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About
LAST UPDATE: Dec. 26, 2010

Fellow Dtoiders always welcome to hit me up for play via these gaming networks/services...

Xbox Live: joblong
Playstation Network: J_ToSaveTheDay
Steam: sonikkuj

Also on Blizzard Battle.net, but since that's more intimate information (RealID!), please request via PM to be added as a friend. I mostly play World of Warcraft on Battle.net, but I do own Starcraft II (and suck horribly at it!).
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May 20, 1992 was the day I would own my first console and videogame ever at the tender young age of 5. I never asked for it, but my mom and dad were arcade/Atari nuts before the birth of my brother and I, so my dad felt it would be appropriate to get me a Genesis at the time.



Pictured A representation of, literally, one of my earliest memories in life. Isn't that deep?

So I had my Genesis. I tended to feel like a bit of a blacksheep among my friends, because all of them had NES instead of Genesis (and later, everyone got SNES before I did). I gradually did develop NES envy, since all I ever heard about was Mario Bros., Contra, and Battletoads -- I missed the NES era entirely. That's a different story, though, but relevant to how I feel today with Sonic 4 out (more on this in a little while).

Sonic was a mainstay for me in my early years not just as a gamer, but in life. My Genesis came bundled with the original game, and my dad bought Soni
May 20, 1992 was the day I would own my first console and videogame ever at the tender young age of 5. I never asked for it, but my mom and dad were arcade/Atari nuts before the birth of my brother and I, so my dad felt it would be appropriate to get me a Genesis at the time.



Pictured above: A representation of, literally, one of my earliest memories in life. Isn't that deep?

So I had my Genesis. I tended to feel like a bit of a blacksheep among my friends, because all of them had NES instead of Genesis (and later, everyone got SNES before I did). I gradually did develop NES envy, since all I ever heard about was Mario Bros., Contra, and Battletoads -- I missed the NES era entirely. That's a different story, though, but relevant to how I feel today with Sonic 4 out (more on this in a little while).

Sonic was a mainstay for me in my early years not just as a gamer, but in life. My Genesis came bundled with the original game, and my dad bought Sonic 2, Sonic 3, and Sonic & Knuckles for my brother and I quite close to their release dates. Aside from getting my Genesis, one of my earlier memories was being in a Meijer store the week Sonic 3 came out, and my dad lifting me up to the counter, pointing to it, and asking if I wanted it. I had no conception of game release dates back then -- it was like magic that it was there on the shelf, this brand new Sonic game that my dad was offering to bring home with us that day.

And boy did that game feel like absolute magic back then. Sonic looked sharper than ever, that opening jungle stage seemed so lush and vibrant, and that punk Ro-butt-nik was going to pay for setting it ablaze.



I have Photoshop and could have easily done magic sparkle effects to the above picture to better illustrate the feeling that the game evoked for me as a child. But that kind of shit is done too often, it's 7AM and I've been up all night, and I'm goddamn stoked I just finished Sonic 4 and I have to tell you about it right now. But hey, weren't those title graphics something for 1994? And remember how crisp and detailed Sonic's sprite looked back then? No? WHAT THE F***!

Sadly, I missed Sega's subsequent platforms up until the Dreamcast, opting to get an SNES, Playstation, and N64 up until that point. I enjoyed Sonic Adventure 1 and 2, despite mixed feelings from the Sonic fan community, and that was really it. Since the Dreamcast's short life, Sonic has felt either dull or plain awful to me -- a decade of bad games. Granted, I only played Sonic Rush (which I sort of liked) between Sonic Adventure 2 and the now-freshly-released Sonic 4, because the ideas being presented for Sonic in many of the games released in the past ten years (as well as astoundingly poor critical reception) turned me off to the franchise entirely.

When Sega announced Sonic 4, it felt like that same magic was evoked again -- after ignoring the icon that ultimately led to my gaming identity today for almost a decade, I could have never even fathomed the possibility that Sega would make a Sonic 4. I was going to buy it day 1, just like my dad had bought me Sonic 1, 2, 3, and Knuckles as a child. Following a decade like that, I felt like the only kid who owned a Sega all over again -- everyone's looking forward to something like Call of Duty: Black Ops while my mind is set squarely on that Sonic magic: sure, Call of Duty* is the hip thing that everyone likes and flocks their attention to, but the kid with the Sega wants his goddamn Sonic, and he wants it bad.

* Ahem, sorry if comparing desire for the new Call of Duty to having an NES in the early 90's offends anyone. I'm just making a point, and perhaps making it very poorly.

So I got it tonight.

It was... awesome.

And I don't usually like writing up reviews (or even blog posts, since I tend not to edit them well), but given my personal history with Sonic and my smashing time with the game tonight/this morning, I felt I just had to do it.

Ladies and gentlemen, your data and review for

Sonic the Hedgehog 4: Episode 1

Released October 13, 2010

Platforms: Playstation Network, Xbox Live Arcade, and WiiWare (iPhone version also available, but relatively different experience there)

Publisher: Sega... Shocking, I know

Developer: Dimps Corporation

Price: $14.99 USD

 

Sonic 4 is in a tough spot with some of its fans. If you are one of said fans, feel free to make your getaway, because you are not about to agree with the awesome things I have to say about this game.

Sega promised that this game would be a return to form for the franchise, eliminating some elements that had been slaughtering the Sonic franchise and promising more modern features:


Return to minimal characterization of Sonic and reduction of storytelling elements

Return to exclusively 2D plane of gameplay and Genesis-era controls

Focus solely on Sonic as the character (I do miss Tails and Knuckles, but not the rest of the overwrought cast)

1080p graphics that attempt to modernize, yet emulate, the visual look and feel of the classic Genesis titles


The graphics do look clean and colorful, and do a respectable, praiseworthy job of capturing the classic Sonic aesthetic for this HD generation. Every color in the game's palette seems carefully selected to look exactly the same as the color scheming of Sonic's earlier titles for the Genesis, specifically Sonic 1 and Sonic 2. Sprites are instead replaced with almost cartoonish 3D models that seem to have a subtle cel-shading-esque effect, which are aptly employed to replace 16-bit sprite work in this 1080p-rendered title.

The updated models are hardly original, too, but this is not a bad thing. Instead, Sega has assorted different enemy designs from Sonic 1, 2, and 3 to pose a threat to Sonic in this latest installment, even reusing some boss designs (with new additions to their attack patterns) -- a classy move when Sega is clearly trying to evoke nostalgia. Sonic's model is updated to reflect his most contemporary design, though his Sonic 1 sprite is used to denote the awarding of a 1up at the end of a stage should the player accumulate enough points to gain a 1up.

Enemies aren't the only design assets that feel reused: Sega seems to have ripped precise sections of some of the earlier titles' stages and updated and planted them within these new zones almost exactly. It actually has been quite some time since I played those older titles, but some of the zones felt incredibly familiar, as I knew precisely when to jump and enemy locations in several (though not all) areas of the game. Like the reuse of enemy designs, this is a welcome decision from me as a longingly nostalgic and oft-betrayed-feeling Sonic fan. It creates the effect of reminding me where I came from as a Sonic fan, but with the new sections of level design which do make up the majority of the game, Sonic 4 progressively demonstrates a contrast to just how much the series strives for change with this installment as well.

The game also reuses a few of the classic medleys from the old Sonic games, such as the stage clear medley, and the sound effects are exactly what you'll expect from a game trying to be like its classical predecessors. The majority of the soundtrack, however, is completely brand-new and attempts to be 16-bit to mixed effect. On one hand, the tunes effectively carry the tone of each zone in the game, but they don't seem quite as catchy or memorable as the old-school tunes. This, however, is subject to change for me in the future, as I have only completed a single playthrough so far. Nothing stuck out, but I wasn't offput by any of the game's tunes. The soundtrack certainly is different from Sonic's butt-rock soundtracks since the Adventure titles, but it again does a decent job of harkening to the earlier days of Sonic.

One thing that Sonic fans will definitely notice is that the physics of Sonic have changed a bit in this title. Sonic seems to move at a slower pace when he's at his maximum speed, and his jumping and platforming properties feel stiffer and heavier. Again, fans expressed outrage at this change of pace early on, but I argue that it makes for a very fine-tuned platformer worthy of both the contemporary age of gaming and of its classical legacy simultaneously. On one hand, despite the slower pace of Sonic's full sprint, the game still carries a sense of rushing. On the other hand, Sonic's non-running mobility benefits entirely from his stiffer handling, lending to some truly inspired-feeling platforming sections that don't seem to suffer from slight input error as they may have been prone to in the classic titles. Sonic also inherits his homing attack, introduced in the 3D title Sonic Adventure. This adds an extra layer to dispatching enemies and to the platforming and mobility of Sonic. Many sections of the game lay out enemies in a pattern that can be exploited by Sonic's homing attack in order to access extra paths or to increase his mobility -- a dynamic that both enhances interacting with enemies as well as enhancing Sonic's mobile potential in almost any situation. The player has much more control over Sonic now, and the newer sections of level design take advantage of this entirely. It's not quite as if Sonic 4 is attempting to emulate slower-paced platformers that it once competed with on the market (Super Mario), but rather simultaneously embraces Sonic's high speeds while providing some thoughtfully-designed and crafted platforming segments to give the player a break from rushing blindly from one end of a level to the other. As a result, my first playthrough often yielded stage finishes of up to 8 minutes. I even ended up running out of a time on a stage and dying when the clock hit 10 minutes.

This is partially due to the game's slower pace and slightly heavier emphasis on platforming sections, but the game also features gameplay variety in the manner of brief and simple puzzles. For example, there is a section in the game that has players lighting torches in order to move platforms in an order that will be ideal to allow Sonic to pass before the torches burn out and the platforms move back to their default positions. Players are challenged in this section to figure out the correct order to light the torches in order to advance before the platforms return to their original state.

Things that pissed off fans early on such as the minecart feel almost like Sonic in his full sprint -- the player can (and must) jump at the right times in order to avoid death, or, in lighter cases of penalty, from being thrown onto the slower path to level completion. At the same time, they make the stages feel more dynamic and varied than Sonic rushing through huge gaps, and in some cases, scripted events occur simultaneously to promote a sense of urgency.

That's another thing that Sonic 4 features in its gameplay something that the classic games seem to lack: urgency. There are some sections where the action is strictly timing-based, forcing the player to attempt sections in a trial-and-error fashion or face certain death. These sections felt like the highlights of the game as I played, and caused absolute satisfaciton upon completion. I often neared a squeal during some of these tight situations -- Sega and Dimps have definitely scripted some amazing action for a 2D title in Sonic 4.

Sonic 4 has its flaws. Namely, the fact that it is subtitled Episode 1 should be somewhat of a giveaway that it will be short. And it is. Granted, the classic Sega games could all be completed in a single sitting, and Sonic 4 is no exception. Sonic 4: Episode 1 features 5 zones, split into 13 acts (17 if you include boss acts). It's close to the stage length of the classic titles, and if that's what you expect, you will be fine. However, be wary that this game is not priced at $9.99 -- it's $14.99. Some may feel that it comes up just shy of its value, even after replay is considered. I personally could have done with one additional 3-act zone at that price, but I must say, the content that is present in Episode 1 almost entirely feels solid, but I already cannot wait until the release of Episode 2.

Second, either intentionally or unintentionally, Sonic 4 is still prone to the same exact awkward physics that were present in some of the classics -- namely Sonic getting slowed to a halt and maybe even caught during vertical climbs or loops. This is usually triggered by an unintentional direction input from the player, since Sonic can shift directions quite quickly. Old-school fans will have already dealt with this issue for a long, long time now, but it may be surprising to some that directional shifts can still result in unintended halts.

All-in-all, I feel as if any person claiming to be a Sonic fan should invest in Sonic 4. It does to the Sonic franchise what many seem to take away from New Super Mario Bros.: revival of the classical conventions blended with contemporary design decisions that make sense and seem to move the series forward while evoking every quality enjoyed about the series' founding games.

SCORE: 9/10










People are liable to go bat-shit insane when I say this, but 9 hours in, and Final Fantasy XIII is barely a good game.

I'm nowhere near done with it -- I'm still interested in advancing further in the game. I'm not writing these impressions to dismiss the game outright as a massive disappointment -- I have played worse games, and even worse games bearing the Final Fantasy title.

My gut instinct at this point, however, is to be scathingly critical of the title, but I don't think I'm going to give into that feeling in this set of impressions.

And one more thing before I actually talk about Final Fantasy XIII.

I'm a gamer who even started identifying as a gamer after completion of Final Fantasy VII. During that point in my life, FFVII was the most robust game I had ever played, and it solidified my passion for videogames. I no longer claim that FFVII is one of my favorite games of all time, or even one of my favorite Final Fantasy games of all time (so I don't personally hold it on a high pedastal), but there is little doubt that it established my identity as a gamer. Hell, my avatar is an Ivalice Moogle -- Final Fantasy can be a big deal to me.

WATCH OUT BELOW: THERE MIGHT BE VERY MILD SPOILERS, BUT I PROMISE NOT TO DROP ANYTHING BIG

So far, XIII succeeds on a few levels for me:

1) I like the art, and by extension, how the art has managed to be rendered so well in the game's graphics. I know there are quite a few vocal groups of long-time Final Fantasy fans that hate the more futuristic art direction of the series, but I've always enjoyed it just about as much as I have the more traditional fantasy art styles in some of the earlier games.

2) The combat has picked up to a level that I find ultimately enjoyable, though not flawless.

3) There is something about the story that remains oddly compelling -- just compelling enough to keep me playing with a curiosity as to what will happen next.

But where is XIII lacking at 9 hours in?

1) In responding to #3 about the story, there are sore points. For one, dialogue is weird at times. I don't think I attribute this to the fact that it's a Japanese game -- sometimes I feel like the things that characters say would have been perfectly permissible in text form, but when delivered through voice acting, they seem plain weird. There's lines that would've been used in text form to better convey emotions and personality when those qualities were harder to convey without voice, but now it feels like excess melodrama. Too often do critics in this industry attribute this to some weirdness that the Japanese have -- and it might be true, because perhaps this is some sort of conversational style in the Japanese language that I don't quite comprehend as an English-speaker... I don't know, but the awkward feeling or outright feeling of embarrassment I can feel during some line deliveries becomes distracting from the game. It takes my focus away from what's actually trying to be conveyed here on a story level. Even then, sometimes story elements are reiterated far too much. How many times must Snow proclaim his intentions of being a hero? In my head, that was well-established after 15 minutes, but here I am an hour later still getting his proclamations of rescue and heroism; an hour later Vanille is still hopelessly optimistic; an hour later Lightning is again quick to get pissed for whatever seemingly minute reason; an hour later Hope repeats his same reluctance to share his feelings and throws a fit. I got it the first couple of times -- a bit of reiteration was fine; the level of reiteration that I actually feel like I'm experiencing can get a little ridiculous, especially in tandem with my next point.

2) Pacing of "exploration" can seem awful. So far, most of the areas I've trudged through have been linear as all the other reviews, previews, and impressions have pointed out. I came into the experience knowing this. Sharing this quality with Final Fantasy X (one of my favorite games in the series, mind you) seemed like something I would have been able to forgive, but sometimes these areas feel like the plod on far too long. Off the top of my head, I can recall at 9 hours in only having visited 4 different, distinct zones (of course, that's me going off of memory and not quite remembering clearly, as I've had plenty of other things in my life to keep track of between sessions of XIII. That means each one was roughly 2 hours long, and they all felt super repetitious when it came to enemy types that you engage or just the visual look or map layout of the places. The linearity itself isn't the issue -- it's actually how the linearity is presented, because again, I really liked Final Fantasy X and its exploration was essentially not much unlike that in XIII. In Final Fantasy X, the linear nature was presented in what I feel like was much more varied areas. In Final Fantasy XIII, I feel like I'm pushing through the same exact area in an almost straight line for far too long. X also had random encounters, not specifically-placed encounters dispersed across the map. I sort of had a choice about how long to linger and advance my characters. XIII encourages you, even through dialogue, to continue to move on as in when Lightning says, "Trust that I'll watch your back. Focus your attention on pressing forward," or something to that extent, in Chapter 5. Well Lightning, I kind of want to, because it feels like I've been in this damned forest for 3 hours!

Anyway, I risk getting too ranty. There's enough quality to be found in Final Fantasy XIII that keeps me going, but I am definitely having to draw upon my patience to persist. Hoping to hit that mark in the game that truly opens things up, as has been promised by some of my most trusted reviews and impressions, including some that I've seen on this very site. Regardless if the game becomes absolutely fantastic later on, I must admit that XIII's extended opening hours will no doubt haunt the experience as a whole.
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I'm breaking a few rules.

Right now, I'm starting this write-up instead of doing my university homework. But don't worry, that's 75% done and I need a break from the hours I just committed to it.

Secondly, this is less about the industry and more about me and my desire for the future. But coincidentally, it seems like the industry's appropriating a market that almost satisfies my desires!

Maybe I can sort of just niche into that!

WHAT'S POSTMODERNISM, CAP'N?????????????

Postmodernism is a lot of things (and the linked Wikipedia page sells it a bit short, but it'll suffice). It may not even have anything formally to do with videogames! But there are some things I dig about the creative side of the postmodernist movement that I think the games industry can benefit from: fragmentation, intertextuality, and thematic re-appropriation. There's even reasonably justifiable ways in which that these creative aspects of postmodernism already exist in game design.

Here's a pretty well-known and simple example of intertextuality we saw in a game in 2009:


If you got the reference (and may your horrid deprivation soon be reversed if you're on Dtoid and don't catch the reference), then you've just experienced intertextuality.

Intertextuality is when a new work makes direct reference to another. This can be used in a merely celebratory fashion (such as Uncle Mario's exact quoting of Nintendo's Mario), but sometimes it works a lot deeper than that and the producer of a newer work fleshes out the reference completely into the newer work. Imagine in a theoretically deeper case that Ezio's Uncle Mario is a plumber by day (did they have plumbers in Renaissance Italy?), Assassin by night and who's trademark Assassin move is killing his enemies by jumping on top of their heads (and probably snapping their necks by doing so). That would be some intense intertextuality and what I note earlier as thematic re-appropriation.

Now, thematic re-appropriation is a postmodern feature that runs into one large ethical obstacle, and that is the question of whether or not something is plainly ripping something else off. In some cases, most critics or consumers of newer products that sport thematic re-appropriation do feel like blatant rip-offs, but sometimes it's done in a very classy way. The best example I can offer doesn't come from videogames, but rather comes from literature: Mrs. Dalloway by Virginia Woolf and The Hours by Michael Cunningham.

Mrs. Dalloway is usually held as one of the leading postmodern novels. Its told through a mix of the characters' consciousnesses and a lack of specified positioning in space and time. It's a terribly confusing novel to handle at first, because it rarely ever details when or where the characters are, since it literally occurs within the characters' minds: their memories are tied to their current experiences, so suddenly the reader might be reading about one of the characters' memories of a past event without the novel ever signaling that it has switched to a past event (this is that fragmentation feature of postmodernism that I mentioned, that lack of comprehension of time and space, but more on that in a bit). I mean, think about how you negotiate your experiences, especially with videogames. When you played The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess, you probably evoked some memories of Ocarina of Time. The novel attempts to emulate that mind's eye melding of past and present in its style -- certain events trigger the characters' memories of past events without warning. The Hours by Michael Cunningham re-appropriates themes from Mrs. Dalloway, but it is far from being a rip off. One of the characters in the novel is Virginia Woolf herself, as she is writing the novel Mrs. Dalloway; several of the characters are named after Mrs. Dalloway characters and sort of parallel the characters that they're named after; and the very novel Mrs. Dalloway itself is an integral part of the plot of The Hours, yet if you've read the two, they attempt to carry very different meanings despite their strong thematic similarities. The Hours is not a simply a retelling of Mrs. Dalloway, but a complete re-appropriation of its elements.

CAN GAMES DO THAT??? WHY YES THEY ALREADY HAVE!!!


To date, Braid is the highest-quality postmodern game I've played. I'm sure there are plenty I haven't played yet, and even more to come... In The Future.

Jonathan Blow's Braid, which I'm sure many of you have heard of and even played, is postmodernism in gaming in its finest craft to date. (Well, at least to my knowledge -- maybe you all can enlighten me to other games? I'm kind of a fan of postmodernism as a creative movement, though as a philosophical one I'm not so convinced yet. Anyway, I want plugs for games that are comparably postmodern in design! Er, anyway...) Ahem!

The intertextuality is again, Super Mario Bros. The well-known, "I'm sorry, but the Princess is in another castle..." quote occurs at the end of the first world (oh, right, spoilers, heh). The basic gameplay mechanics are run, jump, and defeat enemies by jumping on their heads. The basic enemies look like Goombas. Again, this sort of operates as its thematic re-appropriation as well.

The fragmentation occurs in the story and takes tangible form in the gameplay itself as well. First, the narrative is presented from an unknown point of view at the beginning of each stage. We also don't initially have a sense of the order of these narrative events (first we hear about Tim's break-up with "The Princess," only to be treated to a brief story about Tim's socially-rough college days, which we assume came before the break-up).

And this is where Braid does it on a level that only games can achieve: time and space is manipulable, and therefore it is fragmented. And with each new world, the time and space manipulation changes up: certain items and environmental objects become immune to manipulation; the world's entire motion is dictated by the motions of Tim, etc, etc... Fragmentation in this case becomes an actual part of the gameplay itself. I nerdgasm every time I consider it!

And then it all comes together and actually makes sense. That is, if you can prove yourself a worthy navigator of effed-up space-time! The true ending is unlocked only after the full completion of every world. I won't spoil it.

... BUT YOU SPOILED THE MARIO QUOTE!!! HYPOCRITE!!!

We live in a postmodern age, though you don't really catch that term being tossed around a whole lot. And when I say that we live in the postmodern age, it certainly doesn't mean that everything is postmodern.

Games have actually been dabbling with postmodern techniques for a while now. The aforementioned Assassin's Creed II plays out as sort of a postmodern attempt at re-explaining the very existence of human beings! It plays around with history to tell its own narrative about humanity. I mean, I feel like it can be pretty sloppy sometimes, but I do applaud Ubisoft's effort with it.

Borderlands makes a bunch of intertextual nods to other games, and is pretty much a re-appropriate amalgamation of gameplay concepts from a number of genres. Bayonetta is littered with blatant intertextuality to Hideki Kamiya's past projects and re-appropriates Devil May Cry's gameplay into a fresh package. Half-Minute Hero, as a satire, is a pretty obvious case of postmodernist gaming.

Silent Hill: Shattered Memories is a postmodernist rearrangement of the Silent Hill formula, taking familiar characters and throwing them into familiar situations but rearranging all of the underlying reasoning for the Silent Hill universe. In fact, it's the game that spurred my thoughts on postmodernism (how many times have I said that word so far? Are you sick of it? I kind of am) in relation to games, because a friend and I had recently played through it in one sitting much to our amusement at the ending's twist on the Silent Hill narrative and much-touted psychological dimension established by Silent Hill 2. To my understanding, it's quite a divisive title in the series for long-time fans -- makes it kind of interesting to think about.

And I'm sure there are plenty of other cases you could come up with easily.

In fact, it might be plausible to point to the rise of postmodernism as the result of appeal of satire and irony. It's sort of believed that literature kick-started the postmodernist movement, and that it gained its steam not only through lauded novels such as Mrs. Dalloway, but actually through comic books and graphic novels. That's honestly a discussion for another day, but perhaps that's something additional for you all to muse about.

Anyway, I feel that as developers are currently seeking to explore the realm of narrative possibilities, they're often exploring (perhaps without even knowing that its postmodern) postmodern narratives in their games. I mean, I just was able to list off like 4 or 5 examples in the past 6 months alone, though the range of taste in that slew of titles is bound to vary based on the players. I do, even if out of my own selfish preference for postmodern creativity, hope that the future of the games industry has a lot more well-done postmodern design features.

Take the old, mix it up, and make something new.
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No, this isn't some personal sob-story about my real life bringing my gaming life to a complete halt. So don't worry. But I could use some support by at the very least getting this off my chest.

Here is the source of my ills:


THE NINTENDO WII!

Putting it quite shortly, I have been a gamer all my life, but my own gaming experiences with Nintendo personally has been tumultuous. I'm willing to admit without a single doubt that I believe Nintendo was the biggest contributor to the state of the industry today and continues to show great talent in most of their contemporary work.

But I tend to wane from fairly loyal support of Nintendo to abhorrence for whatever directions they tend to take. I never, ever doubted the gaming potency of the SNES or the N64 (and never owned an NES, which stirred much envy from me for my friends who did as a child), but I had a hard time initially jumping on board with my support for the Gamecube, Nintendo DS, and Wii, only to be completely sold on each platform well after their releases.

I jumped ship with the Wii far too early. I began to reason with the camp that believed that the Wii was gimmicky and was putting game design to shame. In late May 2009, I made the decision to sell my Wii, because I felt that its library was ultimately fulfilling my tastes in gaming, and that the large userbase of non-traditional gamers was aiding in the ruined experience.

It is a bitch to admit that you're absolutely wrong.

Today, I bought another Wii and I am absolutely thrilled to own one again, which creates a stinging regret for having sold the first one at all. For the first few months without my Wii, I honestly thought nothing of it. The only noteworthy titled released that I felt I was missing out on at all was Muramasa, but the relatively lukewarm critical reception made me figure "Ah, it's no big deal." E3 2009 in the middle of summer revealed New Super Mario Bros Wii, which I initially brushed off as an easy, crowd-pleasing project for Nintendo, much like everyone else seemed to receive the game at its unveiling.

That latter one would bite me in the ass. Not only did the great critical reception bring up every point I loved about Nintendo from a lifetime of gaming up again when describing the game, I got to go hands on at several retail kiosks and at a friend's house only to find myself drowning in a mixed emotional sea of envy and utter joy. I was able to play down the feeling that I was really missing out by noting that it was a single game. My anti-Wii attitude over-rode my sense of Nintendo-emptiness that I just figured that there could be nothing else coming along that I could possibly miss that would be as compelling as New Super Mario Bros.

I've always carried an at least casual adoration for fighting games. While I've never mastered any of them, I played the crap out of Marvel vs. Capcom 2, Tekken 3, Guilty Gear X2, and this past summer's BlazBlue when I got them. I even put a healthy amount of time into SF IV when it launched. I love the Capcom Vs. series because it brings the floodgates of previous gaming experiences on the Capcom side of things, tends to mix a bit of fanservice in with the Vs. faction, and wraps it all in an easy-to-approach package for the fighter-casual like myself. Tatsunoko vs. Capcom's U.S. release is right around the corner, and seeing that Madcatz and Capcom deemed the project worthy of a high-quality stick for the Wii absolutely piqued my interest in the game. Also, despite my scrub status at fighting games, I watched EVO 2009 live this year and garnered a ton of respect for Capcom's Seth Killian. The guy's very recent teases about TvC and showing at CES '10 wiped any doubt about my excitement for TvC. I love S. Kills' absolute enthusiasm for games in general and the way he communicates to the consumer crowd. He's a glorified PR guy but I have little doubt about his honest enthusiasm for the medium of videogames.

Then there's just your gamer friends. Take Mooks here on Destructoid for example. He's one of my best real-life friends and he single-handedly convinced me to play No More Heroes 1 when it launched in '08, which to this day is still one of my favorite gaming experiences of this gen due to its undeniably appealing style. I'll admit that it can sometimes feel like it lacks substance, but it's geek-cult chic and celebration of gaming and other forms of pop culture that I grew up with undeniably evens the experience out. No More Heroes 2 is on the way, and since I'm here on Destructoid and see Mook and a fairly regular basis in real life, my feelings for the franchise were recently evoked and I simply could not hold back all the love I hold for the first game. It is quite simply impossible for me not to be excited for No More Heroes 2.

Then there's been the buzz about Silent Hill: Shattered Memories. I have always been a casual fan of the series, and its overhauls sound quite great in my eyes.

So then, I realized that this has happened with the previous two Nintendo platforms: at first, maybe I'm not so impressed, perhaps even downright hate how things are going. The Wii was the first time I jumped ship completely and decided that I would try to leave it in the dust.

Why the f**k did I do that?

I am absolutely guilt-distraught, frustrated, closer-to-broke, and wholly excited to be a Wii owner again.

A good thing about the situation: I gave most of my Wii games to friends when I decided to sell it originally. Some friends have offered to return my favorites (including Twilight Princess, Super Mario Galaxy, and Smash Bros Brawl). No repurchase necessary on some of the huge titles, but no one wanted No More Heroes so I sold it along with my Wii (DAMMIT!). I also now own New Super Mario Bros Wii and have TvC and NMH2 preordered.

Bad things: All my VC games are gone for good, requiring repurchase if I want to play them again. No extra controllers. I had to spend quite a bit of holiday cash and some of my savings from work to get another Wii.

This new Wii's going nowhere. And until the day that a Nintendo platform goes 3 years straight without a single title that appeals to me, I am never doubting Nintendo again.

Thank you. I really had to get that all off my chest. Gaming has never quite created this sort of emotional mixed bag with such impact.
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I have been playing games my entire life -- even before I can remember, according to my parents, who claim that I would play their Atari 2600 at age 3.

2009 has been one of the most memorable years of gaming I've ever had, but making a statement like that makes me ponder just what kinds of years of gaming I've had.

Early in my life, my family was sort of poor so my access to gaming was rather limited. I grew up with a fair amount of consistent exposure to games but my life as a "hardcore gamer" didn't really take off until my family elevated its economic standing, which happened around the N64/PSone era.

Here's a brief look of some of the gaming memories I have been able to recollect during the few hours I took to compose this post:



'96: Got N64 on Black Friday -- was intended as a Christmas present but my dad, being a retired gamer, was too excited to hold the surprise. Super Mario 64, baby!

'97: Starfox 64 becomes my first pre-ordered game ever, via Toys 'R' Us -- did anyone else ever get that promotional VHS for Starfox 64 that detailed the Rumble Pak and provided a look at the game *GASP* in motion? I watched that like 50 times! I play Final Fantasy VII for the first time -- a friend's copy. It makes me want a Playstation; a month later I get my own Playstation, as well as my own copy of FFVII.



'98: After playing a friend's copy of Resident Evil, I become excited for Resident Evil 2. Being 11, I button mash Tekken 3 until I get all the characters and see all the endings. <3 Megaman Legends. Ocarina of Time and Metal Gear Solid convert me into a Zelda and Metal Gear fanboy, respectively. Haha, I was playing RE2 and MGS at age 11... Anyway, I still have my Gold Cartridge OoT! Except that the box is messed up...

'99: Dreamcast, the first console I ever get on launch day. Final Fantasy VIII grabs my hype, and in my youth, I overlook every flaw of the game and make it all the way to disc 4 before I simply find myself stuck.



'00: PS2 launches and my friend gets one, but I don't. I want one so bad, but they are just too damn hard to find. My first exposure to Half-Life on a friend's PC, though it launched earlier.



'01: On word-of-mouth impulse from a friend, I buy Phantasy Star Online for Dreamcast and convinced my parents to front a subscription for me. It. Consumes. My. Life. I get my PS2 in late Spring. Metal Gear Solid 2 demo + Zone of the Enders (... see what I did thar..?). Devil May Cry. Metal Gear Solid 2 absolutely wows me by year's end. Gamecube and Xbox launch, and I remember hating on Xbox because it was Microsoft -- I get neither of these platforms right away, though my brother, being an avid Oddworld fan, gets an Xbox to play Munch's Oddyssey. Final Fantasy X stirs my hype at the end of the year. Remember when Square moved the release date forward? It came out the last day of my finals that semester, and it was the first game I ever stood in line to pick up. I had all of winter break to play it.

'02: I get my Gamecube with a copy of REmake and Smash Bros. Melee. Medal of Honor: Allied Assault singlehandedly gets me interested in PC gaming AND World War II. Despite not owning an Xbox, I buy my first Xbox game: Jet Set Radio Future. I play it on my brother's Xbox and love it.

'03: Wind Waker hits during my Spring Break. I stand in line for 3 hours to pick it up the morning of its release, and I am the first in line -- they still weren't doing midnight launches for individual games in the U.S. then, and the line only ended up being a total of about 20 people. Dang, times have changed. I get my own gaming PC the very month that Final Fantasy XI makes it's US debut and Call of Duty launches. FFXI consumes my life; Call of Duty establishes my interest in Infinity Ward and fuels my ongoing WWII craving. I get my own Xbox, the JSRF/Sega GT bundle. Otogi, Viewtiful Joe. Guilty Gear X2's US release opens me up to fighting games.



'04: My first two midnight launches of games: Half-Life 2 (waiting at my PC for the-then-brand-new Steam to unlock my preload -- I was lucky and had no issues playing that night); Halo 2, waiting outside of a new local GameStop with friends in the cold winter air. Halo 2 makes me sign up for Xbox Live. Doom 3 also came out. I'm still playing FFXI. A lot. Star Ocean: Till the End of Time garners my hype and even manages to pull my attention from FFXI... Until I hit the plot twist, which singlehandedly destroys the experience for myself and, to my knowledge, many others. The Phat Nintendo DS launches.



'05: I graduate from high school, get ready to move onto college. I quit FFXI once and for all early on in the year. Xbox 360 launches like 6 months after it's announced at E3. "WTF, where did they come up with the name Xbox 360?" and I'm lucky enough to find one a week after it's launch, becoming an early adopter. On Christmas day, I get World of Warcraft -- Can you guess how that turns out? Mmm, Mario Kart DS. Oh yeah, that Far Cry: Instincts game on Xbox is pretty good.

'06: I use the vast majority of my free time to play WoW. DS Lite and New Super Mario Bros, both of which I grab as soon as they are available. Dead Rising comes out. Twilight Princess finally debuts after what feels like forever. Wii and PS3 launch -- "WHOAMG MOTION CONTROL!" "$599 US DOLLARS!?" Ghost Recon Advanced Warfighter! Gears of War! Rainbow Six Vegas! I did not get a PS3, but I did get a Wii (again, by pure stroke of luck) about a week after they launched. Remember when people started declaring that "next-gen" had officially started at this point? Seemed to be the game review catchphrase of the year. Final Fantasy XII (it's been that long already!?)

'07: World of Warcraft: The Burning Crusade. Call of Duty 4. Halo 3. Uncharted: Drake's Fortune. BioShock. Assassin's Creed. Orange Box. Rock Band. Mass Effect. '07 is still fresh in everyone's memory; probably doesn't need any strong elaboration.

'08: Gears of War 2. Left4Dead. Fable II. Rock Band 2. Fallout 3. GTA IV. MGS4. Dead Space. Mirror's Edge. Like '07, very vivid. I pretty much quit WoW.

'09: Sequel year to '07... Sort of. Some sequels pushed back to 2010. But, Modern Warfare 2, ODST, Uncharted 2, Assassin's Creed II all still '09. GTA IV episodes. Borderlands. Forza 3. Left 4 Dead 2. Batman: Arkham Asylum. Shadow Complex. Resident Evil 5. And then some! I attended 4 midnight launches in the latter half of the year, 3 of which were fun due to strong gaming community elements. Flippin' great year!
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Roek
1:57 PM on 09.15.2009

Hello there!

Been an avid (obsessed) D-Toid reader for about 6 months now. Originally was a Kotaku-obsessed reader but gradually grew a bit tiresome of Kotaku, and being aware of D-Toid as an alternative, started relying on D-Toid more. I like the community voice of D-Toid a lot more than Kotaku, but I still love both sites. So now I'm impulsively signing up between classes and hoping to start participating in the community here.

Sorry for the lack of formatting. It will probably take a couple of weeks before I get around to it... For one, I'm busy with college and work, as well as obsessing over The Beatles: Rock Band and other gaming stuffs, and two, I'm not great at even basic forms of programming so I'm going to need to start dabbling, but now I'm established and ready to go when I find the time!

If you happen to stumble across my humble little upstart blog here, feel free to add me on PSN or Xbox Live -- but please try to note in your friend request that you're from D-Toid. J_ToSaveTheDay on PSN and R0EK on Xbox Live. I'd love more than anything else to make some actual gaming friends here on the site.

Until next time.
:)

[EDIT] (Copy-pasting from comments below by suggestion)

A bit more about myself:

Gaming started for me at age 4, because my dad owned an Atari 2600. Since then, he would consistently buy new gaming systems for my brother and I, with our next one being Sega Genesis when I was 6. I haven't played them all, and my biggest gap of gaming history was never owning my own NES, though I did go on to own all of Nintendo's major platforms afterward.

I'm a Metal Gear Solid fanboy, and my favorite of the series is 4; I'm also somewhat of a Legend of Zelda fanboy, and my favorite game in that series is a toss-up between Ocarina of Time and Wind Waker (I love Wind Waker's writing and art style above Ocarina of Time for sure, but when it comes to the actual experience of playing the games, I think Ocarina of Time might be superior). I dabble in all genres of gaming, but least so with traditional sports games. I'm a damned sucker for anything that promotes exploration, even if it's in a limited space! So recent releases like Arkham Asylum and Shadow Complex are right up my alley. I'm actually really not all that into puzzle games, but I've been known to enjoy one or two here and there (Lumines was the last one I really liked).

I do sort of try to experience the majority of big-name titles each year, which sometimes limits my exposure to lesser-known titles... I felt that was worth mentioning. I appreciate indie efforts and even get to enjoy smaller titles here and there, but my focus is generally on big-hype stuff.

This year I have really enjoyed BlazBlue, Arkham Asylum, The Beatles: Rock Band the most! But I have to give mention and praise to Shadow Complex, Street Fighter IV, and Resident Evil 5 for each showing me a good time this year as well. I am without a doubt going to get Halo 3: ODST, Uncharted 2, Modern Warfare 2, and Assassin's Creed II this year, but I leave open the possibility that I will pick up Forza 3 and Brutal Legend as well, should I find myself able to save that sort of money.