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Tony Ponce's blog
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12:20 PM on 11.11.2014

Rodea the Sky Soldier arrives Spring 2015 for Wii U and 3DS...

... wait...

... hold up...

... what?




I knew it! I fucking knew it! I never lost the faith! Oh, happy days are here again!

I'mma dance a little jig now.


9:47 PM on 09.30.2014

My Favorite Game: Mega Man 2

I honestly didn't plan on responding to this month's Community Assignment until just a couple of days ago. You're all more than aware of my love for the Mega Man series, so my harping yet again about robots and jumping through boss doors and villains who may or may not actually be evil seemed like it would be rather redundant. Besides, Mega Man 2 is such a popular game -- I assumed that at least a couple of folks would want to write about it.

But here we are, the last day of September, and not a single Mega Man-themed musing. I ought to be happy that no one went for the low-hanging fruit, yet the lack of even a single post of either the "Mega" or "Man" variety has left me feeling anxious. How can I sleep at night knowing that words about things haven't been written?

So now you're going to sit there while I prattle on like a five-year-old who has just figured out that people will pay attention to him as long as he keeps making sounds with his mouth.

This isn't the first time I've offered my thoughts on which Mega Man games reign supreme. Five years back, I gave a list of reasons why Mega Man 6 is objectively the best in the Classic series. In celebration of the franchise's 25th anniversary, I explained why Mega Man X is objectively the best in the overall franchise. You've probably gathered that neither of those are Mega Man 2. Am I having trouble keeping my story straight?

Yes, Mega Man 6 and X are indeed fine videogames, and I enjoy them dearly. But neither have affected me as much as Mega Man 2, which had as much an impact on my childhood as would an inspiring high school teacher or a whirlwind summertime romance. It was the start of a relationship that would become an unending source of joy, comfort, and reassurance well into my adult years.

I did play the original first, by the way. This was back when I was living in Japan, where my dad played baseball for Yokohama (that's another good story, by the way!). I was hanging over at a friend's place, and he introduced me to the Family Computer. He showed off a few games, like Contra -- the Contra series would eventually become one of my top game franchises as well -- but Mega Man (or Rockman, as it were) was the one that really captured my imagination.

I mean, what little boy doesn't like robots? And these weren't just robots; they were, like, superhero robots! And their world was just so colorful and bright, and they had these cute little faces that even in 8-bit pixel form were unfathomably expressive. I sometimes let Rock stand motionless for an extended period, taking pleasure in his simple blinking animation. He felt alive, truly alive.

I enjoyed being able to tackle any boss in any order I wanted. If I couldn't get past one part, I'd just try somewhere else -- a good thing, too, because I never could get past the stupid flippers in Guts Man's level. Speaking of which, "Guts Man"? That's a bizarre name, preschool-age me wondered.

When I finally received a Family Computer on my fourth birthday, my parents bundled it with Rockman 2 rather than 1. I never did get my own copy of Rockman until just recently, and once we left Japan, I never had an opportunity to play it again until I was in eighth grade. Had it been packed with my Famicom instead of the sequel, it very well could have been the game I now fondly recall as my favorite of all time.

No, it was Rockman 2 rockin' my cartridge slot. Everything I remembered loving about the first was amplified tenfold here -- the freedom to choose the stage order, the bizarre environments, the super cool bosses with their awesome weapons that I could use on other bosses. I especially loved the grid-based password system, jotting down passwords on loose paper or even concocting mnemonics in order to memorize certain dot patterns.

By the way, want to know a secret that very few people are aware of? Here, check this out:

That's the Japanese Rockman 2 box. Cool, right? Stomps all over the European and American covers! What you probably don't know is that there is secret artwork on the inside flaps, and the only way to see it is to open the box from both ends.

On one side, you've got Baby Rock with a pacifier and rattle:

On the other side, you've got Teen Rock wearing a bomber jacket and jeans:

Rock is supposed to be a robot, yes? And robots aren't supposed to age, yes? Obviously, these were just fun pieces drawn up by character designer Keiji Inafune, but I wasn't aware of any of that at such an impressionable young age.

To me, this cemented the idea that Rock was a living person. And not only that, he was just a kid like me! While other game heroes were big, burly men or oddball cartoon characters, this Rock "Boy" was a sprightly youth living every boy's dream of being a crime fighter. He probably went to school and had friends he wanted to protect. Maybe he could be my friend!

And so a connection was made between me and the helmeted hero on the other side of the screen. I would commit his exploits to paper with my trusty Coupy Pencils, then I would pick the controller back up and try my hand at Dr. Wily's fortress for the umpteenth time.

Unlike other games that seemed so exciting back when you were a child, only to lose nearly all of their luster when reexamined as an adult, Mega Man 2 has stood the test of time for anybody who ever gave the Blue Bomber a sporting chance. And 25 years after my first encounter, I continue to find reasons to love this timeless classic.

The domains of the Robot Masters are just so... ambiguous, even by NES standards. Everyone understands that the limited hardware of the time resulted in very vague approximations of what people and places were intended to look like, thus it was up to players to "fill in the blanks" and bring the world to life. Even so, it was clear in many games what most objects were supposed to represent -- a car, a dog, a forest, a desolate city street.

Mega Man 2, however, took that ambiguousness to unprecedented heights. Consider Heat Man's stage -- no, really, consider it! What is it? The brick pattern and round wall portals suggest a sewer of sorts, but what sewer is filled with magma rather than water? Or what about Quick Man's tower? The floors and backgrounds are a curious assembly of grooves and panels that scream "generic sci-fi studio set."

And my personal favorite: Flash Man's stage. I guess it's supposed to be some sort of crystal cavern, right? But let's fast-forward to Mega Man 5 and that game's Crystal Man, who also resides in a crystal cavern. Compare the levels side by side:

Crystal Man's cave has the more cohesive theme -- this is a facility to mine precious jewels. It's very rich in detail, which is great for showcasing the team's familiarity with the NES hardware after so many years. But Flash Man's "cave," as basic as it is, has more of a "fun house" quality. It certainly doesn't look like a place that could exist in the real world.

This isn't a bad thing! Whereas other NES games show the chinks in their armor with failed facsimiles of the real, Mega Man 2 is a playground for the dreamer. Its world is an abstraction, so rather than lose its luster as the decades tick by, it retains its attractiveness because it's whatever you imagine it to be. It's the reason Mega Man 2 can remain so visually appealing even though its sequels objectively improved in the art department.

On the topic of improvements, Mega Man 2 is not a perfect game by any stretch. It's flawed, and extremely so. As the story goes, Mega Man 2 was a passion project -- the first game didn't sell well by Capcom's expectations, but the higher-ups allowed the team to go forward with a sequel only if they worked on it in their spare time. The finished project is clearly the result of a rushed development cycle, sporting many troublesome design choices that wouldn't fly if the game were made today.

The mile-long disappearing block marathon in Heat Man's stage? At least you could acquire a jet board from Air Man in order to bypass it. The Boobeam Trap in the fourth Wily stage? Unless you know exactly where to plant the Crash Bombers, beating this boss will almost always require you to die once in order to refill your weapons meter before replaying the battle.

But those are what made the game so great! The team knew they had one final chance to demonstrate that there was real value in this property, so they packed as many ideas and concepts as they could. Some may call it rough around the edges; I call it raw, pure, honest. And history has shown that those risks paid off in spades -- Mega Man 2's flaws are remembered not as game-killers but as unique quirks.

I could continue to list the areas where Mega Man 2 succeeded as a game, but the truth is that it's more than a game to me. I'm happy that there is a consensus of high quality, but that's true of many games. On a personal level, Mega Man 2 is incomparable.

When Capcom dropped the ax on Mega Man Legends 3, it stirred such profound emotions that I had to convey them in a heartfelt farewell letter. Since that post, I've come to realize that Rock is like the friend who moved out of state but still drops by to visit now and then. At least I can replay any of his past adventures and never be bored. And whenever we get together, I can recall the key events in my life, both happy and sad, which always seem to be tightly intertwined with a particular playthrough or game release or action figure sighting at an anime shop in San Francisco.

And I have Mega Man 2 to thank for that.


5:34 PM on 09.08.2014

Tony Ponce was able to build this AMA in a cave

The other day, the lovely Brittany Vincent posted an AMA so that the readers could get to know their favorite new editor a little better. I love it when the "big dawgs" open themselves up to the community like that. I love it when anyone opens up -- I remember years ago when "10 Things You Don't Know About X" swept the Cblogs and we got to be so intimate with one another.

But despite how much I love these moments of candid conversation, I don't think I've ever once engaged in such activities. And that's dumb. How come, Tony, you bastard? Don't you want to make friends? Don't keep those secrets bottled up!

I mean, what do you guys even know about me anyway? Aside from my unhealthy obsession with Mega Man merch, but c'mon, that's hardly a secret. Did I ever tell you about the time I ran with the bulls? No, of course not, because I'm a jerk who doesn't share his amazing life experiences.

(By the way, I totally almost got stomped on by some bulls!)

I want to give this whole AMA thing a shot. I want to answer some off-the-wall questions about nothing in particular. I want to be your friend, hero, lover, sugar daddy, etc. Let's make it happen!

So... ummm... begin, I guess?


11:10 PM on 08.27.2014

ADDENDUM: Linkle IS female Link after all!

Hey, everyone! As you might have noticed, I've decided to start doing musings again in my spare time. It's been too long since I've written anything that wasn't weighed down by deadlines or the need to be run past a group of copy editors. I had forgotten just how much fun blogging for the sake blogging could be, so expect to see more of this in the near future.

As for the article I wrote yesterday, I chose a sensitive topic to get my motor running. I think it went really well, all things considered. It got a bit heated in the comments, but that's okay. It's all part of the festivities.

But I do want to return to that earlier article for a brief moment. A short while ago, I came across some critical information regarding Linkle, the gal in green from the Hyrule Warriors artbook, and I think it deserves an addendum. So... here we go.

In my article, I linked to a post by Steven Hansen about the page from the Hyrule Warriors artbook with the character design in question. His post originally stated that Linkle was female Link, but a number of commenters pointed out that the Japanese text indicated that this was actually a relative of Link -- a sister or daughter, perhaps -- and not Link himself. Thus, Steven updated the post with the corrected information.

This piece of news resurfaced in the comments section of my article as well. The argument was that Nintendo wouldn't dare make an actual female Link, so instead here's this new sister character as a concession. Link would still be the strapping young lad he's always been, and those who desire a playable green-clad female would get his twin. Everybody wins, right?

But now the plot thickens.

The fans who first spotted and shared the finer details of Linkle's identity had misinterpreted the text from the book. Kotaku's Brian Ashcraft, who's fluent in Japanese, was able to decipher the page completely and get to the bottom of the mystery once and for all.

It turns out that Steven's original story was true all along. Linkle is the female version of Link! The text explicitly states that this is a "girl version of hero Link." Why the different name, in that case? The simplest explanation is that "Link" is a masculine name, so the character designer came up with a feminized version -- just like how there's "Ramon" and "Ramona," "Gabriel" and "Gabrielle," and so on.

Okay, then where did the idea that Linkle was the male Link's sister come from? Someone apparently spotted the kanji for "sister" and jumped to conclusions without the proper context. The complete translation of that particular line states that the character was "devised as being little sister-like" -- like the girl next door you knew since childhood but for whom you hold no romantic attachments (or do you?).

Of course, you won't find Linkle in the final version of Hyrule Warriors since that page of the artbook was dedicated to rejected characters. But this clarification does clear some misconceptions that have been floating about since her discovery.

I think this all is fascinating for two big reasons. One, the idea for a female incarnation of Link was proposed very early in the game's development; she even received the full concept art treatment before she was quietly shelved. I don't recall if we've ever come this close to a proper female Link before.

Two, despite being the Link through and through, there was just enough thought given to her conception to assign Linkle a different persona than male Link. That she was to come off as a "little sister-type" to other characters in the game made her unique, even if just in a minor way.

Why do I think she was ultimately scrapped? My guess is that Eiji Aonuma had the final vote in this decision. Maybe he saw some merit in the idea but figured that a spin-off developed almost entirely by a third party was not the proper place to explore that avenue. Clearly its not just the fans at home who want to see a female Link become a real thing anymore.

We're at the cusp of something great here. I really do think that we will see a female Link in our lifetime.

(Also, I'm shocked that even though the Kotaku article was posted last Monday, nobody here caught wind of it. Your web fu is getting weak, denizens of Destructoid!)   read

11:49 PM on 08.26.2014

The Legend of Korra proves why we need a female Link

I just got around to watching the Book 3 finale of The Legend of Korra (heart-wrenching ending, I might add). I'm always amazed by how good that show is. Sure, it doesn't quite reach the same lofty heights as The Last Airbender, but that doesn't prevent it from being amazing in its own right.

What really endears me to the show is Korra herself. She's tough, brash, impulsive -- everything that the previous Avatar was not. It's entertaining to go from the wise, collected Aang to this vastly different incarnation, only to realize that they both share the same righteous conviction. Two sides of the same coin -- a fitting analogy for a show so firmly rooted in themes of duality and harmony.

Oh, and she happens to be a girl.

Just two weeks ago, some photos of the Hyrule Warriors artbook began circulating the net. One image in particular, of a female Link concept, captured a sizable amount of attention. Was this a proposed gender option that was left on the cutting room floor? And what of the name "Linkle" associated with the design? Was this really a female Link or rather someone related to him who shared a similar name?

Whatever the truth may be, it got people talking. Hell, any time the subject of Link as a female is brought up, Zelda fans are bound to congregate in droves -- a good chunk are all for the idea, while others think we ought to leave well enough alone. The latter think, Link has been portrayed as male in every series installment for nearly three decades. He's an established icon. Why change that just to satisfy a vocal minority?

But Link isn't a single character, is he?

In the beginning, we all assumed that the Link and Zelda in each new game were the same people. Things started getting a little murky, so we switched gears and proposed that each game was the same "legend" retold, with the same characters assuming similar but subtly different roles.

Ocarina of Time came along to illustrate a clear progression from one game to the next. Then The Wind Waker explicitly stated that the Link living out on the Great Sea was not the same Hero of Time who vanquished Ganon in Ocarina of Time.

And even though these Link share visual traits, namely the green tunic and pointed ears, they often come from different backgrounds. He could be an orphan living amongst the forest folk, a child living with his sister and grandmother, a young man attending a high school in the clouds -- different people stretched across time, all linked together by the red thread of fate.

Kind of sounds like the Avatar, doesn't it?

In the Avatar universe, there's an individual once every generation who's chosen by an unseen hand to be the world's protector. When one Avatar dies, the spirit is reborn within a different race than the one before -- Fire Nation, Air Nomads, Water Tribe, then finally Earth Kingdom. And the kicker? Some of these Avatars are *gasp* female!

That the issue of any Avatar's gender is never once brought up as either a boon or a hindrance to their preordained role is a testament to how progressive the show is. The Avatar is both one and many; the residents of the world acknowledge that. Even regular benders are respected for their talents -- I can only recall a single episode in the entire series when female benders were marginalized, and it ended with the man in power realizing just what a misogynist ass he was being.

The Legend of Korra is in no way worse off because the protagonist has two X chromosomes. In fact, if you were to replace Korra with a strapping young waterbender named Korraq, there would be no need to make any significant changes to the story whatsoever -- save from making Asami the target of Korraq's affection rather than Mako, since I doubt Nickelodeon is ready to rock the cradle with a little swordplay action just yet, if you catch my drift.

What I'm trying to say is, the gender of the main character doesn't make a difference. And that right there is why it makes a world of a difference. Does that make sense?

Did girls young and old thoroughly enjoy The Last Airbender? Of course they did! It was a phenomenal show that appealed to people of all ages, races, and genders. And The Legend of Korra taps that audience as well, female lead be damned. In an interview with NPR, creators Bryan Konietzko and Michael DiMartino shared how Nickelodeon execs were worried that boys wouldn't enjoy the show. Then the results of the test screening came back, and you know what? The boys didn't care that Korra was female!

You know who does care? That one nervous girl who sees Korra as this empowering, ass-kicking figure and is subsequently inspired to be a little more proactive in school and life outside the home.

Aside from that, it's refreshing to see a popular piece of pop culture use its standing to promote gender equality in such a major way, and to do it in a manner that doesn't feel cheap or pandering.

So coming back around to The Legend of Zelda, why should Nintendo give female Link a shot? The real question is, why not? Is it really that drastic of a suggestion?

Like Avatar -- as well as most Nintendo franchises -- Zelda appeals just as much to girls as it does to boys. The hook here is that Nintendo has an opportunity to take Zelda in a unique direction that can't necessarily be done for its other properties. Mario is a defined character, as are Kirby and Donkey Kong and so on. But Link is special.

Shigeru Miyamoto once explained to French site Gamekult: "Link's name comes from the fact that originally, the fragments of the Triforce were supposed to be electronic chips. The game was to be set in both the past and the future and as the main character would travel between both and be the link between them, they called him Link."

But if you interpret the name differently, it could mean that he is the player's "link" to the game world. You are Link, and that's why you are free to rename him however you please. Zelda is a princess, because the legends state that there will always be a Princess Zelda. Ganondorf is the same character in every appearance, simply reborn like Dracula from Castlevania. But Link is whoever fate needs him to be at that moment. He could be a child or an adult or a brother or a student.

How about a girl? There's nothing in the in-game lore that says otherwise. The character of Link if but Zelda's right hand of justice, meant to come to her aid in her hour of need. That task doesn't have to always befall a male. I mean, wouldn't it have been something if Aryll had been The Wind Waker's Link and her brother was the bystander?

There is the issue that Nintendo has always presented Link as a boy in green. Avatar established from day one that no two Avatars are ever alike, so the jump from Aang to Korra wasn't met with much if any incredulity. Link's design and characterization have been far more consistent in comparison, but as I've discussed before, nothing's set in stone.

What exactly would change if Link were female? She'd still have a sword and shield. She'd still run around fields and dungeons, collecting rupees and items. Okay, she might attract a following of in-game fanboys, but is that any different than male Link and all the girls who fawn over him every other minute? Seriously, the only real difference would be the pronoun used to address her. Hardly a deal-breaking concession for the sake of letting a girl save Hyrule for once.

Such a simple change, but the effect would be profound. There's a reason why we have Korra instead of Korraq -- there's a nuance to her journey that simply wouldn't be there if she were just another dude. Many people don't notice it, but for those who do, it's made a significant impact, one that's difficult to quantify.

I watch The Legend of Korra and, despite its flaws, it makes me feel warm inside. Here is something special, something that is rarely seen on television (without resorting to magical girl transformations and sexualized fan service). I see the parallels between this show and the Zelda series, and it makes me want to see Zelda achieve something just as incredible.   read

8:22 PM on 03.11.2012

Ooooooooooh! Regular Shoooooooooow!

Yesterday, I tweeted this picture. What is this a picture of? The new Regular Show DVD, of course!

But wait a minute, you reply. There is no Regular Show DVD in stores! How did you get hold of this? Simple: Cartoon Network GAVE it to me. This DVD doesn't go on sale until April, but a copy was shot my way because I wrote this article last year.

Let's crack this bitch open.

You won't believe how lazy the box art for this thing is. It looks like the text was written in Paint. I would expect no less from this show.

Boom! "Over the Top" is in this collection! Instant gold!

Just like with LSP and the Adventure Time DVD, Pops adorns the disc art here.

Now, I didn't get this DVD just because I'm a big fan... no, no. Naturally, there was something more to the offer.

I'm not saying anything, but if I were to happen to, I dunno, talk to series creator JG Quintel in the near future, what kind of questions would you want me to ask him in regards to how he incorporates his love for videogames into the show? This is just a supposition. I'm not "saying" anything, wink wink.   read

7:26 PM on 10.31.2011

I'm-a Luigi, bitches! Numbah 1!

This is how I fuck up the ceiling in the office.


9:03 PM on 07.01.2011

Who wants to go to Nerdapalooza in Orlando with me?

Hey there, all you Chilly Willies! It's been a while since I've popped up on the community blogs. It's been way too long, I know!

Anyway, I've got a message for all my Florida peeps. From July 15 through 17 (two weeks from now), Nerdapalooza will be going down in Orlando. If you've never heard of it, it's an annual geek music festival featuring the hottest in nerdcore and arranged game tunes and what not. They've got great acts like brentalfloss, Mega Ran, Metroid Metal, The OneUps, The Protomen, and others, including a personal fave of mine, 8-bit Duane. It sounds like a blast and a half, doesn't it?

I am most definitely going, although I wouldn't mind having a bit of company. I really would like to go all three days, but I may end up just going on Saturday (that's when all the best performers play, anyway). If you are in Orlando or a few hours away, please stop on by! Just let me know by shooting an email to megastryke AT gmail DOT com or tony AT destructoid DOT com, or send me a message on Facebook.

Any takers? I'll be your best friend!   read

2:55 PM on 03.31.2011

C Blog style and formatting tips

My good buddy Andrew Kauz recently became the site's new C Blog Boss, a role that tasks him with keeping an eye out for exceptional posts and offering useful tips and guidance to those in need. Of course, no one would expect just one man (One man!) to shoulder all that responsibility on his own. The rest of the staff is more than happy to offer a few words here and there.

In case you weren't privy to my credentials, I too am a C Blog graduate -- both Andrew and I were promoted to front-page editors at roughly the same time last year. After hearing concerns that the quality of user blogs was diminishing, I decided to compile a super post concerning proper blog style and formatting. Over the course of a few weeks, I continuously added to that post, resulting in the beast now before you.

Some of this information may be criminally obvious to some, but I wanted to be as comprehensive as possible. I've touched upon just about every formatting subject I could think of, from the proper use of BBCode tags to little multimedia tricks. If you find even just one useful nugget amongst my rambling, I will have done my job.

If you have any further questions or amendments, let me know in the comments below. You can also contact me via email at megastryke AT gmail DOT com or tony AT destructoid DOT com.

Every so often, someone complains because their newly published post is nowhere to be found. Upon closer inspection, it's either halfway down the list or on a subsequent page. Why does this happen? Our blogging software is a bit backwards -- instead of setting a timestamp when you publish a blog, it sets a timestamp the moment you start a new one. If you start writing at 12 PM and finish at 6, you better hope it's been a slow day.

The smart thing to do is to compose your piece in a separate editor. For the longest time, I would type up everything in a Notepad file, but you can also use Google Docs, Word, or any word processor of choice. Once you've proofread your work a couple of times, copy and paste it into the Dtoid editor.

Though convenient, this method doesn't allow you to check how your post would appear live in various states of completion. You'll want to know every so often whether your BBCode is broken or an image doesn't appear correctly, not at the very end when all your errors appear at once. For short-form blogs, the extra work may be manageable, but for long-form pieces...

I propose another method! Start up a new blog and type something like "FOR DRAFTS ONLY!!!" as the title. You are going to keep this blog in private view mode as your test center for all future blogs. Type out everything as you normally would, then add images, video, the works. Once you are 100% confident that your piece is ready for the public, start another new blog and copy everything over. You may need to re-upload photos and re-embed videos, but your post-editing work will still be greatly reduced. When it's time to bake a fresh post, return to the test blog, clear it, and start from scratch.

It's prudent to discuss spelling and grammar very briefly before moving on. This isn't English class -- no one is going to get all up in your grill for having a few too many typos as long as the overall blog is legible. At the same time, lax standards is no excuse for avoiding the most basic of writing rules.

1. Consult a dictionary

If you want to use a word and are unaware of either its context or proper spelling, don't guess. Reach for a dictionary and look it up. It doesn't take more than a few seconds, and there are so many available resources. If you don't have Merriam-Webster bookmarked, you can use Google's built-in dictionary. Right in the search bar, type "define:" followed by the word. As long as your spelling is close enough, you should hit the appropriate entry. For Firefox and Chrome users, there are various add-ons to help you look up definitions in-line while browsing through articles for research.

2. Use proper capitalization

I don't care how lazy you claim to be, hitting the SHIFT key with your pinky is not some Herculean Labor. The first word of every new sentence should be capitalized, proper nouns should be capitalized, the word "I" should be capitalized... you get the picture. It's not a writer's quirk to pick and choose when to follow capitalization conventions. It's just plain ugly.

3. Mind your punctuation marks

You ought to know how periods and commas work, so exercise that knowledge. However, it's not a bad idea to pepper a some of the more uncommon punctuation marks now and then. It gives your work a little pizzazz! Use ellipses (...) to show trailing thoughts, semicolons (;) in place of a conjunction to join sentences, and so on. Just don't go overboard! Use 'em sparingly, and research their functions if you have doubts. Don't feel like you need to use extra punctuation. Sometimes less is more.

You could be the greatest wordsmith of the modern age, but if you clump all your text together into one giant wall, you'll scare all your potential readers away. Don't be afraid to punch that ENTER key.

In school, we're taught that paragraphs ought to be at least four sentences long, consisting of a topic, a body, and a conclusion. That's well and dandy for academic papers, but it's bullshit in the real world. In the world of journalism (and for the sake of this lesson, I'm treating game bloggers as journalists), you have a bit more freedom with the construction of your paragraphs. Sure, it's still true that a paragraph ideally should follow a singular thought, but it's not rare to see two- or even single-sentence paragraphs.

As an example of someone who really knows how to insert breaks, here's fellow editor Chad Concelmo. You may think that his paragraph blocks are a tad on the slender side, but I think that it helps to give his articles a nice flow. You never feel overwhelmed since all the text is divided into easily digestible chunks.

Of course, it's not as simple as devoting a single line to every sentence. If the tone of your article is more serious, you may want to group a few more sentences than normal to properly flesh out an idea. Don't go crazy with a fifteen-sentence nightmare that takes up half the screen, though.

This is the blogger's toolbox. Proper use of BBCode will give your writing pep. It's useful for making simple subject headers, stressing certain words and phrases, and more. Unfortunately, even bloggers who have been around for a while can lose their grip on the finer workings. BBCode can be a finicky mistress sometimes, seemingly choosing not to work as intended.

When you are using the built-in editor to write a new post, you'll notice a little cheat guide in the bottom-right hand corner entitled "BBcode help." It is not a comprehensive list of BBCode tags in existence, but it'll serve you satisfactorily here.

The bold and italic tags are self explanatory -- just insert a word or phrase between the open and close tags and you'll get nyaa and nyaa nyaa respectively.

Speaking of italic type, you ought to use it whenever discussing a movie, book, game, or any other media title. It's what the pros do. For example, when talking about Total War: Shogun 2, render it as Total War: Shogun 2. Aside from being proper, it'll grab the attention of readers who are scanning an article or blog for mention of a particular game that catches their fancy.

The URL tag can be used to linkify either a URL address or string of text. By just dropping an address between the open and close tags, you'll get:

Usually, you'll want to direct your readers to some interesting off-site gem via a text flag as opposed to a lengthy address. In that case, insert an equal sign after the "url" in the open flag, then drop the address right next to that (no quotation marks necessary). The address becomes part of the open tag, and whatever you insert between the open and close tags will then lead you to that address, like so:

This recipe was a gift from the Gods.

There are other BBCode tags in existence, but for the most part they don't work with our blogging software. Some do, however. I personally have used the size and color tags in the past:

[size=<numerical value here>]TEXT[/size]

[color=#<hexidecimal color value here>]TEXT[/color]

The size tag changes your font size so that you can have mammoth or miniscule text. The default value is 12, so adjust accordingly. Be reasonable and don't use extreme values, although it's sometimes fun to hammer out a hidden message in size 1 font and force readers to copy and paste it into the search bar in order to view it.

Hello. My name is Inigo Montoya. You killed my father. Prepare to die.

The color tag changes font color, natch. A few colors like red or blue can be written out in English following the equal sign and without the number symbol, but for most you'll need the proper hexadecimal value. For instance, the value E18B6D gives you a nice salmon hue, while 00FFFF gives you Mega Man cyan. A quick Google search will yield a variety of useful color value tables, but make sure the color you pick stands out well on Dtoid's standard white backdrop.

You can even nest tags, one inside another. The following line makes uses of the URL, color, size, italic, and bold tags:

Lament, my lost childhood.

There might be a limit to how many tags you can cram together, but I doubt anyone is gonna to hit it. Five tags is already pushing the boundaries of sensibility, but if you want to prepare a BBCode turducken, the option is available to you.

With all these tags flying around, it's very easy to omit a close tag or to use the wrong tag pair from time to time. That's why you should frequently slam the "Save to drafts and preview" button below the editing window and preview your blog by clicking the link near the top of the page. Make sure everything is sorted out before publishing your piece. Having broken BBCode all over the place is disgusting and a sign that you were in a rush. Broken BBCode can also indicate that someone has copied and pasted an article written on another blog -- since different sites use different blogging software, it's rarely going to be one size fits all.

Sometimes, it may look like your code should function perfectly but doesn't. Say you want to bold the section heading and this happens:

[b]Making Mayonnaise
Work for You[/b]

BBCode hates newline characters, the most common being the space you create when you hit the ENTER key. Essentially, the code will only work if the open and close tags are in the same block of text. Going back and merging my two lines together will give me:

Making Mayonnaise Work for You

Much better!

Other times, the code won't work even if everybody is hanging out on the same line. There is a trouble-maker somewhere. Maybe the newline character is masquerading as whitespace character (which can sometimes happen when copying and pasting quotes from other articles) or there is excess whitespace in either the open or close tags. Save yourself a massive headache by deleting the entire line and re-typing it manually. That usually solves everything.

You may have noticed that I held off discussing one other BBCode tag. That's because I'm giving it its own special section below.

A smattering of pictures can make your dull blog spectacular! Some people like tossing up non sequitur images, but typically you'll want to have pics that directly relate to your topic. Also, make a habit of including a header image in each blog. It's more welcoming than a straight-up block of text.

I still see a lot of you guys using third-party hosting sites like Photobucket and Imageshack, and if you're comfortable doing that, go ahead. I'd like to direct you toward an alternative. On the right side of your editing window, you'll notice a box labeled "Upload photos." You can add your photos and have them stored right here on Dtoid's servers.

There are a few benefits to using local image hosting. Most importantly, off-site images are at the mercy of the respective terms of service. What's appropriate for Destructoid may not be appropriate over there. Also, server failings may cause photos to spontaneously vanish into the ether, leaving a lovely "image not found" macro in your blog. By using Dtoid as your host, you are guaranteed the safety of your images for as long as this site remains active. We monitor our servers like a hawk and promise to recover any lost images in the event of a catastrophe almost without fail.

The standard column width of a Dtoid blog is 620px. If you use third-party hosting, make sure your images are scaled accordingly. It's not a problem if your picture is skinnier than the column, but if it's fatter, everything beyond the boundaries will be cropped off. If you upload your pics to Dtoid, they will automatically be scaled up or down to fit neatly in the column.

The following two images were uploaded to TinyPic:

The first image fits in the column with plenty of room to spare. The whole image is visible, but all the excess space is rather unappealing. With the second image, a reader who wanted to view the whole thing would have to right-click it and select "View Image Info." That's a hassle.

Now, here are those same images hosted locally:

Isn't that a lot cleaner?

When you upload images here, all the photos you attach will appear at the bottom of your post as thumbnails. Clicking any one of them will open a slide show gallery in which you can view the photos in their native resolution. If you want to post a PAX photo gallery, upload all the photos but don't actually insert any image into the body of the blog. That way, you can lead with a short introduction and have your readers pick and choose which photos to view in the gallery.

Uploading an image to a particular blog doesn't exclude you from reposting that same image multiple times in future blogs. With that in mind, you can create a new private blog to host all of your pics, then insert them into various blogs as needed. This also prevents a thumbnail gallery from generating, if you consider them too distracting.

The above photo was uploaded to one of my previous blogs. As you may notice, it doesn't appear in the gallery at the end of this post.

Sometimes, you'll want to post a small image without it being automatically resized. The O-face pic above has this address:

If I replaced the dimension value with the phrase "noscale," I get:

Now, if I insert this new address into the image tag, I get:

With this particular image, we have the same issue as previously -- too much excess space. However, really tiny images roughly the size of a user's avatar could fit right on a line adjacent to a block of text. Possibilities, people.

One other little "hack" deals with centering an image that doesn't fill up the column width. To the best of my knowledge, there's no way to do that with the site's implementation of BBCode. However, we can cheat a bit by adding a buffer to each side of an image, resulting in an 620px-wide image. Taking the O-face pic once again, I just open up Photoshop, add a bit of whitespace, and ta-da:

The buffer on each side of the main image is colored white, so it blends in with the page background, thus granting the illusion of a centered image.

Giving your audience a short break from reading to enjoy an entertaining YouTube clip is always a nice treat. Instead of directing them off-site via a link, embed the clip right in the body of your blog. Embedding video is only slightly more complicated than uploading images, but it causes more problems for users than any other function I've already discussed.

Go to YouTube and find a clip that you'd like to share. Below the video player, there should be a button labeled "Embed." Click that and copy the HTML code that appears (sometimes, you'll get a notice that embedding had been disabled, so beware). Below the image uploader on your editing window, you'll notice a box labeled "Embed videos." Paste your code right in there and upload. The HTML will be converted into BBCode which can be easily added to your post as such:


Wait! You're not finished! This embed suffers the same problem as an off-site hosted image. Many web videos are 640px wide and must be resized to avoid cropping. Here's the original embed code for the Panty & Stocking clip above:

<iframe title="YouTube video player" width="640" height="390" src="" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe>

We need to change the width and height values. I like all my videos to be 620 x 378 because it'll display widescreen video accurately and 4:3 video with black bars on the side as on a TV. So I alter the numbers:

<iframe title="YouTube video player" width="620" height="378" src="" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe>

When I upload the new code, I get this:


Compare this to the previous embed. It's a subtle but clear difference.

Can you embed video from sites other than YouTube? As long as the video in question has HTML embed code, of course you can! Here's a video from GameTrailers:


The embed code from some sites can be quite long. Your quest is to find every height and width value and change them accordingly. Missing a single value may or may not screw up your embed, but as mama always said, it's better to be safe than sorry.

Can you embed media other than video, like a music player? Hell yes, you can! The Zero Cool cats do it all the time! As long as the associated media has embed code, you are in the clear:



If you are still with me, congratulations! Again, let me know if you have further questions or if you find error with any of my instructions. Now get writing!   read

2:00 PM on 09.28.2010

As days go by, it's the bigger love of the family


This blog is about love, and not just any kind of love! The sitcom family kind! I've got mad, mad love for Qalamari and Funktastic, two cool cats who missed my presence at PAX so dearly that they sent me some mementos for me to treasure for the rest of my days... or at least until trash pick-up.

Qalamari adopted my avatar (along with GamesAreArt's) for grand photo opportunities up in Seattle. Sadly, his mishandling brought about our untimely deaths. As detailed in this post, Qalamari had us cloned and shipped off to our respective homes.

And so...

My original body has been returned along with my new and improved clone body care of GrumpyTurtle.

I thank both you and Grumpy for putting all this together, Qali. One love.

What ho? Seems like Funktastic sent me something as well. Boy, it's a big one!

Sweet! A copy of Dokapon Kingdom, the board game/RPG hybrid from Funk's favorite company evarz, Atlus! Shame I lack a second DualShock for multiplayer fun. I'll need to correct that error immediately.

I also scored an oxymoronic micro Mega Man pin! More Mega Mans for my collection! Get it? "Micro Mega"? Right on, brother!

Oh, you guy, you! Isn't that just like... wait... a Bobble Budd? I didn't notice any Bobble Budd! Where did I leave that box...?

Oh, it's a sour-faced Servbot! Hey, little guy! Did you make that long journey from Canada all by your lonesome? Awwww! Fear not! I've got someone I'd like you to meet!

Almost like looking into a mirror, eh? But wait! Who are those guys in the distance?

Le gasp! Giant Servbots! A real family at last!

Group photo! Happy days are here again!

Thanks for making this magic happen, fellas! I'll return the favor tenfold some day! Mark my words!   read

6:49 PM on 06.28.2010

Pixel Art: Bit Transmutation

If you've listened to the latest Bit Transmission, you should be aware of a contest going down on the forums. Conrad has released the official BT sprite pack and is giving everyone until midnight this Friday to make an original piece using those sprites. I myself can't enter, but I still wanted to get the creative juices flowing.

I've posted all this on the forums already and am re-posting here because (1) I'm an attention whore, (2) I worked hard on this, and (3) OMG look how cute I made everybody!

I've been on this huge Fullmetal Alchemist kick lately and thought it would serve as the perfect theme. How to work that into a piece, though? I noticed that there are sprites for seven Bit Transmission hosts and guests. Coincidentally, there are seven Homunculi in the world of FMA.

I give you BIT TRANSMUTATION. starring (in order of appearance)...

Colette Bennett as Lust

The sexy and alluring Colette makes the perfect Lust! Feisty and deadly! To complete the look, I grew out her hair a bit. Now she's even hotter.

Chad Concelmo as Envy

Chad is definitely not the sadistic, jealous type. However, he and Envy share a common flair for flamboyancy. After Chad's transformation, I was shocked by how much he looks like Sailor Moon. I was worried that I made him too feminine-looking, but it kinda fits Envy's androgyny.

Topher Cantler as Sloth

Topher has always come across to me as the quiet, soft-spoken guy who enjoys taking it easy. I knew he had to be Sloth, but there was one tiny problem -- Sloth is a hulking behemoth while Topher is a stick. Taking some creative liberties, I constructed a new body entirely from scratch, retaining only the head. Now he looks more like Brad Nicholson, but I doubt he'd complain about the extra bulk.

Jonathan Holmes as Gluttony

Speaking of bulk, I'm sorry, Jon! You have the roundest gut among the cast! Don't hurt me! I also hope you don't mind that I shaved off what little hair you had left. Playing a role is a commitment!

Ashley Davis as Pride

The cute and adorable Ashley Davis is my pick for the cute and adorable Selim Bradley. Watch out, though! Like Selim, Ashley conceals a reservoir of unfathomable evil!

Conrad Zimmerman as Wrath

Conrad is the Bit Transmission ringleader and the only cast member with a full mustache. Who better than him to lead as the Führer? His outfit was the most fun to design. And he dual wields!

Dale North as Greed

By process of elimination, Dale is Greed. Honestly, I don't think the role fits... or maybe it does. Maybe Dale is a huge pimp who wants all the money and ladies in the world. Maybe he's biding his time for a full website takeover. Who knows?

...and featuring Mr. Destructoid as Father

I had to include Mr. Destructoid in the festivities! He is the big man in command. He is Father, and he will fuck you up.   read

8:32 PM on 05.05.2010

My Mega Mans, let me show you them

This post is dedicated to Funktastic. Here's to you, Mr. Obsessive Game Collector Guy.

I am THE Mega Man nut of Destructoid.

Of course, anybody can make such a bold claim, but how well can they back it up? I think a show of credentials is in order. I've got a little Mega Man collection going on over here and I'd like to share some photographic evidence.

It started around when Mega Man 9 was announced. My passion for the franchise had been renewed and I figured that, since I finally had a bit of money to my name, it was time to work towards my dream of a room dedicated to displaying Mega Man memorabilia. I've been making small purchases here and there, adding to the collection little by little, but it's by no means comprehensive.

Since the Mega Man franchise spans well over a hundred games, I set some ground rules for myself. I was going to focus mainly on the Classic series and buy games in their native region format first. In other words, most of my game purchases would be in the Japanese format with the tiniest possibility that I would pick up versions from other regions some time down the road. Though I try to get games in complete condition, I have every intention of playing them. Ironically, I don't own as many actual pieces of software as I would like. Most of my money has been going towards supplementary materials like CDs and books.

Honestly, I still think my collection is on the weak side. There is this one dude on the Capcom Unity blogs with a mind-blowingly comprehensive assortment of goodies. I doubt I'll ever get to that level, but I'm content to just do my thing at my own pace.

And now, let me show you my Mega Mans!

This was my library before I officially started collecting. At the bottom is the entire Game Boy series (pre-Player's Choice re-releases, I might add) that I've owned since the green-and-white days. I've got the Zero series and Mega Man & Bass on Game Boy Advance, the ZX series on DS, the three Mega Man releases for GameCube, and two X games on the PS2. As you can see, I didn't care much for holding on to the original boxes as a young 'un. At least I had the good sense to save my GBA manuals.

I used to own Rockman 2 through 6 back when I had my original Famicom, but my family had given the Famicom and all its software to my cousins around the time the N64 dropped. I don't know what they did with it. Probably sold it to someone for a quick buck. Way to keep it in the family, guys.

And here's what I've gathered in the past year and a half. I've managed to recover Rockman 2 and 3 in addition to the original and the obscure Mario Party-esque RockBoard. There's the US-only Game Gear title that literally recycles levels from the NES games, Rockman 5 for Game Boy, Rockman & Forte: Challenger from the Future for the WonderSwan, Rockman Battle & Fighters for the Neo Geo Pocket Color, and the Irregular Hunter X / Rockman Rockman two-pack for PSP.

In the corners are Rockman Mega World (Mega Man: The Wily Wars in Euroland) for the Mega Drive and Rockman Battle & Chase for the PS1. Up top are shrink-wrapped duplicates of the ZX games that I won by coming in second place in this Robot Master contest.

Not a Mega Man game, but if ever you doubted my love for Power Blazer, the Taito Mega Man knock-off whose main character is the inspiration for my avatar, doubt no more.

Now we are getting dirty! Behold! PC games!

Ever play Mega Man or Mega Man 3 for PC? Don't. No, they aren't ports of the NES games and no, there is no Mega Man 2. Joining them is the Chinese-exclusive Rockman Strategy and yes, it is official. I installed it on my computer, but without any English translation I can't make heads or tails of it.

That big thing up top is a collection of all the Rockman Complete Works games for the PS1, ports of the original NES games which were then adapted to be part of the Mega Man Anniversary Collection.

Here's a better look at the contents of the box. All six games are the discounted PSone Books versions. I'll try to get the originals eventually. Also included is a set of Mega Man pins and, oddly, Rockman X7. I don't know what an X game is doing here. It was probably the only way they could move such a terrible game.

This is my library. In the top row are a bunch of art books -- on the far left is the Rockman & Rockman X 20th anniversary book, next comes the Udon-published Mega Man and Mega Man X books which are just that first book split in two, and finally comes the English Mega Man Zero art book.

I have the Dreamwave-published Mega Man graphic novel, the only one made before Dreamwave went tits up. Next to that is the English release of the first issue of the Hitoshi Ariga Rockman Megamix manga. It was first released in the late '90s in Japan but has only just found its way here. I'm planning on picking up the entire series in Japanese as well as in English.

Finally, I've got the issues of Nintendo Power revealing Mega Man 9 and 10. I'm making it my mission to track down the special members-only 250th issue with the badass Mega Man 10 cover art.

Music appreciation! The top row spans the entire mainline series. Below that are a bunch of arrange albums -- two press-only mini-CDs from the early '90s, the 20th anniversary rock and techno albums, the Rockman 9 arrange album, and the totally awesome and totally meta Chiptuned Rockman. Finally, in the bottom left is the sampler soundtrack that came with the Irregular Hunter X / Rockman Rockman two-pack and a bonus disc that came with the Rockman 10 album.

I'm a big fan of Mega Man fan artists, so I've also included in the photo the Mega Ran rap albums, The Protomen's two albums, and The Protomen 8-bit remix album. Finally, I've got the first season of the Ruby-Spears cartoon and the special Upon a Star OVA that I wrote about last year.

Here are all five of the Jazwares Retro Roto figures plus Rush. I found them all at CVS and you probably can too. Jazwares had a lot of inventory that they couldn't move and dumped it on CVS's doorstep. On the far right are the Jazwares JUVIs. They were shipped improperly and now the boxes are all warped. I might open those two up and display 'em somewhere, but the rest of the toys stay in the packages.

Check this beast out! A huge Rockman X3 ride armor! Now I just need a couple of X figures and I can take some pretty spiffy action shots!

These might be some of my favorite toys ever! They are pretty worse for the wear because my dad bought them for me on a trip to Japan right around when Mega Man 5 came out. I had a lot of fun adventures with these guys! Not part of my official collection, but I'll be damned if I don't mention 'em!

I've got the Mega Man 9 i am 8-bit T-shirt plus the Mega Mistake T-shirt from Split Reason. The T-shirt on top that's still in its shrink wrap was another prize from that Robot Master contest I mentioned above. Eventually, I'll track down a Mega Man 10 shirt.

Not much to say here. Mega Man 9 and 10 posters. I'll frame them or something at some point.

Lastly, I've got some merchandise related to the releases of the latest two games. Right at the top is the super amazing Mega Man 9 press kit still in its shrink wrap. On its left are two Rockman 9-themed E-tank energy drinks and on the right are two Rockman 10-themed drinks. Both varieties are different and I promise to try one of each, leaving the remaining two unopened. The Rockman 9 drinks have expired, but that's not gonna stop me.

At the bottom is a can of Sakuma Drops candy, best remembered from the movie Grave of the Fireflies. On either side of it are packs of manju, a Japanese confection filled with red bean paste. There's a cute little play on words here -- "ten" in Japanese is "ju" and therefore "Mega Man 10" could be read as "Rockman Ju."

The left box apes the original Rockman cover art while the right box would be what the cover on a Famicom Rockman 10 would look like.

For scale, here's the manju next to the original Famicom box.

Not shown in these photos is a pair of Mega Man Zero hobby kits, one of X and the other of Zero. They are unassembled and unpainted, so I didn't think a photo of the nondescript boxes would do 'em any justice.

Anyway, 'sup, bitches?   read

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