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Tony Ponce's blog
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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

1:57 PM on 04.18.2010

Roger Ebert is not far off the mark

It's been quite a while since renowned film critic Roger Ebert last shared his thoughts on video games. His opinion that games are not and cannot be art doesn't sit well with gamers, many who have taken it upon themselves to properly "educate" him on the subject.

Just recently, Mr. Ebert took thatgamecompany co-founder and president Kellee Santiago to task over a TED presentation she delivered early last year. Two games mentioned during the presentation were indie darlings Braid and flOwer. Ebert could not see the artistic merit in these examples and thus the Internet erupted: "You are an ignorant man, Roger Ebert! You haven't even played these games, so how could you pass judgment?"

I think you are being just a tad bit harsh on the man. No, scratch that -- you are acting like brats. Show a little respect, will you please?

How ridiculous is it that you ask for the man's thoughts on a subject that you damn well know he's not familiar with and then hound him because you didn't like his answer? It's not like he decided one day to condemn the entire pastime. Someone years ago assumed that with his encyclopedic knowledge of cinema lore he might have some insight into the rising interactive medium that has been compared to film on more than one occasion. He was merely answering fan mail.

Gamers must reeeeeally want the support of such an influential figure in the entertainment world. You want his support so badly that you will spam his inbox and blogs' comments with scathing degradations and grade-school rants until you wear him down. I mean, there are people actually trying to have list wars -- LIST WARS -- with Roger Ebert! When has that ever been an effective tactic?

If only the man would play the games, then he'll understand, right? It's easy for gamers to forget that games are not an immediately accessible medium like film and literature. Other than the ability to register images and words, movies and books don't require any extra skills in order to be consumed. Video games, on the other hand, require users to be well-versed in electronic "language," that is, a rhythm and familiarity that comes with play over an extended period. Aside from possibly Myst, I doubt that Ebert's gaming experience extends beyond a single quarter on a Donkey Kong cabinet. Expecting him play the games you demand of him without succumbing to frustration, regardless of how easy we find them, is beyond foolish.

So if he can't acquire first-hand knowledge of gaming, why doesn't he just keep his mouth shut? Because you people keep opening yours! You are the ones so bent on changing his tune. He could have ignored the subject entirely, but that would be rude to all the people asking for feedback. Ebert is a true professional and wants to be as fair to his fans as he can. If he were a dishonorable hack with a political agenda, he would simply cherry-pick the most caustic comments and then use that material to damn all gamers as barbaric miscreants. Give the man props for seeking out polite and well-constructed counterpoints such as Ms. Santiago's presentation.


As often as Ebert returns to this subject, I figure he would love to be persuaded by a thoroughly convincing argument. Unfortunately, he wasn't sold on the three games Santiago highlighted as proof that games can be and already are art. It has nothing to do with stubbornness and everything to do with her failure to state compelling reasons. She described Braid as a tool to help the players reflect upon their own real-world mistakes, but how does that in any way inspire a non-gamer to play that over, say, reading Chicken Soup for the Soul? How does illustrating the critical and financial impact of these games in any way address the art debate?

Roger Ebert is an extremely busy man who does not see the point in dedicating the amount of time needed to play games "properly." What kind of art, he figures, demands a set of skills that limits the number of people who can benefit from it? If you cannot effectively describe to a non-gamer how a game is a form of artistic expression without ultimately resorting to "well, you just don't get it," maybe there is a kernel of truth in Ebert's words.

Regardless of his opinions, Ebert doesn't discourage gamers from enjoying games however they see fit. Really, why should his thoughts affect your pleasure? He only offered his musings because he keeps getting pestered about it. And so he asks, "Why are gamers so intensely concerned, anyway, that games be defined as art?"

I'm mulling it over, trying to imagine how gamers would benefit from the mainstream acknowledgement of games as an art form. None of us were concerned about artistic merit back in our preteen years. What I think tends to happen is you hit that age -- about 20, 25, or 30 -- where your minor in-game accomplishments start to seem childish and nonessential. Then there's that gnawing at the back of your head, the fear that one day you'll look back and realize you wasted the best years of your life on a mindless hobby with nothing to show for it. Before that happens, you need to somehow validate your hobby to the world, make the people understand that you are engaging your body and soul by playing these games.

Can there really be any other reason than that? Games can't just be "entertaining," no. They have to offer some greater wisdom, serve some higher purpose. But let me ask this -- has it occurred to anyone that something can be meaningful and elicit emotional response without being art? It's like the boy whose life changed after dad took him to his first ball game. Doesn't mean baseball is art, does it? You get so hung up on this three-letter word, as if games are going to get any better once the medium is "validated" in the eyes of educators, political pundits, and disapproving parents the world over. Why should it matter what it's classified as?

But don't take my word for it! If anyone could give a straight answer on the "games as art" debate, it would be the "artists" who made those games possible. And not just any games! The best in their class!

Upon winning the British Academy of Film and Television Arts fellowship award, Nintendo wonder child Shigeru Miyamoto said this in his acceptance speech:

"It's a great honor that my name might be listed as a fellowship member along with such a great director as Hitchcock. I have never said that video games [are] an art."

Miyamoto has helped to shape some of gaming's greatest icons like Mario and Link, but he's been more focused on bringing joy to players than producing art. As we've seen with Wii Music, sometimes he doesn't even make games!

Speaking of not making games, Sim City-creator Will Wright dropped this nugget while at the Toy Fair in New York City:

"I always thought of Sim City as a digital toy. Most people call it a game, but, really, the rules structure is much looser than a real game. You can't really win or lose in Sim City or The Sims. You can try for certain goal states and maybe achieve them or not. But I think my games have always been more like toys than games."

Will Wright considers himself in the toy business! Even if you managed to form a convincing argument for why his simulation software is art, it wouldn't make a case for video games by his own admission. In fact, Ebert said as much in his blog:

"One obvious difference between art and games is that you can win a game. It has rules, points, objectives, and an outcome. Santiago might cite an immersive game without points or rules, but I would say then it ceases to be a game and becomes a representation of a story, a novel, a play, dance, a film. Those are things you cannot win; you can only experience them."

In the past decade, the face of the "games as art" movement has been the one-two punch of Ico and Shadow of the Colossus. During a GDC '09 panel, Team Ico designer Fumito Ueda said this in response to that honor:

"My team and I are making a game which is close to art -- that's what people say. Personally I don't think that way. We're making a game to entertain people. Sometimes my personality and my team's might be reflected on the game, and it might look like art, but it is a game to entertain people. That kind of feedback is welcome but it's not what I'm trying to achieve."

Here are three men whose landmark games have had tremendous influence on the shape and direction of this industry, yet not a one would consider what they do "art." If these powerful figures care so little for such a nonessential title, why should the rest of us care?

Please, take Roger Ebert's advice and enjoy your games for what they are. You'll most likely never convince him that games can be art, but maybe that's the lesson we should learn. Drop the circular debate and just play some damn games. Also, stop giving the man crap. I think he knows what's up.   read

10:43 AM on 04.09.2010

The Last Story... is that a TIGER!?!?!?

So I saw this new piece of concept art for Mistwalker's The Last Story. That dude's "sword" is wild. Has everyone forgotten what a real weapon looks like? The chick is not bad. No hot pants or exposed clevage for a change. And... wait... what...

Is that a tiger?


Fuckin' tiger!

There's a tiger in this game!


I wanna name it Cringer and ride around on it into battle!   read

2:49 PM on 03.31.2010

The PAX Misadventures of Beyamor and Qalamari

Tony: Beyamor! Hey, Qalamari! Come with me! We'll go and see a place called PAX East!

Real-World Responsibilities: Who needs PAX East? You have to pay the rent!

Tony: But their ain't no streams of vidja games to play to hearts' content!

Real-World Responsibilities: It's childish and silly!

Tony: But filled with nerdy glee!

Beyamor: Adventure!

Qalamari: That's the life for me!

Tony: There's Pokéwalkers and swag for free!

Real-World Responsibilities: Doesn't sound very good to me!

CHORUS: The PAX misadventures of...

Beyamor/Qalamari: Beyamor and Qalamari!

Behold, the Black Folder of Wonders. What is contained within?

Ah! Very swanky! Our heroes will be riding in style along this journey!

Our heroes wait at the gate for their flight to begin boarding.

Sorry, Beyamor! Looks like Qalamari got the window seat!

Our heroes wait for their luggage to arrive. Already, they can feel the cool Boston air breezing through the automatic doors.

United at last! Our heroes gather with their compatriots for some well-deserved merry-making.

Brother Hamza cannot resist the urge to taste the sweat off our heroes' brows.

Our heroes enjoy a frosty beverage! I hope they can restrain themselves.

Guess not! Our heroes slumber in a warm embrace, the alcohol surely erasing the memories of the previous evening.

Our heroes have arrived at the entrance of the Hynes Convention Center! PAX East is just up those escalators!

And past this line, apparently.

Qalamari wanted to play Picross 3D at the Nintendo booth. Beyamor preferred WarioWare D.I.Y..

Our heroes met this valiant warrior early in their travels.

The Mega64 crew was displeased by out heroes' two-dimensional forms.

At the Behemoth booth, our heroes sampled Madness Accelerant, an updated version of a Flash game from Newgrounds.

Our heroes joined the search for Jason!? JAAAAAAAAAAAASOOOOOOOOON!!!

Our heroes take a moment to collect themselves and to enjoy the Boston cityscape.

Between acts at the Friday concert, our heroes enjoy the company of other Dtoiders in a haze of light and sound.

Jonathan Holmes expressed surprise at our heroes' presence.

Our heroes devour a pie from the P.B. Winterbottom panel. All that lemon meringue will impair your judgment!

See? Our heroes' snuggle once again, this time with their roommate Wexx.

It's a beautiful Boston morning! The crisp air clears our heroes' minds of their bedtime antics.

Oh no! Our heroes have accidentally broken Ralph Baer's Brown Box!

Make haste! Pretend you were playing Buck Rogers pinball the whole time!

The Dtoid clan cements their glorious meeting with a series of photographs.

Gus and Geoff of Rooster Teeth were more than happy to spend time with our heroes.

Our heroes score a little Bayonetta action!

Our heroes admire the Mother 3 models at the Fangamer booth.

Our heroes go old school with some Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 2 for the NES.

Unfortunately, the helmets of The Protomen did not fit over our heroes' collective head.

The 3D glasses did nothing for our heroes.

Our heroes bask in the warm glow of row after row of condoms.

Our heroes cheer on the participants in the final round of the Omegathon.

Our heroes enjoy the company of good people at the nearby food court.

Nick Chester gently cradles our heroes in his loving embrace.

Samit also spends some quality time with our heroes.

As our heroes take the subway back to Logan International, they reminisce about the people they met and the memories they shared. If only every single day could be as rich in company and good-natured fun as this PAX East weekend. Our heroes will carry these memories for years to come.

Until we meet again, rest easy, our heroes.


5:06 PM on 02.10.2010

Off-Brand Games: DuLuDuBi Star

Over the past few months, word has spread of a certain Chinese PC game that tore every page out of the Nintendo handbook and replaced them with abrasive dollar-store toilet paper. DuLuDuBi Star is a clone of 2007's Super Mario Galaxy and inarguably the most shameless cases of intellectual piracy in recent memory. Yes, I'd say even more so than Limbo of the Lost.

Naturally, this excited me. I saw the GameTrailer video. I checked a few YouTube videos here and there. I had to play this game somehow. All I needed was a copy of the game and the means with which to properly install Chinese software.

I made a mistake. A terrible, terrible, terrible, terrible mistake.

The time I wasted on this steaming heap of fecal matter can never be recovered. Those hours I lost are gone forever. My transformation from curious optimist to full-blown cynic is now complete and I can never go back.

What stings me most isn't how bad this game is (and boy, is it baaaad), it's the résumé of the company responsible for its existence. There will be retribution against this band of criminals. Believe me when I warn that you have no idea how deep this shit runs. None whatsoever.


TASTES LIKE: Super Mario Galaxy

Fantawild is not a garage developer with a shoestring budget and a basket full of hopes and aspirations. It is a massive multimedia conglomerate, itself a subsidiary of a much larger investment group known as Huaqiang Holdings, that has its hand in just about every entertainment field you can imagine. It develops traditional and CGI animation, 3D film technologies, interactive software, and a whole host of related culture-tech productions. It maintains a stable of in-house properties that appears everywhere from cartoons to merchandising, leading the charge for greater awareness of domestic animation.

Then there are the theme parks. Yes, there are several Fantawild Adventure parks that rank among the most popular in China. Figuring that they aren't rich enough, the top Huaqiang brass decided to expand outside their borders by constructing parks in Iran and South Africa.

Fantawild is the Disney of China. Its sphere of influence is greater than that of the actual Disney within the nation. It is the company's ultimate goal to match and surpass Disney in every facet imaginable.

The mascot of Fantawild Adventure is an adorable blue dinosaur named DuLuDuBi. He has a female counterpart named DuLuDuNi; together they are the Mickey and Minnie of Fantawild, appearing on T-shirts, plush pillows, what-name-you. To promote the characters, a PC game starring the critters was developed and made available for free. It's a universe-touring 3D platformer that spans five themed zones, following DuLuDuBi in his quest to save DuLuDuNi from some great evil.

And it's Super Mario Galaxy. That just blows my mind. Considering the pedigree of the empire behind the characters' inception, you would think that this piece of software would reflect pride in one of the company's critical brands enough. It's not like the guys are lacking in resources and creativity. Just what was going on in that boardroom when the idea for a DuLuDuBi game was pitched?

To be fair, even Disney has been known to draw "inspiration" from other sources. The Lion King appears to have a link with Osamu Tezuka's Jungle Emperor, better known in the West as Kimba the White Lion. Atlantis: The Lost Empire plays out like a condensed version of Nadia: The Secret of Blue Water despite assurances from the Atlantis producer and co-director that they had never heard of the latter. Then there are the numerous public domain fairy tales that serve as the foundation for many of Disney's legendary films, but retelling an old story with a unique twist is not the same case as copying a more recent work.

Speaking of which, who hasn't glanced into the discount movie bins at Wal-Mart or their local drugstore, found cheaply-produced animated films, typically under the GoodTimes label, and muttered something about them being Disney knock-offs? We associate stories like Cinderella and Alice in Wonderland so closely with Disney that we forget that they didn't originate with Disney.

The rule is that mind share is won through extensive polish regardless of whether or not you were the originator of the property. Disney's more questionable films like The Lion King are not discredited because the quality of the product is so high. On top of that, the movies feature enough hallmark Disney "magic" that even the toughest skeptics may be willing to chalk up the similarities as mere coincidence.

DuLuDuBi Star has no such magic. The law in China is completely topsy-turvy. The Chinese look at the word "copyright" and take it to mean that it is "alright" to "copy." Why wouldn't you if you could get away with it scot-free? Given the depths of Fantawild's pockets, do you really think it gives a damn about masking its intentions? Hell no.

I've put this off long enough.


Alright, here we go. All the text is in Chinese, but it shouldn't be too hard to navigate the menu. That button on the far left looks promising. I'll click it.

Aaaaand here we are, the hub world. Look at those graphics. It's good to see that even in 2008 the spirit of the Nintendo 64 is being kept alive. So... wait. Is that the Jeopardy theme? The Jeopardy theme is playing in the overworld. The Jeopardy theme. This should set the tone for the rest of the article, shouldn't it?

So I'm running around, acclimating myself with the controls. The WASD keys control movement. Yeah, just what I was hoping for in a 3D platformer. I would have loved some of the nuance that analog controls provide, but nope! This will do just dandy!

Left mouse click is your Super Mario Galaxy spin attack and right mouse click is your jump. Kinda awkward that those aren't mapped to the keyboard, but I suppose it makes sense since you use the mouse to navigate menus. No reason to swap hand positions continuously. Back to the jump, clicking again while airborne will launch a double jump accompanied by a "wahoo" sound clip pulled straight out of Klonoa. I haven't even gone to the first level and already I see two bits of lifted assets.

Finally, there are the camera controls mapped to the Q and E keys. Don't think you'll get anything resembling a decent viewing angle with this shit. The camera locks into one of four positions, none of which are ideal for any given situation. Would it have killed to have a button to center the camera behind your character? But that would have required actual work!

All the zone entrances have a big padlock on them, so I gotta go to the only one that's open. Thankfully, there is a path of arrows leading right to the portal and... wait a second. Those arrows look familiar. Oh! Those are the arrows from Dance Dance Revolution! Genius! Pure genius!

Okay. Select your galaxy. The closed galaxies are represented by big question mark boxes. Whoa. Déjà vu, indeed.

Now I select my mission. Enter a zone, select a galaxy, select a level and go after a star. Yep! This is the Super Mario Galaxy format alright!

I land on this planetoid and gotta collect these crystal shard pieces. Collecting all will open up...

... this slingshot launcher to the next planetoid. It's automatic, so there is no need for the spin attack like in Galaxy.

All I gotta do is clear this gap, land on the floating platform, and grab that star. Lemme just jump and...

Oh, you've gotta be kidding! The momentum in this game is horrible! You try to turn in mid-air to correct a jump and you just stall. It's worse than in Castlevania since at least in that game you'll continue your forward arc despite pushing the D-pad in the opposite direction.

And what exactly killed me, anyway? In Galaxy, you can see the giant gravity wells that suck you in. Here, you fall through the center of the planet, expecting to pop out the other side but don't. It makes zero fucking sense.

Great, my first star. Oh yeah, strike a cool pose, you little blue bastard. Think you're hot shit, don't cha?

What kind of enemies are there? We've got these Piranha Plant/Goomba hybrids...

... some Bullet Bills...

... these bulbous, chainsaw-wielding puff balls...

... and baby triceratops with mile-long tumors. Isn't that a bit top-heavy? I know I'd have problems maintaining my balance if I had a blue whale's dick growing out of my forehead.

But what are minions without strong bosses to lead them into battle? Who should make an appearance but the Dino Piranha as well as...

... Kamella! Yeah, they probably got sick of Mario's shit and decided to harass some other fuckernutter. Moving from fat plumber to blue midget dinosaur must have been a real step up the ladder of villainy.

Alright, I just gotta climb up these steps. Cakewalk. Just jump up to the top, just keep climbing, and...

Fuck! In any Mario game, this would be the easiest thing in the world. Why is it so God damn hard here? Why is it so God damn hard!? I'm just trying to climb up the fucking steps! I can't jump in straight lines because pushing right just sends off the edge furthest from the wall!

Here's where the whole nonsense with the camera comes down to piss in my Cheerios. With the WASD keys, you can only move in the four cardinal directions or the four ordinal directions. Navigating narrow walkways or jumps becomes an exercise in frustration because, thanks to the goofy-ass camera, you can never walk in a straight line! You'll always gravitate to one of the edges, so you resort to taking your time and staggering your movements -- up, up-left, up, up-right, up, up-right, fuck! Fell off again! So damn tedious!

Sweet Jesus, there is no way in hell I'm making it across here! It would be perfect if you could gradually inch the camera into a suitable position whereby you only have to hold down a single key to run across. This part is especially devious in that the platforms run back and forth in a zigzag pattern so you have to constantly change the camera angle. These are conveyer belts, so you can't just sit and take your time! You better move your ass! Oops! You overshot the landing and fell into the abyss! Fuck you! Back to start!

The game for the most part is very easy and straightforward, but when you get to trouble spots like this that make you want to jab a hot poker down your urethra, you'll find 1-ups scattered about all over the place. It's like the creators knew that the game was shit and had to pump you full of extra lives so that even when you are losing you aren't being penalized. It's like heavily sedating trauma victims with morphine to distract them from the stumps where their limbs used to be.

Oh, c'mon! Can you move any slower? You have to get down to the end of this pathway while dodging rolling boulders that pop in out of nowhere, but the game is so poorly optimized that this section taxes your hardware to an unbelievable degree. You grind your teeth as you craaaaaaawl to the next safe zone. C'mon! C'mon! It's gonna hit me! It's gonna hit me! Jump to boost speed! It doesn't help, but do it anyway! C'mon! C'mon! Grrrrrrrrrrrr!

Here's another fun activity! Remember having to collect five shards to either open up a slingshot or reveal the star? This is the same thing, only instead of collecting shards you hit switches. The twist? They can only be flipped in a specific order. You try one, doesn't work. Another, doesn't work. Then you get one that works, so one down. Now try those first two again in case one of them is the second in the sequence. On and on until you trigger all five. What's the point? Variety? Dick is what it is! Give me back the shards if you are going to send me on fetch quest!

The fuck am I doing back here!? I beat this one already! Stop recycling levels, you sick fucks!

Look, a dialogue with your pink damsel-in-distress... HOLY MARY AND JOSEPH! What is up with her eyes!? Is she possessed? Must be! Makes sense, though. You'd have to be possessed to want to be in this shitty fucking game.


No. Just no. A third time? Now with a time limit? What is wrong with you people!? I'm not even in the same fucking galaxy anymore! I shouldn't be dealing with this again!

Now is probably a good time to explain the level structure. As I mentioned before, there are five major zones. Each zone is split into three separate galaxies consisting of three to four levels and a fourth galaxy consisting of a single boss battle. In an individual mission, you visit up to three different planetoids. On each planetoid, your goal is either to go straight to the star or slingshot, to collect five crystal shards, or to flip five switches. Planetoids get revisited multiple times across several levels within a particular zone.

That last part bugs me. Often, you revisit a planetoid in a completely separate galaxy from where you saw it the first time. What's the point of splitting levels across galaxies if you are going to be revisiting the same places no matter where you go? The game's idea of variety is changing up the goals. On your first visit, you may only need to reach the slingshot. On the second visit, you might have to flip switches to reveal the slingshot. Not like the makers could have made new environments or anything. Ya know, something fun.

What's the point of the Super Mario Galaxy-style mission structure at all? You don't unlock the next galaxy until you've found all the stars in the current one, and you don't unlock the next zone until you've beaten the current zone's boss. In Galaxy, you could skip entire levels and still acquire enough stars to reach the final stage. It's very open-ended. In DuLuDuBi Star, it's a straight run from A to B. It's perhaps the only thing straight about this whole damn game.

Oh, go fuck yourself.

Here's a great time waster. You land on a giant cube that can only be navigated via these maze-like corridors. You've got to hit switches so you try the first one. Nope. Go to the next. Nope. Branching path. Oops. A dead end. Backtrack and go down the other path. Finally find the first switch. Keep going until you hit the end of the line then turn around and go aaaaaaall the way back to the start to check that first switch that didn't work the first time and...

My God. So stupid.

Hey! It's an ice world! The floor is slippery! This makes your character's already shitty momentum even shittier! Will the wonders never cease?

I guess not! Yeah! Do your best Sonic the Hedgehog impression and grind those icy rails! Your walking speed is faster, but grind anyway!

Okay, final zone, the volcano worlds.

Oh my God. It's a puzzle! An honest-to-God puzzle! Thank the Lord on high! A little bit of variety!

You have to reach the star suspended above the lava. To do so, you must raise the star platforms be stepping on the corresponding colored tiles. Trigger on just enough to create some steps that you can scale. If you screw up, hit the reset tile and try again.

I still don't believe it. It's a Chinese New Year miracle.

This is it. The last level before the final boss. I've taken everything this game could throw at me and soldiered onward. No last-minute shenanigans are gonna mess my stride. All I have to do run up this path that winds around this volcano and grab the star at the summit. Just gotta dodge falling rocks... fuck. Just gotta clear this jump... fuck. Are there any 1-ups in this level? I guess they wised up and took away that crutch. I can still do this. I've got two dozen lives. I'm in this for the long...

Game over? GAME OVER!? Fuck! Fuck! Fuck! Fuck! Fuck! Fuck! Fuck!

What the hell is going on!? All of a sudden the game decided to pull the rug out from under me. Losing all your lives has no significant drawback other than wasting time you could be spending replaying that same level. You get booted back to the main menu, click start, wait for the hub world to load, run to the zone entrance, select the galaxy, select the mission, wait for the mission to load, only to lose your miserable three lives clipping through the God damn volcano wall.

That doesn't make any sense, does it? You have to run up the path without falling off, so you'd think you could hug the side of the mountain and possibly rebound off it in the event you overshoot a jump. Instead, you phase right through and die instantly. Did the programmers forget to program collision detection here?

This is mind-numbing! In a previous level...

... you have to jump across these outcroppings poking through this lava fall. I took my care not to get too close to the lava, but as it turns out nothing happens when I touched it! Yeah! The game treated it as a solid wall. So the stuff that you think would kill you does not while the stuff that you think is safe does kill you.



This level is a culmination of every bone-headed decision that went into this game's creation. It's a real pillar of shit. Everything can and will kill you repeatedly not because you are a poor player but because the developers were too busy jerking off their dogs to realize that they had no fucking clue how to make a video game.

This level is a fight against multiple forces. You are fighting against the controls, you are fighting against the camera, you are fighting against the clock, you are fighting against the platforms, you are fighting against the falling debris, and you are fighting against the jumps. It is one giant gangbang and you are the unlucky bitch taking it up the ass.

You want to position the camera in an optimal position, but it's ultimately fruitless. No matter what angle you choose, you still run like a drunken hobo. If the camera is behind you, pushing up will send you off the right ledge to your death. Pushing up-left will send you off the left ledge through the volcano wall and to your death as well. So you gotta take your time and stagger up the path.

Only you can't take your time. There's a time limit! But don't move too fast because rocks will fall on you! So you gotta wait for the rocks to fall, but then the ground crumbles beneath you, so you gotta keep moving! You are pretty much dead once a rock hits you! If it doesn't knock you into the lava, you won't recover before the tile you landed on collapses and drops you into the lava anyway!

You gotta jump across gaps but they aren't straight jumps! They are sorta wrapped around the side of the volcano, so you are tempted to try and change direction in mid-air. As we've previously established, that'll stall you and cause you to drop like a fucking anchor! So you have to jump off at a diagonal and pray that a rock doesn't up and land on your skull!

Then you reach a gap that is too wide to cross! You try again and again to clear the jump but keep falling short! You try to time your double jump at the apex and it doesn't work! You try to spin at the end of the double jump for a little extra oomph and it doesn't work! What you have to do is jump, spin at the apex of that first jump, jump again, then spin at the apex of that jump! You've never been required to perform this technique at any other point of the game! HOW IN THE SEVEN LAYERS OF HELL WOULD ANYONE THINK TO DO THAT!?



By the grace of God or Satan or Amun-Ra, I made it to the final boss. Who has been the source of my torture? A squid wearing an '80s power suit. Of course. Why the fuck would it be anything else?

The battle is divided into three stages. First, he flies around in this saucer, launching swarms of Bullet Bills at me. I have to trick the black ones into hitting his hull three times. After that...

... I have to pursue him down a long stretch of moving platforms. After all the shit I've been through, I was able to breeze through this segment without issue.

Once I reach the Sushi Fucker, he transforms into...

... a giant lava octopus. All I have to do is avoid his tentacles and knock the stones that fall down into his God damn face. Three times and bam! It's over.

DuLuDuBi has rescued DuLuDuNi. The credits roll. Everyone is fucking happy. The end.

Now this flaming icon appears on the main menu. Clicking it brings up...

... this screen. What is this? Instructions to unlocking a bonus game? A certificate of completion? Why the hell would I want to be reminded of my "exploits"? I don't know and I don't care. I've had it up to here with this shit-bomb.

DuLuDuBi Star is the ultimate insult. It has no appeal whatsoever. It lifts assets from a number of properties, possibly more that I've missed, and offers no apology. It's so bad that I can't even look at Super Mario Galaxy anymore. This game has ruined Galaxy for me forever.

See, this is why digital distribution is a bad idea! I want nothing more than to grab the game disc and feed it through a document shredder, but I can't because there is no physical media! How am I to vent my seething anger? I could smash the computer itself and toss it into the nearest canal, but that wouldn't be practical! When a disc or cartridge is destroyed, there is one less of it in the world. You can't do that to a download. It replicates. It's a fucking virus for which there is no cure.

Does Fantawild care? No, it doesn't. Not one bit. It just laughs and tells you to go fuck a mule. It is too mighty to be toppled, so its actions will go unchecked by the good ol' People's Republic of China. That whole country is messed up.

We need to go to the top, to the Huaqiang Holdings board of directors. I want them to face brutal justice. I want them to go out like that scene from Dogma where two angels, in the name of our Lord Alanis Morissette, make Swiss cheese out of everyone in the room. Then I want Ben Affleck to turn to the camera and say, "Applesauce, bitch!" Only then will I be satisfied.

Fuck DuLuDuBi, fuck Fantawild, and, for good measure, fuck you too. I'm out. Peace.


8:51 PM on 02.04.2010

'Round and 'round we go!

The more things change, the more things stay the same:

What is this garbage!?

This is just lazy, Capcom! You give us a brand-new classic Mega Man but with old and shitty retro graphics! How cheap can you be? You aren't even trying! This is literally just an NES game! Video games have advanced! This should be with modern graphics in HD and with new gameplay mechanics! Give me back my slide and charge shot!

My enthusiasm for this game is next to nothing now!

What is this garbage!?

This is just lazy, Sega! You give us a brand-new classic Sonic the Hedgehog but with the new and shitty art design! How cheap can you be? You aren't even trying! We just want another Genesis game! This game doesn't need to advance! This should be with classic graphics... in HD... and with the old gameplay mechanics! Take out the homing attack and goofy green eyes!

My enthusiasm for this game is next to nothing now!

Meanwhile, on Planet McNinja...


6:46 PM on 01.26.2010

Off-Brand Games: Crusader of Centy

After a short hiatus, I'm back with the next "wonderful" installment of Off-Brand Games! When I began this series, I had a huge list of candidates for crucifixion. I've been zipping through the shorter games, hoping to pump out articles at a regular clip. Now I'm left with the games that require greater investment and feeling a tad overwhelmed. Suck it up, boyo!

That means the articles may not be coming as often as I had once hoped. Don't worry, though! I'm still devoted to cracking open these sons of bitches like piñatas, releasing the months-old candy and moldy chocolate goodness inside. I want to hit up some GameCube and PlayStation 2 games hardcore, maybe a PC title here and there if my laptop is up to the challenge.

As for today, I've pulled out another Atlus-published treasure. The Legend of Zelda is tapped once again, and as with Alundra, it's really kinda tough to screw up a winning formula.


OFFENDER: Crusader of Centy
TASTES LIKE: The Legend of Zelda

Crusader of Centy was developed by Nextech, better known these days as Nex Entertainment. This group demonstrated great prowess with a little game called Resident Evil Code: Veronica. Fearing the obligation of meeting expectations of consistent quality, it shat out Time Crisis 4 and brought balance back to its software catalogue. Who wants to work that hard all the time, seriously?

The game opens with a history lesson on the planet's creation. Before plants and animals sprung, the land was populated by monsters. As light poured over the surface, the weaker monsters died off while the more resilient ones took refuge deep underground. It was there that the monsters flourished as humans established themselves as the dominant creatures in the world above. One day, the monsters crept out of their caves and tried to adapt to the altered environment.

Naturally, the people responded by pissing their pants and killing shit.

You are Corona and you've just celebrated your 14th birthday. That means you get to start hero training! Pick up your dead father's sword and continue the proud family tradition of ruthless slaughter. You were to be joined by your cousins Tecate and Dos Equis, but unfortunately previous engagements prevented their appearance in this game. In their place is a squad of animal companions who bestow upon you kick-ass magic! Animals rule!


What the hell is a "Centy"? No, really. I have no fucking clue.

Is it wrong to assume that the title of a game should offer some insight into what it's all about? The word is only spoken once in the entire game, around the halfway mark when an enemy refers to you as the "Crusader of Centy." A little context could help, thanks! Is it a person? Was there once a hero named Centy? I don't think it's the name of the continent. In fact, the European title of the game, Soleil, happens to be the name of your village. So it's more like you're the "Crusader of Soleil," but we still have a mystery here! Is it shorthand for something? Jesus! Tell me!

The entire game is a localization mess. I thought by 1994 these grammar screw-ups would be a thing of the past, but no! There are cases of text scrolling by so fast that you can't read it, then you are given a yes/no response prompt and you have no idea what it is you are responding to. On several occasions, a word would improperly wrap from one line to the next, so you'd get something like "with" where the end of one line has the "w" and the following line has the "ith." That's some amateur RPG Maker horseshit!

At least that can be attributed to human error. The game's scenario, on the other hand, is flat-out lazy. The whole game feels like one big fucking side quest. You get a sword, go to the training grounds, travel outside the village, save a lady from the fucking Big Bad Wolf, and rescue a little critter from an octopus, the successful completion of which qualifies you to be the world's savior or some nonsense. It doesn't add up!

Right near the end of the game, you are hit with a big Shyamalan twist. It seems that the monsters are not evil, merely misunderstood. You've been killing innocents out of fear and ignorance! I would feel sickened, except that every monster boss you face is a bigger asshole than the last! They taunt you, insult you, threaten you, and generally get all up in your business. Forgive me if I don't quite empathize with your plight, jerks! Don't gimme that "oh, but we were pushed into a corner" crap either. Even the most minor enemies attack you unprovoked! Misunderstood, my ass!

All this is at odds with the core game which is actually quite polished and streamlined. It really lends credence to my theory that the folks at Nex Entertainment can't stand having a good game on their record and thus must sabotage their work somehow. The game borrows its aesthetic from Zelda, specifically A Link to the Past. A lot of the tiles and architecture look like they would fit right in Link's third outing. Rather than Heart Containers, you collect Apples of Life. There's a Master Sword-like upgrade. Two-thirds of the way through the game, there's even a Dark World mechanic in which you go back in time to explore areas you were unable to in the present.

However, while the game looks like and shares a few common elements with Zelda, it really goes off and does its own thing. The name of the game is "streamlining." The only tool you ever use is your sword (which can be thrown like a boomerang, by the way). Instead of picking up new items, you recruit fifteen different animal helpers and apply any two at a time. They bestow abilities to augment your body and weapon, such as extended sword throwing range, fire or ice affinity, running speed boost, etc. Once equipped, you can see the current animals floating behind you in adorable familiar form.

Because of these visual cues, the game lacks a HUD crowded with a bunch of nonessential data. Crusader of Centy's minimal HUD is in stark contrast to that of the Zelda series which seems to grow more and more cluttered with each successive installment. All you need to know is how much health and money you possess. As an added bonus, monsters have their own visible health bars. Enemies and bosses go down fairly quickly, but it's still a nice extra over Zelda's offering of nothing.

Crusader of Centy eschews a traditional overworld in favor of a stage select map of sorts. In order to progress, you have to complete some challenge at a level marker. Once you've met the clear requirement, whether it be defeating a boss or running from Point A to Point B, you are free to pass over that marker unless a future objective requires a return trip. One downside to Zelda is the tedium in trudging through the same areas to fight the same squads of goons repeatedly every time you have an errand to run. Zelda games get around this through some kind of warping mechanic, but this stage select system is much cleaner.

While Zelda is extremely puzzle-centric, Crusader of Centy is more focused on straightforward platforming. There are several zones that lack any monster encounters and only ask that you clear the obstacles to reach the goal. You ricochet off giant rubber bands, slide across moving floors to pick up enough momentum to cross massive chasms, and maneuver past retractable spikes or flame columns. The game's jump mechanic is only used to step on buttons and clear gaps with no fucked-up relative-elevation guesswork as in Alundra. Thank God for that.

Whereas most of the action in a Zelda game is found in the dungeons, you are just as likely encounter major challenges and bosses in the normal areas in this game. In fact, there is no real distinction between dungeons and regular zones. You don't collect maps or keys, nor do you open more than a couple of treasure chests. It's a transparent experience that avoids the rigid level-overworld-level format that Zelda games fall victim to. Even with the inclusion of the stage select map, the world feels a lot more connected.

There's one point where you gain the ability to speak with plants and animals, but then a calamity occurs that makes it impossible for humans to communicate with one another. Try to speak to an NPC and you'll just get garbled characters. To resolve this, you have to scale the Tower of Babel, battle a freakish dental floss monster, and gain entrance into Heaven. You shoot the breeze with some angels before advancing across platforms miles above the Earth and battling a beast that guards the key to restoring communication. At no point during this trial do you think, "I have completed this dungeon, am entering a town, and will be playing through another dungeon." No, the transition from one zone to the next is very smooth and subtle.

The game flat-out looks good. There are these little details that absolutely tickled me. When you walk across the beach, your footprints will remain in the sand until you exit the beach area. You can run around the whole place and draw pictures in the sand and shit and it'll stay there! It really drives me up the wall that all this polish and detail is ruined because the scenario writers and localizers were dicking around instead of doing their job.

Because of the odd balance of fantastic and lazy design, the end result is somewhat of a mixed bag. The game is fun to play, but you don't feel that sense of satisfaction that should come with tackling an epic quest. The game is over extremely quickly, much faster than A Link to the Past, and the endgame isn't all that satisfying. However, the positives outweigh the negatives, so I say go for it!

Oh yeah! Sonic the Hedgehog says hello!


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