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About
Hey. I'm Titannel. Iím currently an unemployed college graduate.

If youíve got any questions, Iíll be incredibly surprised.

My main hobbies include video games, music, and sleeping. Sometimes, I engage in multiple of these activities at once.

I frequent the Dtoid.tv streams quite a bit. I intend to start streaming games eventually.
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PSN ID:SixWayShot
Steam ID:alter_forge
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Since technology hasn't quite advanced enough to where I can beam images of my recent gaming sessions into your head, I have to write about them after the fact. Here we go.

 

1. Justice League Task Force (Super Nintendo)

Picked this one up for a song at 8-Bit Hall of Fame, a local video game store that is the current standard for how video game stores should be run. Jason's prices are affordable, he gives excellent credit for trade-ins, and all of his games are cleaned before he puts them on display. Awesome stuff. I've found some "holy grail" sort of games and consoles at 8-Bit. JLTF is no exception. I've been trying to find a copy of this since I rented it as a kid.

Justice League Task Force is a fighting game starring characters from DC Comics. On paper, that sounds like a cool idea. Hell, Capcom showed everyone that comic-based fighting games could work well. Unfortunately, Justice League Task Force is no comparison to Capcom's fighters, like Marvel Super Heroes or X-Men: Children of the Atom. The gameplay is clunky and unresponsive. The characters are also significantly watered down from their comic book counterparts, which is a necessary change for a fighting game, but something just looks wrong when Aquaman scores a flawless victory over Superman.

The art style, while very much reminiscent of the comic artwork from the era, is so 90s that it almost looks like a parody. That's not really a complaint, it's just something to point out. Superman has a friggin' mullet.

 

2. Robotron 2084 (Atari Lynx)

Over the past few months, I've found over a dozen Atari Lynx games in the wild at various places. One of those was this: a port of Robotron for the Lynx.

Robotron was originally a twin-stick shooter (think Geometry Wars or Super Stardust if you're not too familiar with old arcade games), which makes it a very strange choice for a Lynx conversion, since the console only had one D-Pad and two buttons. The developers of this version got around this limitation by mapping movement to the D-Pad and forcing your character to constantly shoot while using the two buttons to rotate your character. This control style is similar to Forgotten Worlds on the Genesis, and it definitely works well here. Robotron is addicting and very, very hard to play if you're going for any sort of high score. It's yet another example of a game that anyone can play, but few can play well. The Atari Lynx could definitely do arcade ports justice, and Robotron proves it.

 

3. Destiny (Playstation 3)

I don't always buy new games. But when I do, I prefer Dos Equis-

I mean, uh... I go all-in. I picked up a digital copy of Destiny's Guardian Edition on the Playstation Network. I've been playing it all day. I fully intend to download the Playstation 4 version later on, with that cool upgrade deal that is happening with Destiny's digital purchasers.

I haven't completed the game, obviously. This will take a while. Here are a few of my first impressions:

- The game immediately reminded me of three other games: Brink, Warframe, and Rage. The atmosphere is so invocative of those games that I'm surprised that nobody else, to my knowledge, has drawn those comparisons before. Seriously, Destiny's art style, UI, and initial mission structure are just like a massive mixture of Brink, Warframe and Rage. Especially Rage. I was half expecting the Ghost to be voiced by John Goodman and not Peter Dinklage. Being reminded of those three games is not necessarily a bad thing, but I'd much rather be reminded of games that I didn't hate.

- The FPS mechanics are smooth as butter. I thought the MMO elements would make things a pain or ruin the combat, but the game itself works great. If it's one thing Bungie can do well, it's first-person combat. They damn well better, since they've been doing essentially nothing but FPS games since Marathon...

- I kind of wish the MMO aspects were downplayed. The first mission of the game was insanely fun and engrossing. You're thrust into action, and you're given a taste of what to come. Then, you enter a hub world and you see all of the other people who are doing the exact same mission that you are. It just shatters the suspension of disbelief.

Now, all of that said, I am really enjoying the game so far. I can't wait to jump into co-op and competitive multiplayer with some friends and get some cool weapons or armor. Bungie is pretty good at designing that sort of stuff.

It's also the first "Triple A" game that I've played in a long while. It's also the first modern game I've paid full price for in some time.

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More stories about loving, learning, and living.

And maybe a few about video games.

1. I first saw the Nintendo 64 in-person at a friend's house. They had managed to get one near the launch, and I was infinitely jealous, like any child would have been. It's a very annoying feeling. Suddenly, everything I owned at that point wasn't quite worth it. No matter how many games I played on the Super Nintendo, the N64 was still beyond my reach. And that meant that I needed it more than I needed anything else in my then-short life.

Of course, I asked my parents for one. I remember my mom saying that there was no way I could get one, since the N64's launch of September '96 was already a month after my birthday. My dad, hearing this, basically decided that no son of his would go without the latest and greatest thing, and thus he decided that I would get a N64 the next day.

I think my dad was more excited than I was, to be honest. He was always a fan of gadgets and technology. Hell, he bought my mom a Nintendo Entertainment System back when they were still dating. From what I know, apparently one of the barbacks at the bar my dad tended at was ranting and raving about how awesome Super Mario Bros. was, and that got my dad interested. Oddly enough, this was where he drew the line with buying games and playing them himself, since he didn't buy much else until I was born. He did, however, have a ton of CDs and cassettes that I'm sure were part of a Columbia House subscription. My point is, my dad didn't necessarily care about video games on their own. He cared because I cared.

The next day, I got to go to Montgomery Ward to get a N64. I don't quite know why we went there to get it, but I'm sure it had something to do with my mom shopping around for the best prices. She always had a knack for finding sales, and just as much of a knack for refusing to buy things when they weren't on sale. I know that if she had been mistaken and the Nintendo 64s were priced $5 higher than whatever catalog had listed prices, I probably wouldn't have gone home with a console that day.

Of course, my dad bought the everloving hell out of the last Nintendo 64 in the store. We had a choice of two games: Super Mario 64, or Pilotwings 64. I chose the former, because I wasn't an idiot.

Now, Pilotwings 64 was a great game. It just had the distinction of being the "other" launch title for the N64. As in, it was the one that people either bought second or not at all. Mario 64 was groundbreaking. Pilotwings was, essentially, a sports game. Sports games eventually get relegated to bargain bins and dust-covered shelves.

I remember booting up Mario 64 for the first time very distinctly. My dad had a lot of trouble hooking the console up because getting to the composite AV ports on the back of our rear-projection TV was almost a back-breaking effort.

My dad, a man who said "Fuck you." to doctors who said he would never walk again after having his spine crushed by a fuel tank in the Marine Corps, a man who threw his wheelchair out into a busy intersection of South Boston once he found out that he wasn't completely paralyzed from the waist down, was more or less beaten by a poorly-placed AV port on the back of a television. We solved this problem in the traditional way, by never hooking up the N64 to another television in the house ever again.

Super Mario 64's opening is what my dad loved the most about the game. To him, hearing the "It's-a me, Mario!" clip must have been more amazing than it was for me. Yes, video games had voice before this. Mario didn't, at least not on a home console. That opening line paved the way for a truly next-generation experience that was a real step above what was capable on Nintendo's other consoles.†

The N64 controller took a lot of getting used to. I remember taking a while to get used to the fact that the analog stick controlled movement, not the D-pad.

I don't really play Mario 64 anymore. It's still a great game, it's just one that hasn't aged as gracefully as other Mario games. I always think of my dad when I do find the time to play it, though. And looking at the Nintendo 64 kind of makes me wish that Montgomery Ward didn't go bankrupt...

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2. I first played Golden Axe at my elementary school's rec center. For some reason, they had a Golden Axe cabinet stuffed into a room in the back of the gym. I don't quite know how they acquired this arcade cabinet, or why they didn't have others, or why it was Golden Axe. All I knew was that it existed.

Oh, and that the second player's jump button didn't work.

We used to put a computer ribbon cable into the coin mech to get free credits. Not exactly a great idea, but, hell, we were kids. It's a wonder we didn't break anything else with the machine.

I played through the game with a few friends in one sitting while waiting for my dad to pick me up from school. Oh, we beat Death Adder into a vaguely-recognizable pulp. That's no easy feat, either, since it was a hard friggin' game to play when the second player jump didn't work. I played as the character who I can only remember as being "the blue guy." He was kind of lame. Appropriately enough, the Genesis version of Golden Axe was the first non-Sonic game I picked up for the Genesis when I began collecting retro games in summer '09. It still holds up well today, though Streets of Rage is probably the better choice when it comes to early Genesis beat-'em-ups.

I wonder if the school still has the machine locked away somewhere. If they don't, I sincerely hope that they didn't just throw it away when it got old.

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3. One of my uncles up in Massachusetts is a lot like my dad was, in that he loves home theater systems and electronics. He used to have a surround sound system hooked up in his living room, and I remember him showing me and my parents the awesomeness of the surround sound by playing the intro of Terminator 2 and showing the scene of one of the endoskeletons stepping over a pile of bones. The crunching noise filled the room and we were taken aback. It was a very visceral way to tell people that he give a damn about how he wants his television and movies to sound.

He also had a basement entertainment center, which was unique and amazing for me because I come from a state where you can't dig 8 inches into the ground without hitting water. My uncle used this space to hook up game consoles. When i was a little kid he had a SNES, but when I went up to Massachusetts in the summer of 1997, he had hooked up a Sega Saturn. He showed me the amazing (for the time) graphics of Tomb Raider, and the awesome first few levels of Panzer Dragoon. What really stuck with me, though, was Virtua Cop.

It was (and still is) crazy to see a home version of a game that was very much rooted in arcades. Sure, games like the above-mentioned Golden Axe got console ports, but sacrifices in quality had to be made when making console ports. Virtua Cop was 1:1 arcade to console. There was no difference, save for the fact that you didn't have to pony up fifty cents every time you got a game-over.

While you could play the game with a controller, the real fun was with the Sega Stunner gun. They made this gun in red for the North American market, but my uncle also had a blue one that was probably imported from the UK. Both work fine, and many a game were played with both of those guns. Virtua Cop 2 is still one of my favorite Saturn games simply because it's an absolute blast with two people blasting away at a CRT television.

I always hoped that my uncle would have kept that console around. As it turns out, he didn't. He sold it to a local Funcoland to get another console. And he sold that one, too. He wasn't too sentimental when it came to that sort of stuff.










Aww! Kitty!

Much like my previous posts on Spectrum Holobyte and Bullet Proof Software, here's a quick retrospective on a criminally-underrated game company.

"Alright, Titannel. I'll bite. The hell is Japan System Supply?"

I'm glad you asked.

Japan System Supply was a game developer that made very few games. The three that I am covering in this post is well over 50% of their output. That's just the way the game industry goes: One day, you're making awesome games for the public gaming masses to enjoy, and the next, you're jumping ship to other devs for a pay-cut or you're braving unemployment.

That said, it is quite hard to get a lot of info about this company. Different websites have conflicting info on games the company has had a hand in making. I'm covering games that I know they actually made.

First off is a game that I can guarantee that you've never played:



(Credit for the above image goes to†this site)

Bound High was supposed to be beautiful. It was supposed to be one of the saving graces of Nintendo's Virtual Boy, a console that had the potential to make a generation blind. It's a shame, because Bound High, like most Virtual Boy games, is really, really well-done. You play as Chalvo, a robot that can turn into a ball, Turrican/Metroid style, in a first-person perspective. The point of Bound High is to bounce around tiled stages, knocking enemies into the oblivion below the relative safety of the tiles. Later stages put things like wind direction and pinball bumpers in your way. It's a really nice little game, and one that is not only a great display of the Virtual Boy's strengths, but also a great display of just how badly the VB can disorient you. Motion sickness is very real, kids.

Like I said earlier, this game was not officially released, since the Virtual Boy kicked the bucket during the development of the title. A complete prototype of the game exists, though, and a bunch of enterprising individuals have gone and made reproduction Virtual Boy carts of the game.

That was not quite the end of Bound High, though, since the game's protagonist would show up in another game, this time for the still-monochrome but significantly less headache-inducing Game Boy...



Chalvo-55 was a Japan-only release for the Game Boy. It's a standard puzzle-platformer starring the protagonist from Bound High. This time, the game takes on a standard two-dimensional look, though the act of changing into a ball is still the main mechanic of the game. You use that to attack enemies and break through terrain to get to the end of stages and through the obstacles presented, sort of like Ball Kirby from Kirby's Adventure.

This particular game is one of my only imported Game Boy games (the other happens to be Star Ocean: Blue Sphere, but that's another show). My local retro game store got in a bunch of import Game Boy titles, and I jumped when I saw this one since I was such a fan of Bound High.

One thing to do to make the game feel a little closer to the Virtual Boy predecessor is to play Chalvo-55 on a Super Game Boy, and change the color palette to red and black. It's almost like you're living the dream.



Oh. Hey. Look at that! It's a game you might actually have played!

Chameleon Twist came out in 1997. As such, it is one of those very interesting games that only really could have come out in the heyday of generic 3D mascot platformers. In Chameleon Twist, you play as one of four differently-colored chameleons that have fallen through a magic portal into a world full of the same levels that are in every other 3D platformer. In order to make the game more interesting, the chameleons have also been turned into weird, badly-rendered humanoid creatures with long, prehensile tongues. You can run and jump, but your tongue stretches so far that you can use that to cross large gaps or pole-vault into secret areas. Something something Gene Simmons reference goes here.

Your primary method of defense is to lick up enemies with your tongue and fire them back at larger enemies. In fact, that is basically how most of the boss fights are done. The game itself is mostly a bog-standard 3D platformer, with all of the common flaws that early 3D platform games have (camera desperately needs to be analog, and the environments weren't exactly breaking any new ground, even back then). The tongue mechanic is also one that is very tough to get the hang of since it is something that would work much better in a two-dimensional game. Having to judge depth and space based on when and where you use the tongue to snatch enemies or cross a gap is very much a trial-and-error affair.

Despite the flaws, Chameleon Twist is a unique game, and it gets a lot of credit for being so. It's a game that, despite the flaws, is very near and dear to me, since I used to rent this game a lot. In fact, my copy that I own today is an ex-rental. Chameleon Twist was popular enough to get a sequel, which was aptly-named Chameleon Twist 2. Aside from some updated character models, the game was more or less an expansion pack to the first game.

This series would make an excellent comeback on the 3DS as a game in the style of Kirby: Canvas Curse, but since JSS is no longer around and I'm assuming that Sunsoft owns the rights to Chameleon Twist, they hold the fate of this very interesting franchise.

So, what happened to Japan System Supply? Hell if I know. This is just one of those companies that seemed to drop off the face of the earth. One thing is for sure, though: They clearly weren't afraid of taking chances.
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Y'know, a lot of times, the classics are nice. There is a very good reason why the first game anyone wants to play on a NES is going to be Super Mario Bros. It's basically perfect. Same goes for the Game Boy - You're going to get Tetris, no doubt about it.

The thing is, I've played those games to death. They're excellent, to be sure, but they're boring as all hell to me now. I just tried to sit down and play Super Mario World again. I couldn't do it. I may as well have been playing Rise of the Robots.

I've started getting into more handheld games since the 25th anniversary of the Game Boy. I've become significantly more versed in the libraries of not only the Game Boy, but the Game Boy's competitors, as well. Here are a few interesting, obscure, even somewhat-underrated games that most people gloss over from a number of handheld consoles:



Now, Bomberman isn't really an obscure series. Bomberman as a whole is known for its grid-based multiplayer that is scientifically proven to turn your friends into your hated rivals and to ensure that every other word that comes out of your mouth is something that the FCC would disapprove of. Panic Bomber, on the other hand, is a puzzle game, in the style of, say, Wario's Woods or Dr. Robotnik's Mean Bean Machine. Y'know, easy to learn, hard to master, etc... The game itself is most definitely not a "blast", partly because that would be the obvious thing to say, but also due to the fact that the game doesn't quite click like it would if it were on, say, the Game Boy or the SNES. The game is, however, definitely worth a look, simply due to the fact that it is the best puzzle game on the Virtual Boy. In addition to that, this is the sole representative in the Panic Bomber series that made it 'stateside. All the others were exclusive to Japan. If you're willing to withstand the red-and-black colors of the Virtual Boy, give this one a shot.




I haven't talked about the Atari Lynx yet. I plan to eventually, but I need to get some more games for it. Luckily, I happen to own this little gem. Simply put, Toki is a run-and-gun platformer in the style of Contra or Mega Man. The main character in Toki is the titular man-turned-ape, who can shoot energy projectiles at any multitude of weird enemies. This is a great example of a game in the Atari Lynx library, as it is, at its core, a port of an arcade game, which was what the Lynx was best at. This particular game is a bit different than the arcade version, though. The game itself has a style that was similar to other Lynx games at the time. What style was that, you may ask? Well, the best thing I can say is that it was strange. The graphics are drawn with a realistic look to them, which stands in a direct contrast with the Game Boy's often-cartoony aesthetics or the Game Gear's "Genesis' kid-brother" sort of vibe. The result is that Lynx games, Toki included, looked very different from what was offered on other consoles. The game itself is very difficult, most of the problems stemming from trial-and-error gameplay and blurry Lynx screen issues. That said, It's easy to forget that this game came out in the heyday of the Game Boy and not the Game Boy Color. To see something with these visuals in the days of the Game Boy is pretty spectacular. Toki doesn't cost that much on the aftermarket - none of the Lynx games do. If you actually own an Atari Lynx this should be on your short list of games to get for the console.




Batman, for the Game Boy. This may seem like an odd choice for an underrated gem, but stay with me, here. This particular Batman game, which is somewhat-based on the '89 movie, is a run & gun platformer in the style of Mega Man or a primitive Contra. You control Batman, and shoot down crooks and destroy blocks that impede your progress through a level. It's very similar to Super Mario Land in that regard, except this game actually has decent controls. When I say that this game is a "run & gun" platformer, I actually mean it: Batman's main attack is to shoot a projectile at enemies. That's really odd, because Batman's kind of got a thing against guns. In that he's never used one to take down a foe because he doesn't need them. Batman himself is enough to scare a criminal without the use of a gun. That's the point of being a masked vigilante. I don't know if there's any justification for this in the game's manual or something, but it's just plain odd that this is how it's done in this game. It's almost like this game wasn't originally intended to be based on the Batman license, and they shoehorned it in for another movie cash-in. Despite the odd mechanics, the game itself is quite fun. It's more fun than it has any right to be, since movie-based games are generally rushed out to meet deadlines and they're quite poor as a result. In the giant landfill that most movie-licensed games eventually belong to, Batman for the Game Boy is one that deserves to be rescued.




I know what you're thinking: "What is Mega Man doing on this list!?"

Mega Man on the Game Gear was actually published by US Gold, not Capcom (though their name is with the game as the character is a Capcom character of course). Surprisingly, it's not a port of one of the Game Boy games OR a port of any of the NES Mega Man games. Instead, it takes a mix of Robot Masters from Mega Man 4 and Mega Man 5 and puts them in this new game, along with the traditional Wily tower stages. This game isn't nearly as good as the Game Boy Mega Man games, as US Gold put in some weird design choices with the gameplay (giving the Robot Masters post-hit invincibility, for instance...). It still feels strange to have a Mega Man game on a Sega console. It's the same kind of feeling I get when I see something like Sonic Advance or Hotel Mario: that something just feels "wrong". That said, this game is interesting. Definitely not one that people would expect to see on the Game Gear, and one that a lot of people overlook. If you've got a Game Gear that hasn't got blown capacitors, this game couldn't hurt to try. Just know that if you're looking for a perfect handheld Mega Man experience, check out the Game Boy versions (except Mega Man II. That one wasn't that great).
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I just read the pretty damn good Dtoid article about the Game Boy's 25th anniversary. Thought I'd do my own write-up of Nintendo's wonderful, iconic, borderline-indestructable brick of a handheld game console.

More or less? The Game Boy is THE handheld console. Its image is iconic enough for someone who barely knows video games to know exactly what it is, and the games that were available for it have gone on to be absolute classics.

I got my Game Boy in August of 1992, when I was just two years old. My parents bought it for me for my birthday, back when we still lived in Massachusetts. If I knew anything about the area of Cape Cod I lived in at the time, I'd definitely have tried to find out where my parents got the Game Boy. They probably had to go to the Hyannis Toys 'R Us, which, to my knowledge, is still where it was all those years ago. That's rare for a TRU in this day and age.

The Game Boy was originally bundled with Tetris, which was a marketing decision so great that I sincerely hope that the person who came up with it got some sort of commemorative plaque. I've talked about Tetris before, but it bears repeating that this game is absolutely flawless. It is the perfect balance of being easy to play and very hard to master, making the addictiveness of Tetris rival that of most hard drugs. There is a very good reason why Tetris was ported to every game console known to man (and a few only known to hardcore gaming fanatics): It's excellent. While the Game Boy wasn't necessarily the one that started it all, it definitely helped the sales of the Game Boy skyrocket.

A Nintendo launch really doesn't feel special without a new Mario game in the lineup. Maybe that's why the Wii left me cold initially. Anyway, Super Mario Land was released as a launch title for the Game Boy, alongside Alleyway, Tennis and Baseball.



Man, look at this cover. I do get what they are trying to do with this: They're trying to showcase the various game mechanics and the various enemies you'll encounter while playing, but this cover just comes off as a jumbled mess from an artist who took things too literally when asked to make a cover that summed up the game.

That said, this game is really friggin' weird. It wasn't designed by Shigeru Myamoto (the person who developed all of the other core Mario titles), it was instead designed by Gunpei Yokoi (the man who was behind the creation of the Game Boy itself). And good God, does it show. The gameplay doesn't quite "feel" like a Mario game, in that the physics are off from the standards of the NES titles. Mario sinks like a goddamn stone when he falls off of a ledge, and there is no pause when getting hit by an enemy, which, to a person who has played the NES games for hours on-end, is immediately noticeable and incredibly frustrating. It is definitely something that you need to get used to.

The enemy designs are downright bizarre. You've got your standard array of things like Goombas and turtles, but the turtle's shells explode after you've jumped on them. There are also things like giant flies or sphinxes that are so far removed from the Mario style that I wouldn't be surprised if this game wasn't supposed to be a Mario game originally.

You don't have a ton of time to think about a lot of this, however, as the play time can be well under an hour if you're used to the controls and you happen to be in a well-lit room to see the screen.

The Game Boy's screen has been the subject of a lot of scrutiny over the years, mostly due to the fact that you cannot see the goddamn thing in any normal lighting condition. Seriously, Sega had the right idea with putting a backlight on the Game Gear. In addition to being very hard to see, the screen suffered from a problem that a lot of old handheld screens used to have, in that there were ghosting/afterimage issues with games that had a lot of movement in them. This flaw made games like Contra: The Alien Wars and Donkey Kong Land virtually impossible to play on the original Game Boy. The best games to play on this thing were simple games like Tetris, or games that didn't require a lot of fast-paced movements or reaction times, like turn-based RPGs.

Coincidentally, Nintendo managed to release one of those late in the Game Boy's life.

Well, that's not exactly true: They managed to release two of those late in the Game Boy's Life.



Yuuuuuup. Pokemon Red and Blue were released in the US on September 28th, 1998. That is well over nine years after the Game Boy came out. Hell, today a lot of games don't get released on consoles when they are six years into their lifespan. Pokemon helped the Game Boy sell more units than ever, and it gave kids a reason to use the link cables that they probably had lying around since their parents bought them F1 Race. The Pokemon games also made RPGs accessible to millions of people who may have never played a role-playing game before, and it encouraged social interaction in video games years before online infrastructure was good enough for multiplayer.

I'm sure there are people out there that thought the Game Boy didn't even exist before Pokemon, or at least didn't think that the console would have been a near-decade into its' lifespan when the games came out.

Come to think of it, it's crazy to think that the Game Boy is 25 years old now (if we're counting from the Japanese release, anyway). The Game Boy is now old enough to rent a car. There were dozens of great games made for this console, and, luckily, you can get a bunch of them on the 3DS eShop right now. Go and pick up Wario Land or Link's Awakening, and when Mega Man V comes out on the eShop, get it there, as the original cart is far too expensive to consider paying for.

I'm definitely going to be playing some Metroid II or Alleyway during my lunch break at work tomorrow.

There's no better tribute to a console than to actually play it.
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More stories of intrigue, mystery, and the unknown.

But mostly video games. This is Destructoid, after all.

- When I was in Kindergarten, every Thursday was a "computer lab" day. Our teacher would walk the class out the door of our classroom 12 feet away to the Elementary School computer lab, which was home to 30 or so Gateway computers loaded with Windows 95 and a metric ton of edutainment programs designed to keep elementary school kids busy for an hour while the teacher does something productive, like grading papers, scheduling things for Friday class time, or burning through her last five Lucky Strikes.

Now, to a five-year-old kid, an hour was a long time. I think that might be scientifically proven to be true. We used the hour to our advantage, playing stuff like Kid Phonics, Snap Dragon, or Kidworks 2. The text-to-speech voice "Please Sign In To Kidworks 2" clip still haunts me to this day.

My handwriting isn't that good. I can type infinitely faster than I can write, which was something that most school faculty didn't really understand until after my grades suffered. I completely attribute my ability to type quickly and legibly to two things: EverQuest, and Mario Teaches Typing. For the purposes of this article, I'm going to focus on Mario Teaches Typing.

When my Kindergarten teacher showed up to the computer lab holding the MTT disk, I knew I needed to play it. I didn't care if I was going to learn with it. It was Mario. Playing a Mario game during school was the five-year-old equivalent of downing a few shots of scotch while at the office: you aren't allowed to do that normally, so when you get the go-ahead to do so it feels awesome.

The game itself is pretty boring. Press the corresponding key to make Mario jump over a turtle or smash a block. There are sections where you need to complete a few sentences in order to keep Mario away from an enemy or to help him navigate a castle maze. You can print out a diploma if you get a high enough WPM. Woohoo.

Screw Type to Learn or Mavis Beacon's Keyboard Extravaganza. Mario Teaches Typing basically made me into a decent human being by teaching me how to type.

That, and being a tank in a Lesser Faydark dungeon. That helped, too.

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- I'm a huge sucker for Mega Man. The original games are great, but my heart lies with the X series. Mega Man X4 was one of the first Playstation games that got, and it was worth every penny. The voice acting was awful, but that couldn't kill the whole thing for me. I played the everloving hell out of it.

Mega Man X5 was more of the same. 2D visuals (albeit super-enhanced 2D visuals), weird voice acting, and the like. There were two amazing parts of the game, though:

The first were the Mavericks on offer. The bosses in the X series were always great, but the ones in X5 were significantly better due to the nice touch of the translation team having a little fun: Most of the bosses were named after the members of Guns 'N Roses. You had Axl The Red (who was a robotic Rose), Duff McWhalen, Grizzly Slash, etc...

The second was the addition of a new mechanic: Ducking. You could duck under shots by pressing down, which is a feature that is in every other shooter. Oddly enough, this simple idea seemed to pass right over the Mega Man dev team. To this day, I remember Mega Man X5 for being "the one where you could duck." A lot of the game is built around this mechanic, as you could now be more mobile than ever in a series where mobility is king.

I bought my copy at a store called Prime Time Video. They've since gone out of business. They were an old Mom & Pop video store that sold video games as well. I know I have a few of their ex-rentals in my collection due to buying second-hand.

Prime Time Video is now a tattoo parlor combined with a costume shop. Fun stuff.

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I suffered from insane breathing problems as a child. I don't know first-hand, but my mom used to tell me that she constantly checked up on me during the night to make sure that I was still breathing, and not in a "I'm irrationally worried about my son" kind of way. I used to hate going to sleepovers because my snoring was really bad.

This problem was soon rectified by the age-old procedure of having my tonsils removed. Every kid seems to have to go through this at some point in their life, and 2001 was the time for me to do so as well.

My dad knew that I would be bored out of my skull if I had to sit around drinking Gatorade and chomping on anti-inflammatory medication, so he decided to get me a present: A Microsoft Xbox.

I wasn't a huge fan of the Xbox when it came out. I was all about the PS2 and, more importantly, the Nintendo Gamecube. The Xbox was new and scary, and it catered to a much-older demographic than my 11-year-old self. My dad thought it was awesome, though, and he surprised me with the console after picking me up from a friend's house.

My first game was Oddworld: Munch's Oddysee. It's a neat game from the absolute geniuses at Oddworld Inhabitants. Things really took off when I got Halo. I don't particularly care for the series today, but I will admit that playing Halo was fun as hell. It definitely took away the pain of having tonsil surgery.

That and the pain meds. I'm sure they helped considerably.