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Twitter: @TheDustinThomas

Greetings and salutations.

TheDustinThomas here, you probably don't know me, but I write things here on Destructoid from time to time. Occasionally I get on the front page:

The Most Inexplicably-Often Rented Games At Blockbuster

The Top 10 Videogame Pro Wrestlers

A Retrospective of Pro Wrestling Videogames from the Perspective of a Pro Wrestler

I'm also the host of a pretty sexy gaming podcast that I do with a couple buddies of mine. You can download and subscribe to it here. You should totally do that.

All of my games writing you can find on DToid, but I also write about other things on my personal blog. Here's my top 5 most read blogs:

Let Me Tell You About My $250 T-Shirts

Tempting of the Doon

5 Ways Getting in Shape Has Messed with my Head

Tim Lambesis: A Fan's Struggle to Understand

Why I Already Dislike Planet Fitness

You may notice that most of those blogs are somehow related to pro wrestling. Why? Because I spent 10 years as a professional wrestler before retiring in October 2013 due to back injuries. I actually wasn't too bad.

A bit about me? Well, obviously I love to write. It's not a paying gig yet, but I'm certainly trying to make that happen.

I'm a happily married man, and my wife is smokin' hot.

I have a huge, manly beard.

God comes first in my life above all else. I'm a leader at my church, as well as the head of our media department.

I've been a metalhead pretty much my entire life.

I'm also a die hard fan of The Simpsons.

Other miscellaneous fact.

-Dustin
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Xbox LIVE:TheDust34
PSN ID:TheDust34
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I've kind of always had a fascination with strategy guides. I don't know why or when this weird obsession started. I'll buy guides for games I don't own or even have any intention of playing, I don't give a crap. For the most part, I don't even use them when I am playing that particular game, at least not my first time through. If I miss something, then I'll go in with the guide in-hand.

These days, there are only two major players in the strategy guide market: Prima and BradyGames. Walk into any big games retailer and I guarantee those are the only companies with guides on the shelves. Sure, it's easier (and much cheaper) to just go to GameFAQS or watch a walkthrough on YouTube, but there's just something about having a nice, hefty book in my lap that takes me back to the days when gaming magazines were as coveted as gold for their "Tips & Tricks" sections.

Almost every child of the late 80s and early 90s has memories of shuffling through the pages of Nintendo PowerGamePro, or EGM--among many others--and having that 'Eureka!' moment when all mysteries about a certain cryptic game were revealed.

The first strategy guide I remember wasn't actually a guide at all, at least not in terms of how we think of them today.



That's a guide book. There are no pictures, just text, and yes, you basically read it like you would a typical book. It's a novel, and it's amazing. Finally, we can all figure out how to get past that goomba in World 1-1.

When I was around nine years old, my family got our first computer. My father instantly became hooked on PC adventure games, specifically the King's Quest series. The first one he played was King's Quest V (with the sun-poisoned King Graham and his annoying hooter), and while it didn't have a typical strategy guide, it did have a hint book. It was a bit odd, so I'll explain it as best I can. The hint book came packaged with the game, and includes pages upon pages of questions that all went a little something like "What do I do with..." and "Where should I go from..." The answers, however, weren't just given to you. They were hidden away in a text box, and the only way to see the answers was to hold the included red visor to your face like Cyclops. At the time, that absolutely blew my mind.



After his King's Quest adventures, my dad moved to two PC games that are burned into my memory: The 7th Guest, and its sequel, The 11th Hour. These were the first real strategy guides I remember ever seeing. My dad wouldn't let me play it because he didn't want me to accidentally mess up his save file, also, I was 9 and this was a mature-rated game, but he let me look over the strategy guides as much as I wanted, and I would pore over them for hours at a time. I probably knew more about the game from reading the guide and looking at the pictures than my dad did from playing it.

When I was 12, Resident Evil 2 was released. I've written before about my passion for the series, so I won't go into it, but that passion began with Resident Evil 2. But, being that young caused RE2 to be very opaque for me. I had no idea where to go or what to do, I had to get a strategy guide, otherwise I would be stuck forever. So my dad took me to the local CompUSA and I purchased the Resident Evil 2 guide with probably the worst cover of all-time:



That doesn't look like a zombie, that looks like an elderly man with leprosy. But take notice of that yellow bar at the top. Even though the guide was made by Prima, it was completely unauthorized. You wouldn't see something like that in stores these days. The funny thing about this, though, is that unauthorized guides were usually the best ones. The RE2 guide pictured above was terrible, but then I found this one by VersusBooks:



It was so much more detailed. Every area had very elaborate maps and sketches, as well as pointing out where all the items were, much like how a typical guide is today. Not only were VersusBooks guides incredibly detailed, but they had awesome little facts strewn about. In their Metal Gear Solid guide, they devoted a half-page to talking about the Eskimo Olympics that Vulcan Raven mentions during your battle. It was so awesome.

I originally intended for this blog to be a history lesson about strategy guides. But, after hours of research, I turned up almost nothing, at least nothing concrete. However, I'm convinced that VersusBooks became BradyGames based on the quality of the guides. I could be wrong, and if anyone has any information on this, please comment and shed some light on the situation.

What would be classified as the first real strategy guide? Nintendo Power's guide for Super Mario Bros. 3, perhaps? Or one of their other Player's Guides? I'm not sure where it begins. It's about as vague as videogames themselves. People have long debated about what the first real videogame is.



A lot of people will argue that guides are pointless in the age of GameFAQS and YouTube, and to a degree, they have a point. I've used those outlets before in order to find something or learn the best strategy for defeating a really hard boss, but it's just not the same. Like I mentioned earlier, having the guide in my lap, looking at the pictures, reading the character bios, the bestiaries, and having all these minute extra nuggets of information, makes it worth it to me to spend an extra few bucks. It reminds me of my childhood still today, having this bit of knowledge and telling my friends about it. It's just like being on the playground.

Thanks for reading,

-Dustin








Hey guys, a couple days ago I made a CBlog telling everyone about the podcast some buddies and I started. I asked for questions and comments pertaining to video game-to-movie adaptations. Well, that episode is up!

You can download it here. I would just embed it here, but for some reason I can't figure out how to do that. But anyway, here's a rundown of items we discuss:

During our Game of the Week discussions, we talk about...







We also cover a couple of news items, the last of which is the announcement of The Last of Us movie, which prompts us in our weekly discussion topic to talk about video game to movie adaptations. We cover more than these, but the ones that we talk about the most are...











So go ahead and give it a listen, if you enjoy it, why not SUBSCRIBE ON ITUNES!

And lastly, if you do listen to it, let me know what you think. Let me know what you liked, what you didn't like, and so on. We're still new at this, so any and all advice and constructive criticism is welcome.

-Dustin
Photo Photo Photo








Hey DToiders, so at the beginning of the year, my friends Chris and Luke (you may know him as BygJuce if you spend any time on ScrewAttack) and I started a podcast. For a while, I didn't want to post them on DToid, mostly because I thought no one would care because there's about infinity gaming podcasts. But I just decided to say screw it, someone might want to listen to it, so here's the info.

It's called the Error Machine Podcast.

You can subscribe on iTunes here.

Or, if you're one of those people who shuns Apple, you can download our episodes here.

Anyway, the reason I wanted to make this post is not only to get the thing out there, but because we're recording a new episode tomorrow night. Every week for our middle section (the meat, if you will), we choose a topic to discuss that somehow pertains to current gaming news, and with the recent announcement of the Last of Us movie, we figured we would talk about game-to-movie adaptations. I wanted to make this post asking for comments/questions from you guys so we could mention them on the show.

So which game movies do you love? Which ones do you hate? Why? Which one would you banish from the Earth if you could? Which ones do you think had a good idea but poor execution? Leave comments below. 

Thanks a million in advance.

-Dustin









Hello fellow DToiders, TheDustinThomas here. I've missed you all. It's been almost a month since my last CBlog, which is completely unacceptable considering that I try to churn out something at least once a week. But there's a reason for my absence, I was moving into my new home. Some of you may remember the blog I wrote back in December talking about how I had to start being a grown up, and I wrote about how my wife and I were moving into a big kid house. Well, we finally moved, and the last few weeks have left me with very little time to get any writing done between work and organizing the home. I have a few blog ideas in the works, but I need some more time to flesh them out, so I figure just to get back into the swing of things, I'll show you my new game rooms. Yes, rooms. Plural.

That wasn't supposed to happen. It's a four-bedroom house, so we intended to have one game room, and another room that was going to be the game storage area. Well, one thing lead to another and suddenly the storage room is now the retro room. So, just as something fun, and to make me feel better about putting up a new blog, I just wanted to give you a photo gallery of our new game rooms. Let's begin with the modern game room.

As soon as you walk in, you'll be greeted by these gems:





My wife is actually a very good artist, that 1-UP painting was something she made for me for our first Valentine's Day together.

Here's some more of the stuff she's made for me that adorns our walls...



She surprised me with Mr. Burns for my birthday, pictured with some other goodies. In case you didn't know, I'm a huge Simpsons and Terminator fan.

Lastly, she made a painting of my favorite Mario character, Blarrg:



I've also acquired a lot of posters over the years from various places, but Club Nintendo in particular.





There you see a picture that my friend Allie made for me honoring my wrestling career. Here's a close-up of the two pictures in the corner.



That one on top is my senior prom picture, the guy in the white is my best friend, Cole, who passed away back in 2006. The lower picture in the frame (with a random picture of my friend James) was a gift from my brother-in-law, another momento from my wrestling career. No game room is complete without some sentimental items.

And here's a close-up of the game shelf.



That Chrono Trigger picture is actually how we seated people at our wedding: "You're at the Chrono Trigger table." You may be asking why I have Superman 64 on display. It's signed by the Angry Video Game Nerd, that's why.



The final poster (in this room, at least).



Yes, we own the entire series of Full House. Shut up.

This next picture is my favorite thing in the room.



This shelf perfectly sums up all of my loves in life: Mario, The Simpsons, and some old Hasbro WWF figures. Let's take a closer look...



And no room of mine would be complete without a Simpsons-themed touch lamp.



Alright, that's enough of this room, let's move on to the other game room.

Upon entering, you'll immediately notice this wall:



Some wrestling memories, as well as a Mario poster that seems a bit out of place, but that's because it's covering up a relatively bad part of the wall. To the right, we have the bookshelf.



It's a bit hard to see from a distance, but when we look closer, you can see that almost every book I own is either a pro wrestler's autobiography, or a strategy guide. On top we have a figure of myself that a fan made from the mold of a Kevin Nash figure. Speaking of figures, I have a lot of them.











Of course I have a "Classy" Freddy Blassie figure, what about it?

Overall, I would say this is only about 20% of my entire collection, I still have four boxes full of toys that I don't have room to display.

Now, let's take a look at my pride and joy, the thing I've spent years on, my NES collection.



Lots of time, lots of money, and far from complete. Collecting has had to go on the back burner due to funds, and the fact that I refuse to pay what most people sell them for, but the wife and I still search. To the left we have some NES (and one N64) posters.



And to the right of the game shelf is an additional bookshelf full of goodies.





As you can tell, I have a thing for bobbleheads.

Lastly, we have the actual game setup.



Fun story about that Powerglove, I once used it as a weapon in a match a ways back. On the lower shelf in this picture, there's an N64, GameCube, and Dreamcast.

If you ever step into this room, and you start to feel like you're being watched, don't worry, that's just the Undertaker staring through your soul.



So that's that. Thanks for taking this tour through pictures of my game rooms. I hope you enjoyed it. I just wanted to do this for fun, and things have slowed down enough for me that I should be able to get some more actual writing done. Anyway, have a good one DToiders.

Thanks for reading/looking.

-Dustin

P.S. In case anyone cares, I started a podcast. Give it a listen.










I'm at a weird age. I'm 28, meaning that I'm getting to the point where I'm becoming much more cynical about the media I consume. I'm old enough to remember original versions of films that are now getting reboots. I'm sure the new RoboCop will be a decent movie, but I've already made up my mind that I hate it and it should die. I'm also too old to be the "cool older guy" to my nieces and nephews. This past weekend, I was with some family and we were discussing Wayne's World, when one of the children asked what we were talking about, we told them we were talking about a movie from the 90s, to which she asked "So it was in black and white?" It was then that I realized that kids these days probably look at me the way that I looked at my parents at that age. They assume I grew up in the stone age.

Even though I'm still at the forefront of gaming, my heart will always be with the original NES. That's not an uncommon thing for a gamer around my age to say, it was likely the first system they played, as it was mine. Playing the NES is the one system I can go back to and still play games that make me feel like a kid again. It's not like that with any other system for me. When I think of the NES, the one game that I find to be synonymous with the system is Super Mario Bros. 3. That may seem like a pretty generic statement to make, and it is, I'm not denying that, but I also can't think about SMB3 without immediately thinking of the cinematic masterpiece that is The Wizard.

I'm being completely un-ironic when I say that The Wizard is one of my all-time favorite movies, and I've legitimately seen that movie more times than I've seen any other. When I'm writing and I want something playing in the background, I put on The Wizard. When I'm cleaning the house and I just want something on the TV, I put on The Wizard. And when I'm bored and just want to watch a movie that I know I like, I put on The Wizard. I probably wind up watching that movie about 15 times a year without even trying. Why do I love this movie so much?



Mora Grissom may have something to do with it...


Well, one reason is because it's a very much a product of its time, and will never be given a Hollywood reboot, so that's good. But think about it, you'll never see another movie like The Wizard again. They don't make entire movies as marketing vehicles for videogames, they didn't do it before The Wizard and they haven't done it since. Sure, we have plenty of documentaries about videogames like Indie Game: The Movie and The King of Kong, and we have the countless films based on game franchises, but The Wizard is in a class all its own. When I watch that movie, I'm instantly whisked away back to 1990.

I remember taping the movie on network television, and as was to be expected with old VHS tapes, it would wear out, causing subsequent viewings to be less than ideal. Certain sections of the film would cut out or be warped, but I still watched that tape incessantly. As a matter of fact, when I watch the DVD version of the film, I still remember exactly where the VHS would mess up, and I point that out to the people that aren't watching it with me. I still remember every part that was edited for television, it actually wasn't until I watched it on DVD for the first time that I saw the scene with Nick (Christian Slater) playing SMB2 at the mechanics garage. I consider that to be the "deleted scene" on the DVD. And don't get me started on the incredible montages this film has. If it weren't for this film, I never would have heard "I Live by the Groove," and my life would be incomplete. Let us watch it together...


This film has 4 montages, the same amount as Rocky IV.


That montage reminds me of everything that was great about my childhood. Granted, I never saw a Play Choice 10 machine in my life, and I never went to a glamorous Reno arcade, but looking at footage of MetroidMega Man 2 and TMNT, combined with that infectious 80s groove and Rick showing us all how awesome our dream job as Nintendo Hotline receptionists is, I can't think of any combination of images that better encapsulates what the year of 1990 was for me.

Then, after an hour of Nintendo footage, surveying the bitter rivalry that pits Sam and Nick versus Putnam, and feeling uncomfortable about the sexual tension between Cory and Haley, we get to the main attraction: The reveal of Super Mario Bros. 3!


HOLY (SWEAR WORDS)!


That. That, right there. That's the most awesome thing that's ever happened. I don't even know why anyone decided to keep trying. Movies should have just stopped at that point, because The Wizard achieved perfection with that one shot alone.

I'm sure Super Mario Bros. 3 still would have sold ridiculously well even without the film, in fact, I know it would have, it's one of the best games ever made, and it had the word 'Mario' on the box. But for someone like me, who was 4-years-old when he first saw this movie, and wasn't privy to things like Nintendo Power or game release dates, this was the first time that I had heard or seen anything about the game. My brother and I begged our parents nonstop until we finally received the game as a joint birthday gift (our birthdays are only 15 days apart).

Everyone my age loves Mario 3, and most gamers love The Wizard, at least as a weird, campy part of Nintendo's history. But for me, Super Mario Bros. 3 and The Wizard go hand-in-hand. One simply does not exist without the other, and every time I play the game or watch the movie, I'm a kid again.


Naturally, writing anything about The Wizard makes me legally obligated to post this picture at least once.


Thanks for reading.


-Dustin










Before I begin, let there be full disclosure that I'm going to be spoiling Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons towards the end (I'll let you know when the spoilers begin). I know a lot of people are probably just now playing it or planning to play it thanks to PlayStation Plus, so you can't say I didn't warn you.

After I finished The Last of Us, I figured it would be years before another game would come along with that amount of emotional impact on me. I was wrong, it only took about a month. Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons turned out to be one of the most heart-wrenching experiences I've ever had in any medium. My wife watched me play the entirety of the game, and, as she so eloquently put it at the conclusion: "This game just ripped my heart out of my butt." Finishing School did her well.

I think the reason this game resonated with me so much is that fact that I'm the younger of two brothers. We didn't have any other siblings, and even though he had his friends and very easily could have ignored me, he always included me with whatever he was doing whenever he could. My brother is three years older than me, which is roughly the same amount of years between the brothers in the game, give or take a year or two.

I had heard a lot of great things about the game, but I have a hard time paying $15 for a downloadable game, so I was waiting on a sale, and I feel like the price of 'free' was a sale price worth waiting for, although now that I've played it, I would have been happy with a full-price purchase.



The game has a very unique control scheme. You only use the two analog sticks and two of the shoulder buttons. That's it. The elder brother is mapped to the left stick and button, and the younger to the right (keep that in mind, it becomes important later). You control both brothers simultaneously, and I never truly got used to it. Not to say that it's bad, I just found myself getting confused every so often. If I was moving the brothers to the right, I always had to make sure the younger brother was leading the way because he was mapped to the right stick, and vice versa when moving left. The only real problem I had that arose out of the controls is accidentally letting go of the action button for the wrong brother and having him fall to his death. That was my indication that I needed to focus more next time.

Brothers isn't a hard game, it's actually (and I hate to say it this way) more of an experience than it is a game. There's no direct combat outside of one instance, and the puzzles aren't difficult, in fact, you'll never need more than about thirty seconds to figure out what you have to do. It's all about the journey instead of the destination, although the destination is pretty incredible, too. What's even better is that the story is basically told with no language (at least not one that I can understand). It's all conveyed through body language, which I thought was great.


Pictured: Body language.

Even though I'm a younger brother, I found myself playing with the mentality of a big bro. Any time I came to a point where one brother had to go ahead of the other, I always had the older brother go first. I never wanted to put the little brother in any sort of danger whatsoever. I really grew attached to that little guy, perhaps because I looked at him and saw myself, and even though it only takes one brother dying to see the game over screen, I did my best to keep the little brother out of harm's way at all times.

>>GUYS, THE SPOILERS BEGIN HERE. SO STOP READING IF YOU WISH.<<

I'll let a classic scene from The Simpsons explain exactly what Starbreeze Studios did with my heart in the last 20 minutes of Brothers.



Seriously, that's how I felt when this game was over. The entire plot of the game is that the brothers need to get water from the Tree of Life to save the life of their ailing father, and really, that's all you need. It works perfectly. My brother and I would go to the ends of the earth if this was our father, so I understand. There's also some great subplots scattered throughout the game, like reuniting the giants and returning the baby turtles to their mother. 

Anyway, about an hour removed from the end, you come across a girl being bound to a giant rock who about to be sacrificed. You rescue her, and she helps you traverse an icy mountain village. When you defeat the invisible giant destroying this small town, she leads you to a hole in the mountains, where she then reveals herself to be a giant spider (because of course she is) and betrays you. This is the one area with actual combat, and upon finishing the battle, she impales the older brother. I'm not kidding when I say that I audibly shouted "OH NO!" once this happened.



Then, instead of just having the older brother pass away, they give you hope as you've just reached the Tree of Life. The younger brother climbs the tree, gets the water, and gives his brother a drink, only to discover that it's too late. But then they take it one step further, as they actually make you drag your brother over to his grave and then push the dirt onto his body. At this point I put my hand on my chest and screamed "OW, MY HEART!"

When you reach your home shores to save your father, the game does one of the most incredible pieces of story-telling ever, and it's not done through a cutscene, it's done through the controller. There are certain things that only the older brother can do throughout the adventure--like swim and pull heavy levers--and when you get back to the shores, you come to a body of water that the brother refuses to cross. I exhausted all possibilities before discovering that I had to use the button mapped to the older brother to swim across.



Something as simple as switching which button you use carried huge emotional weight, and it's immediately followed by using the same tactic to pull down a lever, with my heartstrings again being tugged. You reach your father and save him just in the nick of time. We flash forward a short time to find the little brother at the shoreline, and we make our way to the top of the small mountain to find the father standing before his son's grave and grieving. In a great and subtle piece of story, the father breaks down in tears and falls to his knees, the younger brother lays his hand on his father to console him, and then looks off into the distance without shedding a single tear, showing just how much strength he had gained on his quest.

Again, maybe it's because, in my mind, I copy-pasted mine and my brother's faces onto these characters, but I had never had that kind of emotional response to a game before. It was a truly beautiful experience.