator, a walrus, or even a pumpkin, you can hop around to your heart's content in the lively worlds found throughout Gruntilda's lair. If you'd ever told me that I would have flushed my petite round pumpkin body down a ghost toilet to obtain a golden jigsaw piece, I would probably have asked you what the hell you'd been smoking, and "Where can I get some?"

That's the kind of thing that happens in Banjo-Kazooie. Completely off-the-wall, crazy stuff. Yet it all somehow makes sense, and the challenge of solving the next puzzle is so compelling that I kept saying "One more, then bed." Thirty minutes later I was bargaining for more time, as the game just never ceases to deliver. The only times that I got truly stumped were related to using Kazooie's eggs for... err.. unorthodox means. Honestly, who thinks to plant an egg in the ground to sprout a giant flower? That's not the way biology works! But I digress.

Despite it's charming nature, the game is actually rather difficult at times. During my time with it, I learned to be more careful with my jumps and more conservative with my choices. It can be quite punishing if you screw up. And you know what? That's okay. It was refreshing to play a game that could kick my ass every once in a while. To the point where, I will admit, I did use my emulator's save state feature to get through some of the tougher portions. Don't judge me. I'm an old man now. I don't have hours upon hours to spend on this stuff like I used to.

You'd think that Yooka-Laylee would have sparked my interest to play this game, but it was Donkey Kong 64, which I also replayed through recently on the Wii U Virtual Console. Regardless of reason, though, I'm so glad I did. This is one of the best games I've played in years.

Now excuse me, I'm on to play some Banjo-Tooie.


8:49 PM on 06.18.2015

Metroid Prime: FF is missing an important character, and I won't stand for it.

Nintendo recently announced Metroid Prime: Federation Force, and everyone is up in arms about it. As well they should be, because the most important female character in all of gaming has been denied the privilege of being in the game. I'm talking about a strong female role model. She is that which all women should aspire to be. I am, of course, talking about Tiny Kong.

Tiny has long been a staple of the gaming universe. As the main protagonist in the horribly mis-named hit title Donkey Kong 64, Tiny is a total badass. (Many people mistakenly think that Chunky Kong was the main character in DK64, but they are wrong because of well-researched facts.) The younger sister of Dixie Kong, Tiny is automatically superior, because younger siblings are just fucking better in videogames, okay? Just look at Luigi. He had a whole year named after him. Did Mario have a year? I don't think so. Tiny Kong deserves to be the main character in Metroid Prime: Federation Force more than anyone. Does Samus Aran have any older siblings? No, because Ridley killed her entire family. Tiny, however, has a huge family of friendly folk, just waiting to follow her into a dangerous mission.

As you can see in the image above (no not that one, scroll up some more) Tiny sports a badass crossbow. This is not just any badass crossbow, however. It shoots feathers. Feathers of doom. Or something. With that kind of precision weapon, she would be a perfect addition to the Blast Ball roster. In fact, no other team could ever possibly win against her. And you best hope she doesn't get her hands on homing ammunition, because then there will be nowhere to hide. Tiny will fire feather after feather of pure heat-seeking destruction right toward your stupid face. You think you are safe, but you will never be safe, because Tiny is coming for you.

Samus has the Screw Attack, but Tiny can float through the air with her pigtails. Every time Samus goes on a mission, she somehow loses all of her abilities and has to regain them, but Tiny's abilities are innate. Built in. They are a part of her. Speaking of Tiny's abilities, I haven't even gotten to the best one, yet. She can shrink down to the size of a cute lil' amiibo. God damn it, Nintendo! Why isn't there a Tiny Kong amiibo yet? You're making an Arwing amiibo, but not Tiny. An Arwing? A stupid vehicle from a terrible game series that nobody cares about because it doesn't have adorable little monkey girls with pigtails. For fuck sake.

This Kong's got style, so listen up dudes
She can shrink in size, to suit her mood
She's quick and nimble when she needs to be
She can float through the air and climb up trees
If you choose her, you'll not choose wrong
With a skip and a hop, she's one cool Kong

I rest my case. If Nintendo is dead-set on releasing a crappy Metroid game without Tiny Kong, then this game needs to be erased from existence. Federation Force? More like Federation Farce.


7:59 PM on 01.16.2015

Call of Duty 12 Teased, Babies Everywhere Rejoice!

In a shocking new revelation, Activision has revealed that the next iteration of the highly popular Call of Duty series will arrive sometime in 2015. The new title, tentatively referred to as Call of Duty: Advancederer Warfaring, will be the twelfth major installment in the critically acclaimed franchise. In a feat of extremely profeshunal garmes jurnalism, I reached out to some Call of Duty experts for comment on the subject.

Clyde Dunghop (age 4) of the Little Red Schoolhouse in Sugartit, Kentucky alleges that Advancederer Warfaring will be the "most amazing Call of Duty ever," citing new features like "next gen fizzix," and "hache-dee visuals."

The prototypical Call of Duty player

Seventh grader Elisa Williams of Cooper Middle School reminisced about how she and her friends have been playing shooters like Call of Duty "practically since we were conceived way back in the olden days of 2002." Williams shared that there is a direct correlation* between the number of DLC packages and her overall happiness. We will see if the new game can live up to the legacy left by its predecessors.

I asked our supreme (ex-robot) overlord Jim Sterling about the game, and he summed it up as "the most spectacular load of chungus-ey goodness in all of gaming."

Face it, you don't know which CoD this is from.

All of this speculation is supported by one ancient Mayan prophecy, which roughly translates to "The twelfth Call of Duty will be the best Call of Duty for ever and ever until the end oftime. Until the thirteenth Call of Duty." Translations are tricky, though, so take this with a grain of salt. Other respected linguists have a competing theory that the prophecy reads something about penguins and a Strawberry Toaster Strudel. But who can tell?

The game is slated for November 5th of next year, but don't hold your breath. In previous years it has arrived as late as November 15th. We'll share more details as they are made available so you can prepare your work schedule and personal relationships around the arrival of this messiah of games.

Correlation is a word that Elisa had just learned earlier that day in math class, and she is very proud to have now used it in conversation. 


11:41 AM on 10.29.2009

Modtoid: Black Mesa website revamped, looks sexy

Black Mesa (formerly known as Black Mesa Source) is a mod for the Source engine. It's a remake of the original Half-Life. And, well, at this point we really should refer to it as a game instead of a mod, since it uses all-new textures and models developed solely by the mod team. As I understand it, there is close to nothing in terms of art remaining from Half-Life 2. The project was started in 2004, and I've been waiting since 2004 for it to be released.

Just today (I know this because I check it everyday), the website for this mod has undergone a huge overhaul (which is really just a new home page design). It's sexier now. Not much in the name of new content, and it still hasn't been released, but the website is definitely giving yours truly a mountain in his pants.

Now, the devs have promised that this brilliant mod will be unveiled to the public at some date in 2009. This is better than the original proclamation that it would be released "when it's done" or "when Hell freezes over." So now we find ourselves dealing with the tragedy of only having awesome wallpaper photos to keep us busy. But there's a mere two months left in the year, so expect for an update as soon as I get my hands on it. Oh, and this thing's gonna be free. Did I mention that it's gonna be free? It will be. Free.   read

12:59 PM on 10.08.2009

Games Under the Radar: Natural Selection

Natural Selection was one of those cult games that never really got the publicity it deserved. Probably because it's merely a glorified free mod for the popular PC game, Half-Life. Since the Dtoid team doesn't give this series much notice, I thought I would do it for them. Albeit, I will give credit where credit is due.

Pitting Marines vs Aliens (or Frontiersmen vs Kharra), NS was able to successfully combine elements of a first person shooter (FPS) and a real time strategy game (RTS). So imagine playing a futuristic Age of Empires where you directly control just one of the ground units and take vague directions from your commander (if you're a Frontiersmen) or run around aimlessly on the walls and ceiling as a Skulk until you find a juicy marine to eat. Or, you always have the ability to evolve into a bigger alien entity. Perhaps the unstoppable Onos, by chance?

Being a Half-Life mod, NS naturally drew in a select group of PC gamers, and to be honest, playing online nowadays is a fairly difficult task for newcomers. "What's an Armory look look? Oh, you want me to BUILD that? What button do I press? OMFG THE SKULKS THEY CAME AND WE DIED!" But generally, people are understanding and will show you the ropes. We were all n00bs once, and most players remember how daunting it can be entering a server for the first time and having less than nothing of an idea of what's going on.

While there are still plenty of thriving servers, most of us NS players are patiently awaiting the release of Unknown World's newest project, Natural Selection 2. The sequel has been crafted from the ground up, with it's own custom engine, real time lighting, and dynamic infestation technologies. You can pre-order this beast for a mere $19.95, or show your appreciation and get the Special Edition for $39.95. Oh, and don't forget to watch the trailer I've posted below.

oh noes! It's teh onos!   read

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