6:37 AM on 03.05.2015
I love Linux. In fact, if I could reliably get my Windows games to run on them, I'd drop Windows like a bad habit. It's faster, it has more user support, nearly every program for it is free, and there are about a thousand different flavors from which to choose. (My personal favorite is Mint.)
While gaming on Linux is still way behind gaming on Windows, it seems like Valve's SteamOS and Steam box hype is working out for them. Earlier today (3/5/2015), a huge SteamOS sale launched, and just look at some of those titles: Shadow of Mordor, Saints Row IV, and Batman: Arkham Knight have been announced for Linux, as well as some heavy hitters that were already there, like Borderlands 2, Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel!, and Civilization: Beyond Earth.
I will never, EVER buy a pre-built, overpriced-yet-underpowered Steam machine, but I desperately want them to succeed. The more people who really buy into machines that run SteamOS, the more popular Linux gets, and it looks like that popularity is already starting to build. There are more triple-A games on Linux now than there ever were in the past, and being able to run them all on an OS that's completely restriction free makes me giddy.
5:06 PM on 02.27.2015
When I was young, I played with a TON of action figures. Power Rangers, Ninja Turtles, Batman, Spider-Man, Thundercats... I could make this entire blog just a big list of the action figures I liked. There was a disconcerting lack of Nintendo-based action figures in the 80s and 90s, though; this wasn't the amiibo-rich paradise in which we're blessed enough to currently reside. I longed for the day when Mario figures would be available, so I could break all of them along with my other toys, but it didn't really happen. Sure, we got the Super Mario Bros. movie figures, but let's be realistic about this: I wanted to ENJOY my toys.
My parents raised me to remember that things didn't have to be expensive or fancy in order to entertain me, and they were right. I remember making myself costumes and such out of random things I'd find around the house, and the same went for action figures; if there was a figure I wanted and couldn't find, I just tried to make my own out of cardboard or something like that. They were like paper dolls, except I never played dress-up with them.
As you can probably imagine, my parents were much better artists than I was when I was three. I asked them to draw for me Mario characters based on their appearances in the game manuals, and I kept them all this time. Pulling them out and reminiscing about all the times I'd entertain myself with them and how much time my parents had put into creating them, I instantly felt as if I was being swept back into my childhood, and as someone who considers nostalgia to be my forte when it comes to writing, I love that feeling. Not only do these drawings remind me of how I could say I had Mario "figures" that nobody else had, but it also reminded me of how much my parents were willing to do to make me happy (something I never actually need to be reminded of).
Here we have Racoon Luigi on the left and Super Mario on the right. You could always immediately tell which ones my dad drew (Mario, in this case), because they always looked more realistic than the official artwork. A lot of the characters face left because I'm right-handed, and I wanted to see the awesome artwork as I played with them, dammit!
You can't be a forever-flying raccoon without a P-Wing! Look at how happy he is!
Remember the Birdos that only shot fireballs in Super Mario Bros. 2? The one on the left is one of those. I remember playing the game with my dad, and I wanted to fight Birdo so much (colloquially known as the "Egg Bird" in my youth) that he would just tell me to call him back into the room when I was done leaving the screen and making Birdo respawn over and over.
AW YEAH, BOY. You know Mario found a Starman recently. AND he's got a Cape? He's living the good life!
I was absolutely TERRIBLE at playing as Frog Mario in Super Mario Bros. 3 when I was younger. I had my mom draw this one facing to the right because I wanted a drawing of it, but I didn't expect to play with it as much as the others, which just sounds hysterical now.
Here, we have an assortment of Mario 3-related drawings. First is the Tanooki statue, then a Fire Brother, and one of those incredibly annoying and hard-to-kill Fire Snakes.
Dry Bones! I always loved this guy. I thought it was awesome that you couldn't kill them, and I loved to watch them get up so I could crush them again. I was a disturbed child.
Back to Super Mario Bros. 2 for some more enemies. There's more of a variety here: Albatoss, a Flurry and a Pidgit, which is still fun to say out loud.
These were always some of my favorite drawings. I love the level of detail that both of my parents put into the Koopa Kids, and I even had them draw a few Magic Wands separately, so I could pretend that other characters could use them.
For this one, I wanted to channel my inner Captain N fanboy. If you've seen the show, you can undoubtedly still remember Game Boy's annoying voice, but I loved everything about that cartoon as a kid.
BONUS! I posted this in a comments section a little bit ago, but I think it fits quite well here. My mom made this Kirby out of Play-Doh WAY back in the day, and we just dried it out and kept it. Part of his right arm is missing, but not so much that he looks injured or anything. I'm honesty surprised that he's held up as well has he has after all these years.
Thinking about everything my parents did/do for me always brings a tear to my eye, but I love reliving those memories whenever I can. These are some of the coolest toys I ever had, and yes, they were definitely toys. Of all the things I've owned over the years, these are some of the most precious to me, and I'll always be able to tell you exactly where they can be found at any given moment.
Thanks for making my childhood so amazing, Mom and Dad.
4:34 PM on 12.07.2014
The father of video games, Ralph Baer, has passed away at 92 years old.
This guy, for those who may not have heard of him, started EVERYTHING. He's the reason we discuss everything on this website and hundreds of others, he's the reason we have the hobby that we do, and he's the reason that we've become the tightly-knit community that we are. It's incredible that the niche thing that he invented exploded into what it is today.
I'm not really all that good at eulogies and the like, so I'll just leave you with this video of Baer appearing at Video Games Live: Level 2.
7:51 PM on 11.25.2014
Wow, it looks like FROM is REALLY screwing people with this upgrade. I guess the servers will be split for the console versions, too, but on the PC, they're essentially charging for an engine upgrade. What the hell.
It looks like everyone is getting their wish, as Dark Souls II: Scholar of the First Sin is coming to current-gen consoles. The PC isn't being left out, either, as a new, DirectX 11-based version is launching alongside the console versions. The improvements will come in the form of a free update for everyone who already owns the original version on the PS3, 360 and PC (except for the original three DLC packs, obviously, which you'll have to buy if you haven't already); since the game hasn't made it to the PS4 or Xbox One before now, those versions will be brand-new releases with everything included.
New NPCs, better online, improved graphics and more are coming. As a huge fan of the Souls series and an owner of the giant collector's package of the second game on Steam, I couldn't be happier right now. Dark Souls II is one of my favorite games of all time (yes, even more than the first one, even though I think I'm in the minority there), so I'm absolutely ecstatic about this.
2:48 PM on 11.22.2014
I've been a huge fan of Super Smash Bros. since the very beginning. I took a chance and picked up the original on the N64 the day it came out, and I've been in love with the series ever since. When the new games were announced, it was a given that I'd get at least the Wii U version, which I played all last night on my girlfriend's console. (I still won't buy a Wii U for myself, and this game highlights the reason pretty well; there will most likely be another blog dedicated solely to that.)
I'm well aware that I'm in the minority when I say that I truly thought Brawl was the best game in the series. I thought that other than the tripping mechanic, which was sloppy and unnecessary, every single aspect of Brawl was better than Melee. I went into this new game knowing that it had a lot to live up to in my mind, and while I'm still every so slightly more partial to Brawl, I'm extremely happy with how this one turned out.
We've had HD for years, yet Nintendo HD tends to look better than anything else I've ever seen, and this game is no exception. The colors pop, the environments look like they were taken right out of their original games, and everything runs flawlessly at a never-dropping 60fps. It's a huge improvement over Brawl, which was obviously only in standard definition on the original Wii. Ironically, though, when I ran Brawl on my desktop through the Dolphin emulator just to compare the two, I was actually able to make Brawl look pretty much graphically identical to the brand-new Wii U game. Comparing them on the original hardware, though, is no contest. The level of detail in the new Super Smash Bros. is staggering, whether you're looking at the playable fighters, things far away in the background, or the entire battlefield as a whole.
Have you noticed that I have yet to refer to the Wii U title as anything other than "the new one?" There are a million different fighting-related words Nintendo could have chosen, but they chose "for 3DS" and "for Wii U" instead, which is idiotic to me; it makes it sound like the new games are remakes of the original N64 game for the 3DS and Wii U. I don't know what possessed them; did they think if they didn't put the platform in the title that we'd forget which version we're playing?
EDIT: It has been brought to my attention that the "for" in the titles ("for Wii U" and "for 3DS") is supposed to be a play on the number four, since it's the fourth title in the series. What the hell.
COOL: 8-PLAYER MODE
So, you can have eight people play the new Super Smash Bros. On one screen. With up to seven Wii Remotes.
When I heard about this, I didn't know what to think, but it's just so hectic and fun that I can't help but love it. I've only played with CPU fighters in this mode so far, so I can't attest to having seven friends sitting next to me just yet, but it's pretty easy to figure out how it'd go. It's the ultimate party game, which is what Super Smash Bros. has always been from the start. I only wish you could do 8-player Luigi's Mansion, all Ice Climbers with infinite curry on; that'd be a fun way to see if the console would explode or not.
MEH: SINGLE CHARACTERS
Speaking of the missing Ice Climbers, I just can't help but feel that the roster this time around is a little eh. Don't get me wrong, I like having characters like Mega Man, Little Mac, and Shulk in there, and other characters, like Pit, are completely different than they were before; I'm not hating on the actual character choice, since there are actually a bunch more this time around (althought a lot of them are just clones; Dark Pit? Was he really necessary in the slightest?). But I really miss the ability to change characters mid-battle. It's cool that they kept Zero Suit Samus and Shiek, but I liked being able to switch between them while I was fighting an opponent; it put my own skills of mastering multiple characters to the test while also forcing my opponent to change tactics to fight someone completely new.
The one that really stands out to me is Charizard, who was introduced as part of the Pokemon Trainer's original three starters in Brawl. I thought the Pokemon Trainer was one of the most unique characters I had ever seen in a fighting game, and it sucks that two-thirds of that team was eliminated. I feel like this new title has much less strategy involved, and much more outright button mashing; it seems a lot more straight forward, and I don't know how into that I am. Changing characters on a whim was a fantastic way of keeping your opponent on his/her toes, and building up your own more varied skill set, as well.
COOL: CUSTOM CHARACTERS
I think it's really cool that you can not only fight as your personal Mii characters, but also transfer them between the Wii U and 3DS versions of the game. Miis have always kind of fascinated me, and I think they tend to fit in well with every Nintendo-made game, despite the fact that they look even more cartoony than Mario himself. I'm a really big fan of character creation, and despite Miis being really simple and easy to make, seeing them in action is always welcome; I even remember playing as no one but my own Mii in Mario Kart Wii. That probably won't happen quite as much in this game, but it's awesome that the option is still there.
I also like the ability to customize the built-in Nintendo characters. The Super Smash Bros. series has always been so varied the second you start a match, and being able to take what's already there and tweak it adds a completely new dynamic to the game and increases it's already huge lifespan.
MEH: LOADING SCREENS
The amount of loading screens in the new Super Smash Bros. is actually kind of amazing. Going to select a character? Loading screen. Finishing up a match? Loading screen. Changing modes? Loading screen, and they're not always short, either. I feel like I'm playing Sonic '06 half the time.
In Brawl, you had one single loading screen in the beginning of the game, and then you never saw it again. I have no idea why that same thing wasn't kept for this iteration, but it really does take me out of the mood when I feel like I actually have enough time in between matches that I can put the controller down. After a game that had instant transitions, shouldn't the newer game on the more powerful hardware be able to do the same thing? It's a little staggering that loading screens even exist in this game, let alone how many of them there are.
EDIT: After getting the Wii U online and downloading an update for the game, it seems like the loading screens have at least been shortened. They're much more bearable now, but it still kind of sucks that they exist. Brawl majorly spoiled me in that regard.
Anyway, there are my two cents. I love this series so much, and I'm super excited that we're finally able to enjoy a new one. While Brawl will always hold a special place in my heart, it's nice to start from square one again, rehoning my skills that have no doubt gotten rusty over the years. And hey, maybe online play will work well enough this time that I'll actually want to utilize it more than once!
6:03 AM on 10.15.2014
I was able to get The Evil Within at launch for a pretty good price, so I decided to jump on it. I've only played a little bit of the game, but I wanted to say a few things about the PC version.
First, unfortunately, the PC version reeks of being a console port. Now, console ports aren't necessarily bad by default, but this one has barely anything that actually takes advantage of the fact that it's on the PC, so it's kind of hard to overlook. First of all, there are barely any graphics settings outside of shadow quality and anti-aliasing; you're not going to be doing a lot of tweaking here. Second, there are HUGE black bars on the top and bottom of the screen. This can be modified with console commands, but that shouldn't have to be something we have to mess with through text, and the lack of actual visual customization is kind of a twist of the proverbial knife. Not only that, but some of the scene transitions look really weird without that super-widescreen aspect ratio. Still, the game is graphically beautiful, and I'm sure it'll be updated to be a bit more user friendly in the future (Bethesda has already confirmed that patches are coming).
The thing that gets me is the framerate: Initially, it's locked to 30fps. It can be unlocked with one of the console commands I mentioned earlier, but I don't recommend changing it, since the framerate is really janky in The Evil Within. I have a pretty capable desktop now, and after trying both locked and unlocked, I swear, there are parts that won't go above about 25fps even if I set the resolution to 800x600; yes, I'm serious. This is probably my biggest problem with the game so far, and I wish I had a PS4 or Xbox One to compare it to, just for curiosity's sake.
As far as the actual game goes, I'm really enjoying it so far. It's sufficiently creepy, and it has that early Resident Evil cheesiness that I can't help but love; it's absolutely a Mikami game, and I wouldn't have had it any other way. I'm looking forward to diving into it head-first later today with my girlfriend, and if it goes the way I think it will, we're in for an enjoyable ride.
Overall, The Evil Within on the PC is definitely playable, but it needs a hell of a lot of work before it's optimized enough to be considered a proper PC "version." While I'm fine with the experience because I didn't BUY IT AT A HIGH PRICE!, I'm a little sick of the way developers and publishers keep releasing obviously unfinished games; I really do wish sometimes that our gaming machines weren't capable of going online so companies would be forced to actually finish their games before releasing them, just like in the good old days.
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