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I've been into games since I was able to reach the joystick on the Pac-Man arcade cabinet. That was 1982 - ever since that day I knew gaming and I would be bound by fate in some way, shape or form that I've still yet to figure out.

Until then, I've decided to just play games, enjoy them, blog about games and otherwise not shut up about them. Well, I do think about other stuff, I just keep coming back to the whole games thing.

Metroid is probably still my all-time favorite series. Its the one I keep coming back to year after year despite which version it might be. Super Metroid and Metroid Prime 2 are my favorites of the series and I also often enjoy anything Metroid-like. I enjoy the solitude and exploration of such games.

I also enjoy Shin Megami Tensei, Fallout, Deus Ex, The Elder Scrolls - pretty much anything with a lot of solitary exploration and a large world makes me a rather happy camper. To contrast this I usually need some lighter and happier games as well, which could be anything from a Pokemon game to a fashion game. Retro games of most stripes are something I still enjoy. Sometimes you just need that sort of contrast to keep going.

My platforms of choice tend to be handhelds, I'm starting to consider dropping any non-Nintendo console in favor of PC since Sony's IPs don't appeal to me and Halo just ends up on PC at some point anyway. I don't hate Playstation per se, I just hate what its become under the current Sony.

I do keep a PS2 handy to revisit Playstation's glory days. Great console, easily one of the best platforms aside from SNES, DS and Dreamcast.

As for other things about me, I guess we'll find out, won't we?

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Ahhhhh, new blog format. So fresh, so shiny. How I've longed to use it since Niero showed off the beta and I saw it could let me embed videos to my heart's content. Now people can see just what the hell I'm babbling about directly without having them constantly redirected to Youtube. I can whip out my obscure gaming and sometimes music preferences in full view without making you open new tabs. Welcome, blog reformat, my you live long and prosper... until Jim Sterling violates you in some cruel way like Jonathan Holmes.

So, ya like music? Silly question. Everyone likes music. Some people are picky, but my parents dumped me in rollerskating rink for an after school program at a young age, so I was made to listen to all kinds of stuff and ended up enjoying the full spectrum of genres... as I was tricking the Nintendo coin-ops in the arcade into taking nickels rather than quarters.

Anyway, let's get started. I'm gonna give you a nice little playlist to work with here from games and various remixers I've come across on the web just because its something new to do with this blog reformat. in fact, I'll probably be finding some of this on the fly since any good mix should flow. Here, have a baby polar bear.

First off is a song based off a save point theme. Not many games have a save point theme, but Ico did and a fellow named Super Green X liked it enough to make a lengthy trance remix out of it, which can be found on OC Remix, obviously.

I've been playing Metroid Prime again lately. Actually have some things I want to blog about this one since its actually an interesting time to be doing it, but I'll save that for later this week. That aside, Famouskoifish of Youtube makes use of Mario Paint Composer to do a pretty faithful rendition of "Phendrana Drifts"

The "Underground" theme of Super Mario Bros, has remained probably my favorite song from any Mario game. While I've pretty much gotten used to the version with the hip-hop beat since Super Mario Bros. 3, Dimmer of OC remix does rather inspired rock version and we need a little rock after all that breezy, trancy mellowness.

You were probably waiting for a {i]Final Fantasy[/i]theme of some kind to pop up eventually. Well, even though i didn't plan it, I felt one might fit after that Mario rock. No, not "One Winged Angel." Screw that overplayed theme, everyone defers to that. Gilgamesh has the best FF boss theme and this is proven by science. The Black Mages and "Clash on the Big Bridge" forever!

And really, if there was another boss theme that I personally feel trounces "One Winged Angel" outside of Final Fantasy, It's "Battle for Everyone's Souls" by Shoji Meguro from Persona 3. In fact, we'll be playing more of him later, but just this for now.. Seriously, anything that can just work in the Velvet Room theme is a winner

Ok, time to bring it back down, but let's stay frosty. Very few songs can keep their heads down, take cover and still shoot things but Halo once did with Martin O'Donnell's "Under the Cover of Night." This "Cloaked in Blackness" update comes from Halo CE Anniversary.

A good gaming playlist wouldn't be complete without something from Donkey Kong Country. It's not a rule, but should be. "Aquatic Ambiance" has always been a favorite of mine and DJ Ephixia has, well, my fix for that: Its sped up a tad, but actually still works.

To close up, I'm going to do some more Shoji Meguro. I don't know who mixed this Nico Video medley, but whoever it is they freaking love the guy even more than I do and have culled his work from Shin Megami Tensei Nocturne, Persona 2, Persona 3 Portable, Persona 4, Maken X, Digital Devil Saga, Devil Summoner (Raidou versions PS2), Soul Hackers SMT Strange Journey and Trauma Team... and it stays amazing for sixteen minutes. So enjoy this "Recarmdramix."

And that's all for now, that was probably only like 40+ minutes of your life, right? That was actually kinda fun. Might do it again sometime.

Stay classy.

I've posted before that I'm rather obsessive about create-a-character modes. When Skyrim's Dawnguard expansion came out the option to remake my character's face and body shape was more than welcomed and resulted in this fabulous look I have only posted like three times in my own blog. As such, it stands to reason that a game all about dressing up characters would eat up lots of my time.

With that fascination/obsession in mind I downloaded the Style Savvy Trendsetters demo off of the 3DS eShop and, sure enough, my fixation with what my models were wearing quickly took hold. At first it felt like a game the folks behind Animal Crossing would do on between its iterations but once I did some digging on the developer Syn Sophia I learned something really awesome.

Syn Sophia was originally known as AKI Corporation. For those that are still going "Wut?" allow me to clarify:

Yeah, they made that. AKI Corporation made WCW vs NWO, Wrestlemania 2000, WWF No Mercy and Def Jam Vendetta - pretty much some of the best professional wrestling games ever made. And in Wrestlemania 2000's case, I was rather fixated on the create-a-wrestler mode even back then, making all sorts of nutty characters to do career mode with.

On top of that, AKI's games really strove to capture the atmosphere of the WWE and WCW's shows. They don't look like much now, but for its time it arguably did its presentation better than most sports games, possibly even the Madden series back then. It was also one of those precious few licensed properties that didn't suck - a feat also accomplished by Goldeneye also on N64 and Spiderman on PSX later. These games stood as proof that developers actually could put a lot of love and attention into a franchise and make a great game out of it for the fans. When AKI fell off the map, I was kinda bummed.

I happened to find that Style Savvy has similar qualities, though.. The same detail was now shifted into creating clothing ensembles for various models, customers and it certainly seems to strive for establishing the atmosphere of retail and runway environments. They might not use real clothing brands, but the game does do a good job of emulating many styles. Its all just steered worlds away from the testosterone-fueled soap operas for men that the WWE and WCW games were.

The demo and retail version could stand to have some characters that are a bit less the "twiggy" supermodel archetype but at least the characters of differing ethnicity aren't "white-washed" like they tend to be on covers of magazines, so there's at least that. Maybe some feedback to Nintendo and Syn Sophia will bring about realistic body types in a future sequel or even DLC. That this is the biggest gripe I have is not enough to bring the game down, I just think its important to promote different body types.

I mean, seriously, #3 has me worried she could become #4 when #1 and #2 are just fine - but i digress, there's enough good here to offset my gripes for now.

So Style Savvy Trendsetters is now is a thing I feel I need to have,. I often had wondered just what became of AKI and now that I know, I don't think I can turn down a charming little game like this from a developer that gave me great memories in the past. The fact that a purchase of the digital version gets the arcade version of Donkey Kong as a bonus kinda sweetens the deal, too.

Plus if this does well, maybe Syn Sophia wii return to roots with Style Savvymania: From the Runway to the Ring!
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If there's an odd thing to say about launch line-ups, its that a launch line-up is "The best launch line-up since the Dreamcast." I see it happen with several people regarding any launch since, well, after the Dreamcast. Apparently the Dreamcast had a really great launch line-up. I can't really say because I didn't buy one at launch as a poor college student - I only got one year later when I was suckered into one of those two-year deals with MSN at Best Buy that would net me a Dreamcast for "free."

Meaning, I was pretty stupid back then. Two years of an internet service I couldn't use, but had to pay for. I really didn't think that one through.

Anyway, I feel like "best launch line-up since the Dreamcast" is just something people say for gamer cred and to make the console or handheld they're excited about look exciting to others. I mean, if we're to take Dreamcast's launch line-up as the best a console ever had that means whatever I relate it to is also really good and must be awesome.

And those that hated Dreamcast must also hate babies.

No one really even mentions what the great launch games were for Dreamcast because it is clearly not important when you're stating an absolute. That Dreamcast was ravaged by Playstation's comparable and cheaper library and crushed under the hype for the PS2 at the time is not important. That Dreamcast, like Saturn before it, was short-lived and had no games by 2002 - also not important.

Never mind that stuff. Dreamcast had a great launch, launches are important and that is all that matters for the sake of people who want to liken PS4's launch line-up to it after E3 2013.

No one ever compared PS2 to the Dreamcast, even though it did have a really great launch. This is because PS2 was the vile beast that had slain the heroic Dreamcast in its prime. Well, that's how the remaining embittered Dreamcast fans would later frame it, anyway. I thought the PS2 launch was good, not so much the nine-month dry spell that came after, but all systems have that no matter how much Vita fans sweep it under the rug. At least they can play Final Fantasy VII again now.

This Dreamcast comparison really started with the Xbox, which inherited just a tiny bit of Dreamcast's glory in the form of exclusives like Jet Set Radio Future, Gunvalkyrie, Crazy Taxi 3, Panzer Dragoon Orta and Shenmue II. It was a savvy move by MS to lure some Dreamcast fans into a console that would eventually be buried in angry, brown shooters. Most of the exclusives were indeed good, but I'm not sure about Gunvalkyrie going along with that that "glory' bit. I thought the soundtrack and its insane monologues were cool, though.

The clever swine and porcupine have gone their separate ways - and neither one has spoken for a thousand years and days.

For a console to even begin to warrant a comparison to Dreamcast, its games must be high on ambition, a mixed bag on execution and generally make people look at it and go "WTF." Sega was the Master of WTF in the Dreamcast era. Space Channel 5, Crazy Taxi, Samba de Amigo, Jet Set Radio, Seaman and Typing of the Dead all make you wonder what world you just fell into and why you are so happy to be there. If that era of Sega games had its own gated community then Wario Ware, Katamari Damacy and No Heroes Allowed! would be invited right in because they are straight-up bonkers.

So basically, there have been no Dreamcasts since the Dreamcast. Dreamcast-esque games, perhaps, but no console has really claimed the mantle. One does not simply compare another console's launch to that of the Dreamcast or even a console's lifespan to it because of the density of insane content required will not be able to be matched within two years - and then console would die and the platform holder would go third party.

If you're wishing this on your future platform of choice, do so at your own peril.

There will never be another Dreamcast, no matter how much you want there to be one. The Vita is clearly not a Dreamcast and I don't see how the Wii U will be one. I really think that spirit has passed on to the indie market where risks are taken on a regular basis. Its not in the mainstream market now, save for rare moments like Rhythm Thief, Tokyo Jungle or Rhythm Heaven Fever. The only games even in spitting distance of Dreamcastyness for Wii U right now are The Wonderful 101 and Tank! Tank! Tank!

What the Dreamcast has is a special place in history and perhaps as it fades into retro status in the years to come its spirit will continue to live on in other ways. There was lots to love about the Sega Dreamcast and while that goodwill may not be shared by fans toward the Sega of today its kind of unfair to both Dreamcast and other consoles to compare them to each other. Dreamcast catered to a special niche in a risky time to be doing so and that's what made it a real standout. I don't think any launch line-up or console could recapture the zany times of that little white box
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Sometimes a song gets stuck in your head. Sometimes it get stuck there for over 20 years, Such is the case of Sega's Quartet for me, composed by the relatively unsung Katsuhiro Hayashi. He was a master of FM Synthesis that worked with Sega from the 80s and left several years back, but his work on this game is every bit as memorable to me as legends like Koji Kondo or Nobuo Uematsu. If you need to know what FM Synthesis is, just click here, but if you've played any old Sonic game or just Etrian Odyssey, you can expect some great stuff in the video links below.

Quartet isn't a game that would stand the test of time. It was - more or less - Sega's answer to the first four-player arcade game, Gauntlet. Yeah, yeah, WARRIOR NEEDS FOOD BADLY. That Gauntlet, but this is about Quartet. It clearly wasn't a winner for arcade nostalgia, but perhaps after this post you'll see why it should earn some.

So have a listen as you read!

Click here to start the music.

During the summer of '87 my mother and stepfather worked at a booth at Water Country USA in Williamsburg, VA. Pretty much every day of the summer I was wandering around the park, which was more freedom than a ten year-old usually gets. I'd start with the wave pool, then move over to the relaxing inner tube river, fetch food and drink for my parents, attend the stunt diving and sea lion show - because seeing divers light themselves on fire and sea lions spit on hosts never gets old.

And just about every moment in between those I could be found in the arcade at the Quartet machine. I always found it a touch strange that people with sopping wet swimming trunks, swimsuits and hair were allowed around these electrical coin ops, but then, it was a water park. It also had a distinct smell from other arcades - the typical mix of cork, burnt wood, nicotine, dried bubble gum, spilt sno-cone syrup, cola, candy corn and popcorn were now accompanied by a layer of chlorine.

Quartet was a side-scrolling platform shooter perhaps best described as Contra with jetpacks and lots of death. Players worked together to defeat enemies, find the key and complete the level and in the meantime, ninja loot power-ups and screw each other over so everyone could try to get bragging rights at the end of the level. Anyone that's played Bomberman, Zelda Four Swords, New Super Mario Bros. Wii or just Uno knows the experience I'm getting at.

Its like this with more back-stabbing.

Those that owned Spiderman: The Video Game on Genesis might be interested to know that "Oki-Rap" and "FM Funk" were snatched from Quartet for some of Spidy's music.

Sega later released remastered editions of many Sega classics in the Sega Ages collection on PS2, but Sega being the cruel bastards they can sometimes be, they released none of them in the West. I'm still rather bitter about that point, actually, but this is the same company that still hasn't made Shenmue III and seems reluctant to rerelease their Dreamcast classics in a logical fashion.

Oh well, at least Jet Set Radio is doing it right.

Still, thanks to the eventual rise of YouTube, some of the arranged music was able to reach our ears and it was pretty good stuff. Some of Katsuhiro Hayshi's work even has made its way into Project Diva Arcade in Japan, so while Quartet may never see a rerelease or a XBLA/PSN remake we'll always have the music and that's something.

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Its been so quiet on the blogs today. Kind of like when I play fighters online and there's no one talking. Actually, there's almost always no one talking, but perhaps there are two people in two different places swearing at a TV screen and blaming lag for losing.

I'm not much of a social gamer to start with. Its not that I hate talking, its just that I don't feel a huge competitive streak and especially not in places where there's no talking. I don't like that low-class epithet spewing shit I hear in FPS, so I tend to not play them online, but I kind of do expect people playing fighters to talk every now and then. I mean, what's the point in me having a headset if no one talks? I go online and whether its PSN or Xbox Live I don't hear trash talk in fighters - just silence.

Oh sure, go on and tell me "they're probably just concentrating'." Well, fuck that, I want to hear you talk shit and show me your wits along with your moves. We didn't "concentrate" when I grew up in the arcades - we talked shit, seeing if you could make the other guy laugh was kind of an advantage on top of knowing the movelist and combos.

I know why some of you do it, though. Its because you think you can tag team with your friend that's better than you and think I won't notice. Yeah, I'm totally not going to notice I blew you out in the first round and then you awakened to incredible skill in the next one. People have tag-teamed in the arcade in public view. It was still lame back then and its still lame now - but at least they weren't hiding how lame they were.


But oh well, this is just a shortblog rant. I've been playing Persona 4 Arena all week and I'm kind of getting better with Elizabeth. I've gone from constantly losing to about 33 percent of my playing being wins. Liz does have low HP, but she's got a fun moveset so I'm sticking with her. She also seems to just have more fun than anyone else in the game.

Labrys' story also got me a little weepy, which is a first for a fighting game. Well, there was no real fighting in her story - just text, but it was really good text that I enjoyed reading with my seeing organs and thinking about with by mind.

Also, I wish Yu Narukami would shut the fuck up. The guy used to not say anything and now he has all these weird mind-thoughts. I would never have thought that way about Nanako if I were still occupying his brain. Sister complex indeed. Damned perv is what he is now.

So I beat him up. Oh well, its not as bad as when Jak started talking in Jak II, so I guess this is slight progress.[b]
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Seems like every few Pokémon topics or so someone says something along the lines of "Nintendo should totally make Pokémon into an MMO, it would make loads of money!"

I'll admit it sounds cool on paper, but it's a terrible idea for Nintendo to pursue and it would suck out the soul of the series. The only kind of person who thinks it would be a cool idea has not played an MMO or Pokémon enough to consider what would be lost.

If we break Pokémon down, it is to handhelds what The Elder Scrolls is to consoles and PCs... minus the bugs plus competitive multiplayer. In terms of single player you're free to be whatever kind of pokémon trainer or ex-con that you wish to be. What's more is no one imposes a particular playstyle on you too much. A pokémon trainer has to mix it up for gym battles just as a mage might consider having a mace or a atronach summon as a fallback. Outside of that, save the world or don't, best the Elite Four or just breed critters for trade. The world is your oyster and you are seldom bound by time to do anything.

Stepping out of the games for a moment, talking to friends about Skyrim or Pokémon is often to relate a story of your adventures or what your team is rather than telling your friends what they should do. Then there's trading pokémon and downloading mods for TES on PC. The community exists to augment these single player experiences without imposing themselves on other players.

Ultimately these are games about taking pride in what you do. Freedom and pride are the emotional core of Pokémon and TES.

Yeah, another excuse to post my sexy Dovahkiin.

However, this is not what Pokémon is like competitively and anyone that knows MMOs is wary of the genre being applied to TES for similar reasons.

In competitive Pokémon multiplayer (as well as co-op multiplayer in other games) you can "do it wrong" and people do tend to impose upon you if you seek advice. Competitive Pokémon is about tiers, meta-game elements like EV training and picking the right TMs and HMs for the best pokémon. Brought into the context of an MMORPG, this would trickle down and seep into every corner of the game, even with co-op play and soloing. Gym battles, beauty pageants, breeding - it will all inevitably be tainted by and shoved through the lens of high level play and efficiency. This is because of a persistent internal community creating peer pressure. Now people are scared to be seen "doing it wrong" - they don't want to be seen as noobs.

This is why TES fans are wary of The Elder Scrolls Online. They know that "Gee, this enchanted bow is neat. Oh, look! Butterflies!" quality is going to be sucked out systematically by the community's need for efficacy in high level play. TES might be a match for MMOs, but not without giving up much of what makes it special.  You may not get to be that Battlemage in the way you were hoping. 

Just look at Final Fantasy's Red Mage. He's basically the same idea - white magic, black magic and a sword, but since he's got that white magic he's the "tag, you're it" healer of FFXI Online. Even though he has that sword and can cast fire magic in groups it's generally preferred he heals and buffs people instead. 

Fun. He might as well be a White Mage.

Yet this isn't meant to be oppressive, this is because efficient use of time is really important in an MMO, especially for high-end raids and even hunting rare monsters. Everyone wants to get in, get out, get stuff and go about their lives or a lack of one. Everyone needs to be on the same page and ready to go, but if Pokémon became an MMO the trainer who lovingly raised his full Charmander team might be crushed to find it is not wanted or accepted. He probably wouldn't even be invited to join a league after submitting an application, not to mention he's any Water Type's punching bag.

Yes, I did say "application." Joining an endgame guild is like finding a real job. Fun, right? Your life as an adventurer, reduced to a one page of highlights -   preferably one confirming to the needs of the guild.

The external social element of TES and Pokémon that makes them fun now is replaced by a persistent online community with a need for efficient time use and digs deep into the metagame. Freedom is replaced by conformity and pride is broken and subjugated. The Eevee you loved you'd later look at with disdain for not being ideal for EV training.

Let me reiterate - an MMO endgame and high level content strategy is not intended to be sinister or oppressive, just efficient. This has to be respected for group functions, even if it does act like a wet blanket to your personal ambitions and Charmanders. It is what it is.

But it's clearly not a good fit for all of Pokémon as it is already in the competitive multiplayer and not fun for everyone for the above reasons. TES players are chilly toward TESO  because Skyrim, well, it does the job and does it well without giving up that freedom and external social boost Pokémon single player also shares.

So let's take that thought about the Pokémon MMO and Torchic.

I mean, torch it. Yeah.