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5:38 AM on 05.27.2011

P2 Press Start: A Fading Brother

Wow, it has been about a month and a half since I have been able to write a full blog post. I have just not had time with the spring semester wrapping up and whatnot to keep pumping out writings. I am free for the summer, though, and until I have to go to RA training in August, I will be picking up where I left off. I am starting back with a last minute edition of this month's "Monthly Musing"! I am calling it a "P2 Press Start", though it might get off the topic a bit. So consider it a hybrid.

My favorite game of all time is Zelda: Ocarina of Time. It is the first game I beat 100% by myself, and it was immersive. Everything from the Zora's Domain becoming frozen after Ganon took over to the Kokiri Forest transforming into a totally different place. It was a rich world. What's more, I got to share this game with one of the most special people in my life.

I lived with my cousin Bradley, his mom (my aunt), my mom, and my grandmother from when I was born to when I was about 7 when we all moved out. Through those years, I became best friends and brothers with my cousin. I was an only child with a single mom and no idea who my dad was. We could have passed for brothers we were so close.

He got Zelda: OoT for a birthday one year, and I would sit there watching him play it for weeks on end. He eventually stopped after Dodongo's Cavern and moved on to Star Wars: Rogue Squadron. I didn't want to quit playing, though, so I kept playing Zelda on his N64 whenever I could for a few months. I would make up stories that I beat all these different areas just to make him think I was cool (though I actually couldn't beat Jabu-Jabu's Belly). For about a couple years, I quit as well and his N64 got packed up until he was almost done with high school. When I was in 7th grade and he was a junior in high school, my (ex)stepdad had gambled away the rent money one night when my mom was out of town. This was nothing new, but being a 13 year old, that had some emotional stress on me. He came over, and for one of many rare instances in my life, Bradley stood up for me, told him off, and took me away to stay with him and my aunt until my mom got back. At his house, I saw his N64 in the closet and asked if I could play it. He let me take it and Zelda home with me because he didn't have time for it and never played it. He also knew it would make me happy and wanted to cheer me up.

We played for hours that night together, starting a new save file in Zelda: OoT, laughing, talking, and passing the controller back and forth. I took it home, and, over a couple weeks, beat Zelda and several other games. After the feeling of beating Zelda, I dove into more recent games and that is where my gaming passion really started.

Now, years later, we go to colleges about an hour apart, I was the best man in his wedding, and now he is moving across the country to go to graduate school with his wife. This guy,, that I called my brother for years is leaving. He gave me the entry into my biggest passion in life, gave me love and emotional support through a pretty dramatic and crazy childhood, and taught me lessons about God, family, and character that I could only hope to achieve. And I have given him nothing. So as the moving date inches closer and closer, a piece of me gets ripped out each and everyday. Every time I turn on my PS3, 360, or Wii, I think of us playing Zelda together. Using the boomerang to hit those switches in Jabu-Jabu. Our jaws dropping after opening the Door of Time. And the phone call I made when I called him after I beat it to let him know that the one thing him and I tried to achieve together, I had finally completed.

It is great to have a player two not just in games, but in life. Because without that Luigi, getting to the castle at the end is just a bit harder. Luckily, there is a point when our player two has to unplug the controller and go home for dinner.   read

11:12 PM on 04.03.2011

I am coo-coo for Minecraft puffs!

I have been incredibly busy for the second week in a row now (hence last week's blog), thus preventing me from writing another post. So, I may just stick to dedicated Sunday evening posts with a few random ones trickled in for good measure. If you read last week's, however, it was filled with questions of Minecraft and why it is so wildly renown. I won't plug last week's blog, but my questions were answered.

I am now addicted, something Lindsay Lohan can't seem to admit.

Why? I can answer that easily. You can build anything. I played my first night with the easy difficulty, and I was annoyed at how I kept having to worry about monsters. So, I turned it down to peaceful, and voila. I am enjoying hours of free-roaming fun with all the building materials I could ask for. After building a house, an outhouse, a beach house, and beginning construction on a castle, I don't understand why illegal immigrants are sadly exploited for their work by resounding capitalists. Building my own stuff is fun!

Unfortunately, I have not managed to take pictures of anything yet, but that is coming next week. I have lost every single hour I have not been busy with papers and exams to Minecraft. It is a world of endless possibility. I am not playing on multiplayer, so I have my own entire world with just me that I can sculpt or destroy however I want to. It is a land of bliss, in a way. My own paradise that I can decide how it looks or what's in it, explore it, or just hang out for a little bit, chilling out from reality. That is one of the main two ultimate video game purposes: to indulge the player in an alternate role apart from their own that may or may not be realistically feasible, and to give the player a retreat from life that both entertains and/or emotes.

That is all for tonight. Next week I will include pictures, and I will try to describe why I actually like Dragon Age II, despite the bad reviews.   read

2:16 AM on 03.25.2011


It is been an incredibly busy week. A protest/riot on campus Tuesday, a group of religious persecutors from Tuesday still hounding around on Wednesday, and today, well, I got slammed with a paper on a 300-page scientific theory novel due Monday (with no clear topic or thesis), the realization of some deadlines I am nowhere near completing with the dates quickly approaching, two exams next week which I have yet to start reviewing for, and there is the no-sleep factor, as I tossed and turned all night last night. To make things worse, my Saturday is eaten up by a conference that lasts from 8:30 AM to 3:30 PM that I am giving a 10-minute presentation at and required to attend. Lovely. That effectively cuts down my sleep catchup and productivity by seven hours.

Nevertheless, I needed to get some kind of blog out. I would like to start by saying that for those of you in rage over my, um, rage in my last rant blog, I sort of apologize. I obviously don't want to alienate anyone from my blogs, but I also have the need to spew out anger like Charlie Sheen vomits after ODing on his daily crack use.

So, I will find time before Monday or Tuesday(-ish) to get out a very pleasant review of Dragon Age 2, Killzone 3, and a nice feature that is happy and charming like a new Glade plug in.

Until then, here is a short discussion I want to start to bridge the gap. I see people are really into Minecraft. I understand that it is apparently fun and addictive, too. My experience is limited. I played for ten minutes, doing nothing but digging straight downwards until I ended up in a pit of lava and died. After watching YouTube videos, though, I was intrigued by these monster things that look more like Charles Barkley woke up without his coffee rather than scary beasts.

I want to know why people love it so damn much. I'm not saying it's bad. I am sure any game in which you can build a 100-foot tall penis is actually quite fun. But what makes it addictive? I see people playing it more than World of Warcraft, Call of Duty, or Halo. Is there ever a point where you get sick of it?

I leave you all with not just a Minecraft question, but this to think about, as well.


11:15 PM on 03.21.2011

Someone pissed in my Cheerios this morning.

This post serves no bigger purpose than to rant. And not just with one thing in particular. It is just recent culmination of things that have, well, pissed me off.

The first of which is my shiny, new DSi XL that I bought Saturday night. I was super excited. I had been spending weeks pricing and considering whether or not it was worth it. I got to Target an hour before close, forked over my money, and ran out like a giddy schoolgirl so I could finally play DS games without straining trying to see the tiny screens. I get it out of the box, and the bastard didn't turn on. I'm thinking that maybe the battery is dead. I put it on the charger. It charges. I turned it on, and I started playing. The damn hinge for the top screen is wobbly. Did I buy a refurb? I was royally pissed. But, if that had been the only problem, I could lived. It wasn't. No more than 10 minutes into me playing, it cuts off. Still on the charger, I cut it on, played for about 20 minutes, and it cut off again. Turns out, if I wiggle the wobbly-ass hinge ever so slightly, it decide it wants to shut off. What's more, it is picky enough to do so with the finest of motions, including breathing too hard.

Who the hell does this piece of plastic and solder think it is? It wants to act like I owe it the respect of allowing it to be wobbly, and if I wobble it even just a tad, it is going to shut off. No. No, no, no, no, no. I go to Nintendo's message boards (after registering my Club Nintendo points and my warranty) only to read stories about other people with these problems. What's more, ever so often, there is a cheeky story about how wonderful and fast Nintendo's repair service is. That's just flowers and apple juice. I'm glad all these other people are satisfied with a $180 system that is broken out of the box simply because the people who took their money fixed their problem three weeks sooner than Microsoft. If I knew that this was apparently an issue, I would have taken my money, bought a PSP, and stuck with my wonderfully functional DS lite.

Why would you ship a product that is broken? I guess if Microsoft could do it, anyone could. But, after shipping the XL with known power and wiring problems, they have the gall to ask me to buy a 3DS? No. Hell to the no. That is one of the dumbest things I have heard of. Tell you what, how about I set up a damn lemonade stand, you pay $100 for my cup of lemonade that gives you diarrhea and shingles, then I will pay your hospital bill. A week afterward, I will offer you strawberry lemonade and ask for you to give me $125 for it because it is strawberry. I would DARE you to fall for that bullcrap again. What's worse is the XL is their FOURTH DS. They should know by this point how to build them, yet somewhere along the way I guess they hired a new guy in the assembly line.

The next focus of my rant focuses with Nintendo again. Why would you release a new console a year after an iteration on your current console? I understand you are cuckoo for money-puffs, but at least wait until Christmas. You don't even have a competent launch lineup! Steel Diver? No, thanks. That game looks like the worst from the GBA. So much for that “new and improved graphical capability”. Super Street Fighter IV 3D? That sounds lovely. Super Monkey Ball 3D? How people people really bought the first one that apparently made someone in Japan think that we gave a damn about a 3D version. Rayman 3D is just an insult to the whole series, including the Rabbids. Thanks for advertising your waste-of-money Wii Sports Resort by attaching “Resort” to Pilotwings. We all know that game is just a way to get those cheesy Nintendophile families with the white furniture and white walls who didn't hear about Wii Sports Resort to recognize it and buy it. Combat of Giants: Dinosaurs 3D is just a sneaky way for you to smack us in the damn face with trash.

The only reason you do this to us, Nintendo, is because you have money toilets in your corporate office and your pants are too big. Someone needs to remind you of your failed Virtual Boy or your flop Gamecube. The only thing more twisted is Activision dragging EA into their lawsuit. The company is known for exploiting games and running them into all oblivion until they turn into a black hole, forcing Activision to cut more than just the studio producing the overdriven game, putting people out of work all because one game went into the ground so Kotick panics and closes studio doors like mad. They want to get ballsy and sue EA for exploiting some of their underpaid and cheated developers? That's ridiculous and asinine on their part.

Maybe Nintendo should be the one in court. It would take those bastards down a few pegs.   read

12:05 AM on 03.20.2011

An Intro to My Collection

I will by no means claim to have a massive collection. As an unemployed college kid with a girlfriend (whose boyfriend spoils her way too much), I don't have secret money bags buried in my backyard to dig up whenever the 3DS or Activision's newest exploited franchise is released. So, I have to either A) trade up, B) sell something, or C) cry. The latter option usually wins.

This man exploits creativity like old, creepy dudes exploit kids. It's sick.

When I bought a DSi XL yesterday (9pm at a Target), it was kind of interesting to think of what I was willing to let go of to get it. I had sold an old laptop that was collecting dust, and I sold my DS Lite. But it wasn't as though I was just trying to indulge my inner technophile. I had a true need for it, honestly. I have crappy vision, and Professor Layton is not as easy for me on the Lite. I needed a bigger screen. The XL is like my seeing eye dog.

As I was checking out, I thought about what to do first. Should I do an unboxing video and do what 500 kids and adults do and be a YouTube star, posting all my game thoughts and unboxings there? Maybe so. But for now, I am escaping writing the three articles I have due for the paper I work for (I lied, I am not unemployed. I write occasional articles for a local paper and get paid $20/pop) and am going to share an intro to my collection to post up tomorrow so that I can both focus on getting things done tomorrow and also in the future, I can go into more depth about my collection.

I own several consoles, including all three current gen systems, a DSi XL, PS2, Gamecube, GBA, SNES, Genesis, NES, and a pretty reliable desktop. All in all, I have close to 150 games. That is one of the smallest collections anyone has probably ever blogged about, I am sure.

But, I would rather spend time talking about being a smart, frugal, minimalist with your collection.

Smart and frugal doesn't make you a hippie.

For example, Pete Dorr (YouTube name: PeteDorr) ha got a great collection channel. You should check him out sometime. He has over 1500 games and much more memorabilia. I differ from him a good bit, though. He tends to buy lots of bulk. Meaning, he will hunt for specific games he knows he wants, but the rest of the time, he will buy boxes of NES, Xbox, etc. games and add to his collection. Could you imagine the games he might be missing? Looking through his collection videos for each system, he is missing a bunch of good stuff.

I think a better approach to collecting is not necessarily a quantitative value (say, how many games you own or how much the collection is worth monetarily), but, rather, a collection should reflect your personal value. I have NO interest in Double Dragon for the SNES. I played it as a kid, and I hated it because it beat my ass. Why would I spend 30 bucks on eBay for a copy of it without the box when I could spend that much or less on some other games that I actually like or think I will enjoy. That is why I made a huge spreadsheet with all the systems I own and what games I want for them, and then there is also a list of systems I want to get at come point. That way I buy only games I care for, and don't end up with a box of $1 Xbox games.

I loved KOTOR just as much as the next guy, but sitting next to that on the shelf is Obi-Wan for Xbox because I had countless hours of kicking Mace Windu's ass in the battle royale. I bought Wet against many bad reviews because I thought it was an awesome way to release some built up anger and slice some dudes up. One of my favorite games for PS2 was Ultimate Spider-man. I have some well known stuff, yes, but I also did not buy the Kingdom Hearts games because they are "so epic" as some claim. I didn't like them, plain and simple. Epic Mickey got left for dead by reviewers and gamers alike, but I still sunk $40 and play the hell out of it because I think it's a lot of fun and has a great story, despite the camera. Speaking of Left 4 Dead, I don't own that either. I am not a horror genre fan because I am, in fact, a wimp.

Remember, you have to live with your collection, and those are the games you have to play. So you might as well surround yourself with games you want to play over and over again.   read

11:49 PM on 03.19.2011

Bulletstorm Reviewed

I never actually planned on buying Bulletstorm. It seemed like another cannon-fodder FPS: run, stop and shoot some baddies, run some more, rinse and repeat. Why did I initially buy it? Amazon loves dangling that little “$20 promotional credit with the pre-order of this title” in my face. I have yet to turn them down on that offer. So, I bit the bullet and decided to go for it.

To my satisfaction, this game delivers in the “creativity” caption at first. In the first couple hours of the game, it gets really interesting as more and more weapons open up every so often. There are only about seven guns in the game (one becomes available very late in the game), and they are sporadically unlocked throughout the campaign. It was fun to use the secondary shots on the guns, doing things from igniting enemies into nothing but bone to firing an explosive flare at an enemy, sending them spiraling into the air. The leash works quite well, and the game gives you lots of opportunities to use your environment. The most common of those opportunities seems to be kicking enemies into cacti or spikes and kicking them off a ledge. Mid-game I began to worry that the game was getting repetitive.

It did the opposite of that, however. After the first boss battle (of two), I got a renewed sense of “I am amazing”, as the game does a great job of making the player feel great for bringing down a massive boss. I began to hunt through the skillshots list to try and sniff out unearned points. Bulletstorm does not react well to that, though. In fact, when I tried to find the skillshots, I could not manage to nail them. The system includes tasks like “shoot an enemy in the throat” to “launch a guy in the air, kill a second guy on the ground, and then kill the first guy before he lands”. These tasks provide your points to buy weapon upgrades and ammo. I got concerned that maybe I would have to use points rationing very carefully to balance out ammo versus upgrades, but through the repetitive easier skillshots, there was no need. There is not a lack of ammo in the game, so buying upgrades is not a place to be conservative.

Shooting a dude in the throat is VERY satisfying.

The game starts pretty slow. It treats the player like a baby for the prologue and part of the first act. After that, though, it really opens up. It becomes fast paced and does not hold back. It throws everything from regular dudes dressed like the crazies from Borderlands to mutated, eight foot tall monsters. The game lasts a good 6-7 hours depending on the player's pacing, but it seems like much longer. There are seven acts plus a prologue, and they all last just long enough without overstaying their welcome. If that doesn't quite do it, there is an “Echoes” mode, which is basically an arcade style mode which puts you in different portions of levels (usually 1-5 minutes worth of play) to give you the chance to score as many point through the skillshot system.

The story is competent. It provides some twists and turns, and there were not any real holes. There was some character attachment, and the end-game bad guy you are ultimately hunting evokes true disgust from the player. The dialogue, which was marketed as being funny and vulgar, is definitely the latter but not so much the former. There are some genuinely funny quips here and there, but the overall phrases used just seem like mindless jargon added for effect, and the game would possibly be better if the wrtiers had not made up vulgar phrases that make no sense for the sake of being vulgar. It just gets downright silly sometimes.

This guy isn't important to the story, really. But he is one pissed off cannabis.

The controls were tight. Aiming was standard, nothing truly new or mind-blowing. The sniper rifle allows you to guide your bullet to a certain extent, which can lead to fun kills. There is one certain explosive weapon, however, that fires a chain with two explosives attached to each end and wraps around the first person/object it hits which I had trouble with. It tended to not quite line up with the crosshairs, but this could maybe be user error and was not a major issue. Kicking and leash control both work great, and the kick sometimes forgives a little if your aim was a tad off of a cactus or spike and will give you the impale-kill.

The one time I managed to get the aim right on this thing was the most rewarding.

The multiplayer is interesting but somewhat saddening. It is not saddening because it is bad. In fact, the objectives during multiplayer are excellent and novel. They have you and several other players (four player max) in a “horde mode” style arena fighting wave after wave of enemies, scoring skillshots. It takes a certain number of total group skill points to move on, and sometimes the only way to achieve this is through group based objectives (such as player one kicking an enemy into the air and player two shooting them in the groin). The disappointment comes with realizing that 75% of players (especially on the PS3) will not use a headset and, sometimes even if they do, will not care so much about group-based objectives and will just go off on their own to try and rack up kills and points, leaving the group total shy of the required amount to advance. This is a large problem, but it is not impossible to find a good group to play with.

The final impression is that Bulletstorm is bittersweet. It is intriguing, putting an interesting and fun take on the genre. It was tons of fun to play and go through the campaign, though the constant over-the-top dialogue that was supposed to make the game great end up hurting it. There are plenty of cool weapons, power-ups, and skillshots that will satisfy and challenge any shooter fanatic. The multiplayer is good when you get a group willing to work together, and graphically the game looks pretty good. It is a definite buy for anyone looking for a change from Call of Duty or Halo and if you are on the fence, you will not regret picking up Bulletstorm.   read

2:06 AM on 03.19.2011

Glad to be a DToider.

Hey, all. I have been sort of an "unofficial" Destructoider for about a year. I have read the blogs, reviews, news articles, listen to the podcast on occasion, and frequent DToidTV. I love it all, and I love that there is a massive group of people here, all interconnected in some some weird ass Avatar-like way. It's pretty neat in its own respect.

DToid, not Avatar.

After awhile, I decided to make an account and a blog and get involved more. I am sick of rambling to friend who don't play much else but COD and Halo 24/7, getting off to kill counts and new map packs. Those damn idiots usually can't usually tell the difference from an RPG and a Madden game, though they are all pretty hellbent on swearing that an RPG stands for "something Japanese about a chick with big tits", as one told me.

I guess they aren't far off on that one...

So, I decided to jump in here. To give an intro about myself, I am a student at the University of Mississippi. I am a psychology major studying emotion and educational psychology. Like any psych major, I hope I can get a research position to get me through graduate school somewhere like the U. of Texas of U. of Florida, and then that will hopefully turn into an associate instructor position. If not, though, I am a double major in history and can/will either teach high school or middle school social studies or get a Master's in Educational Counseling and be a counselor or school psychologist. There's my boring life at face value.

I love both of the Mass Effect and Dragon Age games. I also am a huge fan of all the Zelda games, aside from Zelda II and Twilight Princess. I do not always catch the newest releases, but I try. I have a backlog that could crush me if the bookshelf it takes up fell on me, and I have a bad habit of being on the late end of reviews.

*In best Grunt voice* Shep'urd.

I want to use my blog to review retro and modern games, no matter the age or system. I also want to throw ideas out there from time to time on different gaming topics and see what everyone else thinks. I tend to rule on committee in my life, meaning I love listening to what multiple people have to say.

I will leave with this question to open up in the comments: I am at a crossroads with my DS. I have a crimson DS Lite. It is very faithful, but I am also blind as a bat without my glasses and even with them still have a hard time seeing details in Professor Layton games (favorite puzzle games) and such. I do want a 3DS, though, for the Zelda: OoT remake and other games, not to mention I am a technophile and like the newest stuff. But I do not really care much about 3D and am hesitant to buy a 3DS and only get say, Super Street Fighter 4 3D for it, as there aren't many release games I care for. So, should I buy a DSi XL for $90 (after Amazon cred I have built up) and get a 3DS in about a year, or a 3DS for $17 now?

Thanks, DToid community, for being a bastard when a guy deserves it and awesome otherwise.   read

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