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3:04 PM on 03.26.2015  

Why the Wii U GamePad is my most recent favoritest thing ever

That's real Hylian text on this bad boy, and I had to cough up a rupee or two thousand to get it

Greetings, Destructoid family!  It's been a while since I wrote a thing (over a year and a half, DERP), and a lot has happened in my life since then.  I became the Editor-in-Chief of That VideoGame Blog, got engaged to my wonderful partner of three years, and moved into an apartment with said fiance.  Living together alone with your partner for the first time makes you realize something important, especially when your spouse-to-be loves to shoot things in Destiny and Borderlands: "Fuck, we only have one television."  Luckily, Nintendo made this wonderful thing called a GamePad for their Wii U system, where you can play games on the pad while your loved ones play a separate system on the main television.  Now, I don't want to say I'm special and that Nintendo made the GamePad in this way for me specifically, knowing I would be living with my FPS-loving partner in the future, but I am.  Let's take a look at the wonderous things you, less-loved-by-Nintendo peeps can do with the magical GamePad, based on my rigorous playtesting:

Why play videogames when you can watch other people do it for you?!

Watch YouTube - "But Arthur, you sexy, thick facial-haired man, I can watch YouTube on literally any device or console!  What makes the Wii U YouTube so great?"  Great question, Internet, and thanks for the compliment on my wolf-like face.  Sure, you can watch YouTube on your XBox or PlayStation, if you love typing in every word with a controller button and love making puppies cry.  Why in the holy hell would you do that, when you can use a stylus and tap the words onto your GamePad?  It's way easier and less infuriating.  Also, you can tap where you want to skip ahead or rewind, instead of having to manually do it on a controller like some sort of caveman.  The only issue I have seen so far is that my video will freeze every so often and I will get booted out of what I am currently watching.  Has anyone else experienced this, or is it just the application running on the Wii U?  Last, but certainly most importantly, if your bathroom is close enough to the Wii U, you can take that incredible GamePad with you while you take a dump, so you and your fiance can both watch sexy man Markiplier shit himself playing Five Nights at Freddy's, and you can feel psychically linked through poop!

Any man who loves Cheez-Its this much is a winner in my book

 Hair all over a woman's body is the hottest thing in the world, IMO

Play Brand New Games - did you know that you can play something as new as Bayonetta 2 solely on the GamePad?  Sure, the GamePad itself doesn't output in HD like your television, but who the fuck cares when you can dress as Samus and morph ball your way across platforms on the screen you are holding in your bare hands?  Personally, I feel I can concentrate on games better when the action is closer to my face, and friends can enjoy the action on the main screen and completely miss the ridiculous faces you make when carefully dodging enemy attacks.  Certainly a win-win for everyone involved.  And while games like Bayonetta 2 show nearly identical action on the GamePad screen and the t.v., other titles like New Super Mario Bros. U mix things up a bit and have another player form blocks for you to jump on/get hindered by while others are enjoying the frantic chaos on the flatscreen.

This game came out almost 20 years ago, for fuck's sake

Experience Oldies But Goodies - one of the best things about the GamePad is that you can play Virtual Console games on it.  If you told me 20 years ago that I could play Super NES games on a handheld device, I would have called you a liar and have reported you to the police, future person who is also a stranger (how the hell did you know where I lived?).  Playing classics like Donkey Kong Country 2: Diddy's Kong Quest without a SNES at 30 is both a ton of fun and a grim reminder that I am fucking old now.  But hey, at least I remember where a lot of the DK Coins and Bonus Barrels are, so my mind isn't completely gone.  The only different things are that I can't throw my controller in frustration playing Screech's Sprint for the 300th time because the GamePad costs $150 to replace, and that I can create Save States before a particularly hard section and re-load if I fail (hey, I've been gaming since I was 5, I've earned a bit of a reprieve).

The greatest selfie ever shot

Play a Better Wind Waker than the One on GCN - while I never got the chance to experience The Wind Waker on the GCN, my friend did, and I was able to see him play when I went over his house.  Let me tell you, neither one of us enjoyed how long it took to sail from Point A to Point B, constantly changing wind directions and pulling the hair out of each other's chests.  Thankfully, Nintendo listened to that criticism when they made The Wind Waker HD, and made the Swift Sail, which you can obtain early and makes sailing a BREEZE (albeit a breeze without having to change the wind direction every 5 seconds).  Traveling was now twice as fast, and your boat always sailed in the direction you were facing with the wind always behind its back.  The graphics also looked better, thanks to the bloom as bright as the lens flares in a J. J. Abrams' movie.  And the GamePad was a huge part of the improvement The Wind Waker HD had over The Wind Waker, as well.  You could easily manage items using the pad's touchscreen, play the entire game on the GamePad, and aim your Hookshot and Hero's Bow in first person on the screen, which I am a huge fan of (though I can take or leave the gyroscope aiming).

I am going to design the most hated levels imaginable

Promising Future - what does the future hold for the Wii U GamePad?  Well, for one thing, we know Mario Maker is coming out this year, and you can make levels that are impossible for a human being to complete using the touchscreen and stylus.  And think of the possibilies: can you imagine playing a game like Five Nights at Freddy's using only the GamePad to check the cameras?  That would be nerve-racking and cause 100% pants-wetting.  Or how about a Fatal Frame game where you use the GamePad as a camera to see ghosts you can't see with your own eyes and take pictures of them to vanquish their spirits?  Wait, that came out in Japan in 2014?!  Why isn't it in the U.S. yet?!  THE FUCK, NINTENDO?!

What do you, the Destructoid Community, think?  Is the GamePad as amazing as I say it is?  Let me know in the comments!  Also, it's good to be back writing; I've missed you guys!

  read


9:19 PM on 08.04.2013  

Gaming with bigboss0110: It's certainly....different

Watch me play Donkey Kong Country Returns 3D on a train, and you too can see this very face of deep concentration that cannot be broken

Greetings, all!  The wonderful Mr. Dixon posed a question to the community about what it is like to "game with you," and I asked the very many voices inside my head what the answer to that question is, but they provided no reply (the ONE TIME I need them to talk!).  However, I have a rough idea of what it is like to game with me, due to the input of my friends, family, and loved ones, and I have come to a conclusion: gaming with me is very different and not one particular type of experience.  There are varying factors, including what type of game I am playing, what type of environment I am in, if I am playing alone or with friends, and who I am playing games with.  It is my duty to you, THE READERS, to chronicle these experiences, and not paint myself in a particularly positive light; for indeed, none of my friends would.

I am obsessed with finding every single conceivable thing in this game

I guess the first thing I would like to talk about is watching me play a single player game, on the rare occasion my friends have literally nothing to do and watch me play something out of sheer desperation and boredom (and I've locked all the doors so they cannot get outside).  I am obsessive compulsive when it comes to my solo gaming; and as such, I will replay levels over and over until I find every single thing I can find.  This can be either particularly annoying, scary, or hilarious to the observer, depending on what is being played.  Take Luigi's Mansion: Dark Moon, for example: I must find all the Boos, gems, and get 3 stars on each level in order to be a satisfied human being.  If you are watching me play, I will take the 3D off so you will not suffer permanent eye damage, but I will not make any promises that I will continue on to the next stage if I only have two stars because I NEED HELP.  I'm sorry if you are bored seeing me search every single part of Gloomy Manor because I missed a gem that required me to shoot a portrait of a helmet with a literal helmet in order to get it BECAUSE WHO EVEN KNOWS TO DO THAT WHEN IT ONLY HAPPENS IN LEVEL A-3, but maybe you should have brought your own 3DS and had your own fun times, seriously (I still love you guys).

I went from 40 lives to 8 just trying to get the letter G in this stage

Happily, if you aren't looking around for scissors to stab your brain in repeatedly, you are probably laughing your ass off watching me fail.  In Donkey Kong Country Returns 3D, I will do my best to find all the letters and puzzle pieces within each stage, which causes me to lose quite a few lives in the later levels.  Hearing the YOU DIED music and seeing me reduced to the verge of tears certainly can make people near me laugh at my misfortune, even though I wouldn't wish the torture of any mine cart level on my worst enemy.  However, that laughter can turn to fear if a vein starts pumping out of my forehead.  Whenever that is the case, I want my friends not to worry, for I have mastered the art of breathing, and I have spent entirely too much on my first generation 3DS to fling it against the wall (though I want to desperately).


I am actually making my way to the right so I can totally steal my girlfriend's kill and claim all the points

When it comes to the subject of playing games with me, I can tell you how it is going to go down, depending on who you are.  Any co-operative game I play with my darling love will always end up being about who gets the most points at the end of the level because she is fiercely competitive and I like keeping up with her and I enjoy trying to find out who is the best at beat-em-ups.  I will not be a dick and go so far as to eat a turkey if she needs health more than I do in Streets of Rage 2, but I am not above going after her kills so I can finish the stage with more points and therefore get the most lives.  However, when it comes to shooting things in the face, like in Borderlands 2 and Resident Evil 5, she has way better accuracy and always does better than I do (she's the queen of shooters).  Also, playing a game like Borderlands 2 with someone else usually means my OCD to find all the goodies has to take a backseat to just having fun and moving at a brisk pace from place to place; otherwise, I might have to endure actual, repeated punches to the shoulder.

I love fighting games that let me use a talking raccoon to blast a juiced-up version of one of my favorite survival horror characters

Fighting games are either competitive or silly fun affairs, usually a combination of the two!  If I am playing against someone who really knows their stuff, then I will give it my best and laugh and congratulate my friend afterward, regardless of whether or not I win or lose.  If I am playing against someone who doesn't really know fighting games, I will hold back a little, because nothing is more infuriating than someone doing a 10-hit air combo on you when you are playing Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3 for the very first time (I know I'd hate myself if I was in the other person's shoes).  One thing I only recently thought about writing this is how others see me playing these games competitively.  I wonder if I look calm and confident or if I look like I have no idea what I am doing and am just winging it, which certainly holds true for certain fighting games (I don't know what I am doing in Injustice: Gods Among Us or Virtua Fighter 5 Final Showdown, but sometimes I end up winning anyway; sorry if that infuriates you, brother of mine!).

Playing fake plastic instruments while slightly intoxicated really brings people together

Finally, we come to my personal favorite way of playing with friends, and hopefully their favorite way of playing with me: a good old session of Rock Band 3.  This is the one game where I feel competitiveness goes out the window, and true camaraderie takes place.  Playing together with friends and loved ones, our minds aren't on getting the best score; we are only trying to get through a song together, and helping each other out if need be (or we just put No Fail Mode on and just have fun).  It doesn't matter who is the best on drums or who has the best singing voice or who can shred that guitar solo the best; we all take turns and try everything out so we can have a complete experience and laugh at the good times we are having together as a unit.  To me, there is no better way to bring everyone close and game as one than playing Rock Band 3 (unless everyone loves the Beatles; then The Beatles: Rock Band is the bestest).

You know that girl in the middle is thinking "I know how to use a controller, get your damn hands off unless you want me to break your thumbs"

So, what is it like gaming with me?  It's everything, really: I'll piss you off, make you laugh, help you if you are stuck, curse at you, and hug you for a job well done.  You burn me and try to kill me for rupees in Zelda: Four Swords Anniversary Edition, I'll bring you my A game and screw you over just as much; you sing "No One Knows" in Rock Band 3, I'll do my damndest to accompany you on the drums as your personal Dave Grohl.  You'll want to stab me and hug me and kiss me and kick me, and I wouldn't have it any other way.   read


9:48 PM on 06.16.2013  

New Super Mario Bros. U made me feel like I was nine, and that's awesome

I have no idea what is going on here, and I LOVE it

Trying to find time to play videogames when working full-time hours is like me saying "no" to a lifetime supply of rainbow cookies: it borders on the impossible.  Friday night, however, was a different story, as a friend of mine invited me over his apartment with another buddy to play some WiiU.  My buddy Pete had been pestering my friend Dom to get a game on the WiiU so folks could have a rambunctious good time when over his place, and Dom finally caved in and got New Super Mario Bros. U to bring people together in harmony and not wage war on each other, hungry for blood (unlike SOME games; yes, I am looking directly at you, Funky Barn).  I got acquainted with the controls while Pete had a cigarette and Dom was cleaning, which didn't take long because I had played the previous title on the Wii.  Once Pete came in and was ready to play, my OCD kicked in and I suggested we go through stages where him and Dom had not procured all three Star Coins.  Surely there was some awesome prize for getting them all in every level, because I needed justification for my sick disease.  Off we went on ADVENTURE!

This level is so gorgeous, it makes you momentarily forget how fatal that purple water is and that HOLY SHIT, BOWSER IS TRYING TO EAT ME FROM THE BACKGROUND

There are two things gamers will notice right off the bat upon their first New Super Mario Bros. U session: that the game is stunning in HD, and that there is absolutely no way in hell any of these levels can be completed with four players running around on-screen, unless all four people are psychic and know exactly what each other is going to do at all times.  Seriously, I had a hard enough time coordinating with Pete, and we aren't slouches when it comes to co-op play.  Amidst all the accidental bouncing off of each other's heads and CONSTANT deaths, there was much fun to be had.  For example, Soda Jungle - 4 was a riot (and beautiful too; look at that screenshot up above): Pete and I were dying a lot because we found out that the purple water WASN'T swimmable, while also looking for hidden passages to find those delicious Star Coins.  At one point we exited the stage and used our reserve Stars (hello, Super Mario Bros. 3!) and said "fuck it": we zipped from the checkpoint towards the goal with reckless abandon, because ignoring the purple water and jumping crazily across pipes without thinking is the only way to win (pro tip: it isn't).  I smiled from ear to ear, feeling exactly like I did as a small boy playing Super Mario World for the very first time.

This level can seriously go die in a fire

Of course, playing New Super Mario Bros. U isn't all sunshine and rainbows, though there is a lot of that in the literal sense.  Take, for example, Soda Jungle - Flight of the Para-Beetles.  This level is agony, and the neat, funny thing about the WiiU is that you are constantly reminded of that every time you die and the Miiverse posts pop up (no shit this level is tough, MarioRulezHard).  Even using the fun gliding acorn power-up doesn't help much, because then THIS happens mid-way through the stage:

ARRRRGGHHHHHHHHHH

I can only imagine what a wonderful time four people will have playing this bonus level.  And yes, if you showed me video footage of it actually happening, I'd call you a goddamned liar.  Even Pete and I couldn't do it together: the only way this bastard got beaten was because we took turns riding in a bubble and making the other person try to get to the end solo.  Dom, our resident "I can make platforms using the GamePad" guy, couldn't even make blocks because there were too many Para-Beetles on-screen.  This stage took some tries to beat, and although it was frustrating, there was something that made me genuinely happy: screaming at the sight of giant Bullet Bills filling the screen intent on making our lives a living hell.

Being able to kill these assholes with a Star or with the GamePad power-up is one of the greatest joys we as a human race can experience

During Sparkling Waters - 2, I started to notice how wonderful and almost necessary (at least with four players playing on the TV) the GamePad is.  My friend Dom was quite good at using it for various uses: the stylus can hold enemies in place and can even knock some on their back when used on the GamePad's touchscreen, and it shatters Dry Bones to pieces with a single tap.  Dom was able to destroy the spiky fish up top when Pete and I successfully landed on his self-made platforms a couple of times in a row, which helped us get a particularly tough to get Star Coin.  Dom was also able to tell where Boos were located on the map during a maze we had to cross on the overworld, which was great because I forgot where each one was the second they popped into the ground.  It's a very innovative new toy that I think is quite revolutionary, and some of the Star Coins are almost inconceivable to get without someone making platforms.  It sucks that it doesn't show which Yoshis hold which item during the Toad minigame, though, because three men in their late twenties cannot possibly remember who is holding the Bowser "you earned absolutely nothing" card that ruins your life (probably due to a combination of old age and a "let's get back to dying over and over because it's fun!" mentality that only people my age will understand).

Mario and Luigi can always touch the sky when high on shrooms

I am so friggin' happy I got a chance to play me some New Super Mario Bros. U.  I haven't laughed and smiled due to a combination of actually having fun and unbelievable frustration in a long time.  The item reserves that pay homage to Super Mario Bros. 3 and the overworld map that is full of secret exits like Super Mario World offer a great sense of nostalgia, and the GamePad adds a new level of enjoyment when put into the proper hands (and a new level of physical violence in the wrong ones).  I can't wait to try it myself, though I know there will be moments where I will intentionally hinder my friends' progress, because I can be a dick sometimes and it's funny.  I've barely scratched the surface with this adventure, and I'm eager to have some more time with it as soon as possible.  Give it a try if you have got some good pals to play it with.

It's good to be a kid again.   read


12:50 PM on 06.09.2013  

My Gaming Story: Falling in love with gaming over and over again



When I sat down to blog about when I started loving videogames, I had to stop, because that is literally the most impossible question to answer for a gamer.  Sure, maybe you can pinpoint a moment in your life when you felt an initial spark; goosebumps that started an infatuation with the medium.  But much like real love, a feeling of butterflies in your stomach isn't everything; love grows and expands and changes, much like gaming itself has transformed over the years.  I am not the same young boy that started playing the NES when he was five, but I started to feel the pull back then.  And as I grew older, I fell in love with different aspects of videogames as consoles came and went; and it is my hope that I will still have that sense of wonder, excitement, and passion for gaming as that old couple up there when I am seventy with the love of my life playing right next to me.  I will try my best to illustrate to you, the internet gaming public, the many times I have fallen in love with videogames over the years.



You could say I got a crush on videogames back in the late 80's, when I was little, cute, adorable Arthur.  Surprisingly, I don't really remember playing Super Mario. Bros. when I was a boy; a game many can say was their first love when they first picked up a controller.  No, the game I remember making my child heart leap was Duck Hunt, because I got to use a gun to shoot things on the television.  It didn't matter that the game was easy because I put the gun right on the television screen and no one had the heart to tell me that was wrong; I was shooting ducks and clay discs, dammit (and yes, I fell in love with it all over again when I found out, twenty years later, that player 2 could control the ducks with a controller plugged in).  I didn't play The Legend of Zelda back then, but I can tell you I loved Super Mario Bros. 3 because of my cousin and that stupid Fred Savage movie.  I loved learning secrets together with my cousin, like finding out where the three magic flutes were hidden (ducking into the background under that white block was one of my first videogame secrets, and I pooped my pants out of the sheer wonder of it all).  I was scared of Angry Sun (whom we called Mean Mr. Sun) because my cousin would scream when he swooped down to kill him and that made me scream, too (I was impressionable, shut up).  My mom played Bugs Bunny: Crazy Castle with my aunt and they always screamed at the top of their lungs when they died, and momma played frickin' Battletoads with me once (we never made it past level 2).



My boyhood crush soon developed into a lasting love once the SNES came around.  This is when shit started getting serious and real; like "take this girl back to meet the parents" level of realness.  Super Mario World was something I cherished and enjoyed, but I always felt my cousin was better at it than me, to the point where he helped me beat levels I always got stuck on, so that wasn't really something I fell in love with.  A Link to the Past gave me chills with its story, music, gameplay, and graphics (did you not piss yourselves when you first went outside and it was RAINING?!  I did.  Looking back at the Super Mario Bros. 3 story, I clearly have problems with bodily functions).  Super Metroid made me feel a level of isolation and exploration that has not been matched since, and I got to see that women can be just as strong a protagonist as men can be.  I also remember Super Metroid being the first game to make me shed a tear with everything that happens with the little baby metroid (and don't tell me you didn't cry when Draygon's kids buried their momma in the sand after you fried her, YOU HORRIBLE PERSON).  Super Mario World 2: Yoshi's Island wowed me with its storybook look and I got to experience the first drug hallucination in a videogame.  RPGs like Chrono Trigger and Earthbound helped get me in touch with my emotions: laughter, sadness, happiness, and regret (I felt for Ness when he missed his mom and grew homesick, and screwing up saving Lucca's mom from losing her legs was something that happened to me; something I would have hated myself forever for doing if I didn't save beforehand and had to live with that mistake).  My love wasn't relegated to just one game company anymore, either...



Turns out I can love two things AT THE SAME TIME (I was such a greedy little scamp).  I loved Mario, but I loved Sonic, too!  The sense of magic that made my eyes swell with tears of joy upon first hearing the music to Green Hill Zone; man, you DON'T EVEN KNOW (I STILL get teary-eyed hearing that first note).  Lasting bonds with friends formed over arguments playing Streets of Rage 2 and Gunstar Heroes, as we accidentally took turkeys from each other even though we had full health and we threw one another into enemies because it was so damn fun.  Yes, I did figure out you could throw a paper airplane in Comix Zone without the aid of the internet, and I did put every cartridge imaginable on top of Sonic & Knuckles (though I never knew what happened if you put more than one Sonic & Knuckles on top of each other; I'm guessing system explosion).  Splatterhouse 3 gave me nightmares with its gore and cinematic cutscenes, and Shadow Dancer let me command a dog to bite a guy's nuts while I gave him a shuriken to the skull.  I always loved the Genesis for its sense of speed and violence, while I loved the SNES for its sense of adventure and emotions that it elicited from the player.


With my teenage years came a snottiness: 64 bits was better than 32 bits (because SCIENCE), so the N64 was a large part of my life before the PlayStation.  3D gaming was something I had never experienced before, and I was instantly floored by the massive landscapes of Super Mario 64 and The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time (which still has one of the best ending sequences EVER).  Star Fox 64 shocked me with its voice acting and Mario Party showed me it is o.k. to tear into your flesh as long as you win minigames and beat your friends.  Due to familial urgings, however, I was tempted to try out what I once thought of as an inferior machine.  I am happy to say the PlayStation delivered in a different way than the N64: Metal Gear Solid was the first game I owned for Sony's console, and I learned that movie-like storytelling and stealth gameplay can co-exist to create one hell of an experience.  The Resident Evil titles brought me fond memories of awful voice acting, an intuitive, multi-scenario story that was told across two discs, and a giant that stalked you throughout every room that seemingly could not be killed.  I spent hours breeding that one Gold Chocobo in Final Fantasy VII, and I explored all 200.6% of the castles in Castlevania: Symphony of the Night.  Grand adventures weren't just relegated to Nintendo anymore, and I fell in love with both systems for different reasons (I could beat the crap out of three of my friends in Super Smash Bros. and Goldeneye while still having a cat scare the ever living crap out of me in Silent Hill).



I could fill this blog with so many stories about various moments I fell in love with gaming over my lifetime: the lasting effects of Silent Hill 2 on my psyche, being pleasantly surprised that Samus Aran and Leon S. Kennedy could go through massive, game-changing transformations in their respective franchises, silently breathing "wow" upon first booting up Bioshock and feasting my eyes on its visuals, and feeling a sense of boyhood wonder upon first playing Rock Band or using the Wii controller for the first time.  The main thing I want to get across is this: a love for gaming is ever-growing and ever-changing; and just as the heart has many different emotions and facets to it, so too does a bond with gaming as a whole.  And you can tell me now that there is a reticule on top of the Zapper for shooting the ducks in Duck Hunt from far away and you can tell me that Mean Mr. Sun can be killed by a Koppa shell in Super Mario Bros. 3, but you can never take away the happiness and fear I felt about those things as a kid.  Love has so many emotions attached to it, and those little electronic boxes have an abundance of feelings attached to them.

Here's to hoping the future of gaming goes hand in hand with an everlasting love.   read


11:17 PM on 04.21.2013  

Violence: Nintendo has made me a cold, unfeeling, violent sociopath



As far back as I can remember into my childhood, videogames have always been violent murder simulators, training children to be efficient killers who have no ounce of compassion or regard for human life. Mario, my first videogame icon, stomped defenseless animals to death under his mighty plumber boots, fountains of blood and brains spurting from the mashed remains of a Goomba who was only minding his own business, bringing milk and eggs home to a now widowed wife and fatherless child. Super Mario Bros. chose to keep these deep family connections hidden from the player, tricking children and adults alike into thinking this was just a game about a man saving a damsel in distress; when, in reality, the calculating Nintendo was attempting to raise a generation of children to be unfeeling robots, not even giving our 5-year-old minds the CHANCE to question our motives. I had gotten my first taste of blood, was already becoming a die-hard Nintendo fanboy, and I was hungry for more. Nintendo knew it had its hooks in me, and was eager to shape me into a cold-hearted killer.


Above: the very definition of violent depravity


The year was 1991, and Nintendo would not let up on their campaign to turn me into a monster. Enter Super Mario World, a game where one of the very first choices you make is to either leave a cute little dinosaur scarred for life and in perpetual pain as a squished, now blinded version of itself, or to take it out completely and have it leave this mortal coil. Yoshi the green dinosaur made his first appearance as a wild animal who had to be subdued and controlled by you, the player. Indeed, Yoshi would sprint around manically like a beheaded chicken, running off ledges into certain death if you did not mount him and show him you were the boss. Mario would use Yoshi to smite his enemies at his own discretion, violently bopping him on the head to force him to ingest foes whole. And if you missed a jump and were plummeting to your death? You could always do this:


Mario teaches us that lives are expendable as long as we save our own skin


Jesus, and I haven't even gotten to Bowser's children, some of whom Mario drops into molten lava to be BURNED ALIVE. That whole talk back in the day about Nintendo being too kiddy and childish? Please; I was ready to smear turtle/lizard/dinosaur blood on my face should I ever decide to become a plumber and venture into an ancient world of make-believe to rescue a princess who was kidnapped by a spiky Godzilla-type thing. Parents and guardians that raise you and teach you the difference between reality and fantasy; what are those?


Is Fox aiming at the enemy, or slowly moving his cursor to target the ever-loquacious Slippy?


Nintendo brought us new hardware, and with it, more realistic gameplay. They were smart, crafty; what better way to train us for reality now that we were close to adulthood? Star Fox 64 was made to prepare me for a career in dangerous, dog-fighting space flight with anthropomorphic wing men at my side. These animals, nay, BROTHERS IN ARMS, were so real, I could hear them speaking to me through my television. "DO A BARREL ROLL," said the wise, sagely bunny rabbit; words that have helped shape me into the man I am today. Moral choices were presented to me before I had to tackle them in real life: do I keep a wise-ass bird alive to show me a hidden exit, or do I shoot him down for running his mouth and insulting me early on? My blood lust was not sated; in fact, it had grown over time, nurtured by the devious Nintendo. Games like Goldeneye and Perfect Dark taught me that blocky soldiers deserved to be shot in the butt and groin; it's not like actual human interaction, education, religion, and common sense ever taught me that killing is wrong and that human life should be valued. It's such a shame we don't live in a world with an established ratings system that is honored by decent retail employees that don't sell games to underage kids or tell parents what each rating means and what content is included in each game they buy for their children; otherwise, my life could have been salvaged.


Clearly the face of a man with a lot of blood on his hands


Let my story be a warning to all those who think videogames are just harmless forms of entertainment: they are nothing more than violent bloodbaths of carnage and gore. They can never touch on important themes like love and loss, where a girl and her friends can rescue someone she truly cares for from certain doom by swapping in a clone of said someone at a certain point in the past and she can express such a deep caring and love for this person when he is saved from the brink of death in a 16-bit game with no voice acting that will certainly NOT bring a tear to your eye. They can never be heart-wrenching and tell a story about a woman who saves a baby whose species she hunted relentlessly, who views her as its own mother, who sacrifices itself to save her life in an ending so touching that it stays with you forever. No, games are just gruesome, and can make you feel no emotions whatsoever. It is too late for me; if only Nintendo had made emotionally-charged games that elevated the medium as a whole, had made games that got us to think, to laugh, and to cry.

If only.   read


1:01 PM on 04.14.2013  

Enter a World of Illusion and experience co-op play at its finest



I am assuming everybody has seen this shit and jizzed accordingly, as I did myself, because NNNGGGGGG. Castle of Illusion was and always will be one of the Genesis' finest platformers, and though I did not own it, you can bet your sweet, delicious booty that I walked around the corner from my house to the local video store to rent Mickey's orgasmic adventure so much that I wore the cartridge's cover art away. Fun times were had by me, but what of my friends? When would they get to experience such a magical, fun-fun, good time? SEGA must have been asking themselves the same question, and figured out that adding a murderous duck for co-operative madness was the answer. Thus, World of Illusion Starring Mickey Mouse and Donald Duck was born, one of the greatest games for two partners to play through together ever conceived by human beings in the 1990s.

Once you and preferably your friend/partner/soul mate/girlfriend/boyfriend/escaped convict start playing, you will be greeted with some storybook malarkey that spews out the game's plot, which is basically this: Donald trips over some scenery and finds a scary door and goes in it because he's a dumbass and Mickey has to follow in after him to save him and there is an evil magician that wants to test your skills before you can get home and yadda yadda yadda, exposition exposition, this is all a roadblock to the good stuff. Controls are simple: hold A to run, press B to attack, press C to jump. Once the first level begins, you are greeted by this:



Now, that is indeed a caterpillar in the foreground on a leaf. What you cannot see is that it MOVES UP IT, TURNS AROUND, SHOWS YOU ITS FACE, THEN CONTINUES TO THE TOP.

.... .... ....

That's it, 1992. It's over. 7-year-old me just gave World of Illusion the award for Greatest Graphics That Gave Me An Accidental Boner.

CONTINUING ON, you and your partner tied up/sitting next to you willingly will start to experience INTENSE GAMEPLAY mere SECONDS after you start: soldiers will come at you and you can stun them with a magical blanket if they are far enough away from you. If they get close, your handkerchief will turn them into flowers. That's right, you don't kill enemies in this game; instead your Curtain of Mystery turns them into harmless butterflies, shrimp, and birds. Be careful when playing with your buddy, because your cape can affect them and tie them up momentarily; though this doesn't do damage, it gets annoying and can lead to damaging your relationship with your friend (also he or she will want to remove various internal organs from your body after the 10th time this happens). A couple of minutes in, World of Illusion starts showing you its true greatness: a seesaw thingee will propel one of you upwards and onwards, leaving the other stranded below, asking for help. What you must do is go to the edge of the platform you land on and hold A to bring a rope down to help your friend up. This is what makes World of Illusion such a great co-op experience: you need each other to survive and get through the game's levels together. There are many more instances of this as the game progresses that I will gush about soon.



DONALD CAN'T CRAWL UNDER THE TIGHT SPACE SO MICKEY HAS TO PULL HIM THROUGH, MMMM! This co-op is fantastic. You won't even be at Level 2 yet and you will already have to time jumps on a pressure-controlled cart with your buddy to make your way through a mine with tracks that fall away almost as soon as you hit them. Speaking of Level 2, Donald and Mickey will recite the magic word ALAKAZAM to make a flying carpet appear out of thin air (either one will say it, though the voices sound tinny through the Genesis and Donald will overly emphasize the word: "ALAAAAKAAAZAAAAMMMM!"). To this day, I don't know who controls the carpet when both players are on it: I assume one controls the direction and the other controls the height. Also, let's say you or your friend die in one of the game's measly 5 levels. Well, the surviving cartoon character can find the other one usually toward the end of a level, dazed out of their minds and high as a kite. One touch from you will bring them back from their acid trip so you can face the ridiculously easy bosses together (one of my few complaints with World of Illusion stems from the game's difficulty, or lack thereof).



I love full-body bubbles. The way they wrap around your every inch, like they were made for you and JUST you, your specific specifications always in mind...ahem. World of Illusion's true magic comes from the different ways it can be played. Sure, the game only has 5 levels, but it has different variations of them, and that's what is so cool about it. Playing alone as Mickey is quite different than playing alone as Donald. Whereas Mickey will be scaling a mountain in Level 2 at one point, Donald will be going through dangerous rapids on leaves at the same point; you experience different parts of the same stage depending on who you are playing as. Playing with a friend opens up parts you wouldn't see alone, and incorporates mechanics based solely around playing with another human being, like using the rope to pull each other to safety and the seesaw mine cart. World of Illusion offers 3 unique adventures in one tiny cartridge, and you don't even need to buy DLC expansions to experience each and every one (though you do need a friend to play co-op with, because fuck AI).



So you fight through spider, dragon, shark, and witch (IT'S FUCKING MADAM MIM, YOU GUYS) bosses to end up fighting the evil magician Pete, who looks more like a giant hobo than a master of witchcraft. Whacking him enough times with your rolled-up towel causes him to shrink back to normal size and he presents you with a glowing ice cream sandwich, which sends you home. Then Donald and Mickey do the magic show they have spent no doubt YEARS preparing for in front of an awesome audience that includes Goofy, Pluto, and Huey, Dewey, and Louie. Afterwards, the credits roll as the two best friends for life go through the forest Mickey treks through at the opening of Castle of Illusion. Such a fantastic game and adventure. As happy as I am that Castle of Illusion is getting a remake, I would love for World of Illusion to get the same treatment; hell, you could just port the Genesis game to current consoles and I'd buy it in a heartbeat. I love Disney adventures and being a part of them, but I love them just a bit more having someone at my side to share that experience with; because of this, World of Illusion is right up there with Gunstar Heroes as the definitive, most iconic, wonderful, and special co-op platformer I have ever had the pleasure of playing.   read


8:15 AM on 02.09.2013  

Horror Story: The mental scars left by Silent Hill 2; they never truly heal



It's 2001. I boot up my PS2 again, but I don't know why. I push myself to see this story through to its end; but the nightmares, they have already started. I can't go to sleep without having the television on mute, the dim light dancing across my face as I try to forget the image of that being with the pyramid for a head. Why? Why do I keep playing you when you are already having such a disturbing effect on me? I want to be able to have a good night's sleep, but I need to finish you. I need to know what happens to James, to Eddie, to Angela. So I soldier on. I keep going deeper and deeper into this rabbit hole, this descent into madness. I guess I feel that when I reach Silent Hill 2's conclusion, it will all be alright. I'll be satisfied and content. I'll be able to sleep in the dark again, and dream pleasant dreams.

How utterly wrong I was.



Even after knowing everything about James and his demons, scenes like the one up above are etched into my brain; and like a film projector, it loves to play it every night right as I close my eyes. Nothing has stopped. If anything, things have gotten worse since I have beaten Silent Hill 2. I try to have some fun with subsequent playthroughs by using new weapons like the chainsaw, but I am still disturbed. Months have gone by, yet the television light stays on. I reflect on my experiences and remember something that chills me to the bone: I was walking around with Maria at my heels, and decided that it was late and that I really should stop playing and get some sleep. I wanted to see if the game would let me kill her, so I revved up my chainsaw and felled her in one swipe (why was I even thinking this way?). After getting the Game Over screen, I reloaded my last save for the hell of it, and almost dropped my controller. The concrete streets of Silent Hill had been replaced with flesh; at least, that is what it looked like to me. There I was controlling James, Maria running around with me, on streets made out of skin. Did the game get corrupted somehow? Was this only a glitch? Was the game punishing me for my horrible deed? I remember calling my cousin and calmly explaining what had happened. His response? "Dude, you have been playing for too many hours. Just shut it off and get some rest; your mind is playing tricks on you."

Was he right? Was there something wrong with me? Had I really seen what I had seen?



My cousin, he knew about Silent Hill 2 and its effect on my mind; in fact, he had seen it firsthand. I remembered: it was late in the game, I was over his dad's house, and I played from the end of the hospital all the way to the game's completion (Silent Hill 2 engrosses you so much that you don't want to put it down, no matter how scared you are or how many hours you have been playing). At one point, I was in a prison courtyard, but could proceed no further. The second I had gone outside, I heard a horrible noise. What was it? It sounded like heavy breathing from something that was vaguely human, and hooves galloping across the grass. I could not see anything in front of me, only utter darkness. For the life of me, I could not bring myself to push the analog stick forward and have James move even one inch. It was late, I had been playing for quite some time, and I was absolutely terrified. What would happen if I even took one step? Would the beast rip me to shreds instantly? Could I even defend myself? What the hell did it even look like? I was so paralyzed with fear, that I called my cousin in from the other room. "Please, please take the controller and move James forward. I can't deal with the sounds and the darkness. I'm freaking out." My cousin took the controller from my shaking hands, proceeded forward, and found that there was nothing in the courtyard except a horseshoe I needed to collect to advance further.

I have been in that courtyard on subsequent playthroughs, and I hesitated before going forward. Every time.



It is 2013, and still I remember feeling such terrible knots in my stomach at various points throughout Silent Hill 2. I remember getting off the boat that takes you to the hotel where James and Mary used to stay, opening up my inventory, seeing the letter she wrote to him at the beginning of the game was just a blank piece of paper, and needing to take five minutes to breathe because my whole world was torn asunder. I remember my heart leaping from my chest hearing a woman scream in a bathroom stall. I recall being in a prison and being able to shoot an unseen prisoner in a cell, hearing him cry out in pain as James lowered his pistol with each shot, knowing the man was on the floor and desperately trying to put him out of his misery. I screamed bloody murder when I found two Pyramid Heads walking around the sewers. I can still hear the radio going off in the elevator, a quiz show host asking me questions for a prize, hearing him laugh maniacally over what would happen if I was wrong; I took extra time making sure I was right with my answers, because I couldn't bare to see what would happen to James if I got it wrong (my imagination left me with many grisly outcomes).

The most damaging scars of them all, however, are my memories of the characters and the fates of each and every one of them.



These recollections, how could one ever truly push them out of their heads? How could I ever forget Angela, a woman who was sexually abused by her father and constantly looking for her mama, staring at that knife so intently, knowing what she wanted to do with it? How could I block the image of her family picture from my brain, with her father violently torn out of it? The memory of James and Angela killing her father, who James himself sees as a monster, the pain that Angela remembers; that won't ever go away. And the fires that eventually consume Angela, seeing this woman succumb to her dark intentions, hearing James say that yes, he feels the heat from it, too, for what he did to his wife...God...



That image of Angela climbing those stairs is burned into my retinas.



I was always deeply frightened of Eddie. I knew he was a murderer the second I saw the dead man in the fridge and found him throwing up in the next room. I remember the messages scrawled in blood in his room. Scenes like the one above just made me more and more nervous about what would eventually happen between him and James (and that poor, defenseless dog being killed hit me right in my very soul). And yet I felt a little sorry for Eddie because he never trusted anybody and felt the whole world was out to get him; that he needed to kill everyone he interacted with that "looked at him funny." I knew eventually I would have to kill Eddie; yet I always wondered: why did James not see him as a monster like he saw Angela's dad? Looking back and remembering the scene where James laments over "killing another human being" after shooting Eddie, I think it's because deep down in his subconscious, James views Eddie as an equal, because he knows he himself is a murderer.



I can't watch that scene without getting goosebumps. The scenes between James and Maria always got to me. Finding out she was just James' image of his wife not sick and dying, seeing her die over and over again at the hands of Pyramid Head, who was James' manifestation of himself as a murderer, and watching her take pills and constantly cough, knowing she will eventually succumb to the same illness that befell James' beloved Mary (this is heavily implied in one of the endings)...

It depresses me.



Most of the endings are depressing or disturbing in some way. Either James leaves Silent Hill with Maria coughing up a lung, he leaves with his wife's corpse in his arms and sinks himself in his car with her so they can be together forever, or he resurrects Mary from the dead to be with her on Earth once more. The only truly happy ending (besides the silly Shiba Inu one) is the one where he lets go of Mary and Maria and leaves with Laura; the orphaned girl who Mary took in as her own daughter who is the only person who sees Silent Hill as it truly is: a deserted town without any of the monsters that the others imagine. I wish I could only keep the image of James and Laura being happy together in my brain, but the scars Silent Hill 2 left on me never healed. Perhaps I can focus on this image of innocence:



...and be alright. Maybe I just need to replay Silent Hill 2 and go for the best ending again to be truly at peace with myself. We shall see. But just in case things go horribly wrong...

...I'm keeping my television remote by my side every night.   read


12:50 PM on 02.03.2013  

Sex: Why is sexism so prevalent with zombie game advertisements?



I love me some zombies. I can't get enough; whether it be through television, movies, or video games, I am always ready to see me some undead get massacred by a variety of household objects, tools, and a wide assortment of guns. Games like Left 4 Dead and Dead Rising are perfect for letting me live out my zombie killing fantasies in video game form (they are also good practice for when the real thing happens, BECAUSE MAX BROOKS SAID SO!). When I am blowing up zombie heads with shotgun blasts or tearing limbs off with my trusted paddlesaw, however, one thing is not on my mind: sex. Don't get me wrong, I do think about sex and enjoy making love immensely; but when the undead are upon me and they need to be stopped so I can save friends and loved ones, that is going to be my sole focus (there are no boners to be found for miles). Game developers and publishers seem to think differently; and there have been some instances recently where advertisements have been published trying to mix sex with zombies and gore. The results have been in bad taste and offensive, and I am going to touch on a few of them that made me shake my head and go, "REALLY?!"



That trailer up above is quite possibly the greatest video game trailer ever produced. It mixed fear, hopelessness, family bonding, and loss into one beautiful cohesive package, and when I first saw it, I was pumped for Dead Island. I never got a chance to play it, but through word of mouth and game reviews, I heard the game didn't really deliver a narrative-rich experience, which is what I was hoping for based on the trailer. Regardless, it didn't seem like a terrible game and Techland deserves praise for making such an awesome piece of cinematic brilliance. News of the side-story/sequel Dead Island Riptide got me excited because I knew Techland could learn from its mistakes and make a game as touching as that trailer makes me feel. I wrote a news post for That VideoGame Blog about the Rigor Mortis Edition; seriously, I WANT THAT BOTTLE OPENER AND SUITCASE. Things were looking up! Then this happened:



What the hell? I don't know who is in charge of advertising Dead Island Riptide in the UK, but they clearly have no common sense. That is a gory pair of tits, plain and simple. I could understand, yeah, maybe they wanted to show such excessive violence that all that was left of this unfortunate victim was a torso, but why a bikini? Why such attention to breasts and making the bust the centerpiece of this Collector's Edition? It's simple; because they think sex sells. There could have been any number of alternatives to have this be more tasteful while maintaining how gory their game is: how about a bust of a victim with half of its head chopped off? Or a clothed zombie with a giant hole in its stomach? Anything would have been better than this. Even if they were going for the most extreme use of violence, what advertiser can look at this end product and not say, "Whoa, hold on a second, no, a thousand times no?" A pair of bloodied tits isn't even sexy, so they failed at the whole sexy angle; and the sexism of that combined with the gratuitous violence just melded together to make a giant clusterfuck of stupid. I reported on this as well, and my article was later updated to include a Twitter apology from publisher Deep Silver. There is still no word on whether fan backlash will stop this Collector's Edition from coming out. Maybe it will still come out, and in all honesty, maybe this is what Deep Silver wanted. Controversy breeds attention, and perhaps everyone will hear the name Dead Island Riptide and think, "Oh yeah, that is the game with that European Special Edition with the controversial bikini torso! I wonder if I can do that in the actual game?! I better go get it!" Ugh. Society sucks. Ladies are not to be ogled and torn limb from limb in order to sell a game. Hopefully another publisher or developer can do a better job...



Goddammit, Ubisoft, you too? ZombiU was a new game for a new system with an exciting new controller; you could sell it on the use of the Gamepad's screen to unlock security doors on the television ALONE, or even the way you could zombify yourself with the camera! Why go with this? Here is a lady about to take her top off, and you can tell they want you to turn the page with the WANNA SEE IT? in the corner (but at least you gave her a face, Ubisoft, so you are better than Deep Silver....just kidding, no you aren't). Turn the page and...gross zombie with blood again. Just...no. This is sexist and objectifies women in order to garner interest for a game ABOUT ZOMBIES. I agree with this article on the subject; ZombiU is a game about zombies and killing zombies and has nothing to do with sex, period. The WiiU and its revolutionary controller with a screen is what people are talking about; all you have to do is say and show how your game takes advantage of that technology in an innovative way. AND YOU DID SOMETHING UNIQUE, but you would never know looking at this UK ad (what is with the UK and tasteless advertisements?). I look at this and see a developer afraid of advertising something new and exciting, instead relying on sex and violence in order to sell a product that is only about one of those things. You can sell a unique game on its own merits; you just have to show the people what those merits ARE. Is there any developer out there that knows this?



Naughty Dog, you are my heroes. Everyone read this. The Last of Us sounds amazing, right? It sounds like it has everything one could possibly want in a zombie apocalypse video game: people that have questionable morals that do bad things in order to survive, a young girl who lived a sheltered life and sees the infected world around her and views that as normal because she has nothing else to compare it to, and the impact she will have on the male and female leads by developing a family bond with them. Reading the article, though, it worries me to see that sexism is still a part of some of the industry bigwigs' philosophy towards women. Naughty Dog had to fight to keep Ellie on the front cover of the game's box art, instead of being relegated to the back, AND SHE IS ONE OF THE MAIN CHARACTERS AND PROBABLY THE MOST IMPORTANT ONE (and poor Tess isn't there at all; it's like Naughty Dog had to fight tooth and nail just to get ONE female on the game's cover). It is particularly worrisome to me because I have the feeling that if Tess was more scantily clad or if Ellie was older and wearing short shorts, the game's publishers would have no problem having them on the cover of The Last of Us. I'm upset because a strong female protagonist like Samus is rarely shown on the front cover of her games without armor (and whenever you do see her without it, whether in-game or in promotional art or if you beat the game in a fast enough time, she is always wearing something skin-tight or a bikini or shorts and a tube top). One of my favorite female protagonists, Alyx Vance, isn't on the cover of Half-Life 2 (though she was featured on Episode 1's and Episode 2's covers). I commend Naughty Dog for taking a stance on sexism and fighting to keep Ellie on the game's cover, as well as believing they can sell their game on its premise and strong characters alone. I hope more developers and publishers follow their example.

I wish there was something I could play that will hold me over until The Last of Us comes out. A zombie game that isn't oversexualized, a game with a strong female lead that doesn't use her body to distract enemies or sell her game, a game where Microsoft won't award perverts who look up her skirt with an Achievement. Oh here, this looks to fit the bill nicely:

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10:52 PM on 01.21.2013  

Does X mark the spot in Mega Man X? Hell to the yes!



MOTHER OF GOD! Remember when I was talking about Mega Man 3 and how amazing it is? Take everything I said about it, multiply it by PURE NIRVANA, and you get Mega Man X, the first 16-bit Mega Man title. It is truly astounding how absolutely perfect this game is and how warm it makes my buttocks feel. There are a lot of X titles, but the first one is the bestest, because I said so (and my buttocks never lie). How can this game make me so giddy and touch a member of my anatomy that isn't even hooked into the SNES or television (note to self: make butt controllers)? Well, read on to find out why, I'M TRYING TO ENTERTAIN YOU PEOPLE.



Resist the urge to mash buttons once the game starts, and you will be treated to PLOT. You'll see X and how awesome he is, with details about his entire body filling up the screen with text. Then you see a typed warning from Dr. Light, X's creator (apparently he didn't love his original creation enough not to make an infinitely better version of him). According to Dr. Light, X is the first robot ever built with the ability to think and have emotions, which means he will either be a great danger or a great protector of humanity, depending on if he ever breaks the "kill no human" rule (and if anyone saw the ending to Mega Man 7 and how Mega Man almost blew Wily's head off because he was tired of so many sequels, we have a rough timeline of when exactly X will finally snap and burn the world to the ground). The title screen then pops up with a cool animation and the music is SO FUCKING GOOD AND WILL CONTINUE TO BE GOOD UNTIL THE GAME ENDS. When you press start (with X as the menu icon and he shoots a green laser beam and it is SO COOL), there are no robot masters to select from, however. Intriguing...



Yes, this isn't the Mega Man you remember from the NES days. Mega Man X and its sequels all have an intro stage, and the first one is particularly memorable, because you learn so much about your robot friend. He can charge shots as well as shoot Nerf bullets. He can stick to walls with a dust trail behind him and kick and climb upwards. When X's health is low, he pants and his helmet blinks to let you know you are fucked. There are such things as giant bee robots, which is my greatest fear because bugs were already scary enough and now they have missiles and gunfire. You can shoot robots off of cars and ride them because you are stylish. And at the end, you fight a robot in a robot mech (kinky) and you cannot even damage him. You feel helpless; you just started playing and you are already going to lose a life. But just when you are trapped and about to be squished like a tomato, your friend Zero DASHES in and fucking takes the robot mech's arm off in one shot. Zero tells you one day you will be as strong as he is, you just need to upgrade individual parts of your body. GLORY DAY AND PRAISE ROBOT JESUS!



Now the real meat and potatoes of the game starts. You thought you were gonna fight strange robots like Sheep Man and Yamato Man? Fuck no, you fight robot ANIMALS in Mega Man X, animals we all know and love (like the beloved Kuwanger). You can view each robot's stage and specs and where they are on the map, and then pick Chill Penguin first so you can get the dash upgrade. I usually get the dash, kill myself, then do Storm Eagle first and start the correct robot order; that way I get 3 upgrades right away and can start being like my hero Zero. What you'll notice that is new and fresh about Mega Man X is that there are Heart Containers hidden in each level that increase your overall life. Also, there are no E Tanks; instead, you can collect 4 Sub Tanks and fill them with excess energy capsules that you pick up when your life is already full (and picking up weapon energy for your other weapons automatically fills up the one that is lowest, because Capcom used to love us all). Another thing you'll notice because this game is like Reese's Cheesecake is that going back to certain stages after beating a particular robot master will ALTER IT; for example, Flame Mammoth's stage turns to ice if you've murdered Chill Penguin in cold blood (punny!) and part of Sting Chameleon's stage floods if you have bested Launch Octopus in combat (these both help you get Heart Containers, so you are welcome, internet).



Ultimately, your goal is to make the Blue Bomber a shiny White Knight with all his enhancements (feet, arms, head, and body) and destroy Sigma, a robot who is hell bent on slaughtering all humans and building a utopia solely for robots. Along the way, Zero "dies" and gives you his buster if you were too much of a noob to find the gun enhancement yourself; it is then that you realize only you can save the world, and in order to do so, you have to surpass the one robot you've been spending the entire game trying to live up to (THE PRESSURE). In the end, you prevail; you blow up Jedi Sigma and his dog, and finish off Sigma's face when he attaches it to a giant machine that came from the darkest recesses of my mind (and it is a damn difficult battle). I remember beating this on my dad's television when I was a kid because I didn't have my own and how happy I was. The faint glow of the tv was all that illuminated my face because it was late at night, and I remember a smile crossing my face when a message from Sigma came after the credits; X's (and my) battle was far from over.



I'm going to end this by gushing: I love Mega Man X, and I love it because Capcom tried something new and succeeded in truly setting X apart from his 8-bit brother. I love dashing and shooting and that is how I always ended up going through boss doors, because it was the only way that felt right. I always dashed with my index finger, because my thumb was always charging X's buster while slightly hovering over the jump button; it is the most awkward and yet satisfying stance I have ever used to hold a controller. I love how X can charge all the weapons he collects from bosses, which results in cool things like a shield that covers your whole body or temporary invisibility. Most of all, I love the little things. I love how the Met hats are still around and how a single Batton can be found in Armor Armadillo's stage; hell, I love shocking that fucker's armor off with a single blast from Spark Mandrill's gun and seeing him fry. I love how you can get Ryu's Hadoken by doing such an asinine thing like collecting all the power-ups and jumping in a chasm 3 times (and Dr. Light is dressed as Ryu when he gives it to you and X says a cute little audible "Hadoken!" when he shoots it). I love how you can tear Flame Mammoth's tusk off with Boomer Kuwanger's weapon. I love how Storm Eagle fights you on top of a plane and you don't even need to go through his boss door to fight him. I love making X do a walking glitch while riding on those spiked thingees the axe robots shoot at you at the beginning of Chill Penguin's stage; I could go on forever. I'll stop, but if you are wondering what the greatest music track in the game is, here you go.

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4:10 PM on 01.06.2013  

Mega Man 3 proves that yes, the third time is indeed the charm



Quick, what is the greatest Mega Man game in existence? If you answered Mega Man Soccer, congratulations, your opinion has been erased from the annals of human history and every hair on your ass is to be plucked violently and hot glued to your already thick-as-fuck eyebrows. If you said Mega Man 2 or Mega Man 3, then you are boring and unoriginal, because everyone says those two. But dammit, there is a reason for that! And while most people will sing Mega Man 2's praises, which are indeed warranted, and while Mega Man 2 was probably the first time a video game sequel came out that was better than the original in every conceivable way, Mega Man 3 is still my favorite, so poo on you. "But why do you like Mega Man 3 the best? What reasons do you have for this? Also, Capcom killed Mega Man and they gave a fan money to make some collaboration game that I didn't even like and he isn't even relevant anymore and why is he called the Blue Bomber when his bombs aren't even blue and does he even have bombs and rabble, rabble, rabble, Mega Man Legends 3." Thank you for that cohesive run-on sentence, imaginary, rabid Mega Man fan, but let's not get ahead of ourselves here and talk about the dreary present, but rather the golden days of everyone's favorite robot who destroys his own robot brothers and steals their souls for unprecedented power and nourishment.



I used to rent Mega Man 3 obsessively from my neighborhood video store, until the day they started selling Nintendo games for cheap and I bought it for $5 (it still has rental stickers all over it, but Inafune signed it at New York Comic Con for me, so it is my favorite ghetto-ass video game cartridge). The intro is bare bones compared to Mega Man 2 because it is just a title screen, but the music is fucking amazing and let it play before you press start, you heartless monsters. You will see 8 robot masters for you to defeat, but also Mega Man is in the middle, and his eyes follow your cursor, SO MAKE THAT FUCKER DIZZY JUST BECAUSE YOU CAN. You can start off with whatever boss you feel is easiest (I usually go after Top Man first) but I believe Mega Man 3 is the only game in the series where there is no order that works with boss weaknesses from start to finish (meaning there is a point where the order closes and you have to defeat a boss without having his weakness, so you have to improvise with another weapon or just your regular shots). Anyway, you'll start playing and notice that every stage has great tunes and a unique layout, sometimes with giant robot cats with fleas and clamps that will rip out your genitals and make a horrifying sound akin to an 8-bit queef when they appear onscreen. Also, Mega Man 3 is the entry in the series that introduced the slide (complete with Mega Man's face screaming "FUCK YEAH!" as he does it) and Rush, the robot dog that can transform into a jet, submarine, and coil spring, because why the hell not?



While you are destroying robots with your ever-increasing arsenal of the most dangerous weapons known to man (Top Spin), you will encounter a robot very similar to you, which is probably because he is your older brother (spoilers!). His name is Proto Man, and you can tell he is around by the tune of his whistle (pause your game right when you hear it, because then you can hear his song in its full glory). He has a bitchin' scarf, shield, hops around like a jack rabbit with a needle in his dick, and fires shots like crazy. Luckily, you know of the slide and its benefits, so you can use it to dodge, no matter how silly you look. Proto Man can only be defeated by your regular, trusty-old Mega Buster, so be quick with your trigger finger to force him to retreat, unless you get a kick out of watching all your other weapons bounce off him harmlessly. You also fight Proto Man in an actual boss fight instead of as a mid-stage mini-boss, but he wears a disguise and is called Break Man for some reason. This happens before you go to Wily's Castle, but after the game's greatest twist.



After Mega Man defeats the 8 robot masters, MYSTERIOUS, SCARY-LOOKING robots appear in some of the stages you have already been to on the title screen, while all the other stages get crushed in a very threatening manner. When you go back to these 4 stages, you will find that each level's layout has changed drastically (I liked how Needle Man's stage turned to dusk in the background) and they are significantly harder to clear. Part of this is due to more enemies and challenging platforming, but most of it is due to the various Doc Robots. 2 Doc Robots appear in each stage, one in the middle and one at the end, and they FUCKIN' ABSORB THE BOSSES FROM MEGA MAN 2 INTO THEIR ROBOT FLESH AND GAIN THEIR ABILITIES, RIGHT IN FRONT OF YOU. I remember seeing this as a child and silently screaming in my brain, because I knew I didn't have any of the bosses' powers from Mega Man 2 (stupid Mega Man always throwing out his weapons between games, HOW COULD YOU BE SO NEGLIGENT, GOD!). Thankfully, the Doc Robots are weak to the powers from the bosses of Mega Man 3, though I always forget the order in every playthrough, damn my soon-to-be 28 year old brain! Between the 8 robot masters, the 8 Doc Robots, Proto Man, and the extensive Wily's Castle, Mega Man 3 is long and feels quite epic and ambitious in its scope.



Mega Man 3 is incredible and loads of fun. It has great bosses like Shadow Man (ninja) and Gemini Man (laser fucker with a twin) and fun stages, some of which have overflowing lava and blue sperms with faces. There are plenty of stages with gaps and water, so Rush will feel well-loved and important every time you force him to violently change shape into a jet or submarine, which I imagine is quite painful, even for a robot. Mega Man 3 is also quite challenging, and you can cheat if the difficulty gets to you and fall into a pit and "die" if a second controller is plugged in (basically you can lose all your health, cause the game's music to stop because it thinks you are dead, and jump back out of said chasm as a zombie robot who cannot be killed, unless you pick up a health power-up). It is fun to play as a zombie because you can only use the weapons you have gained from bosses and the only way you can use your Mega Buster is if you call out Rush Coil and shoot while Rush stares blankly ahead, wondering if he was ever truly needed by you at all. I also love Wily's Castle because you get to fight 3 Mega Man clones instead of 1 (suck it, Mega Man 1!) and can destroy the mighty Gamma at the end using the almighty, ridiculous Top Spin. Mega Man 3's ending is also quite heartfelt and made me shed a tear. I won't spoil it, but I don't think I'd be revealing too much by saying Proto Man saves your life after you get knocked unconscious by debris when Wily's Castle begins to crumble. I leave you with the happiest Game Over/Password screen music in existence!

  read


2:53 PM on 12.23.2012  

Rock Band: The game (or rather, experience) that keeps on giving



Back in 2007, I was getting pumped for a new game from Harmonix called Rock Band. I had purchased Guitar Hero and Guitar Hero II, and heard that Harmonix was going on to make a game that replicated a full band experience, leaving Guitar Hero in the hands of Activision and its developers. I was most excited for the drums, because it looked like it simulated the real thing pretty closely, rhythm and kick pedal and all. I felt Rock Band was so ambitious and was going to be a great party game to play with my friends. I was so excited for it, that I purchased the whole band box with the game, mic, drums, and guitar for $180, before I even OWNED an XBox 360. My friend could not help me pick it up when I got it at the Gamestop near my school, so I carried it home myself (it took me 30 minutes walking). I had to stare at that box for a while because I was getting a 360 for Christmas, but I had a friend that let me use his just so I could have a taste. I was hooked on Rock Band the second I started playing it, though I failed at the drums miserably my first time. I wanted to conquer them as soon as I could, so you can imagine how eager I was to use them in my own home.



Oh man, I went through an unbelievable amount of Rock Band drums. The 4 pads represented, from left to right, the snare, left tom, right tom, and floor tom, and the pads represented various cymbals in-game, as well, though Harmonix did not designate the difference until Rock Band 3. The pedal attached to the bottom pipes, and had an orange line as an indicator of when to press it. Though playing the drums was a lot of fun and always my primary instrument, there were a lot of issues with Harmonix's hardware; the pads had no rebound, could not register fast hits or rolls, and would eventually stop working altogether the more you used them, the kick pedal could not be pressed fast enough to register quick double kicks or continuous use of the base drum (and it would always slide around and never stay in place), and the guitars broke easily and had sticky buttons. Harmonix offered a warranty and replaced any drum set as long as you sent the broken ones in, and between the Rock Band model and the slightly improved Rock Band 2 model, I went through at least 18 of them, until I got my beloved ION drum set. I tried everything to get my pads to work, too: I wrapped socks around them, opened them up and glued coins into them so they could register hits, etc. I did all this because I loved playing the drums so much, and was getting better every time I played, slowly moving my way up from Easy to Expert.

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The greatest strengths of the Rock Band platform in my mind was always its party atmosphere, the DLC, and the way you could import songs from older titles in the series into the next one, with all your DLC carrying over. I have over 1,000 songs and a $300 electronic drum set, and I cry a little at night because I know the money I have spent on Rock Band could have been used to buy a house at this point. As much fun as it is to play the drums or sing alone, Rock Band is always at its funnest as a party game. I've invited friends to play many times over the 5 years the platform has been around, and we always have a good time playing; in fact, I actually felt the first stirrings of love in my heart when I heard my friend sing for the first time (she is now my girlfriend, and she can hit the high notes in "I Believe in a Thing Called Love" like NOBODY'S BUSINESS). Neither me or any of my other friends can really sing, but we still love doing it, because we are having fun. I have so many fond memories of playing with friends; I've collapsed on the floor after drumming "Battery," harmonized the shit out of "Holiday" with 2 other people, gotten a little drunk and called my best friend Steve instead of Dom while singing "The Joker," and had my IONs' entire right side come apart on more than one occasion playing a song, which always led to laughter and screaming.



Rock Band is the game series I have played the longest, thanks to its weekly DLC, and it is truly amazing to say I have played something for over 5 years. I have gotten used to the drums (cymbals AND pads thanks to Rock Band 3), and am itching to buy my own drum set and practice real drums once I have the money to do so. I have bonded with many friends over Rock Band and still have parties so I can play with them and have fun. I have gotten all the instruments, even the limited edition PRO guitar, and want to try to learn it when I have the time (though I hear Rocksmith teaches real guitar better). I always have fun with Rock Band and have never grown tired of it, so fuck the haters that say, "People still play Rock Band? DURH-HURH!" (may or may not be an actual comment said by a fuckface). I always felt it was more than a game, that it was an experience, and it is an experience that I continue to enjoy daily.   read


8:01 PM on 12.15.2012  

Reminiscing about golden, Rarer days: An ode to my childhood heroes



I remember a time when I was a young boy, growing up with my SNES, and being truly amazed by the talents of a company I had never heard of before, Rareware. Rare's golden logo was stylish and hypnotizing, and for a while, everything they made seemed to have the Midas touch. Donkey Kong Country and all its sequels and Killer Instinct were the first games that wowed me from Rare, because I had never before seen such amazing graphics, sound, and music come through my SNES to my television screen. I was hooked and wanted to see what the future held for such a talented company, and they made a fan and true believer out of me. When the Nintendo 64 came around, Rare continued to amaze me. Goldeneye, Banjo-Kazooie, Conker's Bad Fur Day, and Perfect Dark were some of my absolute favorites (they still are today). Let me tell you about how this once golden company transfixed me, excited me, and left me with so many great recollections, big and small.



This video was my first introduction to Donkey Kong Country, and I cannot even begin to tell you how much of my young, childlike mind was blown upon viewing all this in-game footage. It was 1994 and I was almost 10 years old, the Playstation wasn't out yet, the Saturn was JUST coming out, and this wonderful game was coming out for my bestest pal, the SNES, AND IT LOOKED LIKE IT WAS FROM THE FUCKING FUTURE. A 32 meg game? I didn't even know what that meant, but it sounded important and impressive and I wanted to play the shit out of it. The backgrounds were unbelievably stunning, especially when they went from day into night or when it rained in the middle of a level. Donkey Kong Country was fucking GORGEOUS, its entire design was revolutionary, and its gameplay was unparallelled. The platforming was so tight, the controls were as smooth as a delicious, impeccable booty, and finding all the secrets and hidden areas spoke to the completionist in my heart. Seeing the 3D models and hearing about how all the technology was on the cartridge, that I didn't need to buy an adapter to play Donkey Kong Country; I couldn't believe it. I used to own the VHS tape where the footage up above is from (thanks, Nintendo Power), and I damn near wore it out watching it so many times. It was cool to get to learn tricks before even owning the game, and I was happy to see that so many people involved with Donkey Kong Country's creation were young guys not too much older than me; I wanted to grow up to be like them one day. Rare made 2 great sequels to Donkey Kong Country on the SNES, with Donkey Kong Country 2 being my personal favorite (I'll probably go into detail about it soon, because it is SO INCREDIBLE, it deserves its own blog post).



Clearly Rare could make exceptional platformers (and Killer Instinct was a fun fighter that made multi-hit combo moves famous), but could they revolutionize again, in a different genre altogether? Yes, they could, and yes, they fucking did. Jesus Christ, Goldeneye, where do you even start?! I saw this game playing in Electronic Boutiques on the first floor of the Kings Plaza mall, thought it was the coolest shit ever, and it was from my good buddies at Rare; how could it fail? It didn't; in fact, Goldeneye surpassed every one of my expectations. The missions themselves were a lot of fun, and I freaking LOVED how the game gave the player more objectives to complete the higher the difficulty level. Goldeneye emphasized stealth on the more difficult settings; James Bond couldn't afford to get shot with so many bullets, so you had to learn to be SNEAKY in order to complete each area. Cheats were awarded to hardened veterans who could complete stages in record time (speedruns DO payoff at times), and you haven't lived unless you have played around with the All Guns cheat and created three-handed James Bond (watch laser + Moonraker laser = PHYSICAL IMPOSSIBILITY). Just PAUSING THE GAME was fun; I'll never get tired of seeing that spy watch (and thinking that James stood frozen in time by accessing the game's inventory and options). The real magic, though, was always the multiplayer. Yes, it's very difficult to go back to it now because of the slowdown, but back in 1997, you can bet your ass my friends and I were in awe. We had 4-player battles to the death with any guns and explosives we wanted (and I was king at exploding remote mines in midair), and it was all on a single screen. My cousin and I invented Russian Bomber Squad with Mishkin and Boris, and we used to run around shooting rockets at my poor younger brother (I hit him with a rocket from across an entire room once; it was my proudest moment). My friends and I would call a friendly meeting at the helipad outside the bunker to discuss non-violent solutions to our problems, and I was always the first one to aim my reticule at someone's face and shoot it. Rare was one of the first; fuck it, THE first company to make a great game out of a movie license, and every single FPS that came after Goldeneye owes its multiplayer formula to its pioneering ways.



Banjo-Kazooie, you wonderful adventure, you. Rare, you never stopped trying to top yourself, and Banjo-Kazooie was one of the best 3D platformers ever created. Sure, Super Mario 64 came first and set the groundwork for how a 3D adventure game should be, but you took that groundwork and expanded on it; truth be told, today's platformers owe more to Banjo than to Mario. Collecting all the various objects in the game was a great time, and there was always an incentive to do so (how else can you even get to the true final boss and experience the best ending?). Exploring the rich world of Banjo-Kazooie and combing its every nook and cranny for every collectible never got boring or felt too much like a fetch quest (which is sadly what Donkey Kong 64 felt like). Gruntilda's rhymes were always fresh and I thought she really could have had a career as an MC. Clanker was fucking terrifying when I first saw him because it looked like flesh had been ripped off a damn ROBOT. I remember slamming Boggy in the stomach with Kazooie's powerful beak and being shocked that it didn't get him to throw-up a Jiggy (don't act like you didn't do the exact same thing!). And having one of the final battles be a game show where you had to remember specific things about the various worlds in order to advance was GENIUS. More than anything else, Banjo-Kazooie's greatest strength was its world, because it felt like it always had more secrets to offer and mysteries to solve. Rare managed to beat Nintendo at its own game with its unique platformer.



Rare, you provided some excellent games in your prime, and you were the company I looked up to the most; you guys were my personal heroes. I know times have been tough ever since you found a new home with Microsoft, and you haven't been able to create the same kind of magic you did when you were with Nintendo. I still believe in you, though. Wherever you end up in the future, I know one day you can achieve greatness again. You provided gamers with fantastic games that we will always love; hopefully one day, you can once again shine like the golden treasure I always thought you were.   read







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