Nostaljourney is a retro gaming podcast that features an new cast every episode. Each episode is based on discussing a particular game or series, then finding people who are nostalgic for it and people who have never played it before. If need be we go so far as to donate all the necessary gaming hardware to the newcomers. We compare the experiences of the two groups to find out how well a game has really aged as well as discuss its history.
For younger community members it may be a chance to learn what gaming was like in the past. For older community members it may be a chance to discover what games are truly classic and what games are not. In general the show exists to evaluate and discuss the nature of nostalgia and for everyone in the community to get to know each other better. Because the show involves giving out free games, it only records once every couple of months.
Recent changes to the game plan will hopefully entail the show recording every 2 weeks.
Wryviews are my personal review series where I try to do things different from the norm by asking myself how well the game achieved its goal, instead of if I liked the game or not. Wryviews are a personal challenge to stay objective and identify who would enjoy a certain game, rather than complain about who wouldn't. I feel that being a good reviewer entails being able to identify each game's audience.
Gemnalysis is a series where I hunt down lesser known or neglected games and make a case for playing them despite the fact that they're older. Instead of flat out reviewing these games I look at them from the perspective of a collector and go over the game's history, and special trivia it may have.
Fatal Impact is a series of community tournaments revolving around SNK fighters; rather, it was. I happen to host the tournaments, but only once in a blue moon when I have the free time. I accept any and all callers, though I am not an entrant. Instead I am a trainer who organizes my entrants and helps to improve their game while introducing them to new and lesser appreciated fighting games.
The Fatal Impact tournaments will likely not continue until SNK releases games with better netcode. With recent promises from Atlus, King of Fighters XIII is likely to become the next big Fatal Impact game.
The King of Fighters Love Letter is a series dedicated to the storyline and history of SNK fighting games. Many people don't know anything about SNK in general, and with King of Fighters XIII on its way I'm going to bring everyone up to speed on the story in the series thus far.
Now that King of Fighters XIII has an actual release date this series may continue beyond the first story arc (Orochi Saga), but it's difficult to find solid information on the series' backstory.
Podsumaki Episode 09: Mortal Kombat Special Podsumaki is a fighting game podcast that I hosted on and organized. There was a lot of random smack talk but it was a fun show. Currently it's on hold and none of the hosts are sure if it will ever come back. Our last episode was our highlight, where we spoke with three of the best Mortal Kombat players in the US and discussed the Mortal Kombat community and the upcoming game. If you were to listen to any one episode of Podsumaki, I'd recommend it be this.
The Top Three Things "Gamers" Should Care About Less Somebody on Call of Duty: Black Ops screamed at me for not being good enough at the game, even though I wasn't on his team. Thanks to that I decided to write an article on some of the biggest problems with the gaming community, mostly their inability to care about things that actually matter.
Tainted Beauty: The Death and Rebirth of a Genre What we have here is an article revolving around the 2D fighting game genre, the path one must go through to become good at the games, and all the obstacles in the way of this that I feel eventually led to the temporary death of the genre prior to the release of games like Street Fighter IV and BlazBlue.
Wry Guides: Goozex Training Manual Wry Guides are a series where I try to educate the people of the community by writing about something that I in particular know a lot about. More than anything else though, it's just me unleashing a bad pun upon the world.
Top 11 Dreamcast Games You Probably Didn't Play In this article I recap my experience as a guy who loved the Dreamcast, because he grew up with it as one of his primary forms of entertainment. The games listed aren't the popular and trendy choices so much as the lesser played B-list and C-list games that only true Dreamcast veterans touched.
Hey, I liked it: Mega Man VII Hey, I liked it was a series where I reflected on games that I'm fond of that weren't appreciated by many people. As opposed to Wryviews which are meant to be impartial, this was a much more personal series. This series might continue some day but I could really not think of a bigger black sheep game than Mega Man VII.
Wry's Dreamcast Homebrew Guide: Pre-Brewed There was a time when I was extremely, extremely into my Dreamcast. I didn't just play tons of regular games that I found on sale, I also researched the wealth of bootleg Dreamcast programs. These days I'm a collector and I'm not concerned with unofficial software. I'm too busy playing games I actually own. Still I created a quick guide to some of the easiest and best programs available for the Dreamcast that can be used with no hassle.
SNK is a company with an interesting history. There was a time when they used to produce one of the most expensive and advanced pieces of gaming hardware of its era, but since then they've both fallen behind the times and far out of the general public's view. Still, I love them partially because I can't think of many other companies out there that could qualify as an E for Effort company. If you can really take the time to appreciate the level of care put into each game SNK produced I don't think you'd really have much to complain about. I feel that no matter what the companies does they do something to deserve respect.
SNK's games have not been able to impress the general public for a long time, but the people who stopped and just gave their games a fair chance typically ended up enjoying everything handed to them. It's not that some frustrations expressed by the public aren't valid. King of Fighters XII if nothing else really should have had a quality online if it was going to lack other features. Still, you might want to consider the sheer amount of time and effort that went into that bare-bones game. SNK actually spent more time and money making high-resolution sprites than it would have cost to go 3D. Supposedly each character took an individual employee nearly a year and a half to complete; there's almost always something worth appreciating in an SNK game. The company always puts as much effort into their projects as they can possibly be allowed. A good example: did you happen to know that before the company's bankruptcy just about every SNK fighting game got an "arranged" soundtrack when it was ported to home consoles like the Sega Saturn? You might wonder what's so special about that but SNK didn't just remix their soundtracks, when they could afford to they had the song performed live. These days the company really doesn't have the sort of cash required to do these sort of things, but they'll never get back there without support and appreciation for the things they do.
SNK is a total E for Effort company,and because of that their only limitation is their fans and those fans' willingness to support the company. Ever since the company went bankrupt they've had trouble finding steady footing. SNK may not always succeed but they still always try. I'm not entirely sure how things really work at SNK because whenever they try something new it's almost always a flop. Considering they're a small company these days that must be horrible for them financially. Samurai Showdown Sen is already getting destroyed in reviews. I've always blamed it on the fact that SNK's a small company, but that hardly explains everything. If the Neogeo CD, Hyper Neogeo 64 and Neogeo Pocket Color have shown us anything it's that SNK has been hit with more financial flops than even Sega can brag about. Still it's probably true that money is a concern for a company that almost completely died at one point; they probably can't afford to spend too much time developing their projects yet they have a legacy behind them that breeds high expectations.
There's something else about SNK, though. After the companies produce a flop they often come back and hit a home run; if they have the opportunity to do so that is. Once SNK gains some steady ground they're fully capable of producing masterpieces. People complained about King of Fighters XII and before that people complained about King of Fighters Neowave. Both were essentially experimental games; first time efforts on new arcade hardware after SNK had abandoned their Neogeo platform. While I personally feel they're well made games and are more than mere side-entries in the King of Fighters series the important thing to note is what came after those first efforts. After SNK hit us with Neowave we got King of Fighters XI. Trust me, it was pretty awesome. Regardless of its outdated graphics SNK fans typically consider KOF XI to be the best thing since sliced bread. After King of Fighters XII we're going to be hit with XIII which is currently undergoing location testing, essentially the same thing as going beta. Trust me when I say patterns dictate KOF XIII be awesome.
As a critical person and someone who's played fighting games for a fairly long time I think I have the right to say that fighting game fans in general are a very negative lot. This is actually a subject I wrote about for my last Monthly Musing. Today I'm looking at a game that was beat down by reviewers, generally snuffed at by the public and even ignored by the majority of SNK's supposed fans: King of Fighters Maximum Impact, a game that actually went out of its way to give people something they wanted. For those who can't tell Maximum Impact was an attempt to create a 3D game on the Playstation 2 and XBox. For a first effort it was not that bad at all, especially when the last 3D fighter SNK produced was half a decade prior to Maximum Impact. I recently gave this game a shot because of fellow Podsumaki host KD Alpha. The special edition box set of the game rolled by my store. As a collector I was tempted, so I started playing it and actually had a good bit of fun. It reminded me of a simpler time when I wasn't a snob about fighting games. Maximum Impact got me to thinking about my favorite genre in general. It's certainly an E for Effort game from an E for Effort company. Even though the game gets me waxing nostalgic and remembering my earlier days as a fighting game enthusiast there's still some things I don't really care for about it, but regardless I can respect it. I think maybe other people could too if the fighting game community were a little less stuck up.
Just because I'd never actually played this game before doesn't mean I don't know something about it. I'm an SNK nut. I know more than I really should about a game I'd never touched before writing this article. During SNK's bankruptcy there were several heavy losses to the company's staff, among them losing key members of the SNK Sound Team and lead concept artist Toshiaki Mori. Toshiaki Mori is otherwise known as Shinkiro. Many of you can still enjoy Shinkiro's excellent work as he continues his career at Capcom. Just recently he did the illustrations for Tatsunoko vs Capcom. What this meant is that when SNK rose from the dead they needed a new head artist to produce the artwork for King of Fighters 2003. A popular fan-artist who called himself Falcoon was elected. While he'd worked with SNK at one point before their bankruptcy his return seemed to be dictated by fans. Word of mouth had been that a contest was held to choose the lead artist and Falcoon was the winner. 2003 was the only official King of Fighters game that Falcoon worked on since after that he was tasked as the head character designer for a side series: Maximum Impact. Love him or hate him, this guy is responsible for all the new faces in the game and reflects a bit of the attitude this game was made with. In the game's sequel Falcoon even became the producer of the series. This guy is quite possibly what make Maximum Impact an E for Effort game for me. Even though he wasn't actually in a controlling position for the first game, he identified the series for me. I can respect him to a degree, but for a long time the fact that he was a fan-artist reminded me of something: I really dislike the idea of fans being put in charge of professional projects because I really don't trust fans. I've gotten over that. KOF Maximum Impact is not a serious fighter in the least and would have been something I appreciated before I became a fighting game snob. As much as I may dislike Falcoon's style I've come to appreciate what he has to offer SNK as a whole.
King of Fighters Maximum Impact was not made with the intent of killing off the official 2D King of Fighters series. I really should have known that SNK would never abandon their roots, especially now when they dedicate money to keeping KOF sprite-based. Maximum Impact was something simpler; something more accessible. It could be easily compared to Street Fighter EX, another series that was snubbed quite a bit by the gaming public. Ironically enough King of Fighters Maximum Impact and Street Fighter EX 3 have the exact same metacritic score, and they're not glowing. Really goes to show you how much people hated the idea of a 3D fighting game that wasn't exactly like its parent series. I'm betting the grand majority never gave either series a fair chance.
The idea for this game was very simple: take popular King of Fighters characters and inject some common 3D gameplay mechanics into the KOF formula. Special moves were still performed the same way and things like rolling were still included. When we talk about injecting 3D what I mean is things like alternate costumes, semi-automatic combos, side-stepping and wall juggles defined Maximum Impact. It was pretty interesting to see it in action. There were even some unlockables. Beating the game with any of the 20-ish characters would award you with a character profile and bonus costume items. Beating the game's challenge mode would award you with genuine alternate costumes and extra color schemes. Realistically it wasn't much compared to a series like Soul Calibur, but I can't say I mind that. As great a single player experience as Soul Calibur can be, I've only got it in me to play like that once and never again. Maximum Impact was fresh enough that I found it in myself to beat the game with every character, if only just to see how all the characters played. I'm actually thankful the game wasn't obnoxious about hanging some unlockable carrot over my head. If I wanted to play the game forever, I would. When I feel like playing this game I think I'll just crank up the difficult and hit arcade mode. This is the sort of game you can enjoy by yourself for a while but the real fun is in dicking around with friends.
I think the main problem with the game was that people were expecting Maximum Impact to be some solid competitive game. Definitely not. Maximum Impact was one of those games that fell apart once people tried getting hardcore about it. Then again, that never stopped some fighting games from being fun. It's what hardcore types would refer to as a "broken" game, but there's something really fun and fascinating about learning a broken game. Sometimes the most broken fighters are the most fun; you ever play a game called Marvel vs Capcom 2? Just playing with the combo system and seeing what you're capable of can be some pretty good times. Maximum Impact got snubbed pretty hard for being broken and having ridiculous combos, but I think it was blown a bit out of proportion. Ever seen what you're capable of doing in a series like Tekken? Not as bad in a case by case comparison, but still pretty ridiculous. Really often hardcore fighting game players act like they've never indulged in any guilty pleasures before. It's not like this game doesn't know that it's competitively broken. The game's computer opponents are fully aware that they can pick you up off the ground even if it's not as brutal as the videos linked here. The game still knows its own system well enough to steal a good 50% of your health in one combo.
To me this game should be considered a lesson to play first and judge later, it's actually pretty fun in a casual sort of way. Playing Maximum Impact brought back memories of the time where I was really into Bloody Roar: Primal Fury on the Gamecube. It was a great gateway fighter, especially because it retained some of the spirit of 2D gameplay while producing some nice 3D eye candy. It wasn't meant to be played in the tournament scene because it was quite clearly broken on the competitive level, but if all you intended to do was play the game with friends there wasn't a better gateway drug out there. Bloody Roar: Primal Fury and other games of its ilk were just fun. Hell, I'd probably still enjoy the Dead or Alive series if it hadn't gone down paths like Beach Volleyball. The fact that Tomonobu Itagaki was a total prick didn't help me want to stick around to play those games. Still casual fighters like this are what got me into the genre in the first place. Were I a bit younger and had given Maximum Impact a chance it could have easily replaced Bloody Roar: Primal Fury as one of my favorite "for fun" fighting games. What ever happened to just being able to have fun with a fighting game? There's a lot of reasons I think the fighting game genre died out; I think one of them is the fact that fighting game players in general tend to be real snobs. I'll make a bet with you that if you can find a hardcore fighting game enthusiast he's got some fighting game he never actually played that he'll tell you isn't worth touching. The bet is on right now; go find somebody that plays fighting games see if you can't get them to verbally crap on a few games they'd never even played.
Like I said, Maximum Impact was never intended to replace the 2D King of Fighters games. If you wanted to play a really solid game meant for competition SNK was still making sure its players had the option. Maximum Impact doesn't even connect with the official King of Fighters storyline. Some people have actually confused this for an unofficial Fatal Fury game because the setting is Southtown, an extremely central location in both the Art of Fighting and Fatal Fury games. It's an interesting and understandable misconception but Maximum Impact is one of those "alternate dimension" type deals. Don't you love it when gaming companies do that? The storyline in the game is kind of a mess but the main characters in the game are Alba Meira and Soiree Meira, a pair of street orphans looking to avenge their adoptive father who was killed by a gang leader named Duke. Remember how I said people confused Maximum Impact for a Fatal Fury game? The fact that Alba and Soiree basically have the same backstory as Terry Bogard and Andy Bogard from the Fatal Fury games doesn't really help that. The main thing I really don't care for in this game which makes it E for Effort is Falcoon and his character designs.
The main boss Duke I'm actually a bit fond of as a design. The basic story of the game is that Duke is the current ringleader of the gang that controls Southtown's streets. Duke gained this position after killing Fate--Alba Meira and Soiree Meira's adoptive father--and of course Alba and Soiree want to reclaim control of the town from Duke. Duke's a stylish but simple design and the scar he has across his neck really helps distinguish him as a badass. You're not about to forget it as his trademark when the camera zooms on his neck; mostly because his trademark implies he should have been dead in the ground long ago. From a distance you won't even notice the fact that his scar is there but you only need to get one good look at it for the impact to be made. Even Duke's voice is pretty badass, and Maximum Impact typically has horrible voice acting. The only reason this game has English dialog is because Sony of America forced SNK to do so, as SNK and Sony have had a turbulent relationship here in the States. That aside we have a simple but badass antagonist for Maximum Impact. The man is quite serviceable as a villain so it's too bad the protagonists and the rest of the game's cast are so throwaway. Alba Meira and Soiree Meira in particular are just bland characters and the rest of the cast can be interesting but insignificant.
How should I put this? I don't there's any charm to these main characters that the Maximum Impact series uses as its poster children. I see nothing you can attach yourself to and be sentimental over. I'd actually be quite interesting if people didn't agree with on me on this, but the way I see it is they lack the same kind of punch that Duke has. Alba Meira's defining characteristic is having a variety of ridiculous little frills on his outfit like zippers on the bottom of his pant legs. He's so covered in little, fairly unimportant details that you will never notice without examining his concept art. He lacks an identity, he doesn't even express much of a personality when he fights or speaks in the game. His most distinct trait is a pair of red sunglasses glasses. Everything else to me is an overcomplicated mess that lacks any focus and ultimately leads to a forgettable lead character. He's supposed to be a strong character who wants to take his father's place and protect Southtown but you'd never really guess it.
Soiree Meira on the other hand plays the role of the loudmouth little brother. If it weren't for Alba acting as a stern figure to chide Soiree (on very slight occasion) there would be almost nothing to define Alba. Soiree is very much so a complimentary character and individually he's what I would consider a better design, except he really fails to compliment anything beyond what I just mentioned. Soiree dresses like a Texan who just hit his mid-life crisis and decided he was going to go ranching to prove what a man he is. To top that off he uses Capoeira of all things; how does that even go with his style? Forget about complimenting himself, though. Soiree is clearly supposed to add to his brother Alba. How exactly does this baby blue wannabe cowboy mesh with Alba's trendy zippers and buttons all over the place style? My only guess is that Soiree is supposed to look rural and Alba is supposed to look urban, thus making them opposites. I feel it comes off as forced, especially when Alba and Soiree had a pretty good way to compliment eachothers' designs already: their tattoos. When Alba and Soiree Meira stand side to side there is a tattoo of a cow's skull with wings that begins on one brother and ends on the other. They both have half of the same tattoo. Now it's a shame that doesn't really go to any use because Alba Meira couldn't be wearing any more clothes short of squeezing some pantyhose over his head and robbing a liquor store.
So clearly I have my issues with the game's character designs. Falcoon as I saw him just didn't have it in him to design characters of the same quality as other SNK fighting games. That's all my opinion, though. For all I know there's quite a few people out there who think the entire cast of new characters in Maximum Impact are badasses. Maximum Impact very clearly has its own sense of style, whether it be expressed through the characters or even the music. It's good that the series has some way of distinguishing itself. Disliking the new characters really shouldn't be enough to spoil the game considering there's a nice variety of SNK favorites littering Maximum Impact's roster. Whether or not I actually liked this game I still think it had some value to it. The funny thing is that all the people I've ever talked to who openly expressed enjoyment for the Maximum Impact games were people who previously had never played a King of Fighters game. That's what's great about them, as I've said these are excellent gateway fighters. The fact that hardcore players snub new experiences that might help get more people interested in the genre is their own problem, but unfortunately it becomes a problem for everyone when the fighting game community backs itself into a corner of stagnation. Games like Maximum Impact were good for the industry. It's really too bad that we'll probably never see another Maximum Impact game made. Fighting game fans in general bought the first game and hated it, then never bothered to get the sequel. Both Maximum Impact and its sequel King of Fighters 2006 can still be bought brand new for pretty dirt cheap. Hell, I've seen the collector's edition that I have brand new for less than 20 bucks.
What can I say, guys? SNK tried their best and Maximum Impact was one of the best first-time efforts the company had produced in a long time. Like the monthly theme says, they get an E for Effort and not much else. The newest Maximum Impact game was Regulation A for the arcades, and that was really just a remake of KOF 2006 with a couple of new characters added in. King of Fighters Maximum Impact 3 has been canceled. It's really a shame, but maybe King of Fighters XIII will succeed and the Maximum Impact games can see the light of day again. I heard KOF 2006 was leaps and bounds better than the first game too. Screw the haters. Guilty pleasures all the way. Where's my copy of Project Justice? Thanks for reading my long winded rant about SNK, broken fighting games, character design and King of Fighters. For all you fighting game lovers out there I'm one of the permanent hosts on a new unofficial fighting game podcast: Podsumaki. We would be honored to get your opinions on the show.