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11:41 AM on 03.16.2009  

What? There's an L4D 360 community tourney? Still?!

As blehman has already blogged before, there's a 360 L4D tourney going on in the forums. It's not new news, but I wanted to take a bit of time to expand on how effing fun this tourney is, despite having only played one game.

Everyone's raising glasses/bottles/whatever in honor of the three year anniversary of Destructoid. As a community, this place is pretty fucking badass. And the community is the reason that the L4D tourney is so awesome. I've only gotten to play with a handful of people thus far from here, but everyone's having fun and treating it as a chance to get in some non-annoying L4D games in with people who don't suck.

We spent almost an hour in the lobby waiting on various people to show last night, and the conversations were just as awesome as the gaming was. The word is still out on whether seigfreid had to goto Blockbuster to get a copy of the game just so he could play with us, and apparently some of us missed Dok Industrial's ability to impersonate Hank Hill very well, but it's this stuff that makes community gaming pretty fucking fun.

Thanks Team 6 for putting up a good fight against us for one match, and here is the sacred Canadian Quarter that MaxPower asked me to frame. It is framed with nickel rolls, because it's IRONIC.





And yes, I understand now that it's a moose and not a deer. I <3 Canadia, Max.

If any of you lurkers who read the blogs and forums but haven't actually signed up yet because you're not sure about fitting in, let me tell you. Destructoid rocks, its users rock, and if you like L4D, this is as good a reason to sign up as any. Form a team, post in the forums, come for the cocks, stay for dinner and a movie.   read


7:38 PM on 02.24.2009  

Another day, another "What do I play next?" blog.

So this time, somebody help me out. I'm actively playing Left 4 Dead and Rock Band 2, but I want something more consistently single player to work on in the meantime when I'm not messing with these two games.

So here's what I've got:

PS2 -- Castle Shikigami 2
PS2 -- Front Mission 4
PS2 -- Makai Kingdom
PS2 -- Prince Of Persia - Sands Of Time
PS2 -- La Pucelle Tactics
PS2 -- Arcana Heart

360 -- Dead Rising
360 -- Enchanted Arms
360 -- Alone In The Dark
360 -- Perfect Dark Zero
360 -- Mass Effect

Hell, if you want to give me an order, I certainly wouldn't mind that either.

For reference, I've played a bit of Arcana Heart (just to feel out some characters), one quick run of Dead Rising, and the prologue chapter of PDZ.

So what's on the menu, Dtoiders?

  read


10:46 PM on 02.14.2009  

Playing With Yourself: A Prelude To Multiplayer...

I love competition.

I thrive on it.

It inhabits my gaming life and my work as well. Whether it's trying to be the best teammate possible or best worker or best player in a game, it's a part of how I am. If I give my best and I get outshined, I can live with it, as long as it is indeed the best I have to offer. You've got to start somewhere though, and in the case of gaming, that's singleplayer for me.

Some people have an innate ability to lock onto a new scenario (game, task, etc) and fall right into it and do really well. Jacks-of-all-trades, if you will. I've never been one of those people and due to some awkward situations in my childhood growing up, I've become a rather unorthodox person in my approaches to everything I have to deal with in everyday life. When I find a game that draws me in that is also competitive, I will more often than not isolate myself completely and begin pushing myself to get better at it. I don't want to be the weak link that lets people down in a team game, that can't hang with all the other Expert players in rhythm games. I also don't want to be the jerk that only revels in doing the one thing he's good at, and that pushes me moreso.

It started with Contra.



When I got it back when I was 8, my younger brother and I played it through in one sitting using the 30-lives code. It was awesome, intense, and we needed those lives. I loved the game to death though and couldn't sit with having to rely on a code as a crutch to play something so fun. So I kept at it until I could handle the game in one life confidently. It may not impress a lot of people nowadays when I play two player games with them, but it's what set the stage for me moving forward in other games to get better and better.

F-Zero GX and Marvel Vs. Capcom 2 had me spending hundreds of hours learning every intimate aspect of the game on my own time, be it in training or in single player practice.


This game and I got VERY intimate back in the day.

I memorized stats from FAQs about tiers for MVC2 players, strategies utilized by various players for character combinations, and studied patterns while learning what I could do to switch things up with my own favored characters that not necessarily everyone would be expecting. Great MVC2 players are used to seeing Sentinel in action and often probably play him as well, but are usually quite surprised to see Hulk and Juggernaut show up in the mix as well. If you ever get to play me in MVC2 under standard settings, you'll learn why as many others have. But before I got to this point, I lost many games in the local arcade. Everytime I lost, I took the game to heart and went home and worked the grindstone some more, figuring out how I could push myself to the next level and not just get beaten by the competition, but rather become the competition. I haven't played in over a year now, but I would jump in a heartbeat at the chance to go up against anybody who thinks they're worth their salt at one of the greatest fighting games ever made.

I won't even get started on F-Zero GX, let's just say that outside of Final Fantasy IV, no game has ever gotten as much singleplayer time out of me, all so I could master one silly car that very few skilled players would ever regard with any seriousness.


Why do you mock me so, Deep Claw?!

Five years ago or so, I picked up on DDR. I really liked the J-Pop that showed up on there, and that was really my only base motivation to play the game. Then I found there was a niche of people who were amazing at games in the series and I had to try and get better as well. I bought DDR Extreme with a homepad and played in isolation for quite a few hours over several days. I didn't want to show my face at the mall arcade on the machine until I was confident I could do Heavy songs. I felt like I didn't deserve to be there if I couldn't hang with anyone who wanted to do 6-footers and up. A week later and from then on, I pushed through 6s, 7s, 8s, 9s, finding accuracy and stamina...and then I found In The Groove, and it blew my mind.



If you've never seen people who can handle 13-footers in ITG2, youtube it. It takes a level of physical intensity that most people cannot readily achieve...myself included. My girlfriend got some Cobalt Flux pads so we could dance together. I helped coach her up to doing harder and harder songs, but before that, I spent my time alone pushing my own stamina more and more. I got through 10s and found that my stamina fell apart at 11s. Recently as well, I found that physical welfare was a reason to quit competing (with myself in this case) at the rhythm-based dance games series. Despite having so much fun in Stepmania and with ITG songs, I found that my right knee was suffering major impact damage from the jumps in so many songs that I was playing through.

So what to do then? I love rhythm-based games, but being out of commission like that certainly isn't the kind of thing that I can easily settle for. Well, after getting a taste of Rock Band, I found my answer. I've always loved vocals, but I couldn't get behind guitars, hence my reluctance to touch the Guitar Hero series. In Rock Band's case, I enjoyed vocals so much and knew I could be part of a group and function quite well there...until my throat gets tired. What if we don't have a drummer? A bassist? A guitarist? There are positions to fill, and damnit, I'm going to fill them! After unlocking every song in RB2 on solo, I proceeded to Quickplay and played every song on Easy on drums. Then on Medium. Then on Hard. I took every lesson to heart and replayed until I could absolutely get onto Expert and stand (or sit in this case) with anyone else who wanted to play Expert with their own respective instruments as well. Two down, two to go...and I will at some point soon push beyond Hard on Bass and then move to Guitar as well. If there's a party, if there's a band, I want to be in it, and I want to shine.

Then this thing came along.



I'm not big on FPS games, mostly because my stint/fling/whatever with a few multiplayer online games included a lot of jerks and bastards who would fall into a number of bias categories that people don't like playing with -- 32-player MOH:AA games with 30 snipers, poor CS teammates, general arseheads who talk trash for the sake of talking trash -- and I only found fun in a community game of Unreal Tournament with some friends on IRC (who would typically own me, and I'd love every moment of it in spite of that).

I love horror (movies and games both), and the prospect of a team-oriented game based on surviving sounded thrilling. And it has been. Of course, my team has thus far been myself and three bots, save for a couple games where I ran my girlfriend through the motions as well. But I play with those bots so I can learn more about myself, more about how I handle the situation in spite of those around me, more about how I deal with the enemy, more about how those levels are laid out. I have to get better...because if I end up playing with you guys, I don't want to let you down. I want to bring Louis to the party and I want you all to be glad that Louis has someone controlling him who isn't a self-centered jerk that is looking for solo glory over the good of the team. I'll have your back, and I'll hope you'll have mine as well, because I want to show how good of a team player I can be, and I want to do this on a team full of people who work as well as a tightly-knit group can work, so I will be pushed to my limits to do things right.

You find your niche and you fit in. Then you keep moving forward. And when you get knocked down, you get back up and learn from the experience, get better...smarter, faster, stronger, whatever suits the situation. Even if it is just spending time alone gaming, I feel that there is much skill within oneself to foster and grow, and having the chance to show it off to the masses and garner the approval that you are good at what you've been toiling at is definitely worth it.

After L4D, I'm sure another game will come along that will draw on that same basic competitive nature in me and I will nurture it completely and show what I can do once more.

Until then, I'll just keep pushing forward.

  read


7:28 PM on 02.07.2009  

NegFactor's first foray into XBOX Live Gold and the many dead left in his wake...

...or not?

After seeing a Discountoid awhile back in which they were selling 13 month gold subscriptions on Amazon for 20 bucks less, I figured it'd be as good a time then to get one as any...what with everyone who is not me talking about how great Left 4 Dead is, and with me wanting to get in on the action. Lacking both at the time, I was a sad panda.



Despite some nasty ailing sickness recently, I was able to acquire Left 4 Dead and setup my Gold membership (with awesome discount)...but I decided to go a different route for Live and work my way into dealing with the online masses. So I settled for playing some non-Left 4 Dead games instead to see how the other online players (or lack thereof) operate, and to gauge whether every other person is really a dick/12 year old, or if this only seems to happen in FPS games. Yes, I'm sure this has been done before. No, I do not care. I found that my research has taught me many important things, all of which I will share with you now.

1. Project Gotham Racing 3



First things first. I suck at PGR3. This is because I can't drive Rear Wheel Drive cars (in games or real-life), as Gran Turismo 3 originally taught me. I beat the game on Easy and that was enough for me. But I figured I'd see how good the average person was at PGR3 online. Answer: Way better than me. Except at the Cone Collecting game, where I apparently destroy other players ruthlessly.

It seems that nobody really talks in the lobbies of this game. They just kinda idle there and wait on a game to fill up or get started...or they simply just leave after thirty seconds of not getting something going. I only played one street race, where I got utterly annihilated, although it was fun having two cars both P.I.T. manuever me from opposite sides, allowing me to pop up and ride a wall for about ten seconds and glitch the game into saying I was 38 seconds behind the next car. I only found one Cat & Mouse game the entire time, and I either got disconnected from the game or booted out, I'm not sure which. I kinda had my headset for Live around my neck because of the stories I've heard about kids screaming into the mic incessantly and was afraid for my eardrums. Someone was saying something and that's when I learned the art of WEARING the headset to hear people. I also learned the art of VOLUME. The lattermost of the two aforementioned abilities comes into play shortly, so I'm glad to have learned this now.

Having earned a couple of achivements and found that only about 40 collective people on Earth still play PGR3, I decided to swing on over to what I figured to be the safest game in terms of Live activity...

2. Virtua Tennis 3

I visited the VTTV channel to watch a game for about thirty seconds so I could grab a free achievement, then I headed off to the match areas and tried to setup and casual match. And tried. And tried. No luck. I wasn't sure how ranked matches worked, thinking maybe players have an associated score based on the number of online games played, like TruSkill on PGR3. Shortly after choosing Ranked Match, I was beset upon by this man:



...only he was French. Very, very French.

I don't know much French, but I have enough common sense to not try and have a conversation with someone in a language I'm unfamiliar with, so I decided to hang back and just listen while I tried to take this guy down with my fancy moves.

So, apparently I suck at Virtua Tennis 3 a lot. I didn't think I was too bad, until this guy destroyed me in every match 40-0. He made lots of random grunting sounds, said some things in a most condescending manner, and then started humming the National Anthem (American, not French!) as loudly as he could while I volleyed lots of fail at him. Then he went from humming to singing operatic-style, and I leapt for the volume control and yea and verily, it was my savior.

Fearing for my life and wanting nothing more of proving my lack of skill in VT3, I moved on to more familiar ground...

3. Rock Band 2

I thought about doing drums, but I already felt crappy playing two games and looking like a complete idiot, so I needed some genuine owning to make myself feel better. So I grabbed a microphone and headed for the Tug Of War/Score Duels. Score Dueling apparently does not exist in the land of vocalists, because there were no Quick Matches or Ranked Matches even after ten minutes of waiting.

So I jumped to Tug Of War mode and tried a Ranked Match first. Found one on Hard fairly quickly. I was fine with that, because there's some songs I'm not confident on...or simply hate to death. My viking-hat-wearing-warrior-of-the-world Zain faced off against some generic looking guy named josh (lowercase)...we were given Bodhisattva from Steely Dan. I hate the song on vocals, but apparently josh (lowercase) hated it more. About two minutes in, he jumps ship while I'm dragging the bar all the way to my end, so I get an easy walk on that. Tried some more Ranked Matches, but no one seemed to be showing up. So I jumped to Quick Matches and got two fairly easily.

First was a girl named Madison. She picked My Own Worst Enemy from Lit. She also picked Hard, so I jumped on Hard as well. It was a close match, but I 100ed versus her 98. She said something, but I couldn't understand it very well. Then I picked Spoonman from Soundgarden, and I heard her make a loud groaning sound. She jumped to Easy, so I stuck it out on Hard and took the match easily. Then she apparently decided that she had to show me up hardcore, because she jumped to Expert and chose That's What You Get from Paramore. Not one to shy away from a match (and eager to fail), I jumped to Expert and struggled through a song I absolutely hate as she 98ed it. I couldn't find a female song to exact revenge with, so I just jumped to Creep and Experted that (she went to Easy). I 100ed it without a problem and she took off, no words or animosity to be found.

Tried one more Quick Match and got another girl (maybe girls dig vocals more in general?) who I can't remember the name off the top of my head...some awkward combination of X's and KrisCross. She apparently liked semi-emoish stuff and didn't have a very large library unlocked. We went all over the board, doing Carry On My Wayward Son, Girl's Not Grey, Man In The Box, Down With The Sickness, Our Truth, and some other stuff. I brought the domination most of the time, save for when my bronchitis finally started getting the better of me and she picked Tangled Up In Blue...which is my most hated song in the RB2 groupings. She seemed fairly nice and I talked a bit with her, and she never got overly upset when I would nuke songs on Hard or Expert.

So I jumped ship and decided to report my findings here.

SUMMARY / TL;DR RESULTS

1. I suck at driving and tennis, and if you were to combine both, global warming would climb 120000000%.

2. French people are really good at being Virtual Tennis players, and really good at being Virtual Dicks.

3. Girls like vocals. I like vocals. I like girls. YES!



4. Live players who don't frequent popular games aren't usually dicks. Unless you suck at Tennis. Maybe I deserved that bad rendition of the National Anthem.

5. Now that I have Left 4 Dead and Live, I will be getting some gaming on (and probably get owned in the process) with some Destructoiders! This makes me a happy panda!



...minus the panda sex. I don't get any of that today. Maybe tomorrow.   read


10:31 PM on 02.01.2009  

Some unknown number of things you may or may not know about NegFactor.

Inspired by silverdragon's blog post and the sheer insanity in terms of number of get-to-know-me-better blogs popping up today...I will post my own post-Superbowl list of random factoids about the biggest Cardinals fan to ever knowingly call both the spread against his team and exactly how much they'd lose by, still holding a shred of hope that they'd win anyway, because he forgot he's a Cardinals fan. Sorry, had to get my moping out of the way.

First, the less relevant...10 NVGR things you probably don't know about me.

1. Semi-VGR: I was born left-handed, but taught to do everything right-handed, because my grandmother believed that left-handed people are tools of the devil. This is kind of a bitch, because other than having terrible handwriting and not really having a best way to masturbate, I handle all types of controls that require two hands in an unorthodox way, resulting in an inability to play some games (or instruments in the case of Rock Band) properly.

2. Twice, I nearly made it to the Scripps Howard National Spelling Bee. Yes, I was almost one of those headcases you see on TV with neurotic parents who demand perfection and nothing less. I brought a dictionary to school in seventh grade. Clearly it didn't help...the two words I lost out on were "ignominious" and...SAXOPHONE. To this date, jazz makes me flinch.

3. I've seen more horror movies than people will see total movies overall in their lifetime...around 1500. I probably have actually enjoyed less than 200 of those. The Lost Boys is still my favorite.

4. My favorite number is 17. This number haunts me everywhere I go, so I can only assume that it must be my favorite number, and not some sort of harbinger of doom. I'm really not cool with doom.

5. Despite being afraid of heights and hating hot temperatures in general, my two professions I always dreamed of being when I was a kid were an astronaut and a firefighter. I really need to get my priorities straight.

6. I fear spiders more than you do. No, really. You cannot fear spiders more than I do. I will more than likely have my girlfriend preview all comments that appear on this blog to see if there are spider pictures on it (even video game ones!) before I make any attempt to read what's been said here...and if there have been, I'll probably make her reply for me as well. Damn you all ahead of time.

7. Bad Religion is my favorite band of all time. I think Greg Graffin is a god among men, a lyrical genius, and a master of stage presence. The best compliment I ever received was that I looked like him (at a Bad Religion show, no less!).

8. I probably look like somebody you know, or you've seen before. I have been told at some point in my life that I look like the following: Steve Buscemi, Johnny Depp, "a young James Dean", "a young Jack Nicholson", the crazy guy from The Green Mile, "my brother" (that's what she said), Greg Graffin...and I know there's more, but I can't think of them off the top of my head right now.

9. I can't be happy when other people are miserable around me. I have to go out of my way to try and make them laugh, cheer them up, something...or else get away from the misery. I have a tendency to get really depressed when other people are down, so I try and stem that as quickly as possible.

10. I always want a bunch of friends, but I never know how to go about making them, because I generally don't share common field of interest with people my age. Hell, my girlfriend is about eight years younger than me. She's my best friend. I can't seem to relate to anyone near age 30. I'm also shy as hell at first when trying to interact with new people, which doesn't help my cause. Part of the reason I lurked here for about six months before even joining. :P

And now for something completely different...WITH PICTURES!

Ten (or more) VGR things you probably don't know about me.

1a. I won second place in Nintendo Power's Final Fantasy contest they had back in the day. Three different contests, were held over three months...I won second place in the second contest, which netted me a sassy pink Final Fantasy Fanny Pack. It was...magical. It did come with three chocolate candies though!

1b. I share the same birthday as Nester from Nintendo Power's Howard & Nester comic strip. May 23rd. It's in the 1987 Nintendo Power calendar if you're ever curious.



1c. To continue the Nintendo Power run, I still have the Counselor's Corner phone number memorized...along with the code to Mike Tyson in Mike Tyson's Punch-Out!. 12068857529 is the old phone number...the area code changed, but I know some seven years ago when a friend in Washington tried calling the proper area code, the number still worked then. :P As for Mike Tyson...007 373 5963, bitches.

1d. I can't beat Mike Tyson. I'm sorry, world. I was not meant for boxing.

2. I can destroy hardcore MVC2 players using unorthodox lower-tier characters. Yeah, I'll still use Sentinel. But while everyone's playing pixies or pulling another Hyper Viper from their dimensional asspocket, I've got The Hulk and The Juggernaut backing me up. This really throws people off, as they're less commonly used characters by conventional standards of tournament play.



3. My best games are Contra, Lifeforce, F-Zero GX, and Marvel Vs. Capcom 2. I live for these games.

4. I love creating things in games. Level-builders, editors, stuff like that...it all makes my day. I've made over 150 stepcharts for Stepmania, 55 levels for Smash Brothers Brawl, 20 or so levels for Trackmania. I live for this stuff.

5. Final Fantasy IV isn't just my favorite RPG/game ever. It was all I knew for awhile in my high school years. One summer, I took a notebook and scanned every single enemy possible, while doing load/reloads to calculate boss enemy HP as close to the point as possible. I also took four VHS tapes and used the six-hour recording method to record an entire playthrough of the game so I could watch the game when I wasn't playing it and memorize the main dialogue. I don't remember it perfectly anymore, but that probably just means I need to go play the game again.

6. I have a short attention span when it comes to new games. Unless they can capture my attention and hold it steadfast, I will give up on them after a few hours to pursue some other fling with gaming.

7. Survival Horror is my favorite genre, but the only games I've beaten from it are AITD1 and 2, SH1, 2, and 3, Resident Evil 1 remake for the GameCube, Carrier for the Dreamcast, and Hellnight for the PSX. Not a very big selection, despite my enjoyment of the genre. I guess I always hope to be scared, or on the edge of my seat in a state of intensity, but none of these games really do the trick. They usually frustrate, rather than entertain. But I still keep hoping for the next one to keep me glued to it straight through.



8. I prefer multiplayer over singleplayer any day of the week, even if multiplayer means having someone watch me, or me watching someone play through a game. It always seems more enjoyable with more people present.

9. I loved Xenosaga's story through the entire trilogy. This wouldn't normally be a big deal, but most everyone I've heard seems to think of the games as crap. And I think most everyone is wrong. So nyah.

10. In an ultimate move of dickery, I made my girlfriend play through FF7, with her having never been spoiled by hearing about Aeris's death. I felt there was no need to tell her, despite the fact that she loved Aeris so much, that she leveled her moreso than anyone else. Needless to say, after the cutscene of her death, my girlfriend about raged over her wasted time leveling Aeris. And I laughed a lot. In fact, I still find it funny.

And now you know a little about me. If you cared. Which you probably didn't. But if you did read through here and you did find something interesting amidst this, I'm glad. This community rules and it's nice to be able to see us come together to learn from/about one another.



Me from a year ago. Full of rage and metal, clearly.   read


1:47 PM on 01.20.2009  

My girlfriend saves the day.

So, if there's any question of the potential shoddiness of the bass pedal on the Rock Band 1 drum kit, I answered it this morning with a beautiful split in the pedal that happened right behind the spring in the middle of a Challenging song on Hard difficulty. I kept having a feeling it was going to go out sooner or later, but I was kinda expecting the orange plastic piece that regulates pedal movement in conjunction with the spring to snap.

The middle of the pedal literally split in half, and it was quite an awesome crack. I wish I had gotten a picture of it, but I didn't think I'd be posting this until my girlfriend suddenly decided that she was determined to salvage this thing, rather than spend money on a new pedal altogether.

Taking pieces of plastic from a mini-anatomical skeleton construction set, she cut up some pieces and made rods to act as splints on the top and bottom of the crack and duct taped the whole thing, before adding a layer or duct tape (rolled up) as padding on either side of the top splint. Images below. You might be able to see the plastic in the bottom view sticking out of the center.







The result? Well, I'm still practicing hard on drums, but I didn't miss a beat with the bass pedal on the next few songs I tried. Moreover, the pedal feels a little more loose (the spring doesn't pop it up as far due to the underside splint) and it's actually EASIER to hit 1/16th bass pedal notes, it seems.



Always nice to save a few bucks now and then. :P   read


9:56 PM on 05.16.2008  

I'm back! (NVGRBCVGRSA)

That stands for Not Video Game-Related But Containing Video Game-Related Stuff Anyway. Since my girlfriend just asked as I typed that out.

So, I've gotten moved into Gainesville (with aforementioned girlfriend) and decided I'd put up some pictures of the current gaming setup since I couldn't do it before, due to having a shitty room in a shitty house with a shitty setup and shitty lighting that prevented me from taking pictures of any quality other than shitty.



That'd be the pads and the computer next to an intense amount of wires. I can't wait for the unintentional-but-definitely-deserved fire that happens here.



There's the mass of evil that pervades the sanctity of our home. The SNES works, but the only game I have is FF4 and it likes to randomly erase my save data. Eff you, FF4. The N64 needs a cable for video/audio action. The Dreamcast works fine though! Woot!



Just for Mr. Zimmerman, there's an assortment of board games there including Betrayal At The House On The Hill, some Munchkin games, Greed Quest, and even Heroscape (in the trash bag and postal service box). There's also a nice load of D&D and other gaming books for everyone to see so you can point and laugh at the geekery I possess. Mr. Zimmerman, I promise to buy Arkham Horror as soon as the bastids at the local gameshop have it available and not just the bedamned expansion.

Anyway, that's about it. Going to post a prelude tonight for an ongoing set of blog articles I intend to do in a little while. Thanks to everyone who wished me well in the move to here. To everyone else, you're bastids but I love you anyway.   read


11:44 PM on 05.11.2008  

A temporary goodbye. (NVGR)

Moving to Gainesville as of tomorrow with my girlfriend as she gets ready for UF next semester.

I love this place and may not be able to get back to it for a short while, depending on how job hunting goes, but I will return someday in the not-too-distant future hopefully. I'd like to offer some special thanks to a few people who made me appreciate this place as a genuine community where I feel like I belong.

Firstly, the three or so people who have me as a friend. It's you three people (if that many!) that keep me in check from using Destructoid as a Myspace whoring tool. No, wait. I guess it's your fault that I'm that much closer to being a tool. I thank everyone who doesn't have me listed as a friend.

Koobert rules for being the first (and only) person to address my first blog, thus deflowering my blogging innocence.

Reaprar gets special thanks for being the first person to leave a comment in a blog entry in which he points out how I was an idiot for not looking for basic functions of the Community Blog section *without being a dick about it*. Seriously, tact rules.

Everyone who has played Brawl with me during the FNF period that I was present, you all rule. And a few of you have some serious skills. If you are thinking about shamelessly promoting yourself in a comment here as being one of those people, I'm definitely NOT talking about you.

Everyone who discussed with me a few subjects in the forums, it was good arguing about stuff with you guys. Thanks.

Finally, Conrad Zimmerman for making me broke. Thanks to him and his awesome "On The Table" entries, I've seen too many games I'm going to be picking up once I get to Gainesville.

I know I haven't written many blogs yet, but once I get situated up north and get some ISP action back on, I intend to work on a weekly blog-review idea I've had spinning around in my head for awhile now.

So cheers to Destructoid for kicking a lot of ass. Hope to see you guys around again sooner than later.

NegFactor   read


12:54 AM on 04.09.2008  

Like video games? Like movies? Hate video game movies? I can help!

Not sure if anyone has posted on this or not, but I figure everyone should spread the word.

Recently, http://www.fearnet.com had an interview with Uwe Boll, in which he made a statement about a petition online located here. In said article, Uwe Boll talks about how the petition which asks for him to stop making films does not concern him, as it only has a paltry 18,000 signatures. He states that if it reaches 1,000,000 signatures, then he will be convinced that he should step down from playing director.

As of this moment, it has surpassed 125,000 signatures. Whether or not he'll stay true to his word, I think this is worth a moment of your time if you feel like I feel about such wonderful movies like House Of The Dead, Alone In The Dark (where my scathing hatred officially resides...the bowels of that wretched movie), Bloodrayne, and even the wonderful In The Name Of The King.

My apologies if word of this has already gotten around to you guys, but I figured it was worth throwing up.

Sincerely,

Signature #61849   read


12:44 AM on 04.09.2008  

A goings-on at Gamestop.

So, just to set the record straight...I do not have an XBOX 360, nor am I familiar with the vast majority of games and the online service of Live. So if any of this is wrong, please feel free to correct me.

A few days ago, I went into Gamestop in our local mall to pick up a memory card for my Wii (Gamecube slots, specfically). I know one of the employees there and apparently there was a new girl working with him on this particular day. In front of me is a couple that are looking at a 360 game, which appears to be COD4, but I could be wrong. Here's where the conversation begins and why this just screamed as something I needed to post.

Male worker: Yeah, this is a game that you'll really like a lot. It gets a lot of playtime at my house. In fact, my wife plays it way more than I do. She's even prestiged four times.

Female worker: What's that mean?

Male worker: It means she basically maxed out all the multiplayer stuff and got to start over.

Female worker: Wow, that's pretty neat.

Male worker: Yeah, she's awesome at that game. Whenever I see her playing online, she's always beating everybody. In fact, whenever they hear her voice online and realize she's a girl, they kick her out of their games.

Female worker: That's terrible, are you serious?

Male worker: Yeah, I've seen it happen a bunch of times.

Female worker: That's unbelievable. In fact...isn't that illegal? That's illegal, isn't it? Isn't it?

--------

I should point out that he just proceeded to ignore her. I'm not sure about prestiging and whatnot, but when she tried to say that kicking someone from a game is illegal, I just kinda had a mental facepalm. So much for paving a good way for girls in gaming with what she was bringing to the table.

On a brighter note...I GOT A BIG PINK MEMORY CARD TO SIT INSIDE MY WII'S GAMECUBE SLOTS. HOW SEXY.

Has anyone else had an awkwardly retarded moment at a Gamestop that went anything like this? Or is this even unnatural at this point?   read


11:56 PM on 03.12.2008  

Smash Bros. Brawl -- 40 hours of impressions in one page of review.

I guess I'll start from the top and go through the motions of this review by taking everything one step at a time in terms of how I played through and experienced the game.

40 hours of gameplay ago, minus all characters, minus 200 stickers and trophies and songs, minus 85/128 challenges, I sat down with my girlfriend to play Brawl. Firstly, we ignored the instruction booklet. The cover looked pretty, but we had gaming to do. So, we started it up and went to setup controls and see how customizable they are.

As most people may know by now, four different controllers (styles) are available for use in Brawl. The standard Wiimote, the Wiimote+Nunchuk combo, the Classic Controller, and the traditional Gamecube Controller. I need to point out that while most people might be used to analog play, I had an issue with a dislocation of my left wrist and thumb when I was younger, so consequently I'm not able to hold a controller in the most orthodox of ways and my thumb doesn't move perfectly on analog (read as: I can still pop both out of place at will and sometimes on accident). I point all this out because when I first heard about the customization of the controllers, I was giddy with delight that I might be able to finally utilize a setup that would benefit me when playing some hardcore melees (read as: I sucked at Melee with the Gamecube controller).

The customization for the controllers is actually pretty nice, however the standard setup for movement cannot be altered. Which means my dreams of using the D-pad to move were quickly dashed. Sad face. Fear not, though! Everything else is customizable, including turning off the tap-jump (which I dread so very much). My girlfriend actively uses the Wiimote+Nunchuk combo and loves it, as do I for the most part enjoy the Classic Controller (again, I still suck with the analog, though not as badly). By and large, this is an awesome start to my gameplay experience and now it's time for me and the girlfriend to get to some Subspace Emissary. Awesome.

Or is it?

I liked Subspace for about the first two hours. Co-op or not, it is kinda fun playing an enlarged Adventure Mode. The problem is, it's too large. I really liked Adventure Mode because even though it was fixed in terms of stages, everything felt like it belonged from level to level. Subspace seems more like it was created to be a platformer arcade type game and I dislike it for that reason. I don't mind the Double Dragon/Streets Of Rage/any other type of platform fighter setup that SSE undertakes, except that it tries to incorporate awkward sets of jumps or hazards into every level that attempt to just outrightly steal a life or two from a player. The camera angle seems a little too focused in on the character (first player, never second) to allow you to get proper perspective on the things around you, and sometimes it isn't focused at all (scrolling levels). More than anything though, it's the sheer repetitiveness of the mode that turned me off to it. Almost seven hours of gameplay, and the last two of it was spent in The Great Maze, which is essentially a complete recap of every level you've already done with a less than pleasant Mega Man theme of bosses mixed in for good (or bad) measure.

All-in-all, Subspace failed to please me, though it was worth unlocking Boss Rush Mode. For people who want to easily access the secret characters of the game without spending a long time playing Vs. Matches, this is also a great way to get the job done in less time.

After Subspace, I did a quick bout of training on Pit and then ran through Classic Mode to see how it played out. Classic Mode really hasn't changed at all and is just as enjoyable as it was before. Twelve stages (and two bonus stages) this time around and a fair amount of variety between who shows up to the matches. The difficulties seem to be mostly relative to damage taken by enemies before they're dispatched and less focused on CPU difficulty (although it's clear that at harder difficulties, the enemies are functioning on Level 7-9).

Speaking of difficulty, the enemy AI is hit or miss. I did a few experiments on Level 1 and Level 9 CPUs to see how they functioned in handling one-another or even a dummy Player 1. With a 30 minute time limit and 99 stock, three Level 1 CPUs couldn't even manage to off an idle dummy Jigglypuff (still had 58 lives left)...in fact, somehow while I was out of the room, Jigglypuff earned a KO, which really boggles my mind. The Level 9 CPUs are fairly smart in terms of standard combat, but they strangely seem to try and find the lowest point on a given level to fight on (especially if there are edges of ledges to hug). In standard fights with a Level 9 (or multiples), they definitely hold up on most levels though.

Just to summarize a few other things mode-related, All-Star is actually themed now which makes it a pretty neat mode to run through. Boss Rush is quite fun, as it features all the bosses from SSE in an All-Star type of theme. You can co-op both of these modes, so it's definitely not so bad on some of the more ramped difficulties. Event Mode is difficulty-based as well now and supports a different set of co-op events. The usual Home-Run and Target Smash and Multi-Man Brawls are present once again, with the formermost and lattermost being co-op as well. Also, Adventure Mode is gone, so I cried a little inside. Let's face it, Adventure Mode was fun, and I'll long for a ressurrection of it in some non-SSE form down the line.

Stage Builder is pretty neat. Three sizes of stages to create, three different backgrounds, a multitude of songs to choose from to represent your levels, and some basic parts to work with...along with some more once you've completed a couple challenges. Stage Builder is something I really enjoy, but it falls short in a couple respects. Firstly, part limitation. I mean this in both types of parts you can use and the TOTAL number of parts allowed per level. On the largest level, just using standard 1x1 blocks, you run out of parts room with four straight lines of blocks and some change. That's not even close to 1/3 of the level's full space, so such a limitation greatly inhibits the ability of the creator to put their complete effort into a level. In terms of the parts you can use, there is a fair selection, however the structures section is somewhat lacking in its usefulness. They're generally designed with a space surrounding the ends of the objects (a 2x2 tunnel might be 2x4 because it needs two 1x1 blocks covered on either side of it)...so it's pretty much impossible to link said objects to one-another or copies of themselves. So unless you're planning on just setting those structures on top of things to take up space, they're pretty worthless. Hopefully there might be some DLC available for new parts. While they're at it, they can take care of the second problem, which is a lack of backgrounds (and consequently, themed parts). There are only three backgrounds...I do admit, they look good...but when one wants to play a bunch of custom stages, seeing the same backgrounds does kinda get old.

Challenges are pretty much straightforward. Some of them are ridiculously hard and some are pretty easy. As a greedy gamer, I'm glad that the challenges for unlocking levels and other cool things are on the simple side. From a logical gamer standpoint, it's kinda upsetting at the same time. I'm all about having some really difficult challenges, but if I beat All-Star on Intense difficulty, I DO NOT WANT A TROPHY as my reward. I want the most awesome level ever that's going to blow my mind, drink my milkshake, and have twenty garage sales all at once. I want the level to be cooler than Contra and Phantasy Star 2 combined and I want it to play Blaster Master theme music all the way through it. NOT A TROPHY. Still, Challenges are a nice touch.

Speaking of sound, all the people whining about sound can go home. Seriously. I'm at over 200 themes/songs/whatever unlocked and I'm still a ways from getting every sound available. The fact that they're customizable in My Music (select what themes play on a sliding-bar scale) makes them awesome at the very least, but they've gone ahead and brought in some amazing classics. Balloon Fight? Green Hill Zone? THE ENTIRE KID ICARUS MEDLEY? The only thing that could really make me feel better would be to somehow hear Blaster Master themes show up, but then my head would explode, so I'll have to be content with just A LOT OF AWESOME.

Masterpieces seems like a waste to me. They don't cover all the games for all the characters and the demos are ridiculously short. 30 second demos are not going to appeal to me EVER. At least set it at 2 minutes so I can get some short fix.

Levels are magnificent. Sure, everyone always wants more levels, just like they want more characters, but clocking in at 41 characters, we're not exactly short on levels, especially if you consider the stage builder itself. A fair share of Melee stages came back, as well as some nice new spins on character-themed levels. They even took out the Ice Climber stage and replaced it with Rumble Falls, so ALL OF YOU ICE CLIMBER LEVEL-HATERS CAN GO HOME. At least I thought that level was fun.

And of course, the characters. Let me start by saying that I heard a lot of speculation on the character roster that showed up. I've been wanting Pit since N64 Smash Bros. came out, so my year was already made when I heard he'd be arriving. Then people were up in arms with the arrival of would-be clones in the form of Lucas and Wolf. I understand where people are coming from, but "clones" couldn't be any further from the truth concerning the characters in this game. Lots of revamping and lots of new feels for several older characters. I had no idea how I'd feel about Wolf until I jumped into a Multi-Man Brawl with him to find out just how very different he plays then Fox or Falco. They definitely took things an extra step in terms of fleshing out the feel of characters in this game, and I applaud them for such a great effort. About all that's missing is the inclusion of Mega Man (yes, everyone including me wants him in) and Arthur (I want the Ghouls N' Ghosts version!) and the reappearance of Mewtwo. Somehow, I won't be missing Pichu and I don't really feel too bad about the loss of Roy...because Ike rocks my face off.

Since I haven't said anything about it yet, let me just state that Vs. Mode is just as cool as it ever was and also adds in (via unlocked Advanced Rules) STOCK TIME LIMIT. Sorry, I just had to mention that, because I was hoping for something like this to show up. Other than that, yeah. Vs. Mode definitely rules.

Finally, online play. I have already dealt with a fair share of Wii Code errors due to router issues, but once I got things tweaked, I've got to say that it was nice to be able to play friends without having to go anywhere. Being able to brawl on the With Anyone setup is very fun, especially since skill levels vary from fair to hardcore expert. I've spectated a few matches (Spectator isn't thrilling, but a great way to get stickers) and have seen several styles of play and skill that are all over the board. Of course there will be the usual gripes about Friend Codes and Wii Friend listings and the error codes...all are understandable. Still, if you can get things fleshed out and running fine, online can definitely make for an awesome experience overall.

So, if you've read to this point, you've probably seen that I've had few gripes with the game and are probably expecting some mid-level rating. WRONG. 9.5/10. That -.5 goes to SSE, as the rest is stuff that is either superfluous addons that I can live without or stuff that can easily be forgiven or even REMEDIED (yay, DLC for stage builder please!). I indulge this game fully and it definitely will be my game of the year. In fact, the only reason I'm writing this review right now is because my girlfriend is busy playing online with people.

Shameless plug of my Wii Code and Friend Code in case you want to play me sometime below.

Wii Code: 2670 2363 7852 1578
WFC#: 2964 8269 2808   read


8:19 PM on 02.24.2008  

Penalizing Players In RPGs...or..."Why the long face? It's just a long game!"

So, I'm playing Suikoden 3 again. I remember loving this game to death despite several frustrations because of the ultimate twist of who The Masked Bishop is and the whole plot surrounding his actions.

I'm not playing it just becaus eI loved the game before. I'm actually playing it because my girlfriend knows nothing about the Suikoden series and I've already played 1 and 2 recently to try and showcase to her some neat story arcs for so many cool characters that travel between the games and the concordant eras.

Thinking back on my recent experience with Suikoden 2, I feel the need to reflect on several things that bother me with RPGs in general in the past and present, Suikoden 2 included.

Penalizing RPG players in some games is something that bothers me. By penalizing, I mean making a more difficult road for the player who is more interested in story than leveling. Now don't get me wrong, I am an avid supporter of difficult scenarios in RPGs, provided that they are handled well and good. I'm more specifically calling out the concept in RPGs where there is a need to level lots of players that one doesn't really care about to help achieve an ultimate goal.

In Suikoden 2, when it comes time to take out Luca Blight, he's not the easiest boss in the world. You get three squads who get the luxury of trying to take him out. The first two squads are only present to try and whittle away segments of his HP, I believe. The last squad has to deal with whatever is left on him when he reaches them. The problem is...over half of the game up to this point is spent with several mandatory characters in your party, at least one of whom isn't even very good (I'M CALLING YOU OUT, NANAMI.), and the ones that are good are split amongst the squads anyway!

I believe that leveling is a necessity in RPGs in the sense that it feels good to know your characters are more empowered, capable of doing more damage, taking more damage, casting more spells, and the like. However, I'm a story whore at heart. I don't want to spend extra time leveling other characters that I don't care about while I'm already enjoying a good story (or in the case of Suikoden 2, a good story with terrible Engrish). This kind of function serves to aggravate me, because I'm forced to throw in whatever fodder I can find and hope that the few characters that I brought along at various points are strong enough to dish out the necessary punishment to survive.

Nanami is the worst example here, as she is integral to the storyline, but not overly useful in the long run...so she's essentially filling a slot I'd like to place someone more powerful (or at least more interesting...her anime-esque actions are appealing for a short while, but it gets old quickly...for me at least) into and simply cannot. And of course, for those of you that have played it, you know what happens at Rockaxe Castle later in the game anyway.

Final Fantasy 6 (3, whatever...take your pick) is just as guilty in penalizing the player. The invasion on Kefka gives you three parties to split your formations into for the raid and if you play like I do (and maybe that's all this rant is...my own personal distaste with the way these are handled), you've got several powerhouses that comprise your main force and then a few strong characters and the rest are cannon fodder. Commence with running from every fight possible in hopes that I survive to the final fight and setup my squads properly!

FF6/3 at least handles this slightly better than Suikoden 2, in that all the non-optional characters more or less get some facetime to get SOME leveling in. This means that more than likely, two of my parties won't have too much trouble getting through that final raid, but one party is going to hightail it all the way to the end.

FF7 also doesn't face the Nanami issue, as nearly all characters can be switched around most of the time and the expendable character is never mandatory anyway.

Some games do make up for the frequent party changes by at least adjusting levels to match or come close to your own when these types of things happen. I do applaud that.

Does anyone else feel like I do about this sort of thing? Or maybe someone can list some examples of where mandatory multiple squads or party slot-filling is actually done well? Maybe I'm just bitching too much? I'll stay tuned.   read







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