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River City Retro
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Kirby's Dream Land 2

Kirby's Dream Land

What Final Fantasy used to sound like

NES conquers the world in 25 years

River City Ransom

Guilty Gear's Metal Meltdown

Time Slaughter

Alien Wars 4: How to make a proper X-COM Sequel

Alien Wars 3: How the X-COM series fell from grace

Alien Wars 2: From the depths they came

Alien Wars 1: UFO Done Properly

UFO: Enemy Unknown

Ten Games that love other games

Final Fantasy 6

Tom & Jerry

Sin... just sin

Blood... just blood

Eight Games Lost in Translation

A Gamer's Diet
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Apple Pie (It's my birthday)

Ratatouille

Spaghetti Bolognaise

Monthly Musing
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Aaamaazing: Mortal Kombat

Groundhog Day: BlazBlue

E for Effort: Becoming a World Warrior + Interview with a tournament player

Something about sex: Ten gaming couples that either should or should not do it

My Expertise: A Moustached Hero

The Future: Professional gaming

River City Ramblings
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The Starcraft 2 beta and what it means to me

New Super Mario Brothers Wii: My first impressions

Biography
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Who am I you ask? Well I guess my story starts some time around the early eighties. As my apartment had strangely gotten a lot smaller over the last months, I thought it would be a good idea to redecorate it. I was leaning back in my sofa, going through the new Ikea catalog when I was suddenly hit by a massive earthquake. As much as I tried to hold my ground, I was propelled head first into that strange tunnel at my front door. I had been wondering where that leads but never had the courage to check it out.

After a long and bumpy ride, I finally stuck my head out the other end and saw daylight. Before I had a chance to adjust to my new environment, a big man wearing some kind of a lab coat and face mask grabbed hold of me. He was a despicable man really. Not only did he cut my food supply line, he also held me upside down in the air and slapped me right on the butt! What did I ever do to him?! Just when I was about to stick it to him, my attention was averted to this tired looking lady lying on a bed nearby.

It was very strange. Do you know that feeling when you meet somebody for the first time, yet you feel like you have known each other all along? I had this feeling when I saw her. That's when it occurred to me. This woman must be my landlady and I had been neglecting my rent for a few months after all. I could understand that she was upset but still... She had no right to turn me over to that sadistic bull in his white coat! I thought that me and her were going to have a long and personal conversation but right now, I just wanted to take a shower. That tunnel I had just been through wasn't all that clean after all.

Fortunately this other lady dressed in white was a lot nicer than her butt-slapping friend. She most kindly helped me clean myself and then handed me some warm, although not very fashionable garments. She carried me over to my landlady and I prepared to negotiate the rent but instead, my landlady threw me a warm smile and pressed me against her breast so lovingly that I melted like snow to the sun. She and her equally loving husband took me to their home where they had a room prepared with a bed in exactly my size and all kinds of lovely little things to play with. It's like they had been planning to take me in all along.

I didn't quite understand the strange language both of them spoke but yet I figured out that her name was Mom and crying meant "Food please", "Hug me" and "Clean me" all at the same time. The temperature wasn't as constant as my previous home but still, this was some service! Anyway, I would wander around this place for the time being while gradually learning to speak their language. It would take seven years before I really found out what my purpose here was.

One fine morning, Mom brought me to a supermarket and I saw a little mustached guy jumping around on a TV. That was my first encounter with the Nintendo Entertainment System! This thing blew my mind in so many ways! I had heard of princesses being kidnapped by dragons before but where's the prince to save her? No, there is no prince! This time it's a fat Italian plumber with a mustache who gets to be the hero! Yeah, that's what I'm talking about! Power to the common man! Not only that but rather than simply hear his tale, I could actually help him in his quest. Though Mom seemed quite unimpressed, I knew I had witnessed a miracle and it would leave a mark on my life for years to come.

I'd often get into fights with Mom after that. She wanted me to go outside and play with my friends but what did she know? After all, all of my friends were living in similar warm nests, receiving the same service from two other persons who were somehow all named Mom and Dad. No, my purpose in life was bigger than that. As much fun as playing with my friends was, If I did that then who would save princess Peach, liberate the kingdom of Hyrule and smite the evil king Dedede? I just couldn't ignore the sorrow of the weak!

It wasn't until another seven years or so that I would see what a fool I had been. Up until now, I had been carrying the weight of the world on my own shoulders while completely ignoring the help others could have offered. I was determined to never close my eyes to the value of friendship again! Especially in these dark times. I was barely finished helping Dr. Freeman escape the resonance cascade alive when bands of terrorists attacked and dragged his scientist colleagues off to cs_assault. This was too much for just me to handle. This time I needed help!

Anyone who doesn't believe in the kindness of strangers is a moron. I mean sure, strangers aren't always nice. I've been told that I SuX0rz and have been called a n00b a million times but even then, it's worth it. As it so happens, it were these very strangers that padded me on the back and reassuringly shouted "Lock and Load!" before we stormed the big garage and got every single scientist out while making a fair buck in the process. Unfortunately our happiness was short lived as a new batch of terrorists arrived and we were right back where we started. Rather than sigh over the shortness of our victory, we bought ourselves a new pack of heavy guns and rushed in once more. No matter how many times the terrorists came back, we'd bring them to justice!

Time went on and the terrorists got more and more violent. Now they didn't only take hostages any more but also planted bombs and tried to assassinate seemingly random VIPs. Our combined efforts were no longer enough. We needed more coordination. We needed a plan! We had to Look at the map and devise a clever strategy. As much as I tried this, people were joining and leaving our counter-terrorist squad with every tick of the clock. Some of them even switched sides to join the terrorists. I engaged in conversation with several of the better fighters. We decided to join together regularly and learn how to fight as one. You could even go as far as to call us a counter-strike clan! For years we battled the forces of evil and shed much blood until I finally left the front as I heard of another land in need.

So many years ago I had liberated the town of Tristram from Diablo, the lord of terror. The hero I helped out at the time had drilled the dark lord's soul stone right into his own forehead. What an idiot! Needless to say, Diablo soon overpowered this weak excuse for a savior and continued to live on, inhabiting the former hero's body. "Man", I thought. "I've gone through all of this before, I'm not doing it again or at least... Not alone!" Fortunately my plea for help didn't leave me waiting as several friends showed up and we entered a new clan to smite that demon once and for all! After taking care of business in the chaos sanctuary, laying waste to Baal, the lord of destruction and even single handedly obliterating several acres of murderous cows, it was time to put my swords and bows to rest once more.

Since that time, my clan based activity has settled down and I remain to fight on the side of good with smaller bands of friends while every now and then fondly remembering those good old days. Most of all, I tend to leave the real action up to others as I watch from the sidelines. Especially a Korean man named Jaedong shows particular excellence in leading the Zerg to victory against the evil Protoss at general Bisu's command and admiral Flash' corrupted Terran whom I wish all to be infested for greater good.

I thank you for taking the time to read about my life. Perhaps our paths may once cross in the endless online battlefields and until then, luck be with you.
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Metallion
8:10 AM on 02.02.2011



First of all, let me say that I am particularly happy with this month's musing topic. I'm not the kind of guy that writes blogs to bitch and moan. I write about games because I absolutely love games. In fact, taking a single game or franchise and conveying my love for them is exactly what my River City Retro series is all about. Since this is a musing and not an RCR issue though, I am going to take this opportunity to talk about a current gen game for a change. That game is BlazBlue Continuum Shift.

I'm a natural born fighting game fan. Seriously, I was a hardcore fan before I had ever even played a fighting game. As soon as I saw Street Fighter II for the first time in a magazine, I knew that this was THE game for me. I didn't have a SNES yet and my mom would never let play on arcade machines but that didn't stop me. I'd watch other people play SFII for hours and then throw makeshift hadoukens at my friends in the schoolyard.

When I finally did get my SNES, the system was already pretty old and I had enough money for seven games. Among them were Street Fighter II Turbo, Mortal Kombat II, Primal Rage and Killer Instinct. Up until the PS2 generation, it was pretty much the same story. Tekken Tag Tournament was the system seller for me and my final collection consists of 80% fighting games.

The current generation's a different story. BlazBlue is the only fighting game I own and I think it's going to be like this for a long time. Does that mean I'm unimpressed with Super Street Fighter IV and the rest of the PS3's fighting catalogue? No, absolutely not. SSFIV is a piece of art and so are several other titles. How come I'm just playing BlazBlue and nothing else then?

The answer is competition. I just don't have any friends that are as much into fighting games as I am. Sure, some people I know like to play them but I'd always beat them down with both hands behind my back. Same goes for the CPU. It's fun for a while but then you just start owning the final boss at maximum difficulty. I used to get enough of my games over time and needed new ones for an extra challenge. The difference that BlazBlue offers me is online multiplayer.



When you've got a good game on your hands, multiplayer just doesn't get old. Just look at chess for instance. That game has existed for centuries and people are still passionately playing it. Playing with other people and watching other people play just keeps a game fresh. People keep coming up with new strategies and there will always be somebody better than you. Up until now, I have only been playing one single character in BlazBlue and I still feel like that character has plenty of secrets left for me to uncover. As long as there are still people playing BlazBlue online, I will be playing BlazBlue online.

I know what you're thinking now. Plenty of current gen fighting games have online play so why BlazBlue? There are a few reasons. For starters the art style drew me to it. It just makes me smile to see those 2D sprites. You know how that moment when the camera zooms out and passes the characters before a fight starts? That's a thing of beauty! And that's not all. There's that general style too. So colourful but yet so dark and gritty at the same time.

Even the Engrish announcer kind of draws me to the game. It's an example of how little things can give quite a different feel to a game. I smile every time I hear "Rebel One" emanating from my speakers. It's like wrestling promotion TNA using a six sides ring until recently. The same wrestling is taking place inside it, but the gimmick just gives off a slightly different feeling.

My third and final point are the characters themselves. They all feel so different and unique. I can't really think of any character whose play style can immediately be applied to another. This provides for very interesting matchups and lots of stuff for me to learn. As much as I love BlazBlue though, I have to admit that it isn't perfect either. Calamity Trigger was an balance nightmare and Continuum Shift still has some way too obvious tiers. Up until now Continuum Shift II looks like it's doing better but it's still too early to judge it. I hope they will eventually get it right but even if they don't, I'm gonna be playing this game for quite some time more.

This has been Metallion and I adore BlazBlue.

Bonus: If you're interested, you can check out an interview I conducted with a pro BlazBlue player about a year ago.



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