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Hey, I'm sonic429, just call me sonic. I've been gaming since the 8 bit days, my first system was the Atari 7800. I try to play as many different types of games as possible, but my favorite genres are platformers, adventure, and fighters. I grew up with Nintendo and Sega so they will always be special to me, but I also have love for Sony and Microsoft.

Being fair and balanced is always my goal when forming my opinions, and I'm a very opinionated gamer. So if you don't agree with me I have no problems hearing the other side of the argument provided you can back it up. That's the way we all grow in knowledge and gain maturity. But most of all I'm here to have fun and interact with the community.

Happy gaming.
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Every so often I get asked what my favorite game of all time is, and for a long time I didn't really have an answer. It's kind of like a favorite song, it just changes so often that it's hard to nail down one. But I thought about it and it dawned on me: it's Super Mario 64.

I wanted to give my story on how I came to that conclusion. For as long as I could remember I was always interested in video games. I only enjoyed watching at first, too scared I was going to die, but eventually I worked up the nerve to try it for myself one day. The game was the orginal Super Mario Bros, and yes I did die (at least I assume I did) but I don't remember that. I just remember having a great time, and then subseqently needing to get my hands on the game, and of course an NES to play it on.

For me that was a point of revelation. I was probably only 7 or 8 at the time, but I remember the exact spot I was when I fell in love with gaming. The fact that I can still go there is interesting to me as well, something about that is just special to me. Eventually, I did get the system and found myself growing with gaming as the medium evolved. So I played each game in order, I feel like I could fully appreciate the jump in fidelity that each game offered. Each of the original games and Mario World just resonated with me but in differerent ways. To this day platformers are my favorite genre.

At that time I would have considered myself a casual gamer. Sure I enjoyed playing games on a semi regular basis, but I knew nothing of the industry, I didn't know that the 3D revolution was about to begin, nor did I know how impactful it would become to me. 

The next turning point for me was the day I walked into a Toys R Us in 1996. I remember seeing multiple demo N64 systems playing and no one was around. I grabbed that strange new controller and saw Mario in 3D for the first time. Unfortunatley the analog stick was out of alignment so Mario moved of his own accord. I tried to fool around with the controller but ended up frustrated at the malfunction. If you would have watched me as a 12 year old you would have though I walked away disapointed. But that day it planted a seed in my mind. 

                                             Not the most intuitive controller ever made

The next year rolled around and I still had that seed in my mind. It had grown signifigantly so I asked for an N64 for Christmas. I wasn't so sure I could get it as my parents weren't in the best financial situation, but lo and behold my dad said yes...with some strings attached. See he wanted something out of me, I had to get on the honor roll at school and go out for wrestling. I wasn't the smartest kid but I had an easy enough schedule for 8th grade, but wrestling was another story. Wresting involved 3 hour practices through the week and 8 hour meets on Saturday's. Talk about having no life, but it was a way, I took the bargain.

That Christmas morning to this very day, was the best I ever had and probably ever will have. Now perhaps that has clouded my judgement, but I can't help but have the fondest memories of that Christmas.

Okay so what about Mario 64? Well I actually didn't get it till the following spring actually, money was hard to come by but at least Diddy Kong Racing (the game my parents bough with it) was enough to keep me occupied. 

                                              Yeah, I got the player's choice version...

But when I finally did get my hands on the game I must say I was estatic. I think what most impressed me about the title was the freedom that it offered. All previous entries into the series were all about moving left to right, power ups, and getting to the end with the allloted time. But now there was no time limit. If I wanted to spend 15 minutes trying to find a secret in the courtyard I could. If I wanted to complete objectives out of order I could. But I think what really got me excited, was the idea that if I wanted to complete an objective in my own way, I could do that.

One such example is the second world in Mario 64 called Thwomp's fortress. There was a star in a cage way up in the air. Now what you're supposed to do is climb up in the tree in the front and an owl would come out and take you up there. I had no idea about the owl so I got in one of the cannons and started trying to blast my way over there. I can't tell you how long it took, but I eventually got it.

There were other things that made an impression in my then 13 year old mind. Mario 64 brought a lot of new concepts to my attention. Flying in a 3D space for instance was something I was only vaguely familar with. I played the original Star Fox but changed the pitch to normal. When I grabbed the wing cap and blasted out of a cannon, I was forced to learn inverted controls and analog movement. I learned other things too, like how to control a camera, or how false walls work, and even got my first taste of survival horror. To this day the Ghost house music still creeps me out.

To me it was the perfect game to cut my teeth on, and is one of the few games that I feel deserves a perfect 10. No, it's not a perfect game, but it epitomizes what a 10 should be. It was beatiful, had amazing music, spot on controls (for Mario at least), tons of content and secrets, and has aged rather gracefully. I could knock it for the camera controls but it's 1996. That's like playing basketball with a retarded kid and calling him for double dribble, you gotta let a few things go. 

Long story short it took me from a casual gamer to a hardcore. It made me appecitate all the nuances that we take for granted in today's games. It pioneered 3D gaming and should be on everyone's list as one the greatest games ever made. 

Photo Photo








 It's no secret that the Sonic games have had their ups and downs for years. If you look at some of the games that Sega has really put their heart and soul into you can see some brillant examples of quality platforming. But conversly, you can see where Sega has just slapped games together for a quick buck or for a contractual obligation. What's odd about this is we've seen perfect examples of both in this past generation. So much like my blog on Virtua Fighter (which you should read, nudge, nudge) I want to discuss what I would like to see from the next Sonic game.

First off I want to clarify that I am talking about the next console Sonic game. It's not that I have anything against handheld Sonic games, it's just that the kind of scope I am looking for isn't going to be as easily accomplished on a handheld format. 

First off I want to address the overworld. I feel like Sonic developers have been fooling with different ideas for the overworld since the orignal Sonic Adventure back in 1999. While I really liked running around as Sonic and the crew in a fairly large hub world (for the time) I felt like it had far too many problems. There was a lot of tacked on puzzles, too much backtracking, and the camera went apeshit in tight quarters. The novelty of climbing up the terrain with Kunckles quickly died when I was constantly glitching the enviornment or scratching my hea trying to solve some cryptic puzzle.

The hubworld in any Sonic game needs to be straightforward and well thought out. The game I think that nailed this was Sonic Unleashed. Before you say it, yes, Sonic Unleashed was a bad Sonic game, one of the worst, but that doesn't mean we can't glean from some of the parts they got right. I liked that it had a litteral world map where you chose your world location. It was easy to see where you were and what options you had available to you. Once you clicked on a location you would then drop into the overworld for that region. The entrances to the levels were clearly maked as well as the requirements to enter them. There were also places to explore so there's room for hidden power ups. Sonic games don't need you to solve puzzles to unlock levels, they need to let you concentrate on platforming and exporation. Sonic games in the future need to adopt this philosophy in design.  

Secondly, the engine. This is the real mean and potatoes of the game. Admittedly, Sonic Team has been doing much better in this area as of late. The days of random pits, momentum killing obstacles, horrid cameras, and glitching through environments are over. Not to say that still doesn't happen, but it's far less frequent. If you don't think Sonic has evolved much over the years, go play Sonic Colors or Generations, then go and play Sonic Adventure 1 or 2. I feel like there's still room for improvement though. I would like to see differerent shields make a return, I also feel like water sections are sorely missed (I'm probably alone on that) as well as heavier interactions with enviornments. I also feel there are far too many sections that run in autopilot. Don't get me wrong, they look cool, but that's hardly something to base a game on. Long story short, I want to take the ideas from the Genesis games and convert them over into the modern 3D entries. 

Along with that I want more playable characters. Back in the day I used to whine when they shoehorned unfun characters into the game for the sake of variety, but that was because Sega couldn't get it right. For whatever reason they thought fishing with a retarded cat (Yes you Big) was a good idea. They fullfilled my dream of gliding around with Knuckles in 3D only to restrain him to digging for emeralds in a small space. I never understood why I can't tackle the same levels that I just cleared with Sonic, with Tails and Kuckles. That's what made Sonic 3/Knuckles the best game on the Genesis. It gave three destinct play styles but retained the fun and intuitive Sonic gameplay that we all know and love. Would it take some clever level designs? Yes, but that's what needs to happen. How cool would it be to go through the same level with each of the 3 main characters and have a unique expereince each time. I wouln't mind at all if each world had 3 acts. If the themes can bear the repetition I would welcome it.

Speaking of theme I feel that needs to be addressed. For whatever reason Sega seems to want to treat the Sonic like Mattel treats Barbie. What I mean by that is they keep wanting to spice up the franchise with a new gimmick or mechanic instead of just making a quaility game. The old Sonic games never did this but then again suppose you have to do something to make the annual Sonic release stand out. 

I never played Sonic 06 and from what I've heard I don't want to. But the aethetics sure looked like what I want from a sonic game. No goofy wisps, no scarfs and tape, just classic Sonic themes. I feel like they had a great idea in rebooting Sonic the hedgehog for a new generation it was just so horribly excecuted that it had the opposite effect. I would be really estatic just to see the character settle down in a good series of games with a consistant storyline. And I don't think it needs to be said that having any kind of kinky fanfiction relationships is just out of the question. 

Finally, I think the series needs some replay value. I've always been irrititated by how little there is to do beyond the main quest with more modern entries. I realized that there have been attempts with DLC (Sonic Lost World) side quests (Sonic Generations) and extra objectives like the Red Rings and Time Trials (all the recent Sonic games) but they just don't bring much t the table. I really loved the idea of raising chaos from the first two Sonic Adventure games. I never got into it becauise playing on the VMU screen seemed lame, and I never was quite sure how to get into it. But maybe if they adequately explained the process or better yet rebooted it, I might give it a legitimate chance. It doesn't even have to be chao racing, just the idea of a side game that can be played interchangeably with the main quest seems awesome. One of the best examples I can think of is the card game from Final Fantasy VIII. You could completley ingnore that aspect of the game or you could spend hours challenging people and building up an impressive deck, better yet use those cards to aid you on your quest. Something like that would be amazing for the Sonic games. 

I really enjoy the Sonic games. I feel like they have a lot of charm, the levels are fast and frantic, the music is often memorable and I usually look forward to the next game in the series. I just feel like more often than not the ball is dropped on the finer elements (usually in the second half of the game) that keeps it from being a stellar franchise. Just a little more variety, attention to detail and quality control would go a long way to bring Sonic back to its former greatness.









As I'm sure that most of you are aware last week Nintendo announced their plans to release a new model of the 3DS aptly called the "new" 3DS. The new 3DS features a slew of improvements basically fixing every issue the current model 3DS has. Let's go over them shall we?

1 Circle pad pro built in
2 Improved processor speed for downloads and web browsing 
3 Removed blur issue when viewing 3D content from off angle
4 Improved battery life
5 Improved screen
6 Improved web browser with better support for video playback
7 Now uses micro SD as opposed to full sized cards 



All this without a price increase, and it's coming to Japan this fall with an expected release date in the States in the spring. Pretty grand news right? Except there's one little problem: the announcement that Xenoblade Chronicles is coming and will be exclusive to the new 3DS. 

Now I will be the first to admit that I was a little taken back by this announcement. What this essentially means is that existing 3DS owners will be unable to play this new 3DS game. If this is a sign of things to come, it would essentially fragment the install base between owners of the original model, and owners of the new model 3DS.

So how did the gaming community respond to this news? Loudly and ignorantly. Now I shouldn't be surprised by this as the lack of information always seems to lead to rampant speculation and people assume the worst. The point of my blog is to put the whole issue into perspective. Let's look at similar situations in the past, and see how it turned out, rather than jumping to conclusions. 

Most of us are old enough to remember the release of the Game Boy Color back in 1998 (I'm using US release dates). The original Game Boy came out in 1989 and by the mid 90's it was getting long in the tooth, in fact at that point it in time, it was beginning to fade into obscurity. Nintendo brought out the Game Boy color with improved specs, a color screen and full backwards compatibility. While this was technically a generational leap because it came out during the 5th generation, from a practical standpoint, it was more like a half step. But you know what? It segregated the Game Boy audience. There were 3 types of cartridges, the original gray cartridges that we already knew, the black ones that could still be played in the original hardware but had color if played in a GBC, and clear cartridges that could only be played in a GBC. 


There were two types of GBC games


But that was 9 years after the original model was released, you might say, and you would be correct. I personally feel Nintendo waited far too long to release that model. In my humble opinion, that should have been released around 1995. Even if it would have been a bit bulkier, it would have given the GBC the proper shelf life it deserved, they could have always released a slim unit a little later. But even with that mistake made, it still turned out really well. Along with the release of Pokemon that same year, it revitalized the Game boy line. People loved the GBC and were more than happy to buy in with all the improvements. They didn't complain about being locked out of certain games, they appreciated the improvement in technology.

Fast forward to 2009 with the release of the DSi. The original DS came out in 2004, with the lite following in 2006. The DSi also offered a slew of improvements over the DS lite, built in cameras, SD card slot, built in apps, and access to the DSi shop. It came at a cost though, the DS lite was $129, wheres the DSi came in at $169. The price jump was a hurdle, worse yet, they removed the GBA slot which eliminated backwards compatibility as well as compatibility with any accessory that used it, rendering any game that required it unplayable. The DSi shop was only available on the DSi, so DS lite owners wouldn't be able to play any DSiware game on there nor any physical games exclusive to the DSi, there were 5 total. You want to talk about segmenting the audience? That just put a line right down the middle. Thing is, Nintendo kept selling the DS lite long after the DSi was released, I know, I bought a DS lite brand new in 2010. 


No one seemed upset that this couldn't be played on a regular DS.


How did people respond to this news? Surprisingly well, all things considered. People were excited to see the new model of the DS. They didn't complain about not having access to DSi games, DSiware or having to give up backwards compatibility to get it. 

So why on God's green earth is the gaming community throwing a fit now? Let's look at the facts. The only game announced that will not be compatible with the current model is Xenoblade Chronicles. That game has been out on Wii for over 3 years. If you were so hard pressed to play it, why haven't you done so by now? Even with the improved specs on the new 3DS I'm willing to be it's still going to look and run better on Wii. Will there be more? Maybe, maybe not, but do you really think Nintendo is going to put all their eggs in one basket? Do you really think Nintendo is suddenly going to stop making regular 3DS games and just start making exclusive "new" 3DS games? No. It doesn't make sense from a business standpoint, the install base is too large to just abandon the platform mid generation. Nintendo didn't stop making regular DS games in 2009 nor did they stop making original Game Boy games in 1998. So why would you think that suddenly Nintendo has abandoned the original 3DS?

The fact of the matter is Nintendo did this with the consumer in mind, they announced this months in advance. They were pro consumer enough to hurt their own holiday sales just to be straightforward and honest with people. If they were trying to get one over on us they could have easily waited till after the holiday season to announce a new model. 

As I said before they addressed every issue people had with the original model. Their response was that the "new" 3DS was the one they should have made back in 2012. While that would have been nice, Nintendo has always succeeded in the handheld market because they use older tech. Nintendo took a major hit when they dropped the price from $250 to $169, but that's what turned the platform around. 

By contrast look at what Sony has done with the Vita. They cheapened the materials used with the revised unit, the screen wen't from an OLED to a regular LCD. We did get  a price drop on the system and the memory, but it's still a notably more expensive handheld to purchase. The 3DS is getting a much better unit without a price increase, yet people are still complaining. By contrast to the Vita the 3DS simply has a better catalog of games (along with full backwards compatibility) more compelling features and a cheaper price. I'm not saying the Vita is a bad system, it's just outclassed by its competition. What I'm saying is Nintendo understands the handheld market. Do you really think that Nintendo who has dominated the dedicated handheld market for the past 25 years doesn't know what they are doing? 

At the end of the day I don't think we'll see much of a division at all. We didn't see much of one on the DSi, we won't see much of one on the 3DS. There will always be new models on the market with new features, that is the nature of the market.  I predict only a handful of titles that are exclusive just to get people to buy the new unit. So keep your 3DS that you just bought. I can't see loosing any sleep over the matter. This is a good thing, we are getting a good deal out of this and Nintendo is pushing the platform in the right direction. Be thankful that it's not being used as a companion device and that it has a slew of quality titles with many more years ahead of it. 

Photo Photo Photo







sonic429
6:48 PM on 08.23.2014

In a blog that is sure to be controversial I have decided to talk about why I am not a PC gamer. Now I don't write this to rekindle an age old argument, but to really settle once and for all my stance on why I prefer console gaming. This is not to say one is better than the other, I view them to be two different formats for two different types of gamers. Much like gas or electric powered devices, the best choice really lies in which application.

First off let me say that I grew up with consoles. I didn't have one to call my own till about 8 or so years old. I so badly wanted an NES, I had friends that had them, and I was just fascinated by the console. I begged and pleaded with my father to get me the system, and he responded...with an Atari 7800. It wasn't what I wanted but I'm glad I started with it. I got to play arcade perfect ports of games from the golden era. I later did move on to the NES, then SNES, Genesis and so on. In fact, I've owned every mainstream console (and some non mainstream ones) up until the last generation, and eventually I do plan on buying an Xbox One and a Playstation 4. And while I do love all 3 companies, it should be no secret to anyone following me, I have a special place for Nintendo games. 



This is the stuff dreams are made of


This really leads me to my first point is Nintendo games. While Sony and Microsoft have their exclusives, and some of them are near and dear to my heart, nothing really captures the magic of a first party Nintendo game. That is not to say everything they put their hands to is gold, but in my opinion they make the best games on the planet, and they only exist on Nintendo consoles. There's something about playing them, as if the hardware feels specifically built to play their games (ironically this is not far removed from the truth). I know of their third party problems, in fact I would say the last 5 years has been the worst I have ever seen it. But you know what, the Nintendo developed games have been better in the past 5 years than they were the previous 10. So it goes without saying that if I went strictly to PC, I wouldn't have access to those games, at least not legally.


But my issues with PC don't stop there. I would say in general PC exclusives do not appeal to me. Now this may be because I generally don't play on the PC enough to enjoy the exclusive games, but there has to be a certain level of initial appeal in order for me to jump in. Games like World of Warcraft, Sim City, Starcraft, Dota 2, and League of Legends just aren't my cup o tea. MMO's tend to be very time consuming and require a monthly installment. Yes, I realize that free to play is coming in, but there are still developed to take your money, even if it is given willfully. I'm the kind of person that likes more of a pick up and play game style. I may be very hardcore in my love of gaming, but my playstyle is remarkably casual. I rarely finish a game, I get bored easily and have wanderlust. There is always another game coming out grabbing my attention. If I do manage to finish a game I find that to be a testament to its quality. So any game that requires a hefty investment before a return is a hard sell for me.


Not exactly my cup o' tea

Another thing that PC gamers tend to enjoy is modding. Now I personally have never modded a game or spent much time in a modded game. I've seen them, they seem cool and  I can understand the appeal of them. People like to give games their own themes, or graphical changes, and it's all free. But I can't say that I have a desire to create. Will Wright (creator of Sim City) talks about the different kinds of powers that games offer. And one of those is creative power. His games are probably the finest example of creative power; the power to shape the world around them. I can't say that that aspect of gaming is something I have ever really desired. Frankly, I'll be honest, I'm not a creative person. I don't play D&D because I've never had much of imagination. I never spend much time in level editors or character creators. When I play a game where I can name my characters, I always choose the default, and have a hard time naming them if no default is given. I want to play the experience that was intended by the developers. When developers give me the option to create my own, I'm hard pressed to do so. Maybe it's a personal limitation, but modding has no appeal to me.

Now lets talk aesthetics. A point PC gamers tend to bring up constantly is that PC games tend to look and sound the best. And you know what, you'll get no argument from me. That's true almost every single time. It's an open box, there's no way a closed box could ever really compete. But something really strange has happened over the past few years, consoles have been doing a remarkably good job of keeping pace. Now obviously the PC games look better, but considering how long the PS3 and 360 have been on the shelf, they are still relevant consoles. And this is not just from a market standpoint the way the original Game Boy was relevant in 1998 (despite ancient tech) this is technological relevance. The fact is we have consoles that have been on the market for nearly a decade and they are getting ports of PC games fully intact. These aren't bastardized ports that are a shadow of the PC version, they are very respectable ports with only toned down visuals, gameplay is untouched. Adding further insult to injury the new consoles that we have are only offering a marginal improvement over the last generation, and these are fundamentally only mid range PC's. So if we're getting the same basic experiences with only the PC advantages (which don't appeal to me), why would I be so hard pressed to game on a PC?

As someone who has been gaming since the 8 bit days, I have to say I am impressed to see how far visuals have come. Today's games look so amazing, it's hard to believe how far we've come in my short 30 years on this planet. With that being said, I'm not sure I really feel like I need better graphics. I feel like Nintendo had this very same philosophy back in 2006 when the Wii was launched, but they were too early. They never fully embraced the technological advances that brought gaming to its current state, hence the Wii was ostracized dispute having some very forward thinking ideas. The fact that the Wii U caries this philosophy successfully without any significant sacrifices in terms of performance yet isn't seeing the success that was unduly lavished upon the Wii perturbs me to absolutely no end. In other words, Wii U is doing everything the Wii was attempting to do, but nobody appreciates it for doing so. I don't really need better graphics, I need new gameplay. This is why I connect with the system so deeply. I share Nintendo's vision for a future of gaming with new ideas. Progression is not just higher resolutions and better framerates, but fresh ideas, and new gameplay options.

PC evolves upon a linear path of improved performance, letting developers do all the legwork, but the interface is aggravatingly stagnant. We have been using the keyboard and mouse for the past 20 years with only marginal improvements. Sure there are other technologies in the works such as the Oculus rift and Leap motion, but I do wonder about the viability of those products. Perhaps the steam controller will come along and change how we think of interacting with our games, but every incarnation moves us closer to a traditional controller. By contrast Nintendo has brought us dual screens, touch screen, gyro controls, and motion controls. Not that they were the first to implement these technologies, just the ones to bring them to gaming successfully. Even Kinect has shaken things up with voice commands and hands free gaming. It may not have the respect and adoration of the hardcore gaming crowd (somewhat justified in light of how it was marketed) but still, it's a new way to game. Long story short, I find more innovation in the console gaming space than I do in PC.  


At least the graphics are better...

Now lets move on to my biggest gripe with PC is the hardware. I could go on with the cost of the building a rig, the time and research involved, and upgrade costs. But when the whole thing is said and done, I actually don't have a problem with that. It's not really that expensive to buy a PC, and there's quite a bit of leeway. There's older parts, and you can upgrade as you get money and even if you aren't a PC guru chances are you know someone who is. It's actually the PC itself that I don't like.

In my mind PC's are primarily built for computing (shocking, I know). I've always viewed them as the ultimate multimedia device. There is no better way to store files, type up a report, surf the web, or scan a document than a modern PC. I don't think this point needs to be proven. But when it comes to gaming on the PC itself, I tend to dislike the experience.

First off, I'm not a fan of the keyboard and mouse for gaming. Sure for RTS, strategy and sim, there really is no better way to play. But bear in mind those are games I never play. For most other types of games, a good old controller is the order of the day. Even for FPS's, I find the keyboard and mouse to be cumbersome, analog movements aren't available and finding the correct command in without looking is problematic. I realize there are many FPS players that could easily best me when challenged in that regard, but it's my personal preference. I feel more comfortable with a standard controller than anything. Can I use a regular controller on PC games? Absolutely! Is it already optimized and universally supported? No. Fact is, keyboard and mouse are the de facto inputs for a PC, and as such you need to rely on those primarily. 

The other problem arises is that I want to play games on my couch using my 7.2 surround sound and 60 in Plasma TV. Can I do that with a PC? Absolutely! Can I do it without making major concessions? No. I need my PC for those computing things, you know like typing blogs, surfing the web, storing multimedia files, and that's really hard to do when it's hooked up to a 60 inch television. There are solutions to that, such as having another PC for those functions, or setting up a desk with a second monitor, but those involve costly investments and difficult arraignments. Simply put, it's much more convenient for me to game on a console than it is to make my PC do it.

I like consoles for their simplicity. I love that I can simply plug in the device, connect to the internet and the work is basically done for me. Sure these new consoles have some of the headaches that a PC has but it's still generally easier to keep a console up to date and running properly than a PC. Granted PC's do a lot more, but we're talking about from a pure gaming standpoint. It just seems that more often than not I run into issues from PC games. I purchased Battlefield 2 in a yard sale and tried to play it. I downloaded the massive patch only to be told that it was older than the current version I just installed off the disc. I tried to run Diablo II only to run into heavy audio/visual artifacts rending the game basically unplayable until I found the patch. I purchased Halo 2, and it installed just fine but when I tried to boot it, it refused. Microsoft apparently knew of the issue and refused to update the game. Metro 2033 I purchased from Steam only for it not to boot. Now I fixed all of these issues through different means, be it fan made patches, or through back doors that others have found. I was grateful for the gaming community's resilience, but honestly, why should I have to do these things?

When I pop a copy of Legend of Zelda Twilight Princess into my Gamecube, it runs, no questions asked. When I download a game from PSN, onto my PS3, it just works. Not to say small issues don't come along here and there, but nothing of the magnitude of PC problems. The fact is PC's are designed to do so many different things, and considering how much it can do, I find it amazing how few issues do arise, but still, for gaming, it's far far too frequent for my tastes.

There are other aspects of PC gaming that I take issue with. One of the things that I really enjoy doing is local multiplayer. There's nothing quite like grabbing a couple of controllers and setting up a local match. Moreover, if I want to play a game of Halo with my friends over LAN, it's incredibly easy to make that happen. A few times a year I have my friends over to do just that. We hook our systems up via WLAN, and within minutes we can have up to 16 players simultaneously. Can PC's do this, yeah, but nowhere near as easily. For 16 players in Halo we only need 4 TV's, 4 consoles, 4 copies of the game, and enough controllers. Now that may seem like a lot, but between 16 people that's really not that hard to accomplish. Comparatively, you would need 16 PC's, copies of the game, capable PC's, monitors, and quite a few tables to make that happen. It's not just Halo either, people just don't get together to play local matches of games like Bomberman or Smash Bros on PC, it's just not done. To me, local multiplayer is a pillar of gaming, and one I'm not willing to give up to be exclusively a PC gamer.

There are others, I could go on about how I want physical copies of games, how I like to take my system to a friends house and play. I could bring up how I like to trade my games with my friends or to stores to get other games. I could mention how I enjoy used games. I love collecting for old gaming consoles, there's a certain nostalgic charm about getting a new Saturn or N64 game and playing it on old hardware. Long story short, I just love gaming on a console. I work in an office and I don't want to come home and get on my PC after being on it all day. I don't want to have to spend 10 hours downloading a 50 GB game only to find out I can't get a decent framerate out of it. If there's a problem with my video card, I can send the console in to the manufacturer and have it taken care of. Maybe that's not as appealing as being able to fix it yourself, but that's not where I personally stand.


Now this is my kind of party

Lastly, I want to say something to PC gamers is the attitude that I get from them in regards to this topic is shit and it needs to change. Now this is not a blanket condemnation, but you know there is an elitist attitude that comes from the PC gaming community that is very prevalent. Many PC gamers come off as snobs and I don't respond kindly to it.

I may not have had the highest praise for the platform, but believe me when I say I respect the PC gaming platform. I think it's a beautiful thing to have a passionate fanbase with people willing to help each other out. I think it's great that you share mods with each other, and are able to have games like MOBA's and MMO's with things like private servers. There's some very distinct advantages that PC's have over consoles. I respect that you enjoy it.

It's like an automatic transmission versus a manual. Sure the manual can do things the automatic can't, it's more efficient on gas, they tend to last longer, and I can see why people prefer the control. But that's not for everyone, it's for those who want it. For as many people prefer the manual, there are many more that prefer the automatic, technically inferior it may be, but for practicality's sake, it's hard to deny that automatics have their own appeal.

It's the attitude that comes across that console gamers are peasants and the real gamers game on PC that irritate me. There's no doubt PC can do everything a console can, but can it do it better? I trow not! Not in every circumstance, not in every way is the PC better, and the simple acknowledgement of that fact is all I really want from the PC gaming community. But that doesn't happen, at least not from my experience.

I was on IGN a few years back, and in my younger years I would call out the PC for it's faults. I had a 17 year old boy private message me and tell me how much I sucked for preferring consoles. He refused to acknowledge the weaknesses of the platform. He basically said that no one should even bother with a console given the absolute superiority of PC. Given his lack of maturity I should have just ignored the message but I wasn't one to back down from an argument. We went on for days, back and fourth until we reached a stalemate. Neither of us were willing to budge an inch. I finally came to the realization of the futility of the argument. I just ended up having to let the whole thing go. Since then I've began to learn the art of ending a fruitless conversation. I don't have to win an argument, I don't need to have the last word.

The point of this blog is not to levy some heavy grievances against the PC platform. Just to get the point across that I have weighed the pros and cons of each side and have come to the conclusion that consoles suit my playstyle much better than PC's. I love my PC, I'm on it all the time,  I just prefer not to game on it much. Why that point is so hard to drive across to some people is just baffling to me. What's so hard about listening when people say they prefer one platform or another, then accepting that, instead of insisting it's in ignorance they chose it, and then trying to convince them they are wrong?
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With this generation drawing to a close I thought it was time that I went though and discussed the games that had the biggest impact on my. These are games that I felt a special connection with, the games that in my mind were the best the the generation has to offer. Now I will put a disclaimer, while that there are some choices here that are pretty obvious, there are some here that are just personal. It's my list, so if you don't agree make your own...or just complain in the comments, that works too I suppose.

Adventure: Legend of Zelda Skyward Sword
Score 10/10

What can I say? This is a game that I felt got way more flak than it deserved. If you can get over the initial hump of the motion controls you will find this is the most ambitious, well executed, and immersive experience that can be had.

I think what I really liked about the game was the pacing. Yes it starts out rather slow but I found that to be a breath of fresh air. In a generation riddled with shooters, action games, and twitch styled gameplay, it was refreshing to play a game that let me move at my own pace. I loved that I could (and often had to) to fully explore my environment, I never minded the backtracking as the level designs felt fleshed out. The puzzles were very clever and often forced me to think outside the box. Swordplay was fantastic, swinging the Wii remote with 1:1 motion gave me a satisfaction that could never be had just pressing the B button. The side quests worked well, if ever I was tired of puzzle solving or combat, I could chase down birds bugs or other rare items to upgrade my equipment, a vastly superior method to finding an arbitrary fairy fountain. Even the story was fantastic, the grande finale being the best final boss fight of the generation. 

Normally I wouldn't give a game this flawed a perfect score, but any game that resonated with me this much, kept my attention this long, justified motion controls, and ended up being the most ambitious game on the system, I can let some things slide

Honorable mention: Tomb Raider, Metroid Other M, Metroid Prime Trilogy





Action: The Last of Us
Score 10/10

This may not be an action game in the truest sense of the word but I had to put this game in here. Sony's first party games tend to be mediocre in my opinion, but Naughty Dog's games are the exception to that rule. Admittedly, TLOU sounds pretty lame on paper. A slowed down Uncharted turned into a giant escort mission involving zombies. I'm here to say that there is nothing lame about The Last of Us.

So yes, it does somewhat feel like a slower version of Uncharted at first glance. It has the same basic control setup, cover system and gunplay, but that's where the similarities end. Ammo is not something you will find around every corner, and even if you could it wouldn't be wise to run in guns blazing. I would almost classify the gameplay as survival horror. The game is all about surveying your environment, grabbing every supply you can get your hands on and being wise with what you do have. Just because you have a few shots to take out that zombie doesn't mean you should use it. Shivs are of great value. Certain zombies can't be killed just with your bare hands, you need a shiv to take them out, but at the same time they can be used to open locked doors potentially giving more supplies. Sometimes it's better not to fight at all. The tension and the mood the game offers is top notch.

What really won me over though was the story. I absolutely fell in love with the characters. Joel is not your typical lawful good character. He's been though a lot of shit, had to deal with some harsh losses including his own daughter, so building a bond with a spunky 14 year old girl doesn't come naturally to him. Just watching them evolve throughout the course of the game made it my favorite story in gaming this gen. 

Honorable Mentions: Metal Gear Solid 4, Scott Pilgrim vs. The World, Alan Wake, Alan Wake's American Nightmare, Resident Evil 6



Platformer: Super Mario Galaxy
Score 10/10

I'm a huge fan of platformers, and unlike the 6th generation, the 7th generation had them in spades. Of all the good ones I played Super Mario Galaxy came out on top.

Mario 64 to this day is my favorite game of all time. While I enjoyed Mario Sunshine quite a bit I always felt it didn't quite give me the ambition and feel that I wanted for the sequel. Mario Galaxy delivered. First off, the game is gorgeous, not just for a Wii game, gorgeous period. It shows that a lot of developers just didn't try to produce great production values on the Wii.

The next thing you'll notice is the controls. You control Mario much like you did in Mario 64 and Sunshine, run with the analog stick, jump with A, crouch with B, and so on. The real change is the Wii remote is used to collect star bits and interact with the world a new way. Perhaps one of the best examples of the Wii remote not being a gimmick but genuinely useful enhancement when implemented properly; using but not abusing the motion controls. 

The real draw here are the worlds. If anyone was upset at the lack of diversity in Mario Sunshine, rest assured it isn't an issue here. You'll visit deserts, ghost houses, castles, water worlds, grassy plains, and volcanoes. There's almost too many worlds. The reason I put the original ahead of the sequel is that the original really nailed everything, the difficulty was better and honestly, the sequel feel like more of the same. That's not a bad thing by any means, I just liked the original better.

Honorable Mentions: Kirby Return to Dreamland, Mario Galaxy 2, Limbo, Banjo Kazooie: Nuts & Bolts, Fez, New Super Mario Bros, Sonic Generations, Colors




Shooter: Gears of War 2
Score 9.5/10

Now I'm sure this genre could be debated endlessly, as this was THE generation for shooters, but I feel GoW 2 stands above the rest. The original game was a fantastic first effort, it introduced us the world of Sera, the Cog, the Locust, and of course, the amazing cover based system. My problem is it's a bit rough around the edges.

Enter Gears 2. Gears 2 improves upon the original in ways that all sequels should. The graphics are much better, the story is a huge win (I almost never care about the story in a shooter) the mechanics just work and the awful kryll sections are gone. 

The campaign just won me over. While the original held my attention, the sequel was just a thrill ride from beginning to end. I haven't played the game in some time but I can still remember the abandoned prison level, the riftworm level, the tank level, the brumak level, and the reaper level. Then I got into the horde mode. I spent hours and hours getting together with my friends taking down the locust. On multiple occasions I remember going into the late hours of the night playing online, only to look up and realize how much time was gone. I loved Gears 3 as well, as it was a refinement of 2 but I can't help but feel it was the best shooting experience I've ever had.  

Honorable Mentions: Halo 3,4, ODST, Gears 1,3, Call of Duty MW1-2 Black Ops




RPG: Pokemon White 
Score 9/10

Now most people wouldn't pick this as the their favorite but it's the only RPG I finished this generation. I'm not really a huge fan of the genre, so take that with a grain of salt. Actually truth be told it's the only Pokemon game I've ever finished (that may change as I'm well on my way with Y). But what I've enjoyed about it was that it was a back to basics sequel. I just hated that whole dress up your pokemon, or other superfluous side missions that felt forced, Black and White took those way down.

I liked how it felt like a new direction for the series. The graphics received a much needed overhaul, the seasons helped change up the environments, the addition of a whole new set of pokemon was nice, even the story was pretty decent all things considered.

I enjoyed taking on the elite 4, and the mutiplayer was much easier than the old GBA with link cables. I guess that's not saying much, but I really enjoyed it for what it was. 

Honorable Mention: Diablo III




Fighting: Virtua Fighter 5
Score 9/10

This one was pretty hard call for me as Street Fighter IV was probably the better game. But the VF series has always had a special place with me. I've said for years the Virtua Fighter is THE deepest fighter on the market. In most fighting games you have a basic system in place, kicks and uppercuts are performed the same way, have the same impact and are the same basic speed with some variation based on the character. But in VF every character has their own system. The moves are different, the inputs are different, the speed at which they are imputed are different, everything changes when you change characters. So what ends up happening is you pick one character and try to master him/her.

The system at first seems clunky, button mashing is ineffective, you need to learn your character inside and out. That can be time consuming, but once you do there is a zen state you can get into with your character. You can pull off any one of your moves at the drop of a hat without thinking. Watching two skilled players go at it can be a thing of beauty, and no two people play the same character the same exact way. 

I particularly loved the Quest mode in the original release. You went to different arcades and ranked up unlocking customizations for your character. When you are done your character is decked out and you have something to show for all your efforts, almost like a decorated solider. 

Honorable Mentions: VF5: Final Showdown, Super Street Fighter IV, Tekken Tag Tournament 2, Mortal Kombat, Street Fighter x Tekken, Super Street Fighter II HD, Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3, Tatsunoko vs. Capcom




Racing: Mario Kart Wii
Score 9.5/10

I love racing games, but really only certain types of racing games. The whole racing sim genre puts me to sleep, street racing just feels meh, but give me an arcade or kart racer and then we can talk. Nobody does kart racing games like Nintendo because Mario Kart is THE kart racer to beat.

I may have loved the Gamecube but Mario Kart Double Dash left me wanting, even if the game engine was great. Mario Kart Wii fixed all the issues and feel like it was what Double Dash was meant to be (save for the "double" part).

The tracks were better, including the addition of classic tracks, the AI was a huge improvement, controls felt spot on (as long as you used a classic or Gamecube pad) the aesthetics were remarkably stellar, and the online was the best the Wii had to offer. I could spend hours on battle mode alone  I loved the tournaments too, it was really special for me. The fact that all those skills transferred seamlessly to Mario Kart 7 and 8 is just the icing on the cake

Honorable Mentions: Hydro Thunder Hurricane, Burnout Revenge, Paradise, Sonic All Stars Racing Transformed. 




Sports: Trials HD
Score 9/10

Yes, I know it's a bit of a stretch here, but cut me a break, I'm not a fan of sports games either. I bought Trials HD on a summer of arcade promotion in 2009. While I was eagerly anticipating the re release of Marvel vs. Capcom 2, I decided to look into Trials. I'm glad I did.

For those of you who don't know Trials is a 2D game where you race your bike though a gauntlet of sorts. At first it starts out really easy, run up and down hills, keep your bike level, that sort of thing. But as the game progresses it gets REALLY difficult. The game never gets complicated, right trigger is gas, left trigger is brake, use the analog to control the angle of your bike either left or right. The trick is to put just the right amount of gas with just the right angle at the right time. The check points are usually forgiving enough and you have as much time and retries as you need as long as you aren't going for medals, but even with that the game can be frustrating.

Along with the standard races there are quite a few mini games and a track editor. In many ways I consider it the Excitebike sequel that Nintendo should have made. Technically, the sequel improves upon the original in every way and for most people I would recommend you try Evolution first, but I just felt a connection with the original that didn't quite hit me the same way with the sequel. 

Honorable Mentions: Trials Evolution, Wii Sports, Resort, Wii Fit, NBA Jam On Fire Edition




Puzzle: Uncharted 2
Score 9.5/10

Okay this game, should be classified under Adventure, as there's quite a bit of gunplay and platforming, but at the same time there's quite of bit of emphasis on puzzle solving as well. That, and the game itself is downright stellar and I HAD to get it in here somehow. 

Uncharted has been referred to as "Dude Raider" on more than one occasion but I would counter that with saying that Uncharted did Tomb Raider better than Tomb Raider did Tomb Raider. 

So yeah, it's got a fantastic story, great action sequences, great platforming, and shooting, but I'm going to spend some time with the puzzles. There was one room where there was a light source and you had to use it to bounce around to light up 3 locations. I loved that it forced you to not only think about the reflection of light but also utilized your platforming skills as well. In fact that happened a lot, climbing to the top of a structure was a puzzle in it of itself. But there were other rooms that required you to utilize the information you had gotten earlier, or use your journal as a point of reference. The game did a great job of providing hints so it was challenging but never overly so. It helped immensely with the pace of the game and easily had the best puzzles of the trilogy. 

Honorable Mention: Portal, Planet Puzzle League, Tetris DS




So there it is. Hope you enjoyed reading about my gaming experiences last gen. It's been a long cycle and there was a lot accomplished in the industry. Frankly, I found some of the pitfalls of the 7th generation frustrating. But that is somewhat to be expected as it was largely a transitional generation. 8th generation is looking promising and hopefully will have many more new and unique experiences to come. 


Post Script

You may notice that I've left off the genres of strategy and sim. To be honest I've never enjoyed either of those genres enough to finish a single game in them. I suppose if I had to say something for sim I would say that I enjoyed Animal Crossing, but I only got into the 3DS incarnation and even then there's no real end to the game. I suppose I just need more structure from my gaming experiences. 

Strategy games are even less up my alley. I did enjoy a good bit of Fire Emblem Path of Radiance, but again, wrong generation and even then I didn't finish it. Just given my lack of any real understanding of those two genres I thought it best to leave them off.
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It's no secret around Destructoid that I'm a Nintendo fan. Their games and consoles just resonate with me. I like their outlook on gaming, and support them everywhere I can. But at the same time they aren't perfect, and if I don't call them out when they make a bad decision, how can I ever expect them to improve? So I thought I'd throw my thoughts out on what could be improved upon in both the hardware end, and software end. Now I would like to point out in this particular blog when I am talking about the software, I mean the operating system and firmware, not the actual games. 

3DS

Software

Let me say that as far as basic navigation I am a fan of the GUI. It's easy to navigate, easy to understand, and has some basic customization options. At the same time though, I feel Nintendo could implement new features without sacrificing said advantages.

For example, the friend code system is still in effect on 3DS. Granted there is an account system now, and if your friends happen to be around you can beam them your NNID info which is nice, but still the fact that these friend codes still exist today is asinine.  Nintendo has already proven that they are unnecessary on Wii U, why are they still being used on 3DS? They also need to unify the accounts here as well, that already works for the eShop, but my 3DS and Wii U friends are kept separately for some reason. Communication is a problem too, I have almost no messaging options and even less for directly chatting. Everyone seems to give Nintendo a free pass on communication options, it's high time they addressed this.  

Secondarily, I would like a few more customization options. Being able to change the colors of the menus, or use my stored photos as a wallpaper would be great. The addition of folders to keep things organized was a nice first step, hopefully it's not their last.

Hardware

Historically, Nintendo's hardware has been known for outstanding build quality. Look at the Game Boy in the Smithsonian that survived the Gulf War. But I've always felt the DS line is a step back for them. Every DS I've ever owned (with the exception of the 3DS XL I just recently bought) has had the shoulder buttons fail on me.  Actually, it's been an issue since the GBA SP. They just stop responding. The only thing you can really do is blow into the buttons to get them to work again temporarily. I could also complain specifically about how the natural oils from my fingers absorb into the plastic around the buttons and the hinge that gives way, but honestly the whole thing needs better materials. Whatever Sony used to make the PSP would do nicely. The PSP just felt like a nice piece of hardware in my hands. The same could be said of Apple and Samsung devices. For a device that sees the kind of abuse it does, it needs a heavier body.

While we're at it a few other things need updating. There's still the issue of the camera's, they are only 0.3 megapixels. No that isn't a typo, it's a 1/3 of a single megapixel. Need I remind you that today's smartphones have 8 megapixel cameras built in and can take some pretty impressive pictures. Yes, I realize it's a gaming device, but perhaps something that doesn't make everything look pixelated and doesn't have trouble pulling in ambient light would be in order?

The battery life isn't fantastic either. Surely we can make some of these graphics chips and sound chips a little more energy efficient after 3 years? Maybe on the next iteration.

Finally, it could use some more RAM. Yes, I realize the problem with that statement, none of the games could use that RAM but it would be used for faster multitasking. Imagine Miiverse being just as fast on 3DS as it is Wii U. Just throwing it out there...


Wii U

Software

If I have one gripe with the Wii U's GUI it's that the Wii aspect is completely segregated from the rest of the system. It kills me that I have to go offline, load up the old Wii menu, and then boot my games. What makes this even more of a pain in the ass is that digital games a separated this way too. I have to load up the old Wii Shop channel to browse software separate from the Wii U eshop. I could easily spend $8 on Mario World for Wii, then turn around and upgrade to the Wii U version for $1.50 on the eShop. Then if things weren't stupid enough, I can only use 512 MB of memory (as it was on the original Wii ) to store Wii software. If you need more space like I did, you will need an SD card. This is asinine as well, I have 25GB of free space on the system, why can't I use that? Facepalm.

I could somewhat understand if that was a day 1 patch to get the ball rolling, but we're approaching the 2 year mark and it's still not integrated like the 3DS did for the DS on day 1. I'm not expecting for my Pro Controllers to function as classic controllers, or enabling me to play Wii games on the gamepad (although it does also need to happen). I just don't want what feels like a hack job. 

Multimedia functionality. Yes, again, I know it's a console, but even blu ray players can play MP3, and show jpeg files. The fact of the matter is Wii U is being marketed as a family console, and that's something families do that the Wii U should be able to accommodate to. They even showed people doing this very thing at the E3 reveal, but again nigh 2 years later and nothing. How cool would it be to be able to plug in a flash drive and use the gamepad to control a slide show on the TV?

And finally, same deal as 3DS. Some more customization options would be most welcome, colors, themes, backgrounds, that kind of thing. I also would like to be able to take my data with me If I want to play on another Wii U, I don't think that's asking much. 

Hardware

I'm perfectly fine with having to purchase and install my own memory (as opposed to being forced into buying a hard drive that I know I will have to replace like on other systems) but why does it have to be external? That's too clunky and more expensive. The worst part of this is the Wii U uses USB 2.0 and limits the power given to those ports so you need a Y adapter or a powered drive. Again, facepalm. I don't take issue with the fact that I can use external memory, it's the fact that I have to. Imagine if you bought a PC like this. I know Nintendo doesn't like us getting into the nuts and bolts of the system but a simple bay to expand the internal memory would be great. Maybe with the next redesign we could see something like this.

The only other feature that I would really want it better battery life on the gamepad. It's functional and it's usually enough for me, so I haven't made a point to upgrading, but I don't feel I should have to either. The fact is it's pretty obvious they planned on fitting a bigger battery in there by the space left over. With the 3DS I somewhat understand because there are space restraints and 3 screens, but that's something I feel like could be done now with minimal impact. 

So there you have it. My complaints on my 2 favorite current gen systems. See I told you I wasn't a total fanboy.