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Mighty Pinto's blog

4:34 PM on 03.02.2009

8 Things You Didn't Want to Know about Mighty Pinto (but he's gonna tell you anyway)...

Alright, well I'm suffering from a massive cold, and I don't have enough creative juices flowing through my head to warrant a work of amazing quality. So, I figured I'd just jump on the bandwagon and do one of those "X-Number of things you wanted to know" blogs...just because I can. Anyways, without further ado, let's get this over with so I can take some Ny-Quil and lie the hell down.

#1: I was banned from playing Double Dragon as a kid.

Double Dragon was one of my first true gaming obsessions; yes, even before Contra (which I'll get to in a bit). It was a far cry from what I'd played at the time; having been weaned off of Sesame Street games on my parents' old Atari 2600. I thought the NES was all about jumping on turtles and eating Mushrooms, but Double Dragon opened my eyes...and I would always ask my folks to rent the game for me every weekend so I could try and beat it. However; as I learned each new move, such as the Jump Kick or the Elbow Punch, I just HAD to try it out myself. I'd spend hours doing fake martial arts moves in my downstairs living room, until one fateful day when I'd accidentally roundhouse'd a marble vase which sat on the coffee table, shattering it into about a dozen pieces. That was the last time I saw a copy of Double Dragon for about five years. My folks enforced the ban as a reminder not to be stupid enough to mimic what I see on TV, video game or otherwise. Thankfully, they finally caved in and got me the Gameboy version when they saw that I'd smartened up.

#2. I can beat Contra in one life using the standard pea shooter...


...though I will admit I can't do it consistently. It's no easy task, especially since I get so antsy toward the end and second-guess myself into making a mistake. I don't remember what spurred me on to try and attempt it at first, but I think I was just bored with tearing through the game with the spreader. I just kept limiting myself; no 30-life code, no spreader, no powerups at all, no lives lost, the list goes on and on. I used to even videotape my own gameplay and play it back to see where I screwed up the most! I'm glad I spent my pre-teen years on something worthwhile rather than wasting it on trivial things, like joining a sports team or discovering girls. Still, it makes for a really neat party trick!

#3. Metroids terrify me.

Even in Dessert Form, they still make my flesh crawl.

These little jellyfish bastards have haunted my dreams ever since I was a wee Pintobean. I don't know what it is about them that makes them so damn disturbing, but I'm pretty sure it's because they're like an unholy fusion of a jellyfish and a fucking VAMPIRE. The first game wasn't that bad, mostly because they were only in Tourian and they didn't make their trademark "SCREEE!" sounds. It was really the second game that made them terrifying; they "SCREE!"d, they were EVERYWHERE, and they could mutate into bigger, nastier threats. That, and every time I ran into one they'd play that awful music:


Seriously, these things make my flesh crawl. Over the years, I had thought I'd gotten over my deep-seated fear of these creatures; that is, until Metroid Prime came out. Let me tell you, it's one thing to see a Metroid gliding toward Samus in 2D, it's another to see one COMING RIGHT FOR YOU. O_o

#4. I used to write to game companies with suggestions...

...and believe it or not, Konami actually responded. Most of what I wrote were usually requests for Arcade ports for the NES, and in Konami's case I believe I was writing them for a NES port of the Aliens arcade game (which I'd loved as a child, and is the sole reason I got into the film franchise to begin with). I even drew pictures to go along with it (yes, I was that dedicated), and they sent me a letter in the mail saying they couldn't do it because they were already on a very tight release schedule and they couldn't accommodate my request. I figured that would be the case, but I didn't care, I was just totally stoked that they actually wasted the time and paper to send me a form letter! Though I didn't see why they had to send back the pictures I drew....jerks.

#5. I once had a phone Conversation with Orson Scott Card.

It was for a job I had taking phone orders for the Metropolitan Museum of Art, he called up to order a crapload of Xmas gifts for his relatives. I struck up some generic conversation while he pointed out what he wanted. I didn't really know who it was until he completed the order and I asked for the name on his credit card...

Me: "May I have the last name as it appears on your card, please?"

OSC: "Card."

Me: "And the first name?"

OSC: "Orson."

Me: [Brief Pause] "...your middle name wouldn't happen to be Scott, would it?"

OSC: "...yes."

Me: "The guy who wrote Ender's Game?"

OSC: "Yeah, that's me."

After that point I didn't really say much, I just finalized the order in a very awestruck, monotone voice. Afterwards, he gave me a link to his website at the time, and wished me a happy holiday. Alright, so it wasn't much of a conversation, but dammit I talked to a real-life published author! That people know! THERE!

#6. I am obsessed with shmups.

I know I mentioned this in my R-Type blog, but I figured I'd just state it again for the record. I love shmups; they are my single-greatest weakness. If someone, ANYONE hands me a copy of Gradius (including it's sister games and spinoffs), I will sit down and play the ever loving CRAP out of it until my fingers are covered in huge, red blisters. The first shmup I ever played obsessively was Galaga; whom I learned from a single mother who would drag her two kids with her to the arcade at my local mall. She would literally stand there and play the Galaga machine for two solid hours, usually racking up a good 800-900k score. One day, I just had to ask her how she got so good at it, and she took me through the basics. I eneded up going from a 100k to a 400k score easily, although I'd never been able to reach anywhere as high as she could. I don't remember what her actual name was, but she'd always set her initials as "KIM". Since then, I've played hundreds upon hundreds of shmups....though I will admit I'm not really a big fan of the "Bullet Hell" subgenre that's been getting so popular recently...with the exception of DoDonPachi. I looooooves me some DoDonPachi.

7. I Love Chiptunes/Game Tunes.

I have countless game soundtracks on my iPod, as well as countless original chiptunes. My favorite chiptune artist at the moment is Haruhisa "Hally" Tanaka; who's made several catchy tracks such as "Charhang Strikes Back Again!" as well as the ever-amazing "Sprite Bells". You can find most of Hally's work in .nsf format at My favorite chiptune/game tune of all time would have to be Zuntata's "Daddy Mulk" from the Ninja Warriors arcade game:


8. I got fired from my first job because I went home 3 hours early to finish Xenogears.

Not much to say here, I had to go to work JUST as I reached the second-to-final boss, "Deus". I completely forgot that I had a shift that night, so naturally I kept looking at the time clock, just wishing it would move at least 3 hours ahead. I was so sick of the job to begin with (I bagged groceries) that I just decided to punch out and just not come back. My boss must have called the house 3 times, but I didn't answer back until I'd beaten that fricking game. He was less than happy that I'd skipped work way earlier than I was supposed to, but I didn't care. Needless to say, they fired me the next day. Of course, I was about 17 at the time, so I'd just put down "Quit because of school-related demands" on my resume.   read

6:50 PM on 02.25.2009

Earthbound: Threed in 3D

This is going to be a short one tonight; I just ran across this while I was perusing Youtube (alright, alright, I was really on to check my subscriber count...don't judge me), when I came across this nifty little video by a user named Cswavely:


I almost brushed this off as a simple 3D demo, but after seeing the added events like UFO crash and the face appearing on the circus tent, I nearly fangasm'd. He also put up 3D versions of Onett and Fourside; though I still like Threed the best out of all of them. Still, I thought it was a rather impressive effort, and for a moment I believed that maybe Nintendo could release a pseudo-3D remake of the game on the Wii; but then I remembered the struggle just to get the original onto the Virtual Console; not to mention they STILL won't bring over Mother, yeah. Still, a man can dream, right?

....right?   read

6:08 PM on 02.24.2009

FreeScare #1: Mall Monster

I'd just read Colette's review of the WiiWare horror game LIT this week; and while it looks interesting, my current lack of funding prevents me from purchasing a Wii just to play it. So, what's a poor IT tech working for next-to-slave wages supposed to do in a situation like this? Simple. Scrounge the internet for a freeware title with similar gameplay, and while I didn't quite hit the nail on the head in terms of finding an app that mirrors LIT's gameplay without the cost, I did come somewhat close with what I'd found..well, in terms of theme, anyway:

I know, the title sounds cheesy, but hear me out. Getting lost in a mall can be a pretty scary experience when you're a kid. Hell, it happened to me once, and I'd never forgotten how relieved I was when my mother came to pick me up at the front of that Steinback's...but a nagging thought always hung in the back of my head as we walked back to the car: "What if she didn't come back for me? What if I'd been left there all day, alone and forgotten, while the store clerks closed up shop and went home?"

That's the premise of "Mall Monster", a nifty little freeware game made at the Digipen Institute of Technology. You play a kid (at least it's supposed to be a kid, he/she looks and moves more like a big red penguin or something) who's been locked in the local toy store inside the River City Mall. The entrance is barred, the lights are off, and there's no one around to ask for help. Luckily, you managed to pick up a small toy flashlight lying around (that doesn't run out of batteries, thank God) to help you find another way out. Bursting with newfound confidence, you head out into the main aisle of the toy store, flashlight in hand, ready to face the unknown.

That's when you hear the footsteps. Looks like you aren't alone after all.

It's very rare that I come across a game that works so well with so little, but "Mall Monster" managed to creep the ever-living crap out of me when I first played it. The game takes a "less is more" approach in that you never actually see the monster; the only way to avoid it is to listen for the sounds it makes. Unfortunately the monster has good ears as well; so it hunts you down using the exact same method, leading to a very tense cat-and-mouse game that'll leave you on edge for hours. The game is played in a top-down view, but to simulate the fact that it's pitch-dark, the game uses a fog-of-war to limit your visibility to the cone of your flashlight, which gives the monster a huge advantage as it patrols the darkness, ready to turn you into tonight's blue-plate special.

To help you avoid this fate and secure your escape, there are various Macaulay Culkin-esque "traps" lying around in each level. Most of these, like the bubble solution and the "poppers", are mainly used to startle the monster and alert you to its presence. When that happens, a huge yellow arrow appears to point out what direction the monster is coming from. However, your main weapon in this game is silence. The quieter you are, the harder it is for the monster to track you. The problem with this is that the levels are quite large, so you'll be tempted to hold down the "Sprint" key and haul ass toward the nearest ventilation shaft; your only means of escape.

There isn't much variety in terms of gameplay; the basic formula for each level is "Stay Quiet, find the ventilation shaft, stack x-number of items to reach ventilation shaft." That's it. However, with the areas being so large, and the monster constantly on your ass, it's not an easy task...even on Easy mode. There are six difficulty levels in all, three of which have to be unlocked by beating the game once on the three default modes (Easy, Medium and Hard. Go Figure.).

The atmosphere of the game is extremely scary; there's no music whatsoever (save for the main menu screen), and the only sounds are the sounds either you or the monster make. Of course, while silence is your weapon, the monster has one as well: FEAR.

Whenever the monster gets close, your heart will start pounding faster and faster as it draws nearer and nearer. If you don't find some way to calm yourself down, you'll faint, which in this game is the equivalent of ringing the dinner bell. If you faint, you'll remain unconscious for about four seconds; and while that doesn't sound like a lot, it's more than enough time for the monster to close the gap and move in for the kill. I'm not kidding, that sucker is FAST. So fast, in fact, that every time it showed up on screen I couldn't hit the capture button fast enough to get a shot of it!

There is also a multiplayer mode, which features a co-op version of the main game, as well as a modified version of Tag (in which one person plays the monster and stalks his friends), Freeze Tag, and another mode called "Blob", in which one player starts as the monster, and turns the other players into monsters until only one is left.

All in all, Mall Monster is a pretty fun and scary time-waster for those less-fortunate gamers who don't have fat enough wallets to warrant a whole new console. It's a free download, so just Google it and you won't be disappointed...but remember to play it with the lights off!   read

5:07 PM on 02.17.2009

My First Blog: R-Type Reflections...

I don't know what's wrong with me. For the past month or so, I'd been dutifully traning in anticipation for Street Fighter IV. Super Street Fighter II HD Remix has taken up most of my free time, and I'd managed to regain most of my skills as well as my (totally platonic) love for M. Bison. However, on February 4 of this year; two weeks before Street Fighter IV's street date, Tozai games and Irem dropped a bomb on me:

R-Type dimensions, a re-release of the first two R-Type games, in all their arcade glory. Now, anyone who knows me (and since this is my first-ever blog, none of you do) knows that I am obsessed with shmups. If anyone hands me a game that involves a wee lil' spaceship and the ultimate goal of blowing crap up, then I'm immediately signed on. R-Type is no exception, in fact, it's probably my unhealthiest gaming obsession. I own all the core games in the series, except R-Type III: The Third Lightning for the SNES. Hell, I even own the Playstation Re-Release of the first two games (R-TYPES), and I STILL threw down for the XBLA version...not only that, but it completely took me off my Street Fighter kick. I've already forgotten about my 100-win achievement, and I'm constantly checking the Dimensions leaderboards day after day to see if I cannot rise above my paltry 233rd place on the R-Type Classic roster(though it's probably dropped further than that while I'm posting this).

It's not like I'm any good at these games, either; with most shooters, I can usually run through them on a single credit if I'm focused, but no matter how much I play any game in the R-Type series, it always manages to catch me completely off guard. It is one of the most soul-crushing, ego-destroying games in existence; but no matter how much it beats, crushes, incinerates, or maims me, I still keep coming back to it like a battered housewife with a fresh purple ring around her right eye. I guess I could say I have a love-hate relationship with R-Type: I love it...but it HATES me.

Well, hello there! And you are?

So then, why do I keep coming back to it? The story? It's a shmup, the story is cookie-cutter at best. Well, okay, it's a little more fleshed out than most; what with humanity retroactively screwing itself over, but really, the main story is always the same: "The Bydo are attacking! We need you to blow shit up!" Nothing new here, move along. So what else...let's see... look kinda familiar...

Gameplay, then? There's very little deviation in the series gameplay-wise; the only exception being R-Type Tactics (R-Type Command in the US) for the PSP. The core gameplay remains the same throughout each and every title: Move to the right and shoot. The only game that took risks with this formula was R-Type Final, in that depending on how well you performed, you could branch off and access different versions of a stage, or a different stage altogether, increasing the replay value. That, and having 101 different unlockable R-Series fighters didn't hurt, either.

Seriously, we gotta stop meeting up like this.

Could it be the visuals? Well, sure, there is that. The Bydo DO look pretty creepy, especially in the fourth installment: R-Type Delta. In fact, I dare say that Delta was and still is the most visually appealing of the series, even beating out Final. The sheer amount of detail in each stage was staggering; even in the first stage, it really felt like you were flying through an actual city. Wrecked cars litter the streets, no two buildings looked exactly alike...hell, they even put in little phone booths! Of course, paying attention to the background led to a lot of accidental deaths.

So, I guess all that's left is the series' notorious difficulty curve. Could it just be that I'm just a closet masochist? A twisted, deranged little freak who enjoys being mentally and emotionally crushed by failing over and over at a series that's been around for more than twenty years? Doomed to continue the cycle whether or not Irem churns out new games in the series, just for the sick, secret pleasure of being punished repeatedly, endlessly throughout time?

Well, I guess so. Still, I guess it's cheaper than hiring a Dominatrix...that and I don't have to worry about welts.   read

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