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6:05 PM on 03.25.2011

Rubberband A.I. Episode 6: The Vs. Series

Rubberband A.I. Episode 6: We're Gonna Take You For a Ride

Don't call it a comeback! Really, we actually came back last week. This week on Rubberband A.I. Kyle, Foster, Bronson, and special guest the returning Pat Nguyen are talking one of the best fighting game series, you know, the one that had a new release a few weeks back, IT'S ALL ABOUT PRIMAL RAGE. Ok, seriously, we're talking about the Vs. Series. We'll be covering the orgins of the series, why the games that had X-men in the title were essentially prototypes before the creation of the really good games, Foster contributes very little, why the end bosses are awesome, the unbalanced nature of Marvel vs. Capcom 2 actually balancing the game, who are our favorite characters, the fan services that Capcom put into the games, Bronson's conspiracy theory about Tatsunoku vs. Capcom, The other vs. Series (ie Capcom vs. SNK), and our love for the entire series. We also talk The GBA turning ten, Bronson's iPad, why we won't be playing Crysis 2, and what we've been playing lately. All of this, plus why Servbot, Servbot, Servbot is the greatest MvC2 team, This week on Rubberband A.I.

Also, I forgot to post last week's episode, our tribute to the Oregon Trail, you can check it out by following the link below.

Episode 5: You have died of dysentery, cholera, juvenile diabetes, herpes simplex 2, SIDS, and can only bring 200 pounds of meat back to the wagon.   read


4:21 PM on 02.16.2011

Rubberband A.I. Episode 4

Rubberband A.I. Episode 4: Learning, In My Videogames?

Episode 4 of Rubberband A.I. is dedicated to edutainment titles. Why you ask? The release of Oregon Trail and Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego on Facebook. However we will not be talking about The Oregon Trail, that game merits an episode all it's own. We will talk about classics like Number Munchers, Math Blasters, Treasure Mountain, The Magic Schoolbus, Typing of the Dead, and others. We cover the death of a once huge video game franchise, and one of our favorite publishing houses. Plus, Kyle actually tries to defend Mario is Missing, yes, you heard that correctly. That's what happens this week on Rubberband A.I.

Rubberband A.I. is a part of the Card Subject To Change Podcast Network, feedback is always appreciated either in the comments below, or via email at [email protected]   read


4:39 PM on 02.10.2011

Rubberband A.I. Episode 3

Episode 3: Whatever you do, donít blow up the hamster Weird Ed will be pissed

This week on Rubberband A.I. we return from our brief absence to talk about adventure games. The role of Matt Foster is played by Pat Nguyen. Kyle and Bronson talk about why they enjoy Saints Row so much. The guys ponder the potential of the Zombies Ate My Neighbors Movie. We explain why we are excited for the return of You Donít Know Jack.

Then we delve into Adventure games attempting to figure out what constitutes an adventure game, what adventure games we have loved, why we all hate the game Myst, the return of the adventure genre, and why early adventure games have not aged well.

All this, plus how to sneak past a guard by teaching a chicken how to dance using toothpaste, this week on Rubberband A.I.

Rubberband A.I. is a part of The Card Subject To Change Podcast Network, your source for Wrestling, Sports, Video Games, and Insanity. Subscribe to us on iTunes by searching for Card Subject To Change.

Also, feedback is always appreciated, even if you want to say we're a bunch of idiots that don't know what we're talking about, and can be posted below or sent to [email protected] Next week, Edutainment Games

Edit: Based on the comments on the C-Blog Recaps I've updated the link to directly link to the podcast. I really don't know what else I can do to change the synopsis so it isn't copying and pasting.   read


3:30 PM on 01.19.2011

Rubberband A.I. Episode 2

It's been awhile since I've made a post, but I decided I could introduce my new gaming podcast to some people who wouldn't hear it otherwise. So without further ado the synopsis of Rubberband A.I. Episode 2

Episode 2: The Playboy Buddy Rose Memorial Episode

This week on Rubberband A.I., Kyle, Bronson, and Foster are joined by their special guest Matt Ryan. Topics discussed include, God fucking dammit, why the fuck do people want to buy the Kinect. Why weíre all excited for the upcoming Mortal Kombat web series. Has one of our favorite game companies pulled a Carlos Mencia and stolen the game ĎSplosion Man? But the bulk of our show is dedicated to professional wrestling games, the good, the bad, and the ugly. The first wrestling games we ever played including how badass a character ďYourselfĒ is, WCW Backstage Assault and why getting rid of the ring in a game about wrestling makes about as much sense as TNAís booking, The greatness that is WWF Wrestlefest, and Bronson and Kyle argue over which is better Fire Pro or No Mercy. All This plus the world title is on the line as Yourself takes on AKI Man, THIS WEEK ON RUBBERBAND A.I.

Rubberband A.I. is a part of The Card Subject To Change Podcast Network, your source for Wrestling, Sports, Video Games, and Insanity. Subscribe to us on iTunes by searching for Card Subject To Change.

Also, feedback is always appreciated, even if you want to say we're a bunch of idiots that don't know what we're talking about. Next week, Adventure Games.   read


2:59 PM on 10.27.2009

Nothing is Sacred: Experience Points and Leveling Up

If you were to ask your average RPG fan why they like Role Playing Games, youíll get some common answers. The stories are more in depth and tend to draw them in; you develop true attachment to your characters, among many others. Thereís always one thing that everybody seems to enjoy, characters level up, become better, and can use new abilities. Thatís what makes an RPG an RPG. If a game is ever advertised as having RPG elements, it means that there is experience points, leveling, etc. It attracts people to games, your character gets rewarded for fighting extra battles, finding secrets, doing side missions, and it gives a normal game that little extra.

However, if you ask that same RPG fan what their least favorite part about Role Playing Games. The number one answer is always Grinding. Personally, Grinding doesnít bug me too much; I personally enjoy building up a few levels now and then to boost my characters. Sometimes youíre just bored in a game and want to take a break, why not go kill some baddies and gain a few levels, itís cool that you can do that with no fear in an RPG. But when Grinding is forced upon a player thatís what makes all gamers angry. Weíve all been in a dungeon where weíre right before the boss, youíve saved, healed, and are ready to fight. Then in a one minutes battle heís killed your entire party. It doesnít make sense, if we were able to beat the dungeon up to the boss, why canít we beat the boss. Yes it should be a tougher battle than the dungeonís normal enemies and you might die once or twice trying to beat him, but it should be possible. If the boss has a weakness or something along those lines that curbs them from killing you nearly instantly thatís one thing, itís another thing if heís just far more powerful than your character is. Thus we have to grind, and we get angry at the game for making us do so against our own will.


Great, Iím fucked arenít I, looks like I get to go Grind some more.

Ironic isnít it, what we love so much spawns what we hate with every ounce of our moral fiber. Leveling up has gotten so fucking confusing at this point. Different games all have different rules about EXP, thereís a range of complete control to no control over what skills you character gains, and it can get frustrating and confusing. Leveling up, the simple concept of it, has become a monster quite frankly, and itís because of multiple factors. The concept of experience points, what a level up means in the context of the game, and what the player gets to do to customize their character upon a level up.

Experience points

Experience points are really there because they have such ease of use. Itís a number value assigned to the difficulty, according to the programmer, of the enemy. The problem is that in the eyes of a gamer these are just arbitrary number values. They are just there as an indicator so the game can add them to a characterís total experience points, so they can level up a character at the right time. The problem is that in games they are static values. Why is a regular troll worth 150 exp, when a fire troll is worth 200? Is it because the fire troll has 27 more health points, or can use a level 1 fire attack, or has a regular attack value one higher than the regular troll. What if the fire troll is actually easier to kill because it has a weakness to water? Itís a problem quite frankly; all that our character does in a game is broken down into simple addition. It can also be frustrating when a game only allows people who were within a battle to gain experience. I understand thereís a sense of realism there, they fight, thus they get the spoils of battle. If you can swap characters in battle it helps, but if you want everyone to have the experience you are forced to waste turns swapping in and out characters. If you canít swap out characters its just shitty, because you are forced to level up characters individually if you want to use them all, thus instead of using the full party a gamer is inclined to use a small group that has higher levels. Thus EXP hinders the game, but are there other options?


Hurray, a whopping two EXP

Some games try to get around EXP by giving the character experience based on their actual in game experience. Oblivion is a prime example, your actions in the game determine when your major skills level up, and that determines when you level up. If you use your sword, your bladed weapon skill increase, it all seems so simple. However it just becomes a mess, because itís unbalanced. For a magic school to increase you have to use a spell in the school, simple enough. However it has to affect somebody to count, so if your fireball doesnít hit, you lose mana and donít get experience for using it. Also the level of the spell doesnít affect how much the stat increases, thus itís beneficial to use weaker spells or to create spells intentionally weak solely to level. It can really be a problem when you have one skill that doesnít level at a rate like your others. For example, I have bladed weapons and archery as skills. At times you just canít use a bow to attack, thus my bladed weapons are at a very high level, while my archery remains low. So Iím more inclined to use my blade, and I donít really level up my archery. In concept itís a good idea; in practice there are some kinks to be worked out.


Is this a solution?

Leveling up

The level up needs to only give a player three things, an increase in HP/MP, a change in attributes, and the ability to use new magic/skills. Most games do this alright, however there are still minor problems and a few major ones. For example, Weapons and Items shouldnít be level based. If thereís a restriction thatís ok, like the character must be a master in blade to use this sword, or mages can only wear cloth armor because they are physically weaker than the other characters. Thatís understandable because it has reasoning. When thereís a weapon that either you have in your characterís possession or that can purchased, yet cannot be used because your character isnít at a certain level, thatís just fucking stupid. Anyone can pick up and shoot a gun, whether theyíve been doing it for years or itís their first time. WHY THE FUCK CANíT A CHARACTER USE A WEAPON, BECAUSE OF THE LEVEL NUMBER. Give me an excuse, I donít care, just donít put, un-equipable until level 14 there, itís a fucking cocktease. It can also be troublesome when magic has its own experience points and own levels. Chrono Trigger is a prime example, I love this game, but your magic and character levels have their own EXP. Some enemies donít drop the magic EXP, and since itís a game where only the characters actually in battle gain EXP from it, you may have to grind to get your spells up. Itís another minor thing, but leveling up should be all encompassing.


God forbid anyone at Level 45 try and touch this sword.

A major problem I have is when enemy level increases when your character or characters increase level. Going back to Oblivion, as you increase in level so do your enemies. They essentially become more difficult the more that you play the game. Granted, if this was done logically it would be alright. I could understand if enemies throughout the many dungeons in the game increased their level as you did, because they arenít the main focus. But when the enemies in the main quest and in the overworld do, that is a serious problem. One of the major aspects of RPGs is the side quests, your character can deviate from the main path before returning to it. Doing a side quest may reward you with a special weapon, armor, or item that you wouldnít get otherwise. I shouldnít be punished for choosing to do some side quests, and leveling up, before returning to the main quest. If I choose to do some side quests and gain a level or two, itís either because I am bored of the main quest at that moment or because I feel my character needs to increase in level before resuming the main quest. Oblivion has a vast amount of areas to explore and side quests to complete, yet it essentially tells the gamer that they should hold off on them until the main quest is over. While yes it isnít a major thing, itís still BULLSHIT. I can admit, the enemies are easier to defeat the higher level you are, but it doesnít matter. The difficulty of the enemies within the main quest should increase the further you get along in that quest. Thus the player has an incentive to play side quests and explore, so they can make their character stronger the further along they are in the game so they are better equipped to fight these enemies. But even that isnít the major problem with leveling these days.

We as gamers have gone past the point of leveling up just being an arbitrary increase in stats. In the days of the NES and SNES that was perfectly fine. It was a simpler time, for simpler games (Iím not referring to difficulty or story, rather the memory constraints), on a simpler system. That time has past however. If stats just increase without any rhyme or reason, it dissolves the illusion that we as the game have control over the entire game. It just further proves that we are on a set path that the creator wishes us to follow. If your character reaches level 50, they have the stats that the creator, not you the gamer, wants that character to have. Yes, you may be able to pick up a few items which permanently boost a stat, and a higher level in one stat may increase other things, such as the amount of HP your character gains per level, but by in large you have no control over what happens during a level up. Sometimes itís even confusing as to what a stat affects. I personally can think of only one game off the top of my head where I know what each stat is, Earthbound. Five of the seven stats in the game are easy to understand, and because Iíve played the game quite a few times, I know Guts allows you to do Smash attacks and IQ helps Jeff fix broken items and really doesnít affect anyone else. But there is still no standard system to listing stats, they can lead to confusion, and it leads myself, as a gamer, to not pay attention them. Yes, you can take the time out to learn what they do individually, but that should be included in the game, just a simple list of what each stat does for the character.


Damn for savior of the universe he sure does start out with shitty stats.

Solutions

Experience points need to become flexible. They need to become based on experience, but not to an extreme level. Enemies can still carry experience points, thatís fine, but that should be a base value. The rest should be determined by the battle itself. The RPG makers need a way so the actions of battle truly determine how much experience a character gains. Is it hard fought, what are the characters relying on, are they using multiple attacks/magic/items, and etc. If the battle is a cakewalk, they get the base points with little extra, telling them they should try and fight harder enemies. If the battle is a difficult one, then they get bonus experience for it. The numbers actually have meaning, and the player becomes more inclined to fight harder battles so his characters can reap the rewards.

As for Leveling Up, customization is the key. I know Iíve ragged on Oblivion a whole lot, but I love the game. It, along with many other hybrid RPGs have a great system for leveling up. I personally love it because everything is in your control. Even though you can cheat the system, all of your skills still increase by the way you play the game. If you use your character as a tank, their weapon and armor skills increase, play as a mage, and magic goes up. Once receiving a level up, your stats, all clearly defined, get increased by you the gamer, not by the game itself. You can choose increases that a beneficial to your character, rather than the gameís programmer choosing them for you. Final Fantasy 10ís sphere grid is another good example, the skills your characters gain are based on what you want them to learn, not what the game forces upon them. More and more games are going along these routes thankfully, but it should become a standard for all RPGs. The gamer many hours playing with a character or party, they develop a style with them, and because of this they feel they know what is more beneficial to a character in their game.


Every single one of these is free for you to fiddle with.

Can Leveling up and Experience Points be saved, sure, but it will take some effort. Both creators and gamers alike are attached to characters, so both need an input. But I personally feel the creators need to grant the gamers more leeway. We shouldnít be forced to play a game a certain way because the creator feels that his way is best. Itís called a role playing game for a reason. Gamers step into the role of a character or group of characters, and play out the game in that role. In real life hardships, troubles, ideas, amongst others, breed change; a game should be the same way. If we as humans had the luxury of saving our ďgame of lifeĒ before difficult portions and find out one way of doing things isnít going to work, then weíre going to change what weíre doing. So should the RPG follow suit, allow the gamer to truly make it their own experience, while keeping the essence and ideas of the game still there.

Iím ThaFNFreak, Thatís my opinion, as Iím entitled to it.   read


1:07 PM on 09.30.2009

The Forgotten, Rockin' Kats

I remember in elementary school when videogames were king. On the playground people would talk about the games they were playing, boasting about what they had beaten, and cursing others who had beaten a game before them. I knew kids who would swap magazines with each other, just so they could get all the hints, codes, and tricks. It was a magical time, and I loved every minute of it. It was there I found out which games were great, which I should avoid, and if a game was really worth playing through. But in all of this one though sticks out in my mind. The day I went to school and told my friends I had finally beaten Rockiní Kats. I waited for admiration; instead I got a reality check. Nobody I had talked to had even heard of the game. That ended up being the story of me and Rockiní Kats.

When I moved from Michigan to Illinois, I figured I had a fresh chance, a new audience to tell my story to. I was again sadly mistaken. While most of the gamers I met here had cut their teeth on the NES, few remembered much about it. They were more interested in the newest systems, The Playstation, Saturn, and N64, and the hottest games. I would still talk about it to anybody who would listen, but I knew it was falling on deaf ears. Even as I met more and more gamers who dug retro games, not a single one could recall playing it. A few had heard of it, maybe remembering seeing itís box at a store long ago, but not one of them had any real memories of the game.

I think thatís what caused me to forget about it too. Unlike most of the games of my childhood that I would continue to replay through emulation and by hooking up my old NES, I didnít pick it up again. In all honesty before this, I hadnít played the game in two-three years, and hadnít beaten it since I was a kid. So I had to take a look back to find out does it still hold up. Why have few heard of this game that was so beloved by myself, and is it a game that people should take their time and try? So letís dive in, hereís ROCKINí KATS.


Yes, this is a cheap segue, but oh well

Intro: I will be conducting this as my first Bipolar review (yes I do suffer from Bipolar disorder, so thatís why I feel free to use it; I donít mean to offend any other sufferers). The review is broken down into 4 segments, first an overview of the game itself. A general review where I will try to remain as unbiased as possible (trying to review it as though it is my first playthru), and will analyze the game by giving individual ratings (out of ten) to key components (graphics, sound, control, and playability) along with an overall score (not an average). The BiPolar portion where I will be biased as hell, because in Bipolar as in gaming there are, things that make me extremely happy, things that just depress me, things that induce anger in every inch of my being, and the WTF moments (which donít fit into a single category, and I consider akin to fluctuation of emotions). Finally Iíll try and take a deeper look as to why nobody has played the game. So without further ado, letís begin.

Overview

Rockiní Kats was released in 1991 by Atlus Software for the NES. Although in Japan it got a very Engrishy title, NY Nyankies. Also remember that this is 1991 we are talking about, so using K instead of C in Kats was still cool. It follows the path created by games like Super Mario Brothers and Mega Man, as it is a platformer. You take the role of Willy, a cat who is a Jazz musician and who goes by the stage name of ďThe Rockiní Kat,Ē I swear I am not making that up. Like most platformers, it follows the ďsave the princessĒ storyline. In this game itís Mugsy, the evil bulldog Crime Boss. Heís managed to steal your girlfriend Jill, and itís up to you, as Willy, to get her back. One unique thing about the game is how the story is structured. Instead of going off on an adventure filled with wacky mishaps with no justification, it turns out Willy is a cartoon character. Thus you get a channel select screen, allowing you to pick whatever adventure you want, be it a romp in New York City or the fun of a carnival.


Hell Yeah, LETíS GO TO PLAYLAND

The other unique thing is your weapon. Mario has fireballs, Mega Man has his Megabuster, and Willy has gun, which shoots a punch glove, which functions as a grappling hook. Iíll give you a moment to absorb that all in. A gun, which shoots a fist, thatís also a grappling hook. Thatís as original a weapon as Iíve ever seen in a game. Oh, whatís that, Bionic Commando did the grappling hook before? Quick question, what is your weapon in Bionic Commando. It isnít the grappling hook, itís your gun, and the grappling hook is your means of jumping, which Willy can do fine on his own. Yes, I can admit the grappling hook idea isnít entirely original, but I personally have never seen a grappling hook that spins you around in a circle at insane speeds.


Slow down Willy, that spinning is gonna make me sick.

A Punch glove and grappling hook, sounds amazing, BUT WAIT, THEREíS MORE. Canít reach that platform above you? Well just punch downward and spring-jump up there in style, Is that nosy bitch above you dropping a flowerpot? Just hold down the button and your punch glove becomes a grabbing arm, allowing you to grasp a falling object with ease, and throw it at whomever you wish. Plus for a small additional fee, you can change the punch glove for a spiked ball, even add Twin Balls. Again, I am dead serious, thereís a weapon you can buy called Twin Balls. All this and more could be yours, if you play Rockiní Kats today.


Yes, itís called the Twin Balls, *insert your own sexual joke here*

The Review

Graphics

First things first, remember weíre dealing with an NES game, so comparing it with modern titles would just be silly. However for an NES game the graphics are quite well done. They use the NESís color palate very well, most everything in the game is very colorful, and giving the game the ďcartoonyĒ atmosphere I believe the creators were aiming for. Every character is drawn clearly and itís easy to see and understand what each individual is. From a skunk that sprays you to a dog whoís obsessed with Michael Jackson, the enemies are unique to say the least. They look good, and they each have their own expression for when they kick the bucket.

Willy himself looks like you could pluck him from a Disney or Warner Brothers group shot. Heís cartoony enough so he doesnít look like a real cat, but no so much that you donít recognize what creature he is. He is not static either, if you punch a wall and he bounces backward, his facial expression changes. If you land a grappling hook jump, and do not press any buttons he does a little celebration upon landing. And if he gets hit, he looks like a cartoon cat whose tail just got jammed into an electrical outlet. Willy fits his role well as a cartoon character because he was given mannerisms akin to many cartoon characters.


Doesnít it look like he jammed his tail into an outlet?

The stages are themselves are where the graphics can be hit or miss. Most of the time they look fine, the carnival level looks like an actual carnival. In one portion of it you enter a haunted house with enemies that blend into the dark background, to give the appearance that they are ghosts. In a factory based stage the background is full of rotating gears. Thereís even some nice scrolling in some stages, like where you hitch a ride on the wings of an airplane. The backgrounds and stages represent what they are supposed to. So at times an effort was really put in to make the stages look well.

At other times it seems like the developers got lazy. There are many levels where the background is just bricks of a solid color. Even worse there are ones that are just squares, split into two colored triangles. After scrolling through it just a little bit it can become sickening. The end of level bosses get the worst treatment, every single one of them is just a solid black background. It doesnít take anything away from the boss fights, but they really look plain and out of place with comparison to the rest of the game.


My how exciting, a static black background.

Rating for Graphics: 8.5, while not the best in the NES library, they are quite good. The point deductions mainly go towards the bad backgrounds, simply because they were capable of better as seen in other stages.

Sound

The music is good, but not great. Atlus at least manages to put forth effort, meaning that most of the background songs are not a ten second loop of the same thing over and over again. For the most part every song has an intro, an extended middle, and an ending before the song repeats itself. They have a cartoon vibe to them, which makes sense given the storyline. While some songs are repeated, it is done so logically. For example, every end boss has the same theme song, most of the sewer or underground portions use the same music. While it wonít go down in the pantheon of classic NES soundtracks like Mega Man 2, Castlevania 3, or The Mario series, itís not so bad that you want to mute the game.

The sound effects are quite nice. The game thankfully doesnít fall into the trap of reusing sound effects too much. If you grab a hold of an item, say a flower pot dropped from above, you can hear the glove open up, and the flower pot being grabbed. If you spring jump upward, it manages to sound like Willyís springing upward. They even gave each individual weapon its own sound effect, which a lot of games miss out on. The only sound that truly bothers me is when Willy gets hit, which is a loud yelp. It can be a bit annoying, especially since they reuse it for when Willy hits a wall while spinning on his grappling hook (which doesnít cause you any damage).


Yeah, I donít really know how to capture sound in an image. So hereís a picture where Jazz and Radio are mentioned, which involve sound? Yeah, Iím grasping for straws, but I donít care.

Rating for Sound: 7.0, While most of the music is not truly memorable, I have found myself humming the carnival and end boss themes recently. The sound effects would be perfect, if it wasnít for that yelp.

The Control

The control is an area where there are a few problems. By itself it is fine. Movement is not too loose nor is it too sticky. Everything is very responsive, when you press B to shoot out your punch glove; it comes out with minimal delay. Holding the button down to grab an item is timed out just fine, one second is all it takes. You have the ability to jump down from platforms, which is always nice, and useful in avoiding enemies. For the most part, itís what you would expect from a normal platformer.

The problem with the control is when you have to use down and up, one after the other. There are times in the game where you have to spring jump then follow up by grappling onto a platform above you. This should be no problem, but the game seems to delay the transition between directions. So there are times when you have to repeatedly attempt a jump/grapple, because you either pressed up too early and didnít get an opportunity to shoot up, or because you press up too late and your grapple misses. This is a minor inconvenience, and thankfully can be remedied by buying the Jet Sneakers powerup which allows you to hover.


Jet Sneakers, what would I do without you.

Using down or up alone is simple enough, thankfully, but the moment that you have to go in a diagonal is where you can run into some big problems. In most games, like for example Contra, itís nice that you can move while firing on a diagonal. In Rockiní Kats, there are times when you need to make a precise grapple or spring jump diagonally. Unfortunately since Willy moves while you are doing this, you can undershoot and overshoot targets. And since these tend to be in areas with a pit or instant death spot underneath (water in this case, spikes surprisingly do minimal damage), itís easy to lose all your lives trying to make a single jump. Again, the Jet Sneakers help, but this could be remedied by the game having a way to let you remain still to make these jumps.

Rating for control: 7.0, The control itself is solid, I just really dislike the fact that The Jet Sneakers are almost necessary in some parts of the game.

Gameplay

The game is short, I cannot deny that. At the beginning of the game you have the option of playing 4 channels, Downtown Street, Sky Ace, Playland, and Western Adventure. Although they are not the most inspired titles for cartoon episodes, they each have an individual theme, as I touched on when discussing the games graphics. You also get have a bonus channel, where money earned in the levels can be spent on games to win more money or extra lives. Thereís a shopping channel where power ups and extra lives can be purchased. Here you can pick up a bomb that fires from your glove, twin balls that do the same, a spiked ball to replace it, and the Jet Sneakers which allow you to hover. These can be switched in and out by your own choosing. Naturally the final channel I Love New York (not to be confused with that horrible reality show), is only unlocked after beating each stage.


I canít believe how easily his girlfriend gets captured.

Thankfully each stage is similar enough to fit together, yet has variety. While there are a few enemies who appear throughout the game, each stage has its own individual enemies that fit into the level motif. For example, Playland has pandas that spin plates at you, Sky Ace has birds in bombers who drop bombs on you, you get the idea. Also they follow a general pattern; they have two stages of side scrolling action, one of which has a midboss, a vehicle stage where you are fixed on an appropriate mode of transport (Roller Coaster, Mine Cart, etc), a stage of grappling and platforming that is either vertical or horizontal, and finally the level boss. Overall the main stages play out fine.

The fifth stage as one would expect is the longest, the most difficult, and is where playing bonus games to stock up on extra lives pays off. While it does contain my favorite enemy, the Michael Jackson canine, and my favorite boss, Mugsyís bodyguard Kong, it falls into a gaming clichť of the era. You get the pleasure of fighting every mid-boss and end-boss. In some games this works, the Mega Man series has done this in nearly every game, and I have no problem with it because you can pick which boss to fight in whatever order you please. In Rockiní Kats itís a seemingly random order, you fight end-bosses of a level before fighting the mid-boss that sort of thing, and every end boss is on the same boring black background as before.


Spiked ball to the groin, thatís got to hurt.

The bosses however are good, although cheap at times. The cheapness mainly appears in the mid bosses, who can corner you and take off a lot of your life bar in mere seconds. Most of them arenít too memorable, except for the Native American dogs who do a rain dance, ohhh Japanese racism. The end bosses are fun and albeit a bit odd in some cases the difficulty is balanced well on them. You fight Mugsyís personal band, The Bull Band, his dreaded Machine, his Clown-Dog, his pet eagle, his giant ape bodyguard Kong, and finally the man himself. Mugsy is the most difficult boss in the game, and rightfully so, as you have to jump from platform to platform avoiding him and his bullets, while landing shots of your own. After you knock him to the moon, the game isnít over, thereís a bonus level that Mugsy offers you, which Iíll discuss in the BiPolar portion of the review.


Ladies and Gentlemen, THE BULL BAND

Gameplay: 9.0, while I had to knock points off for the cheapness of the mid-bosses, having to fight every boss again, the game itself is solid. It may be short, but in that short period of time there is a lot packed in, and Iíd say itís replayable. Plus itís difficult, but not controller throwing difficult, which is always nice.

Overall: 8.0, While this game doesnít fall into the classic library of the NES, itís still worth checking out, especially if you are a fan of platformers. While I do have gripes with the control and the sound, they are relatively minor, and donít truly take anything away from a great game.

But now that Iíve tried to be as fair as possible, itís time look at this game from my own personal standpoint.

Itís time to go BiPolar.

What makes me happy

The cartoon storyline

To me its pure genius, everything is contained within the television. You choose a channel, and play out an episode of the cartoon. It even follows the same clichťs as a classic cartoon, the hero fights through whatever is in his path to save his damsel in distress, and argues with the villain over her safety. He gets his girl back by the end of the episode and everything is happy. But of course, the next time you tune in, the hated villain has taken her away and the hero must go off and save her once more. Instead of ďyour princess is in another castle,Ē Mugsy threatens you after you beat a stage, and on the channel select screen you can Jill being taken away by his goons. Itís an easy enough to follow story, and it works.


Dammit, with a threat like that, Iím certainly doomed.

The Punch Glove

I love the punch glove, hell I wish I could buy one in real life. Again going with the cartoon idea, it makes perfect sense; after all theyíve been in cartoons before. Itís versatile, like a weapon should be. Itís a springboard, a grappling hook, a grabbing arm, and a weapon in one. Plus thereís no greater satisfaction than slamming a giant boxing glove into an enemies face. The weapon upgrades each add onto it, without taking away what makes it uniqueness of the weapon itself. Bottom line, Punch Glove = Bad Ass


Even though it can make you look like a total tool, The Punch Glove is still awesome.

That I knew of this game

Like I said, this section is where I can be biased and personal. If I were to rank the top ten games from the NES that I played the hell out of in my childhood, it would be up there. This was one of those games that I could just pop in and have fun with. After dealing with the bullshit of The Rocketeer or Dick Tracy, I could pop it in, play a level or two, and put it away feeling happy. There are some games out there you just feel good after playing, this is one of them for me.

Things that depress me

You can pick up and throw powerups.

This saddens me simply because I donít think it was noticed by the developers. In giving you the ability to grab objects, they didnít specify which objects. However there are only a few times where objects are dropped or thrown for you to catch. The rest of the objects you encounter are the powerups. I know there have been many times where after punching out a bad guy I accidentally hold B instead of releasing it, and grab a health powerup I need, essentially wasting it.


Come on Willy, I needed that money

Powerups do not override invincibility.

This is one I rediscovered while playing through again. After taking damage from an enemy you get a few seconds of invincibility, as you would in most games. However unlike most games you cannot pick up powerups while you are in this invincible state. Compared to a game like Mega Man, where you can take a hit intentionally to get a powerup, you have no such luck here. The problem here lies in the fact that an enemies attack overrides picking up the item. If an enemyís bullet, miniature bat, whatever projectile it may be hits you when the invincibility runs out, you take another hit, and miss out of picking up the item.


Iím standing right over the life, and canít pick it up, I know Willy isnít on the screen; itís only because of the flashing during invincibility.

THINGS THAT PISS ME THE FUCK OFF

You cannot throw objects upward.

Granted, logically this wouldnít work, if you released the object upward, it would fall and hit you on the head. But this is a videogame with a cartoon theme, THAT STATEMENT ALONE SHOULD STATE LOGIC SHOULDNíT BE CONSIDERED. Hell I can do one better, if hold the object up and release it, it flies to the right with no change in velocity and no falling due to gravity. THAT SHOULDNíT FUCKING HAPPEN EITHER, BUT IT DOES, SO LET ME THROW OBJECTS UP DAMMIT. Granted, you need the horizontal throw much more than youíd ever need an upward one, and it would only be useful a few times, in boss fights usually, BUT I STILL WANT MY ANTI-NEWTONIAN THROWS.


All I want to do is fire upward, canít you give me that.

Enemy respawns.

I know, I know, these can be a problem in any game. But in Rockiní Kats, itís a serious fucking problem. The very moment the screen is one pixel above an enemy or in front of it, THEY FUCKING RESPAWN. So if you spring jump off a pipe (which contained an enemy you killed) and miss a grapple, THE MOMENT YOU FALL THAT ENEMY IS THERE AND ATTACKING. It essentially gives you one shot to make difficult jumps, otherwise you take damage. WHAT THE FUCK IS WRONG WITH THIS PICTURE. THE REASON WHY I KILLED THE ENEMY IS SO HE COULDNíT ATTACK ME WHILE I ATTEMPTED THIS JUMP, HOW THE FUCK DID HE COME BACK SO QUICKLY. You donít even have to leave the screen, as the picture below shows.\


Iím not even off the screen yet, and heís already spawned, God fucking dammit.

The Smash Attack.

THIS THING IS FUCKING USELESS, AND ENDS UP MAKING THE GAME MORE DIFFICULT. Iíll explain, throughout the levels there are little walls, fire hydrants, lots of solid surfaces. If you punch them, you go flying back and kill enemies. It seems good in theory, but like Homer Simpson said, so did communism. The problem here is that of the enemy respawns, AS YOU GO FLYING BACK YOU GET A DOUBLE RESPAWN. FIRST OF ENEMIES FROM THE LEFT AS YOU FLY BACK, THEN FROM THE RIGHT AS YOU MOVE BACK TO WHERE YOU WERE. So while taking out one enemy, you create 3 more for you to deal with, I DIDNíT LIKE SMASH ATTACKS IN MELEE, AND I FUCKING HATE THEM HERE.


Look at it; does The Smash Attack even look normal or right?

ThInGs ThAt MaKe Me SaY wTf

The Logic of the boss battle with Mugsy




As you can see from the Images above, Mugsy is on a personal hovering device, which I assume is moving away from you. I make this assumption because the platforms scroll to the left, which is how they would scroll if he was moving right. However, he can fly to the other side of the screen, and what happens, THE PLATFORMS STILL SCROLL LEFT. UNLESS WILLY IS BATTLING MUGSY IN A GIGANTIC ROTATING ROOM, THIS MAKES NO SENSE. HOW CAN HE FLY AWAY IN TWO DIRECTIONS, AND ONLY HAVE THE PLATFORMS MOVE IN ONE? I know I said above that I shouldnít use logic, BUT EVEN CARTOONS FOLLOW THE LOGIC THAT IF A CHARACTER MOVES RIGHT, THE BACKGROUND SCROLLS TO THE LEFT, AND VICE VERSA.

Mugsy offering you one more round.

This is another thing I never noticed before, mostly because I turned the game off after the end credits. Mugsy pops in and tells you this.



All I could think was BADASS, more Rockiní Kats, how could I lose. HOW COULD I LOSE, BY TAKING EVERYTHING ABOUT THE GAME I LOVE, AND REMOVING IT. Instead of a fun cartoony sidescrolling platformer, IT GETS TURNED INTO FUN WITH SPRING JUMPING, GRAPPLING, AND DIAGONALS. And it isnít a second quest like in The Legend of Zelda, ITíS ONE FUCKING STAGE, THAT I SWEAR TO GOD IS MEANT TO KILL YOU. Thereís one spring/grapple that Iím 99% is impossible to land on itís own, YOU HAVE TO GET LUCKY AND HOPE THE BAT ABOVE YOU ATTACKS YOU, SO YOU HAVE ENOUGH TIME TO GRAPPLE ONTO A PIPE. You lose all your weapons, and cannot reobtain them, MAKING THE BATTLE VS. MUGSY A REAL BITCH. And after you beat it all and beat Mugsy, what do you get, THE SAME ENDING, NOTHING CHANGED. Iím all for bonus content, BUT NOT WHEN ITíS JUST BULLSHIT TACKED ON.


Iím dead fucking serious, this jump is nearly impossible to make.

The Western Feel

Thankfully there is some WTFness that I can dig. The developers were obviously trying to design this game with a western vibe to it, itís obvious from the Japanese title NY Nyankies. Unfortunately they probably did it without consulting any westerners. Thus we get some good old fashioned racism, like the mid-boss that does the rain dance. We get two NYC themed levels, and King Kong as a boss. And we get two really bizarre enemies. The first I mentioned above, The Michael Jackson dog, who moonwalks in, throws his hat at you, and moonwalks away. The second, I just cannot describe in words, but may be the most disturbing enemy ever in videogames, and that includes the Cho Aniki series.



Yes, that is indeed a mouse flashing Willy, and shooting little mice from his *ahem* little mouse. The strangest thing is that this enemy only appears the bonus stage that you can play after beating the game. It makes me wonder if the testers at Nintendo of America also didnít stick around after the end credits

So why have so many people missed out on the game, I think it breaks down into 4 factors.

1. Publicity.

Lets see a show of hands how many people know of the game, now those of you who owned put your hands down. Wait, this is all arbitrary, after all I canít count whose hands are raised over the internet, and even if I could, I donít know whoís lying. But like I said in the intro, I have never personally met anyone who has played this game. I couldnít find magazine ads for it on the internet, Hell I donít even know why I bought it when I was a kid. The only advertisement for it I have found is that it was a selection on Playchoice-10 machines in arcades, so I might have played it there. It could also be because it was featured on the game show Nick Arcade, which I watched a lot of as a kid.

2. The Company

While today Atlus is a well known in game publishing for the Shin Megami Tensei series, in 1991 they were a new kid on the block. When Rockiní Kats was released in September of that year, it was only the 4th game they had ever developed (at least if Wikipedia is accurate, if I am wrong donít flame me, just let me know so I can correct this). The games prior to this, two puzzle games on Gameboy and a golf game for NES. So we have the case of an untested company, trying to create a game type theyíd never attempted before. Atlus didnít have the benefit of a built in market, like Capcom, Konami, or Nintendo for that matter, of gamers who knew that they made quality games. With all those factors working against them, itís quite amazing people even played this game at all.

3. The Console and Genre

Rockiní Kats is a platformer, on the NES. Let that settle in for a moment. Ok, now in fifteen seconds, how many platformers (including hybrids) can you name on the NES? GO! Mario, Mega Man, Castlevania, Contra, The Capcom Disney games, Zelda 2, Metroid, Adventure Island, Little Nemo: The Dream Master, the list can continue on and on. As we all know the NES market was oversaturated with platformers. The chances of a new platforming game, from an unknown company, to rise above the rest of the crap, were slim and none.

4. The Release Date

Rockiní Kats was released in September of 1991. Whatís so big about that? Well one month prior to that The Super Nintendo Entertainment System was released in North America, along with the latest installment of the Mario series. The Sega Genesis had already been on shelves for two years at that point, and in June of 1991 it got its own mascot and platformer in Sonic the Hedgehog. September was right around the point of time where gamers were gearing up for the console wars of the 16-bit era. That helped leave Rockiní Kats lost in the shuffle.

In conclusion, Rockiní Kats was doomed from day one. It managed to have every single outside factor work against it. If you were intentionally trying to market this game poorly, you couldnít do as bad as this. And yet, somehow I managed to buy it. Despite all of these efforts, I own a copy of Rockiní Kats, and Iím damn glad I do. Itís not a classic, itís not the best of its kind, but it is a solid, fun game that few people know about.

  read


4:00 PM on 08.11.2009

The Ten Gaming Related Moments that Shaped me as a Person, 1. The first clear memory I have, playing Super Mario Brothers 2.

And Here we are, the last entry. I can't really give much of an intro. Most every gamer remembers the first
time they played a game. I'm one of the gamers who's first memory is a video game. It was Super Mario
Brothers 2, and 20 years later at age 23, I'm still playing.

1. The first clear memory I have, playing Super Mario Brothers 2.

I've got to say it, classic gaming can be defined in 3 letters to me, NES. The Nintendo Entertainment System
was what turned home game consoles from toys into something more. It turned games from something
needed to play the system, to must have items. I'm lucky to have been around when all this was happening,
and while I was young, The NES made a big impact on my life. I didn't want to go on winded rant, but I think
we all know the NES's importance. Hell, I think that playing the NES is a gaming right of passage before
advancing on. I know when I have kids, they'll have to learn from the NES before moving to more advanced
consoles. I loath seeing kids 8-12 in the ďKnow Your RootsĒ t-shirt with the NES controller.


[b]When I worked at Target, I would see so many people wearing this shirt, who made me want to hurt them
for their ignorance. [/b]

I've always wanted to quiz them on some basic NES knowledge, where's the first warp zone in Super Mario
Brothers, name ten NES games/franchises, simple stuff to see if they are deserving of the shirt. Why does it
hold so much importance to me, well it's the system that turned me and millions of others into gamers, it's the
one console I can always play no matter what mood I'm in, and the NES along with Super Mario Brothers 2
are the first clear memory I have. All my memories prior to this are because of my family telling me them, but
the NES and Mario 2 is the first thing that I can recall nearly everything about. It was January 1989, my
brother's sixth birthday. I was just shy of three years old. He had a party with his friends from school, and I
remember the last few gifts he received. My dad brought out this big giant box along with a few of smaller
ones. He tore the paper off and was the happiest child in the world, it was the NES Powerset. The NES, two
controllers, the Zapper, the Power Pad and the 3 in 1 cart with Super Mario Brothers, World Class Track
Meet, and Duck Hunt. The smaller boxes contained an NES Advantage joystick, Blades of Steel, Mike Tyson's
Punch-Out!!, and Super Mario Brothers 2.


Just like this, but we had the grey zapper.

Back at our house after the party my dad and brother unpacked everything and hooked the system up. I have
to assume my brother had played or even beaten Mario 1 at a friends house because he skipped over it to
pop in Mario 2. He picked a character, and I was taken to a world I couldn't even imagine. I believe my first
thought was, oh its a cartoon that's cool, so my eyes were glued to the screen. I recall dogs in masks (I later
learned they were shy guys), magic potions, vegetables as weapons, and some pink thing shooting eggs out
of it's nose.


Seriously what the hell is Birdo?

My attention drifted from the screen to the system itself, I followed the cord on the front to what I thought
was a remote control in my brother's hands. So I started watching him instead of the TV. I noticed when he
moved his thumb, the character on screen moved too, if he pushed a button, the character jumped or picked
up a vegetable. Now I was really confused, was he controlling this cartoon? I had to ask him, ďWhat was
this grey box?Ē The reply was simple, ďA video game.Ē Naturally I needed to know more ďWhat's a video
game?Ē He replied back ďA game you play on the TV.Ē I asked him about a dozen other questions, who's this,
what's that, why is that thing shooting eggs at you? His patience for me was wearing thin. Finally I asked the
big one, ďCan I play?Ē Of course, being children, it turned into a mini argument. He didn't want to let me, after
all it was his new toy. I continued to beg and plead, hoping that he'd let try. Finally, either because our
parents intervened or just to shut me up, he agreed to give me a turn. After he died, he passed the controller
onto me, and the simplest acts astounded me. This was a world I had control over. I jumped for joy within the
game and in our family room. My one turn lasted all of ten seconds, but I was hooked.


Ten seconds with this, changes an entire life, it happened to me.

Until I had to go to bed, I sat just mesmerized in watching him play it. When he played the NES those first
couple of months, I would sit and watch. And every single time I did, he'd give me a life or two in whatever
game he played. It was still his toy, and I knew I didn't have his permission to use it. After a while I wanted to
be able to use it on my own, so I asked my parents, ďCan I play with Zach's NES too?Ē My brother wasn't
happy when they agreed but I think he also knew if I knew how to use it on my own, I'd quit bugging him
when he played. It would also give him a better opponent in World Class Track Meet, Super Mario Brothers,
and Blades of Steel. So he taught me how to work the system, changing the TV to channel 3, putting the
cartridge in, how if it isn't working you have to blow on it, a crash course. I was now officially a gamer, and I
played at every free moment I had. While my dad and brother were watching sports, I was playing video
games. When it was bad weather outside, I didn't fret because I could use the NES. The only time I would
have to give up playing is if my brother wanted to play a single player game. It was his system, so I had no
choice. Later on we would join forces in games like Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 2: The Arcade Game,
Super Mario Brothers 3, and Battletoads. That helped both of us see each other in a different light (Except
Battletoads, which got us pissed off at each other).


Seriously, Fuck Battletoads, it's amazing, and too fucking hard.

We still would fight and argue like brothers usually do, however when we got in front of the NES together it
would be all about the games, helping each other out. This is my number one pick for two reasons, first it
cemented the relationship of my brother and I. He and I are two completely different people, when we were
young he was into sports, I was into school. He had no trouble gaining friends and becoming popular, it was
never really that easy for me because while I was (and still am) nice and well liked I have trouble expressing
my personality to people I don't know. The NES and enjoyment of Professional Wrestling were our two
common interests as kids, and they helped us mature into friends as adults as they are still common interests.
We will get into arguments about stupid shit, but hell that's just what brothers do. Then naturally the big one, if
this one event wasn't so important why would it be my very first clear memory? Naturally my playing of the
NES made me want to game more and more and drove my passion about Video Games. But I've got to take a
look at what a first memory really means. There's a difference between recalling an event, and actually
having memories of it. I can't consider this recalling because until I talked about this recently with my parents
and my brother, all they could remember was the NES as a gift, and my brother playing with me watching.
That really eliminates any possibility that they told me this story. Yes I admit, I've got some foggy spots, I can't
remember the dialog word for word, I don't know if it was my brother or parents that got me my first turn, but
everything else is all my memories of that day. That's really all I can say, twenty years later I'm still gaming,
and I still remember my first time.


Yeah, My first time was kinda fast, and I don't know how well I did, but I always remember it.




Well that's all of them. Thanks to everybody who read, commented, and enjoyed my posts. Thanks to the men
in charge at D-toid, for putting me in top C-Blogs of the day multiple times. For my next post, I've got two
options. First is a look at Profestional Wrestling Tag Team, The Super Smash Brothers, who are video game
characters trapped in a pro wrestling world. The second would be my first Bipolar review, a look at some
media I enjoy, be it game, movie, tv show, whatever, where I will critically analysize it, and discuss the things
that make me happy, the things that depress me, and the things that just send my mind up and down and
make me say what the fuck. The first topic in that would be The Transformers-The Movie from 1986. And on
a final note, if anyone ever tells you videogames don't make an impact on people's lives. Give them a middle
finger, from me.

Also one final thing, does anybody know how i can rid myself of these annoying line breaks in my paragraphs, I have no clue why they are appearing.   read


5:24 PM on 08.07.2009

The Ten Gaming Related Moments that Shaped me as a Person, 2. Mike Tyson's Punch-Out and Finals Week. AKA I Suck at Fighting Mike Tyson in Mike Tyson's Punch-Out!!

Phew, after a long hiatus, mostly due to summer classes, I'm back. I knew I would have to finish The Ten Gaming Related Moments that Shaped me as a Person, especially with how close it is to conclusion. This entry is about one of my favorite games of all time, an epic quest finally leading to victory, and looking back one of the funniest stories in my life. It's also about playing a game for a decade, trying to beat the final boss. While the final boss is one of the hardest in history, you would think after ten years you'd be able to beat him easily. Plus after my victory, he still managed to beat me. So let's get punch drunk on the story of.

2. Mike Tyson's Punch-Out!! and Finals week

As stated above, one game that was played constantly Up North was Mike Tyson's Punch-Out. My cousins, brother, and I had an obsessive goal to beat the game and knock out Iron Mike Tyson. Unfortunately, even with the password to skip straight to him it was never meant to be. In three straight years, we came up short. He'd land his third one punch knockdown, and we'd lose The Dream Fight.


Yes, I'm all smiley and happy now, but back then, I wanted to beat this game with a baseball bat.

Now we could've used the Game Genie, but it wasn't about winning the game, it was about truly beating Mike Tyson. After my family stopped being able to go up and visit, I kept track with my cousin Adam to see how progress was. He was never able to do it, he never could beat Iron Mike. When I started using emulators, I made it my own task. I had to do it, for my family's honor. Yet throughout middle school, I had no such luck. In high school after I got my NES back, I figured that this would be the time. I was primed and ready to knock that Ear Eater back to the stone age. However my enthusiasm didn't lead to victory, I continued to fail, I just couldn't do it. It broke me, Unlike Will Smith's song I didn't think I could beat Mike Tyson.


Yeah, your song didn't help at all, you guys lost to him too. Thanks for instilling me with false hope.

Finally I go off to college. I had my PS2 with me so I could keep gaming and an wide variety of Emulators and Roms in case I ever wanted to get Retro. Once our dorm figured out how to network computers, everybody was taking my emulators and ROMs to relive the past. I had reached finals week of my first semester. My roommate had already taken all of his finals and was gone. I was unfortunate enough to have my last exam scheduled on Friday, and very early in the morning. I studied all my lecture notes, all of my teacher's powerpoint presentations, and was working through the study guide to make sure I had everything down. After three hours of studying, I needed a break. I ordered a Pizza, turned on the TV, and started to relax. Something beckoned me over to the computer, and soon enough, I had Punch-Out booted up. At this point I was using the game for relaxation purposes, I could play until Mike Tyson with ease so it just felt good to beat the shit out of the computer. After eliminating Soda Popinski, I got a call my pizza had arrived so I made a save state of my progress.


Oh Soda, you are a god among stereotypes.

I ate, finished watching TV, and went back to my studies. Around Eleven I was ready to get to sleep. I'd stopped studying an hour before and packed up all the stuff I needed for my trip home besides the computer for some odd reason. Sure enough I went back to the computer, back to Punch-Out. I finished up the World Circuit, and save stated at The Dream Fight. The battle began, and Tyson kicked my ass for countless fights. I was able to outlast his first barrage of one hit knockdown punching at times, but even then I'll still get destroyed. This was what my past 14 years were building up to, I was going to take out Mike Tyson even if it killed me.


[b]Aren't there weight classes in boxing, seriously. He just looks like he's going to murder you, and this is
before he went crazy.[/b]

Time passed, fights went to decision, all won by that bastard. Then I finally got the rhythm down, and in the second round I had two knock downs with very little time left. I lucked out and managed to get a star, one uppercut later I knocked out Mike Tyson. It was a gaming achievement none of my friends or family had ever done, but I managed to do it. For a single moment, I was the greatest gamer in the entire world. I looked at my clock, it was 2 AM, and my test was at 9. Seven hours of sleep would be plenty I thought. I set my alarm and I flopped down to sleep. It wasn't my alarm that work me but a call from my ride home asking if I was ready to leave. It was 11, my Punch-Out victory had caused me to oversleep and miss my final. From beyond the game Tyson got a mark of revenge.


Don't you smile at me, I missed my final because of you.

I managed to send off an email and a call to my professor, thankfully he was still at school. If I met him in his office, I could take the final. He was leaving at exactly 12:30, so no matter what my final would have to be done then. I didn't shower, shave, or even change my clothes. I ran the half a mile across campus, rushed through the test in an hour, and managed to leave school by one o'clock. I tell people the story now, and everybody laughs. I missed a final due to Mike Tyson's Punch-Out. Since then I've beaten Tyson on my NES, Mr. Dream on Virtual Console, and to prove a point in culinary school beat Mr. Dream on a computer in front of a group of my friends and classmates who didn't believe my claims. But I think the experience helped me gain an even better understanding of taking responsibility for myself, over anything else, even beating a video game that took nearly a decade to accomplish.


Celebrate Good Times, With PUNCH-OUT!! It's a Celebration.

Well folks, there's only one story left to tell. The final entry will deal with one of the most significant moments in my life, for more than one reason. Once again, feedback, questions, and the like are always appreciated. And just remember, telling me to join the Nintendo fun club is not good advice, especially when it goes defunct a year after you tell me to join.   read


4:29 PM on 07.03.2009

The Ten Gaming Related Moments that Shaped me as a Person, 3. My Childhood Arcades

Well here we are once again, going back into my memories to see what really has an impact. Single player
gaming is fun, it's some of the most fun that one can have gaming. But sometimes, you need a little
competition and interaction. Playing with friends is fun, but nothing can compare with the interaction at an
arcade, so going down this list here is NUMBER 3.

3. My Childhood Arcades

I miss Arcades, I miss putting a quarter up on a machine to say you've got next. I miss the clatter of joysticks
and the click of buttons. I even miss getting my ass kicked by a pro at a fighting game. My NES couldn't
compete with the graphics, and it was always fun to see and play the newest game for a few quarters
rather than forty to fifty bucks. Hell, before the online gaming boom arcades were the only places where
you could challenge complete strangers, and show supremacy. The feeling you would get after winning,
you stepped up to challenge somebody, or if someone challenged you, well it's indescribable. One of my
favorite memories is winning a dozen consecutive vs. matches of Marvel Vs. Capcom at Gameworks in
Seattle.


Ahhh 2D Fighters and Trivial Pursuit, the two games my friends refuse to play against me.

I was on vacation, and after beating my best friend Tyler at the game (He refuses to play 2D fighters against
me now), people began to line up to play against me. The last guy in line played me four times trying to end
my stream, I beat him, beat the game, and walked away. I'd take that over a dozen straight wins on X-Box
Live anyday. There are three arcades that stick out in my mind, here they are in order of importance on my
life

Space Station Arcade

This was a true old school Arcade. It had that seedy 1980's style, with duplicate machines so people could
play head to head in games like Pac-Man. The haze of cigarette smoke in the air along with the cigarette
burns on the machines. Pros taking on all comers in Street Fighter 2, going through a dozen different
challengers on their original credit. It's where I first saw Mortal Kombat, Street Fighter 2: Championship Edition
and countless others. The upkeep on the games was enough to keep them working, not esthetically pleasing.


As long as it works, you can bet I'll play it.

If it were around today, parents would raise an uproar about children being allowed inside. But it's also the
type of arcade that I wish I had nearby me. I learned from the people there how to do the special moves in
fighting games. Eventually I even was able to have people want to call next on playing against me. Sadly, the
arcade is no more, but the memory still exists.

St. Pete's Beach Amusement Center

Every year for Spring Break my family would go to Treasure Island Florida, just outside Tampa. While the
beach, the pool, and the sun were all fun, I cared about one thing every trip, this arcade. It was pay one
price, they opened at 3 PM, you plunk down ten dollars, and you play until 7. Everything here had either a
credit button, or was set to free play. First off, it's where I first saw the Baddest of Badass cabinets The Six
Player X-men machine. And there were always 5 other people willing to play, after all it was free.


Where else would we learn classic phrases like "Welcome to Die."

It's where I first played an SNK machine, Fatal Fury, and World Heroes were on one machine, and Art of
Fighting was on the other one. I finally got to beat Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Turtles in Time, and The
Simpsons without worry of running out of quarters. Plus they had a great selection of classic games in a
back room that nobody seemed to play. I had free reign to jump Galaga, to Tron, to Ms. Pac-Man, without
worry that somebody would be want to jump in after I died, and without having to deal with assholes hogging
a machine. When I went back to Florida last year, I couldn't wait to visit my old favorite. Like Space Station
though, times have changed, and the building is now vacant.


I shall never forget

Marvin's Marvelous Mechanical Museum

Thankfully this place is still around, and I'd recommend it to any arcade fan. The title isn't a misnomer, it truly is
a museum. There's historical pieces, like the Cardiff Giant, A collection of animatronic figures from Chuck-E-
Cheese and Showbiz Pizza Place, a selection of historical fans, and a vast collection of old mechanical
games from the penny arcade era. Yeah, I'll admit it's fairly strange, but it's also really really cool. Museum is
not just a nice word in the name, I truly consider it a museum.


One of the strangest hoaxes ever, the Cardiff Giant.

For me though, every single time it was about the games. This was the cream of the arcade crop, a place
that made you want to return with their selection of arcade games. Anytime a new game came out, Marvin's
had it. I remember waiting in a line of fifteen people for a shot at playing Mortal Kombat 2, and after I lost
getting back in the same line to do it all over again. It's where I discovered my love for Pinball, The Addams
Family and Twilight Zone being my favorites. Any multiplayer game you chose, chances there would be
someone to play with you.


Seriously, something for everybody.

Maybe the best part was the owner Marvin. Every old machine was one he'd refurbished and brought back
into working condition, that tells you something about his passion for games. He'd always be walking around
the arcade, playing his games, and was one of the nicest people in the world. I can remember multiple times
saying to myself, ďShoot, I need another quarter,Ē if he was by you and heard you say it, he'd give you one
just so you could keep playing. That to me said it all, he doesn't care about making as much money as
possible, he just wants people to go to his arcade and have fun.


Even Eminem likes Marvin, and he hates everybody.

Sadly, the days of the Arcade are becoming numbered, and soon enough they may be gone. Replaced by
ďArcadesĒ which are just ticket games, DDR machines, racing games, and maybe a re released classic.
These three places have make me actively search out arcades, because of the experiences they brought
me. I also like to think I inherited some of Marvin's ideology, as I'm inclined to always help people out, even if I
know it's a thankless gesture.


Seriously, you need to go here.

Down to the final two, thanks again for the feedback, thanks to those who read my look at Twists in games,
and thanks everyone who's read these. I didn't expect the response I have gotten, and am grateful that
people have enjoyed my look into the past. Next time, How Mike Tyson nearly destroyed my freshman year of
college.   read


3:36 PM on 06.25.2009

Untapped Potential, The Twist or Shocking Reveal

OK I decided to take a break from my Top Ten Gaming Moments that Shaped my Life to talk about one thing that video games can potentially improve on. Do not fear, entry # 3 on the arcades of my childhood will be up shortly. It's just I finished writing that list almost two months ago, and I wanted to work out the writer's rust on something different. I had seen the Monthly Topic of Untapped Potential, and after randomly thinking about Bioshock I had a topic. Two warnings before I get into the post. First, it is a long read, longer than I originally anticipated. So if you want to finish it in one sitting now is the time to get a snack and a beverage. Second, I will admit that there are spoilers in this post. I'm letting people know now because I don't want to hear complaints. I think many of the games and films I'll be talking about have had their shocking moments revealed already, so I don't mind talking them. But just in case anyone skipped over this top paragraph, I'll make it clear.

WARNING THIS POST MAY CONTAIN WHAT COULD BE CONSIDERED SPOILERS TO YOU, DON'T COMPLAIN TO ME YOU DIDN'T KNOW SNAPE KILLED DUMBLEDORE OR WHATEVER.

OK, now that that is taken care of onto the main show.

Untapped Potential: The Twist or Shocking Reveal

I assume many of you have been asked this question by a casual or non-gamer, ďWhy do you like playing video games so much?Ē It's a question that has a multitude of answers, it can be an escape into a world that you don't live in, you could enjoy the competition of gaming, or it can even be as simple as games are fun. I tend to answer with a comparison, why do people read books, watch movies, or tune into a TV series. It's about being entertained, and I'm entertained by video games. People get entranced by the media for different reasons, but I think it breaks down into two factors plot/storyline and the characters.

A good film, book, or TV show makes you relate and understand what the characters are going through during the plot. Video games take that idea one step beyond, once you become that character, you truly are living through them. You control actions, make decisions, and depending on the game what you do effects what happens next. Other forms of media cannot touch that aspect of realism, simply because there isn't any real interaction. If you scream at the TV telling Jack Bauer not to go through a door because it's a trap, he's still probably going to walk into it and manage to get his way out of it. To put it simply your input has no effect on the outcome.

Plot/Storyline and Character Development must be in a constant balance in order to ensure a good game, or for that matter any good media. If we as gamers don't get a good understanding of the character or characters we are playing as, we can end up not having an attachment to them, thus we might not care enough about them to want to play through the game. On the other hand, we could also be given every single fact of a character's life thus far, which can make us attached to them and then be very upset if something happens to change everything we know or think we know about them. The same goes with story, if it's kept vague, not at all detailed, or doesn't really have something that draws us in, then it creates a severe lack of motivation to continue playing. If there is too much detail and time spent on the story, what could be a great game may suffer due to people simply getting sick of knowing every tiny detail that is happening in this world. Even in the 8-bit era this balance can be seen. Mario Mario is a regular guy, he's a plumber in a world that is not his own. The storyline is as simple as possible, you've got to save the princess. The game doesn't try to be too complex on either end, that's the beauty of the balance. When you get through the first world of Super Mario Brothers, and find out Princess Toadstool is in another castle, you're inclined to keep playing because you know one of these times you will be in the right castle. It could be considered the first, if not one of the first twists in gaming history, and it was effective.


Dammit Toad, why didnít you just tell me what castle sheís in so I can go there directly and save her?

Personally I think character development is the easier thing to maintain and control, if you can get a gamer feeling any real emotion towards a character, they are much more inclined to continue playing. As for plot and storyline, most games do fine. A lot of the time, especially in modern games, developers let the player determine how much of the story they want to know. Let's face it, we are all guilty of skipping a cut scene in a modern game at least once, there are just times when the story doesn't feel right but since the game itself is fun you don't care. Developers of games luck out because they can view other forms of media, and see what works and what doesn't in terms of story telling. Application of these ideas is a whole different matter, and I'll be looking at one application, the Twist/Shocking Reveal.

You can define a twist or shocking reveal as something that comes out of left field, it can be set up early before the big reveal, or it can just happen and leave the audience thinking what the fuck. Movies are full of them, Bruce Willis was dead the whole time in The Sixth Sense, it turns out Andy Dufresne rock hammer wasn't for making statues but for spending nineteen years digging out of prison in The Shawshank Redemption, Brad Pitt and Edward Norton are respectively the id and super ego of the main character in Fight Club. They can even be kept vague to let the viewer make their own choice, who knows for sure if Deckard is a human or replicant in Blade Runner. To me though, the best twist in anything is the following video.

[embed]137520:20230[/embed]
It's funny how everyone quotes it "Luke, I am your father." When Vader actually says "No I am your father."

Nobody saw it coming. When I was a little kid watching the Star Wars Trilogy for the first time with my dad he didn't speak a word about it until that scene. That is how you can tell it's such a good twist, it's something you don't want to ruin for somebody who doesn't know what's going to happen. But now I'm forced to wonder, if movies can do it, and do it so well, why can't video games. Yes there exist some games with good twists, a few great twists, and even one that rivals any listed above. But for the hits, there are many misses, twists that are lackluster, pointless, and even ones that make you question why did they do that. There are four components in games that a twist should try to obtain. They should be unexpected, they should shock the player, they should make a gamer rethink that he's just played, and finally they need to make sense within the context of the game. So letís take a look at these four factors.

They Should Be Unexpected

This doesn't mean hints cannot be dropped, or the gamer doesn't ponders about the twist while playing. But the build up to the twist should remain vague, or even in some cases itís even better if itís non-existent. If there are small hints about a potential twist, they should make a gamer think briefly about it, but then forget about it until the twist happens. If it is a twist with no build up, it should then happen out of the blue. The perfect example is Metroid for NES, the reveal at the end that the entire time your badass hero was actually a badass heroine, is perfect. It's simple yes, but nobody expects it at all. The problem with many games that try and have a twist is they reveal too much information about it, then it isn't really a twist, it's just a reveal that the gamer already knew would happen. The unexpectedness can also be a bad thing, if a player has invested time and energy into a character, story, or just a game in general, then something comes in to rock their world it can cause anger, frustration, and can ruin the love a gamer has for the game. For example, you're playing an RPG and you reach what appears to be the end of the game, but it is merely a halfway point. You're going to be upset and rightfully so, then if the second half of the game pales in comparison to the first half, you get the feeling that the developer just ruined a great game.


Unless you knew about Justin Bailey before you beat the game, you had no idea

They Should Shock The Player

Some people might consider this exactly the same as being unexpected, but I think they are two different animals. If somebody decides to play Ding Dong Ditch at your house, when you go to the door you expect somebody to be there. Nobody being at the door after the doorbell is rung is not what you expected. Now say someone does the exact same thing, except they leave a flaming bag of dog shit on your porch. If you stomp it out you realize your feet are covered in warm shit, that is a not what you expected and a shock to the system. These are two nearly identical scenarios but with different outcomes. In video games shock value is easy to find, a dog jumps through a window in Resident Evil, a horde of zombies rushes you from nowhere in Left 4 Dead, or you find the town of Andale's secret in Fallout 3. The difficulty is that developers can do these all with ease in games. It ends up at a point where a gamer is numbed to it, and it's hard to know what will and won't shock somebody. The key with shock value in a twist I think is that it has to make you wonder what the fuck just happened and was what you were unaware of the intent of the game the whole time you are playing. A perfect example is Braid, you play through the entire game wondering why Tim can rewind time and just hoping you can rescue the princess. Once you unlock the last world itís title ďWorld 1Ē is confusing. Until you come to the realization that the entire game has been in reverse. The end of your game is the beginning of the story, and it turns out the entire time the princess you're hoping to rescue has been fleeing from you. That's the kind of mindfuck that shocks a gamer, learning that you've been playing as the villain the entire game and not knowing it.


Who wouldíve known the buildings engulfed in flames were your own fault

They Should Make You Rethink What You Just Played

Gaming is very logic based and I feel gamers like to think about games in the present (what you are doing in the game at this moment) and in the past (what you had done to get to this point). There may be multiple ways to complete a game and while playing it the gamer feels they made the decisions to get to the final outcome. It's why people like to reflect on games they enjoyed, if you talk about the same game with two different people, you'll get two different stories on their experience. But even in reflection you're just describing an experience, rethinking the entire game itself is a something else entirely. A twist is the perfect way to make a gamer question what he was doing throughout the game. I feel when a game makes you reflect that way, it's much more memorable than multiple paths to the same end. Bioshock is the prime example, throughout the game Atlas is your guide, friend, and the only person you can trust. If you pay attention to some of the bosses, which can be difficult as most are completely insane, the seeds of doubt might be planted. Listening closer to Atlas makes you even more confused, I'll even admit that I was wondering if he was just using me to his own ends. But I didn't expect that my character never even had a say in the matter. Finding out you are a puppet who can't truly control his own actions really made me wonder did anyone in Rapture need to die at all.


After beating this game Iíve heard a few people ask me ďWould you kindlyÖ.Ē And it scares me.

They Must Make Sense In The Context Of The Game

This is the biggest one by far, if a twist doesn't make any sense, is it even really a twist. Video games may be able to take us off into unrealistic worlds, locations we'll never visit, and put us into situations that would never occur within real life, but they still must follow their own plot and context. Thereís a difference between unrealistic and nonsensical. Unrealistic situations involve anamorphic animals that walk and talk, travel forward and backward through time, and managing to carry 17 different guns and the individual ammo for each. It wouldnít happen in the real world, but we must remember ďItís a video game, itís fiction.Ē However there can still be problems when logic doesnít apply to the world that youíre in. Games seem to manage to get away with this all the time, just look at any first person shooter. Oh yeah, you can climb up this wall, break through that one, but DON'T YOU DARE JUMP ON TOP OF THAT BOX OR TRY AND HOP OVER THAT ONE FOOT HIGH BOUNDRY. I think most of us hate spending 20+ hours playing though a game, only to get an ending that leaves us scratching our heads, and feeling like we wasted time. If a major plot point or event doesnít fit a storyís context, it's essentially the developer telling you, ďYeah, we aren't following the storyline that we made you play through anymore.Ē This is where a twist can become really screwed up, because thereís a very fine line that it can cross before it doesnít fit in with the rest of the game. To me the best example of a twist that makes perfect sense is best twist in gaming ever.

Itís fairly appropriate the best twists in both movies and games come from the Star Wars Universe. Star Wars Knights of the Old Republic is a phenomenal game, and should be the measuring stick of how to pull off a twist in gaming. Starting out with no force abilities, no real memory to speak of, you fight your way through the game. You learn of the powers of the force, work on bringing peace to the galaxy, and become a Jedi. When you have a major confrontation with Darth Malak you learn the horrifying truth. You aren't a nobody you are his former master Darth Revan, who he attempted to kill, and the Jedi you've been helping out are the ones who erased your memories of this and your powers. Look at it this way, in the Star Wars universe Jedi and Sith are just the straight up badasses, always have been, always will be. The only people who can match up in battle with the Jedi are the Sith, and vice versa. The idea of a nobody, who manages to discover his force powers but doesnít have formal training taking down the Dark Lord of the Sith is far fetched. Even Luke Skywalker needed Obi-Wan and Yoda to take down the Empire. Up until the reveal the story in KOTOR was just a normal guy trying to take down the Sith because the Jediís want him to. It seems a little off, and if it were the story of the full game, the game would still be fun, but not nearly as memorable. The twist changes the entire storyline, itís now a Jedi Master and former Dark Lord of the Sith, coming to the realization that heís been unconsciously hunting down the man who betrayed him. It tells us why weíve really been hunting down Malak, why our character is so powerful, and even why the Jedi would come to you for help. As for the other factors itís shocking, unexpected, and makes a gamer wonder if they will follow the light or return to the dark.


Itís fairly awesome and scary finding out youíre the Baddest Mother Fucker in the universe

So we know that Twists can be good for gaming. They make gamers reflect on their experience in the game, and they help a game have a lasting impact in the marketplace. Not all games need twists, that's not what I'm saying, but in the right context they can help games. The problem, at best when a twist fails people don't seem to care or notice it, at worst they can upset, confuse, and flat out piss off gamers. Many games have fallen into these two traps, you can feel free to add your most hated twists in the comments since Iíll look at two games, one falling into each trap, and give ideas I have to improve the twists. In The Legend of Zelda: The Ocarina of Time Zelda and Sheik are one in the same. Hell you donít even need to play Ocarina of Time to know the twist, Smash Brothers let it out in the open. The problem with this attempt at a twist is itís far too easy to figure out, Zelda is one of the few people that helps you as young Link, and magically Sheik is one of the few who can help you as an adult. Even worse it doesnít truly effect the story. Instead of believing that Gannondorf already has her captured or sheís locked away in a temple, we get to see her get captured. Nearly all the Zelda games follow the simple premise of saving Zelda, so we know weíre going to have to rescue her anyway so where's the impact, where's the shock, does it change the outcome. It could have been anyone teaching you the songs to warp, it just happens to be Zelda in disguise. How I would've done it, instead of going with giving Gannondorf the Triforce of Power, he has the Triforce of Wisdom instead, and thus Gannondorf is Sheik. When helping you out to unlock the sages, he's really forcing you to find Zelda so he may obtain all three parts of the Triforce. Is it the best idea for the game, probably not. Does the twist really change Ocarina of Time, absolutely not, the game is phenomenal, itís just this was an attempt to have a big reveal that if removed probably wouldnít effect the game one bit.


Come on Nintendo, you gave them different colored hair in Smash Bros. Brawl, couldnít you have done it in Ocarina of Time?

The Resident Evil Series may be the worst culprit of the bad plot twist, usually involving Albert Wesker. It's so sad because Wesker is a phenomenal character, his personality is complex almost Machiavellian, and throughout the entire series he's the master manipulator of all events. In the original Resident Evil the attempted twist is finding out it was Wesker who betrayed STARS. Yet the gamer quickly realizes the betrayer is the only character in the game that isn't a main character of a helper. Thankfully you think he gets his comeuppance watching him get killed. Then Code Veronica comes out, Wesker is back with Superhuman powers. Thank god he managed to take that experimental virus that only his body can handle right before he was killed. Personally I would've had him escape the mansion in RE 1 without the Tyrant killing him. Then have the reveal in Code Veronica be that he knew he'd be found eventually so the only way to ensure he can eliminate those hunting him down is to become more powerful than them, using the virus naturally. The worst though is Resident Evil 5. The moment I heard Chris Redfield talk about his old partner, I was predicting Jill's in the game some how. Once I saw her fall to her apparent death along with Wesker, I was sure of it. The woman in the cloak, I knew my prediction was correct and it was going to piss me off. I can forget about brunette Jill now having a blonde dye job, I can look past the fall that shouldíve killed her because itís a video game and I didnít want Jill to be dead, but even forgetting those it remains a stupid reveal. It's just a twist that pissed me off. I don't want to fight Jill Valentine, mind control or not. I don't think anybody did. But, if Iím forced to, I want it to be a real battle. The fact that they tried to pacify the fight made it even worse, I understand Chris believes he can reason with her and break the mind control, but that should be a cut scene, not a boss fight. In my opinion if Capcom wanted Jill in the game, there were two things they could have done. They could have had her appear close to the end, Chris and Sheva rescue her from being captured, and she helps them in the final battle with Wesker, she's alive, she's in the game, not a twist, but a good showing. Or they could have gone the dark route, under Wesker's mind control Chris eventually realizes that he cannot reason with her, and is thus forced to take down his closest friend and the person he's been searching for all game. That's the kind of twist I can handle It's unexpected, the hints in the game reveal she's got to be there, but not that she's there as a soulless killer. It's shocking, nobody would believe Chris would kill Jill no matter what the circumstances. You're forced to think about having to kill a beloved character to kill one of the most evil villains ever. And of course it is something Albert Wesker would do so it fits the story context, we all know Wesker has a grudge against Chris, it's why he went after Claire, it's why he aims to stop Chris's BSAA, what better way to break his worst enemy than by forcing him to kill his best friend. I know I said I don't want to fight Jill, but if I was forced to in that situation I would, simply because it's the only way to save the world in the game. As it's been said, the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few.


GOD DAMMIT CAPCOM, JILL IS NOT A BLONDE

We've seen what a twist can do to a game, how to make a good twist, and even the ways a twist can fail. But we haven't gotten to the core of the issue, why is it that for the most part when a twist in a game is attempted it flops. Movies, TV, books, all have a much higher success rate when it comes to twists and surprises, what is it about games that makes a twist fail. It comes down to two factors I discussed slightly before, the investment a gamer puts into a game and the attachment they have to it.

A TV show is over in thirty minutes to an hour, a movie is usually around two hours, most novels can be finished in five to ten hours. Gaming, especially modern gaming, is a much deeper investment that has changed over time. Where gamers were once happy to boast about how they beat Super Mario Brothers in an hour, now we tend to want as much as possible out of a game. In the 8-bit era game length wasn't even considered because most of the time there was re-playability, be it from beating the game over and over or say playing a difficult game over and over in an attempt to beat it. Modern games do not have that luxury, if a game has less than 10 hours of gameplay it's considered short. And unless a game is exceptionally well made, most people aren't willing to invest their time for a second play through of the main story. Thus the game designers want to ensure that while playing the game there is nothing that will hinder a player from finishing it. One stupid plot point in the story, a single section where a gamer gets stuck, or even something that randomly just pisses them off, can cause them to drop their controller and forget about playing it for awhile. We're fickle, let's face it. I can man up and admit at one point I got stuck in Bioshock about halfway through the game and didn't pick up the game for six months. I ended up bored one day, popped in back in, and was wondering why I ever stopped playing. The risk of putting a twist into a game is that if it backfires gamers get angry. They feel they've wasted their time investment, and it can completely remove any enjoyment they were having from a game. With the internet twists in games can be revealed with ease, and can stop many gamers from purchasing a game if they know of the twist in advance (ruining part of the storyline), or the in the case of a bad twist can bug them enough not to purchase a game they had already planned on getting. It's simply high risk with low reward, and enough companies stave away from them.

Gamers get attached to Characters, because whenever we play a game we are that character. When they're going through a difficult portion of the game, we feel their pain, when something funny happens to them, we laugh, it's part of the experience. Most of the time our goal as gamers is simple, we want that character to accomplish their mission (whatever it may be) and give them their happy ending. If anything happens to that character that changes why we enjoyed or related to them, it can be disastrous. In Chrono Trigger, the lead character Crono dies before the end of the game, the gamer can make the choice to attempt to save him, or to finish the game without him. In my opinion it's not even a choice, I enjoyed being the mute protagonist thrown into a battle to save the world, and on my watch he is not dying, case closed. I've never even brought myself to beat it without him, because I was attached to him. This pays off because while it is a twist, the gamer still maintains control of the game. The point of gaming is to have control, even if a story is linear you still complete the events as the main character that lead to the conclusion. The risk of doing a twist, especially one involving a main character, is that in most circumstances is the gamer doesn't have control over it. Basically if we like the character we like to be in control of what happens to them, the moment that control is taken away, we get angry.


Imagine how pissed gamers wouldíve been if you couldnít save Crono

With games like Fallout 3, Oblivion, and Mass Effect, we've been given more freedom and control than ever in games. Character's are now being created by the player, not the developer, and in these circumstances especially we have our attachment to them. That's what makes the twist so difficult to pull off, as games continue to become more player oriented when it comes to character creation, it's getting to be near impossible for a developer to put in a twist that isn't going to upset fans, even if it's a good one. KOTOR managed to pull it off with character customization because it didnít change the character you created, it changed what you thought you knew about the character you created. The twist can be used effectively, it can change everything about a game in a good way, and in a way that will keep fans happy. The problem is ensuring that the aspects of a game and it's character's do not change when the twist is used. If developers can do that, and follow the four factors that make up a good twist, it can work out. For my final example we can go back to Bioshock, after you're released from being mind controlled, your mission changes to taking down Fontaine who has done this all to you. However the gameplay and mechanics remain the same, the character is still who he was at the start just a bit wiser, and the player is enticed to finish the game to deliver some payback to the man who did this all to you.

I warned you didn't I, for those who stuck around till the end Thanks For Reading. Any comments, questions, feedback, complaints, arguments, whatever Iíll be happy to read. If you want to debate me on this topic, feel more than free, Iíll be happy to keep talking about it. I just felt I needed to get this off my chest, I have a love/hate relationship with twists, and know many other gamers do as well. NEXT UP, My Childhood Arcades   read


4:51 PM on 06.22.2009

The Ten Gaming Related Moments that Shaped me as a Person, 4. Nintendo 64 and Anticipation

Lets keep moving down the list to a system that I don't think a single gamer doesn't love, The N64. This was the first system where I feel I earned my gamer card. I waited through delays, I stuck to my guns when competitors were released, and once I finally got my prize, I played with it until my hands went numb. Then I took a ten minute break and resumed gameplay.

4. Nintendo 64 and Anticipation

To be very honest I am a big Nintendo Fan. From NES on, you name a system they've released, I've owned it, even the Virtual Boy. So when I first heard about the Ultra 64, I wanted it more than anything else in the world. After seeing Cruis'n USA and Killer Instinct in arcades, reading about it in Nintendo Power, EGM, GamePro, and others, my mind was clear, I am getting this.


I still shudder when I hear Ultra Combo

It was April 1995, my birthday, and besides the action figures, video games, other junk on my list it was there, an Ultra 64. I explained to my mother, the system isn't out yet, it wouldn't be until my next birthday, but I will wait for it. I would take less gifts now if she'd get me it and two games when it came out. It was a hard sell at the young age of nine, trying to convince her that I wouldn't complain if I got little to nothing for my actual birthday. I guess something told her I really wanted it, and was truly willing to sacrifice a years worth of presents for it. My birthday came and went and I waited. The Saturn was released, and my mom asked if I'd like that instead, I firmly replied no and continued my waiting.


Sorry Saturn, while your library was kickass in japan, the Genesis burnt me out on Sega

I would read magazines trying to find out any new news about it, and during that summer my mom put in a pre-order at the Electronics Boutique at our mall after I found out they were taking them. A small step towards eventual victory. The Playstation came out next and she asked if I'd rather get that, I refused, Ultra 64 or nothing. For Christmas, aside from my video games and toys, I asked for two more games when it did come out and was given the ok. Then the heartbreaking news, it wasn't the Ultra 64 anymore but the Nintendo 64 and it wasn't coming out until next September. I was crushed, I was willing to wait a full year but now five months longer. I almost wished I had taken one of the previous counter offers, almost. To see if I wanted to change my decision, I rented a Playstation. The games were alright, but the loading times bothered me and I just to my guns.


If I was forced to wait a few more months for my 64, after Symphony of the Night and Final Fantasy VII came out, this might be a very difficult article.

Finally, September 1996 rolled around. I began fifth grade, got some heartbreaking news about moving from Michigan to Illinois, and I was going out of my mind in anticipation. I knew the release date, September 29th, but I had no idea that it wouldn't apply to me. After pre-ordering, I would hang out at that Electronics Boutique whenever at the mall, and the clerks started remembering me and my quest for my N64. I'd like to think unlike most of the kids they dealt with day to day, I wasn't nosy or annoying, I just enjoyed games, talking about them, and could hold his own in whatever fighting game they happened to have hooked up. So when they got their shipment in on September 26th, they called my house, telling my mom they had the N64, and if I wanted it three days early she could go pick it up. After nearly eighteen months, I had but one more hour to wait.


What did I learn from Electronics Boutique, be nice (IE don't be a dick) to game clerks, and they'll hook you up.

I brought in the manuals to Mario 64 and Pilotwings 64 as proof for school the next day. My new toy, along with what I'd just have to assume the rest of the fifth grade realizing that I'd always been a nice well liked guy who was going away forever, turned me from just a normal guy with some close friends to a Mr. Popular. My personality is best taken in in a smaller group, after that people tend to understand and befriend me. In school, I had my own group of friends and tended not to branch out, so the 64 became a way to branch out with ease. Most of the time people would come over the first time to play N64, they'd get a change to understand and get who I am, and after that it was pure friendship. I even got a send off during the final week of school, with all four of my school's fifth grade classes taking off two periods for a going away party. I'd never seen such a thing happen in the school before, and I may bet since. When I moved to Illinois, the 64 got me through some lonely times, and helped me in making new friends here, especially with it's four player ability.


What better way to meet friends than saying, ďHey I got Goldeneye and extra controllers.Ē

While I didn't get to play Resident Evil, Final Fantasy 7, Metal Gear Solid, or Symphony of the Night, I had a blast with my N64. I also learned Nintendo systems weren't going to get every game, so it helped turn me from console specific, to overall gamer. While I got the Gamecube, and now own a Wii. I also picked up a Dreamcast, a PS2, and now my 360. It helped me become more patient, and to this day I'm very goal oriented, and am willing to wait to accomplish those goals. I look at the bigger picture, and then what I can do day to day to make the bigger picture happen. Finally it made me realize being yourself is important, and while I had a slip in High School with that, I tend not to change based on the opinion of others. I'd rather be happy as myself with a small core group of friends, than be miserable as somebody else in a mass of humanity.


This is one sexy machine, it's too bad the graphics now look dated.




OK three more left, next time, we'll be looking at something in gaming I dearly miss, Arcades. The places where you could game with people you didn't know, way before the internet and X-box live. I've decided that I will make my next article when I finish my top ten to be on The Super Smash Brothers, Professional Wrestling's 8-Bit tag team, then after that, I'll either do one on why I enjoy grinding, or start a second massive top ten on my favorite games ever. Questions, comments, ideas, any kind of feedback is always appreciated. Thanks to D-Toid for putting me in the top C-Blogs of the day, I'm glad the editors and everyone thought my Earthbound blog was epic. Thanks for reading, and remember Gaming shapes us in a good way, I just wish Jack Thompson would understand that.   read


4:46 PM on 06.18.2009

The Ten Gaming Related Moments that Shaped me as a Person, 5. Earthbound and Putting Time into Games

As we enter the top five we're going to take a look at RPGs, one of my favorite genres of gaming. I think playing RPGs cemented me as a person willing to take their time with a game. I am one of those gamers who talk to every single person, in every city, to make sure I am not missing anything. Number 5 is about one of my favorite games ever, and how I nearly gave up on it.

5. Earthbound and Putting Time into Games

Earthbound may be my favorite video game of all time. It's one of three RPGs, along with Chrono Trigger and Super Mario RPG, that I can play through without having to look up where anything is. It's full of bizarre and surreal humor that as I continue to grow older I continue to laugh at. In all honesty, I wish more RPGs were like it. The animations are simple, the weapons are awesome, the characters varied and interesting making the player come to appreciate them more and more through each play through, and the story is taking place all in modern times.


Mr. Saturn, you sir or ma'am are awesome.

I've got no problem with the far off fantasy settings of most RPGs, but how many Medieval times with magic can there be. Ness is just a normal kid, thrust into an adventure that he didn't plan to be a part of. Yes, a giant sword is cool, but wielding bottle rockets, baseball bats, and frying pans, much cooler. To this day, I'm looking out for a Holy Frying Pan to use in my kitchen. I'm pretty sure I had rented RPGs before Earthbound, though I don't remember any in depth, and thus was never into them. Hell I had no clue what RPG meant. I had seen ads in magazines for Earthbound, and the grade school humor of them amused me.


And now I don't know why I found them funny

I wanted to know what the game was about. I went to blockbuster, rented it, and was ready for anything. The cart I rented had a file saved already on it, but I wanted my own game. I clicked new game, named the characters after my friends and I, and was ready to have an adventure. I started playing, and got confused very quickly. I could make it to the meteor and back, beat the Starman Jr. but after that I had no clue. I should have been prepped after my Maniac Mansion experience for non linear paths, but I wasn't. I got frustrated, saved my data, and was ready to call it a wasted rental. However I decided to check out the other save file, and I was controlling four robots. I wanted to get there on my own and see how this happened.


Hell, lets be honest, the thought of playing as robots is Badass.

I continued to play through, started to work my way through Onett, but I would get stuck at times. The good news was when I couldn't reason things out, I had help from Nintendo. Aside from their 1-900 tip line, they had an answering service that would give you a menu of games, and then selections for each portion of it. Thankfully Earthbound was one of them, and I made continual long distance calls to Washington when I got stuck. After three straight weekends of renting the same game, my mom told me, ďIf you're going to keep doing that, why don't we just buy it.Ē Thus I got my very own copy to play, and a strategy guide so I didn't have rack up the phone bill.


This book saved my ass in Earthbound on a daily basis.

I was dedicated in my quest to beat Earthbound. It gave me the feeling like I was truly on a mission to save the world. I poured hour after hour into it. Realizing the importance to magic attacks compared to solely using a weapon. Realizing that when a store offered to sell you a weapon, it was a good idea to do so, because it would increase the damage you caused. I met all the strange characters, Everdred, Apple Kid, Mr. Saturn, Dr. Andonuts, and The Runaway Five. I began to see the change of Pokey, from next door neighbor, to evil bastard. Slowly and slowly, I became attached to everyone in the world of Eagleland. Finally I got to that point where my party became robots, and I had reached my goal. I beat Giygas, and saved the world. Until I got that letter from Pokey, knowing that he was still out there, I couldn't wait to stop him again.


POKEY, YOU SHALL PAY FOR YOUR CRIMES AGAINST HUMANITY.

Unfortunately, since Mother 3 never got a US release, I never got the chance (I know there's a fan translation, I just haven't gotten to playing it yet). Nintendo's lack of respect for the best RPG they ever created didn't stop me from playing through Earthbound a dozen more times. The game is just too fun, and from there I got interested in RPGs, getting Mario RPG and Chrono Trigger. I obsessed over both, but I never forgot what broke my cherry. Earthbound could be the game I've put the most total hours into, being that every year or so I break it out, and play through. Plus, it rekindled my love of reading, which is a passion to this day, simply because I had to read what everyone in this world had to say to further progress in the game.



Damn do I love this game, and am thankful I held onto my copy.




Once again, comments and feedback are always appreciated. I am very glad to see that people are reading and enjoying my blog. And as long as people continue to read, I will continue to post. Next time, a look at my Nintendo 64.   read


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