My name is Arthur Damian, I am 28 years old, and I've been gaming since the NES era. I like the new school and the old school. Chrono Trigger is the bestest game ever, and Junction is the worstest. I love to write, and am currently working at Brooklyn College, helping students transfer in their credits from other universities. I also love vidja gamez, and right now I'm playing games on the Sega Genesis, even though I have a huge backlog of games on the Wii and 360 to go through. BLURG. I also work for That VideoGame Blog now, writing daily news posts! YAY!
I really, really miss my Super Nintendo. It is the greatest system ever invented. I was lucky enough to grow up in a loving home as an only child for ten years, so I had both a Genesis and a SNES, and didn't have to share! BEST OF BOTH WORLDS, HAHAHA (but seriously, I love you, bro)! I remember looking forward to Christmas and figuring out what I wanted for both systems, trying to make it even. As much as I love my Genesis and the many classics that were released for it, I love my SNES more. My SNES library easily trumps my Genesis one, and as time went on, I ended up getting more and more games for my gray box of wonder. I have so many games that I cherish for my Super Nintendo, and many happy memories associated with it.
One of my earliest memories of the SNES is with a little game called Super Mario World. I remember seeing a demo of it playing in my local Macy's, and I was in awe of how colorful it was. I didn't get a Genesis until Sonic came out, so my only point of reference was the original NES. There were so many colors on the screen at once, every color of the rainbow and more (we need more rainbow colored games, in my opinion). The world looked huge; so many levels packed into one game, and it looked even bigger than Super Mario Bros. 3. It was almost too much for my young, child heart to take. I remember being with my dad, taking the controller from the employee who asked me if I wanted to play, my eyes widening as I rode on a dinosaur, long thought to be extinct. The controller, so comfortable and easy to adapt to; it was like a glover's mitt which feels like a second skin to the catcher (and I had never even played baseball before). After my time with Mario, I asked dad to get me a Super Nintendo for Christmas, and I was so excited when I opened my presents that year to find it among them. Little did I know how many years of happiness that box would bring me; that it still does, all these years later.
Here's a shocker: growing up, I never owned one of the greatest platformers to ever grace the SNES, Super Metroid. I used to rent it constantly from the video store around the corner (REMEMBER THOSE) and being mesmerized by it. I think Super Metroid was one of the first games, if not THE first game, where I felt truly alone. When you first touch down on Planet Zebes, and begin exploring the desolate planet, everything is truly lifeless. There are no enemies and there is no power or sense of life until you collect the morph ball. Even when enemies start appearing and the planet opens up a bit, it's just you against everyone else; no one is coming to save or even help you. Super Metroid fills you with an unbelievable sense of dread which I haven't really felt since. I remember being legitimately scared when the Chozo statue came to life and Crocomire's skeleton burst through those spikes, after just watching his FLESH MELT OFF HIS BODY. I got stuck on the pirate ship as a kid, and only managed to complete the game years later, after buying a copy from Funcoland. Finding all the items and the sense of growing ever powerful with power-ups is extremely rewarding. The entire end sequence is absolute magic and is set up so perfectly, is so full of emotion (without even needing cut-scenes or dialogue), that it must be played to be believed. A tear slid down my face upon Super Metroid's completion; one of both happiness and sadness. Everyone deserves to play through it at least once and feel the same emotions I felt.
Again, please don't kill me, but I didn't own A Link to the Past until later on in the console's life cycle. Another constant rent, A Link to the Past is my favorite Zelda game of all time. I don't think any game before or since can match its sense of adventure; when you first exit Sanctuary and the sun is shining and the rain has stopped, your heart swells with a sense of purpose and meaning. You are the hero of Hyrule, and only you can stop Ganon. I had so much fun zipping along everywhere, finding all the items and heart pieces, exploring all the dungeons, finding every last secret (CHRIS HOULIHAN). A Link to the Past and Super Metroid are some of the few games I try to go back to and play again from start to finish every year; they are that fun to play, and I never get tired of them. As a sidenote, was I the only one who always completed the sixth dungeon and had a key left over, forcing me to always return to open it? It was like a side door that didn't have to be opened because the room had multiple entrances. That drove me crazy. A Link to the Past is one of the grandest adventures ever to grace a platform, and I remember being shocked at how long it was. I think that is one of the most important things the SNES had over the Genesis: massive adventures that always seemed like the greatest stories ever told. All three games I mentioned had fantastic scores, as well; something the Genesis struggled with because of its audio limitations.
I could regale you readers with countless stories about the SNES. I could tell you how I perfected the charge shot dance jump in Mega Man X (hold the controller with your thumb over Y and B and curl your index finger to dash with A). I could reminisce about the time my friend slammed the protective case over the top of Earthbound while I was playing in Threed and lost all my saved data (I told him to get out of my house). I could confide to you that yes, I cried when Hamlet the pig sacrificed himself to feed a tribe of hungry villagers in Illusion of Gaia; bawled when Kefka poisoned the water supply in Final Fantasy III (VI); and sobbed when Marle embraced Crono after bringing him back from the dead in Chrono Trigger. I will go into these games more in depth when I actually get my SNES back. So, my bestest friend, whom I can call at anytime and see on a weekly basis but choose to ask in the most asinine and dramatic way possible, please give me back my Super Nintendo. I miss her so.
I was playing through Metroid Fusion on my 3DS, sans walk-through, and made it to the end and defeated the final boss. I was happy I had vanquished evil, yet I was saddened when I saw I had not achieved 100% item completion. Had I simply not taken enough time to explore? No; Fusion is notorious for being linear and not affording the player much time to explore, especially since you are rushing from one place to the next, having areas close off as soon as you leave them. But then my mind wandered to other games that give you all the time you need to explore, and I am frustrated with them, too. Why? It never used to be like this. Have games changed or have I, so much so that I can never go back to being that young, bright-eyed child who was always so eager to discover every secret and nook and cranny in the adventures in which he loved to take part?
Now let me just say, I love adventure games and platformers. I also have an unhealthy, OCD-like obsession with completing a game fully, leaving no stone unturned. To the uninitiated, those are two deadly combinations. It used to be so fun finding things, though. Before strategy guides and the internet, all we gamers had was ourselves and each other. My cousin taught me where all 96 courses were in Super Mario World, and he learned them from his cousin; it was like passing the torch of game knowledge through generations. I couldn't begin to tell you how awe-struck we were seeing the special part of Star Road, with its nauseatingly 90's names for levels. We were so proud sharing information with each other, and we felt such a sense of accomplishment. When we were apart and had our own games to play, we used to get along fine on our own, too! I remember finding all the items in A Link to the Past, except for one heart piece which I happened to find the location of through Nintendo Power (and my best friend told me about the super secret Good Bee. I laughed in his face because I really thought he was joking, but then I had to eat about 10 pounds of HUMBLE PIE when he showed me). I got 100% on all the levels in Super Mario World 2 on my own, and that was necessary because none of my friends owned it or even liked it (BURN THEM!). Mega Man 7? Please; I found Auto's discount bolt alone, and found all the items he sold for free using Rush Search in various levels. I don't even know how I figured out that you could defeat the pumpkin boss in Shadow Man's stage 2 different ways! I used to have so much free time. When did everything change?
I guess you could say things started going astray with the advent of strategy guides. I remember getting free game guides every time I renewed my subscription to Nintendo Power. All the Donkey Kong Country games, Mario 64, Ocarina of Time; all thoroughly and completely beaten thanks to my advanced knowledge of TEH FUTURE. But what happened to my sense of exploration? Was I obsessed with the power of knowing where everything already was, always being able to help a friend find something he couldn't on his own? Was school becoming more difficult and time consuming, and I simply didn't have the man hours anymore? It is such a strange phenomenon, because I remember going through fetch quests like Donkey Kong 64 and Banjo-Kazooie WITHOUT help, and being able to find everything. Are some games just more frustrating to spend too much time looking for every little secret? Was I becoming old and bitter and impatient? There was still a sense of adventure there, yet it kept fading and coming back, depending on the game I was playing and when I was playing it (maybe I was just able to be more adventurous during the summer).
Nowadays, things are exceptionally difficult. There is work, personal life, and an ever growing pile of unfinished games that make complete play-throughs somewhat impossible. The internet complicates things tenfold; I'm trying to find everything in Donkey Kong Country Returns alone, but when you go through a level 5 times looking for 1 puzzle piece you missed, it is very easy to get frustrated and go find the solution to your problem through your freaking phone. Games like Doom and Duke Nukem give you a sense of accomplishment through their end level percentage screens, yet it takes so much time finding everything without help. RPGs and grand games like Skyward Sword take so long to beat, I can't help but want to complete everything 100% in one go. I am happy to have a save file on Super Metroid with 100% item completion and a play-through of under 3 hours, but I managed to do that because of someone's walk-through on GameFAQs; it isn't really mine to own, because I followed someone's instructions meticulously to achieve it.
I don't know if things can ever go back to the way they were, or ever be the same. There is always going to be another game to play, waiting to be explored fully on my desk. Maybe I will never have the time to explore every one fully the way I want to, but I want to try. Even if I can't, I'd like to play every single one to the end, even without finding everything. I'll always have happy memories of exploration and completeness, including my favorite: tag-teaming with my best friend to beat A Link to the Past in one go, 100%. We did it a couple of years ago, and it took 6 straight hours, but my save file has a 0 under Link's happy face, indicating we never died or saved. I'll always have that, and nothing will ever take away from that accomplishment.
Remember back in 2010, when a little game called Rocket Knight came out on the XBLA/PSN? Of course you don't, because it only sold 10 copies. I hate you people. In all seriousness, though, the game wasn't very good. But for those of us who grew up in the 16-bit era, we desperately wanted it to be good. Why? Because we were waiting for years for the Rocket Knight named Sparkster to make his triumphant return to gaming. While Sparkster did appear in an alright sequel for the Genesis and a pretty cool spinoff for the SNES, it was his original debut on the Sega Genesis that was his bestest adventure; a Rocket Knight adventure, if you will. Let me take you on a little journey, and show you all how awesome of a platformer this game really is (and yes, I love it so much that I own a copy with the box and instruction booklet. SUCH A NERD!).
First of all, look at that bitchin' box art! Sparkster looks like a bad-ass opossum (I looked that word up), and he's fucking flying with goggles and shit! It makes you just wanna say, "Take me in your strong arms and fly me on an epic adventure, you sexy armadillo!" Clearly, my younger self was sexually confused, as well as lacking in animal terminology. One look at the back, and you can already tell this is gonna be a fun, varied adventure! AND WHAT AN ADVENTURE IT IS! You start off and get an opening cinematic with Sparkster on a rock, facing the sky when a shadowy pig emperor materializes and laughs at you (though since this is the Genesis, the laugh sounds more like a series of confused farts). Then you start playing, and already the kingdom is under attack, with a giant robot spider destroying the castle in the background that you just KNOW is gonna be the first level boss. You attack with your sword, and it shoots these cool circles out to destroy your enemies, who are mostly pig knights, who may or may not be operating heavy machinery. You then realize that there is a gauge you can charge with your attack button, which powers up your rocket pack. Release it when fully charged to get an awesome in-place spin attack, or choose a direction to go flying, sword-first, for a short period of time! My personal fave is sending Sparkster straight up, because the look on his face and the way he flails his arms on the way down is just priceless. Sparkster is also cool and looks at you with a thumbs-up if you leave him idle, unlike Mr. Impatient Fuck Face Sonic. Halfway through the first level, you get to experience a side-scrolling shooter, with Sparkster flying to the right, shooting his energy sword beams. There are a few of these, and they help make Rocket Knight Adventures a unique, varied platformer. They remind me of Gradius, and there are some cool little homages to that shoot-em-up (which isn't surprising, since this is a Konami game).
The levels in Rocket Knight Adventures are quite varied and challenging. The game is always throwing you something new; one stage you are climbing on vines with your tail, going between the foreground and background on a waterfall; the next, you are jumping between platforms that are hidden behind crystals, and your only sense of direction is provided by your reflection against a rising pool of red water that will kill you instantly when touched. Every level is fresh, too; you go from castles, to caves, to airships, EVEN TO OUTER SPACE. The bosses; dear God, the bosses in this game! Every single one is challenging and unique; from mechanical fish that eat the various platforms you are standing on at a rapid pace, requiring split second timing on your jumps to survive; to weird, gyrating pig robots that shoot giant lasers at you, and your only chance to do damage is when said laser is about to fry your cute little animal face off. The music is incredible, too, as if you had any doubt. It really sucks you into the experience, and you feel like you are a part of a grand adventure. You believe you can save the day, even though the odds are stacked highly against you.
Everyone that loves platformers, do yourself a favor and hunt this game down. It is one of the tightest, funnest adventure games of any generation. The good folks that designed this game later formed Treasure, who made the awesome Gunstar Heroes, so you know I ain't just shitting out of my mouth when I say this game is amazing. Make sure to play on any difficulty other than Children; otherwise, you'll miss out on the true ending! I leave you with this: ROCK 'EM, SOCK 'EM ROBOTS!
I was watching my younger brother play WWE 12 on the 360 before, and I was a bit saddened. He seemed to be having fun, playing with a friend online, doing all sorts of ridiculous gestures while trying to get a pin, yelling in frustration into his headset. As I saw this, I realized that there is a certain magic about co-operative gameplay (competitive gameplay, as well) that is lost over online play. Sure my brother's friend could hear him just fine, but he couldn't see the outrageous, nervous dances he was doing while going for that 3 count. He could not see that moment occur and bask in its glory; smile and laugh at it as it was happening. Thankfully, wrestling games still have local co-op, so we can still share moments like this with our friends while sitting on a couch. This event got me thinking about why I feel that local co-op and competitive gameplay is so superior to their online counterparts.
When Marvel vs Capcom 2 first came to the XBLA, I had the pleasure of playing against one of my cousin's friends at a party out in Long Island. We both enjoyed fighting games and taunting each other about who was better than who. We had a couple of matches with me usually the victor. I was racking up a pretty impressive win ratio when we had a match on the pirate ship that I will never forget. It was heated: we were trading air combos, playing good defense and offense, ribbing one another while a whole room watched, and we were neck and neck until the timer ran out. As it declared my rival the victor, barely beating me with more health than my character, he looked me in the eyes and said, "That was the best match I ever played in Marvel vs Capcom 2. Thank you." As I shook his hand and congratulated him, I realized I wasn't even mad I lost and ruined my win ratio; I had an epic match with a friend, in front of a supportive crowd. We couldn't get that playing online. The living, breathing environment of a crowd of people, being next to your competitor, seeing each other sweat and calculate each other's moves, the threat of a real, physical fight breaking out based on who was the victor; these are staples of local competitive gaming. We have played Marvel vs Capcom 3 online, and while we had fun and I can appreciate the benefit of being able to play with a friend who lives far away, nothing can compare to that moment I shared with him, together in a room with real, physical human beings.
Resident Evil 5 may suck major goat balls to play alone with a legally declared retarded AI partner, but it is a lot of fun to play with a friend. My brother and I had so much fun playing through Resident Evil 5 together, that we almost disowned each other as relatives after it was completed. By the end of the game, we had heard Wesker say "NATURAL SELECTION" at least 40 times, had died so many times at the hands (tentacles) of our enemy, that we had both been driven insane and hated each other for not hanging on cliffs long enough and not punching through boulders fast enough. The real fun, however, came in the Lost in Nightmares DLC. We were both shocked when we lost our weapons and had to use our wits to defeat the giant, scary monster guy (I know he's called the Guardian of Insanity, but for the purposes of this post, he shall henceforth be called HOLY SHIT, cause that's what we said every time we saw him). Defeating the various HOLY SHITs was quite difficult, and we saw the YOU ARE DEAD screen many times. Usually my brother wouldn't run away from the spike traps fast enough when I set a trap and would get flattened together with HOLY SHIT, which would result in a lot of yelling and screaming and punching. "What are you guys doing up there," we heard mom call from the hallway. "Bonding," I replied. Truer words were never spoken; my brother and I got through Resident Evil 5 and all its DLC together, and our relationship is stronger because of it. It would have been difficult to achieve that level of bonding through online play.
Streets of Rage 2 is widely considered one of the best beat-em-ups of all time, and I had the time of my life playing it with my girlfriend on my Sega Genesis last week. We made it clear that while we were willing to fight through the game together as a team, we were totally trying to get a higher score than each other in each level. Throughout our playthrough together, I heard my beloved call me a "shithead" an abundant amount of times. "Don't you dare go for that treasure," she would tell me as I inched my way towards gold while she dealt with the forces of evil. "Stop stealing all my kills," she would cry as I racked up the points downing another enemy. I'm pretty sure she physically punched me at various points during our adventure. Sadly, she used up all her continues by the next to last level, and my strength wasn't enough to overcome the trials of the final level (literally, since the game still thinks you are in two-player mode and sends 80 enemies per screen after you). But at the end of the day, we had a lot of fun playing in my cramped living room, and I've never loved her more, because I know our relationship can survive a heated playthrough of any game (totes gonna marry her someday secure in this knowledge). If we had played online through XBLA or something, the threat of physical violence would have been lost, and where's the fun in that?
Don't get me wrong, I do like online play. Being able to play with someone, no matter how far the distance, is an amazing technological feat. But I grew up playing Chip 'N' Dale with my cousin on the NES, and he would always throw me into enemies. I played World of Illusion and Gunstar Heroes with my best friend, and he would always shoot that boss with the dice after he threw the fake, exploding gem at us, even though we both knew he would give us the real one if he would just stop pumping him full of lasers. I've seen the laughter and bliss in my friends' and relatives' faces: that is the magic of local co-op and competitive gameplay. Even as games and consoles get more technologically advanced and online play becomes more of the norm, I am hopeful that there will always be games for us players that grew up sitting together on a dusty, old couch.
Quick, when someone asks you to name great games for the Sega Genesis, what is the first thing you say? Sonic 2? Gunstar Heroes? Barbie: Super Model? Sure, everyone knows THOSE games, but what about Quackshot? "Quackshot? What the hell is a Quackshot? Is that a hockey game with the Mighty Ducks, but you play as ACTUAL DUCKS?! Remember that animated TV show? They had laser guns," I hear you say in response, your mind wandering to nonsensical things. No, my imaginary internet friend, Quackshot is basically Indiana Jones with Donald Duck instead of Harrison Ford. And you can plunge the shit out of people's faces. Hearing this, I know your face has properly been melted, and you are ebaying Quackshot and a Genesis this very second. But since I like to talk, let me tell you why Quackshot is so great, and why it is up there with Flashback and Rocket Knight Adventures as one of the Megadrive greats.
I replayed Quackshot today in order to write about it with a non-hazy memory (it doesn't take much longer than an hour and a half if you know what you are doing). After blowing on the game at least twenty times, it finally booted up, and I pumped up the volume to drown out the terrible hum that comes from my lovely Genesis. After a Raiders of the Lost Ark-type opening cinematic, you press start, and are thrust into the DEEP NARRATIVE; which basically equates to Donald coming across a map to a lost treasure that he wants to give to Daisy so he can get some sweet duck sex. You can fly to different areas of the map; though you can't explore certain places without getting tools from another, so you're gonna have to use the old trial and error approach (or Gamefaqs if you are a dirty cheater). There are many fantabulous places to visit, including: Duckburg, Transylvania, the South Pole, Egypt, and a VIKING SHIP OVERRUN BY THE SPIRITS OF THE UNDEAD. The music is quite good for the crappy sound capable Genesis, and each area has a nice, unique theme. Donald has a gun that shoots plungers, that he upgrades to different colors: you start with the yellow plunger, which sucks donkey balls; the red one sticks to walls that you can bounce off of; and the green one sticks to flying bird penises, so Donald can latch onto them for easy flight (the plunger, not the bird penis). Can't ducks fly?
Anyway, Donald can plunge enemies directly in their smug faces, and if they are wearing a pouch, an item pops out. If it is food, Donald gets health, but if it is a chili pepper, and Donald gets five of them, he LOSES HIS SHIT AND THROWS A TEMPER TANTRUM, KILLING EVERYONE IN HIS PATH. Unfortunately, you can only stun enemies with your plunger, so you have to move past them quickly to avoid damage. You can kill them with your other two weapons: popcorn and bubbles. Yay, game logic. Donald can't jump very well, so you have to work on your timing and get used to how far he can go. The game has some tricky platforming, and some mazes and puzzles that will make you think. It isn't too hard, though you might lose some lives with some of the jumping sections.
The great thing about Quackshot is that it is EXACTLY WHAT THE BOX ART SAYS IT IS. It is literally Indiana Jones starring Donald Duck. That was the original title, but lawsuits and licensing forced Sega to change the name to Quackshot at the last second (a proper citation is needed here). There are mine carts and pulleys and megaphones that will kill you with sound effects. There is a great sense of adventure, and nods to Indy throughout (especially a part towards the very end that I won't spoil here). It doesn't overstay its welcome and is fun to pick up and play and beat in one sitting. Donald has an annoyed idle animation where he winks at the player while his butt feathers point to the direction he is facing, HOW COOL IS THAT? Honestly, sentient butt feathers are enough for me to recommend this game to everyone. Hunt it down for the Genesis or the Saturn and give it a try! You might love it just as much as I did when I was six, and as much as I love it now at twenty-seven.