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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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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.








I'm a huge fan of backwards compatibility. Frankly, I think everyone should be, what's not cool about being able to play your old games on a new system? Better yet if you've never owned the old system you suddenly have a sizable library of game accessible to you with new ones to look forward to. It's quite possibly one the best features for a game console to have. But it's not always done right, either because it's too expensive to implement all the past features, or just too impractical. †With that said, lets take a look at the console that did it, and how they did.†


Atari 7800-backwards compatible with Atari 2600

So my first system was an Atari 7800. After crash of 83-84 Atari was no longer relevant in the market. Nintendo came in a revitalized the market with the NES, and Atari thought they could get back into the race with a new system, enter the 7800. They wanted to rectify the problems with the 5200 (the size of the console, wonky controller, no backwards compatibility) and in that sense they succeeded. The 7800 is fully backwards compatible with 2600 games (but not 5200 games), you could even use the same controller if you wanted. As far as I'm concerned it was a great call and worked really well. To this day people track down the 7800's for that reason.†


Sega Genesis-backwards compatible with Sega Master System

A lot of people don't know about this one, but the hardware for the SMS was built into the Genesis. You did however, need a converter to accept the cartridges. It's called the power base converter and it goes right over the top of the system to accept both types of SMS games. The problem is you have to take it off to play your Genesis games again. Say what you want about the monstrosity that was the 32X was, at least you didn't have to disconnect it to play Genesis games. That and the lukewarm reception of the SMS (at least here in the US) is probably the reason it's an obscure piece of hardware. They cost more than the SMS itself now, so there's little reason to own it.


Playstation 2 backwards compatible with Playstation 1

This is really the grand daddy of backwards compatibility. See, back in 2000 it just wasn't normal for a game system to be nativley backwards compatible with their successor, better yet compatibility a system that was already massively popular with no extra steps, and having DVD capabilities too! It's little wonder that the PS2 flew off store shelves in 2000. It was the reason I bought one on launch day even though there weren't any games that I really wanted. The controller ports were the same so all the accessories were compatible too, but the Dual Shock 2 did everything the Dual Shock 1 did (and more) so there was little reason to even keep the original controller. The memory card ports were also the same, and while you sadly couldn't use PS2 memory cards for PS1 games you could transfer saves over to a PS2 card as an overflow. It was a really nice touch. And to top it all off you could use component video and a toslink connector for better audio/video fidelity. For its time, that was an impressive piece of technology for a very reasonable price. There is almost no reason to own a PS1 today, which is why they sit on Goodwill shelves for just a few bucks.†



Game Boy Advance-backwards compatible with Game Boy/Game Boy Color

I could go into a lengthy discussion about the Game Boy Color, but I decided to condense this section as the GCB is fundamentally a half step: a stop gap system. With that said, the GBA came out in 2001 and could do everything the previous systems could do, and of course, play the new games coming out. Adding a splash of color to previous monochrome games was a nice touch as well. Rhe screen was improved and so were the speakers. The screen itself was wider on GBA so you could stretch it to get more real estate or keep the original aspect ratio. If you got the GBA SP you got a nice backlit screen, rechargeable battery and a clam-shell design to protect the unit. Not too shabby! Sure the GB and GBC cartridges protrude a bit, but it's hard to argue with all the other features. To this day, the GBA SP is the most desirable model of the Game Boy.


Nintendo DS- backwards compatible with Game Boy Advance

Okay so another thing a lot of gamers don't know is that the DS was never originally designed to be the successor to the GBA, it just kind of happened that way through osmosis. Nintendo has always had this vision for a "third pillar" as something that bridges the gap between handheld and console. The best example of this is the ill fated Virtual Boy. I actually wouldn't be surprised if this pops up again in the future. †

Anyway, the DS's "backwards compatibility" with the GBA (but not GB or GBC) was more or less meant as a staple to an otherwise risky endeavor. Back in 2004 the DS was treading on new ground and Nintendo wanted something to solidify the system: to give it an immediate value proposition. In addition to this they also wanted to use that cartridge slot for other functionality (such as added RAM for the web browser, rumble pack and MP3 player). The compatibility itself is functional but Some of the accessories are incompatible and it can't link to the GCN. Its also limited GBA games to single player only and the DS is much bulkier with shorter battery life. A. Even if you went with the DS lite which fixes some of those issues it's still inferior to what the GBA could do. For what it's worth it's a nice feature to have in the original DS models as opposed to the DSi which omitted it entirely. But neither system has much of a demand compared to the 3DS.†


Xbox 360-Backwards compatible with Original Xbox

The original Xbox was basically built like a traditional PC, if you ever open one up you can see all the universal PC components. But it was always sold at a loss, the cost of the components were exorbitant compared to it's direct competitors. The architecture is simultaneously the systems greatest strength and weakness. So Microsoft wisely decided to change the architecture to Power PC to save space and money. Well that left backwards compatibility on the table. Considering how soundly the PS2 leveled the competition (due in part to their backwards compatibility) Microsoft wanted every advantage they could. The only option other than including the original hardware was emulation.

The emulation is inconsistent to say the least. Approximately 50% are compatible, and for the most part it's a hit and miss sort of deal. Some games work others don't. The ones that do work, work relatively well, there are minor glitches, often widescreen doesn't work or CGI cut-scenes don't play properly, and you need an official hard drive to make that work (or add the emulation file to a third party drive), but it's better than nothing I suppose. At the end of the day though, if you want to play original Xbox games, get an original Xbox, they are really affordable.


Playstation 3-backwards compatible with Playstation 1 and Playstation 2

I know what Sony was going for in 2006, a machine that had no equal. That was the Achilles heel of the PS2 was that it couldn't match the audio/visual prowess of the Xbox and Gamecube. Hence the PS3 having all the features under the sun (including Linux and SACD Support) with a price $600 price tag to make it all possible. We all know the story, $600 was a lot of money to a lot of people, so some features got axed, including PS2 compatibility, thankfully PS1 compatibility was retained. †

It was great while it lasted, you made virtual memory cards on the system eliminating the need to buy them (there was even an accessory to port saves over) games were also upscaled to HD via the HDMI cable, even online play was preserved. Sure a lot of the accessories lost compatibility but 3 generations being playable by 1 system is hard to argue with.†

Today the original models still fetch a pretty penny but they tend to not be stable (Yellow light of death) they are large and have a small hard drive. Compared to the PS2 slim (which is a little larger than a DVD case, more reliable common and cheaper) it's hard to justify purchasing an original model PS3.†


Wii-Backwards compatible with Gamecube

Similar to the experimental nature of the DS, Nintendo wanted to branch out with the Wii. Once again they took a similar approach by adding backwards compatibility. The ports were right on the side of the console, and support was native. Nearly every accessory was compatible, and the component cable issue was mercifully fixed, they even added GCN controller support for many Wii games. The only real losses were the GB player and the Broadband adapter.†

Even as an avid Gamecube fan, I have a hard time justifying owning on in light of the Wii. I do dislike the ports being on the side and the inability to launch games using the GCN controller, but those are minor inconveniences compared to what is gained. What Nintendo should have done was make a standard wireless controller to function for both Wii and GCN, sadly this is not the case. Clunky, but well done, hence why GCN's share shelf space at the local Goodwill.†


3DS-Backwards compatible with DS

In many ways the 3DS just feels like a natural evolution of the DS. Nearly everything is virtually identical. I even showed one of my friend's mom's my 3DS she asked what the difference was other than the circle pad. The game cards are nearly identical, and function exactly the same way. DSiware transfers seamlessly over, and the circle pad works in place of the d-pad making some games more comfortable, and online play worked as well while it was operational.†

Being such a natural transition there's little reason to own a DS today. They hold their value a little better than PS1's and Gamecube's, but expect them to drop even more. 3DS's popularity is pretty close to what the DS's was in its heyday, and I expect the next generation to be more of a departure. Long story short, the 3DS will probably be the definitive handheld to own to play those games.†


Wii U backwards compatible with Wii

Given the popularity of Wii, it was a no-brainer to include backwards compatibility on Wii U. It's compatible with all Wii games and outside of Gamcube controller support, it's fully functional including online play up until the servers were shut down. The Wii U could also upscale Wii games via HDMI, which is always a welcomed feature. Wii remotes can be used interchangeably but Gamecube support is omitted entirely.†

The biggest gripe I have with the Wii's backwards compatibility is the fact that I have to boot a the old Wii menu in order to boot a Wii game. Similarly, Wiiware, and Wii virtual console games have to be accessed through this menu. It's nice that off screen play was added via the gamepad, but games can't be controlled with with it so it's a almost useless. I'd rather have it than not, but I wish it was better implemented. The Wii was always an affordable system, but they still have a bit of demand due to the Gamecube functionality. Much like the DS, I expect their price to drop even further.


Vita backwards compatible with PSP

Now this one is a bit of a stretch, and I debated whether I was going to include it or not, but Vita is technically backwards compatible, even if it is only partially. The reason I had the issue is that it's only compatible with PSP software, not hardware. †

Much like the original Xbox the greatest strength of the platform was also the weakest: the UMD disc. While they could hold 1.8 GB of data, they were fragile (not a good attribute to have for a handheld game format) sluggish to load data, and drained the battery with moving parts in the drive. It was one of those things that sounded a lot better on paper, than worked in execution.†

Sony made a compromise, put in the hardware to play the games, but omit the drive. While it sucks to be limited to digital downloads, it sucks more that they aren't all available online and are more expensive than their UMD counterparts. I don't blame Sony for their call the same way I don't blame MS for theirs on the Xbox 360. It was the most pro consumer choice they could have made. PSP's still hold more value than DS's and I'm betting that's the biggest reason.†


So there you have it, sorry if it read more like an encyclopedia than a blog, but it's a subject that I've been meaning to tackle for a while now. On a side note I'd be interested to hear about how Playstation Now functions. While it's not backwards compatibility, it's an interesting way to offer similar functionality. If it's priced properly it could be a viable alternative.








Last month I wrote a blog on games that I though deserved sequels. As promised Iím following up with a sequel of my own, these are more of the games that I would like to see a modern version of. As I said before these are my personal requests, some of them already have sequels, but either they failed to live up to expectations or they were so long ago that they are no longer relevant. So let us begin.

Banjo Kazooie

Now you had to know that this was coming. I think many gamers my age (30) this game holds a special place in their hearts, I know it does mine. See, Rare back in the 90ís was a developer that all other developers aspired to be like. Everything they put their hands to turned to gold. If you read about the development cycle that Goldeneye 64 had, thereís no way in the world it should have turned out as well as it did. Rare just had a knack for talking the worst ideas and turning them into the best games.

At its core, Banjo Kazooie is nothing more than a Super Mario 64 clone with some new ideas and the Rare style injected into it. But much like Diddy Kong Racing, it totally one ups the game it was based upon. Worlds are larger, controls are tighter with more moves, pacing is better, and has much more diverse gameplay. However I think the thing that sticks out most to me is the Rare style. I canít help but get nostalgic about it. We did get a sequel which many people liked and for all intents and purposes I think I should have loved it, but by that time I had wondered over to the Playstation end of gaming and couldnít really appreciate what was done. Nuts & Bolts came along in 2006, and while I adore that game (yes I know, thatís an unpopular opinion) itís not a true sequel but rather a spinoff.

I propose a full retail sequel for the Xbox One. Seeing how Rare is owned by Microsoft now, the Xbox One is the most viable platform for such an undertaking. I would want it to be a true sequel. I would take the look and feel of the Nuts & Bolts aesthetics (I think itís hard to argue they got that right), with the gameplay stylings of the first game, and augment it with functionality from the second. The collect-a-thon needs to be cut out in favor of an open world hub and objective driven gameplay. It also goes without saying it needs a decent story and brilliant music to go along with it. No matter what happens, I donít think it could ever live up to the original game, but I think it would get a lot of people excited for the Xbox One that normally wouldnít be.

1080 Snowboarding/Wave Race

Yes, Iím putting these games together. I am because frankly I find them to be companion games that you canít make one and not another. Nintendo has never been the system for sports games, but back in the day they made their own. Games like Major League Baseball featuring Ken Griffey Jr. and Kobe Bryant in NBA Courtside, unfortunately thatís gone by the wayside and all their sports games are now fantasy titles with Mario, but I suppose those sold a lot better. The two most notable titles to come out of those days were the 1080 Snowboarding and Wave Race 64. They were great because they took sports that werenít already being annualized and made their own version. I liked the fact that they had licensed equipment in the game, (and even had licensed music in 1080 Avalanche) and they had a nice gameplay balance, not too arcadey, not too sim. †

I think they need to keep that balance when they approach Wii U sequels. They need to revamp the controls to feel more modern, a new trick system and overhaul of the mechanics would be a must. I would love to see how big the levels could be and how beautiful the graphics could be on the Wii U hardware. I would lay off the tablet features and motion controls though, it just needs to be a straight up sequel. Keep all the little nuances, secrets, and extras. I would even like to see upgrades through performing challenges. There isnít much like it on the Wii U, or really out on the market in general. They might not light the world on fire, but they could be high quality first party releases that broaden the appeal of the Wii U.

Eternal Champions

Now weíre getting into more obscure stuff. Everyone knows how, Street Fighter II brought in the fighting game craze in the early 90ís and every game wanted a piece of the pie. So there were a lot of clones, but much like Banjo Kazooie, one stood out above the rest and that was Eternal Champions. The gameís main shtick was that it was a collection of the greatest fighters from all across history. You have your caveman, you have a cyborg, a female assassin, and a noir gangster just to name a few. It had some really cool moves and solid mechanics, it even had a training room where you could set it up with traps. It was also surprisingly violent where characters would be gunned down, or chopped up with stage fatalities. †

There was a sequel but it was released late in the Sega CDís life so it didnít sell well. Add that to that Sega of Japan wasnít very fond of the series, its little wonder we havenít seen another entry.

I would love to see a modern day version of it on Playstation or Xbox. I would make it 2.5D like Street Fighter IV. Keep the diverse character roster, keep the over the top violence, and the stage fatalities. It just needs more modern mechanics, and online play. Even if it was a $15 downloadable title, I think it could be done well but Iíd rather a full retail release.

Chakan the Forever man

Okay, now weíre scraping the bottom of the obscurity barrel. But Chakan the Forever Man was a really cool game. So basically the story is that Chakan was a badass swordsman who thought he was unbeatable, so you took on the Death himself and beat him. He was granted eternal life, but soon after it became a curse. The goal of the game to defeat the 4 evils so that he can finally rest, only to find out after he defeats them that he was tricked and still cannot die. Pretty dark story for a 16 bit game. But if you thought that was dark, wait until you play it. You visit dark castles, dank pits and arcane sanctuaries. Not many games of that era could successfully execute a tension and mood, but Sega did a phenomenal job at it. Even today, the game has a foreboding presence.

The gameplay itself itís Earth shattering, you have your dual swords and magic attacks. Thereís a good bit of platforming as well. The problem is thereís some cheap hits, and the difficulty (as to be expected) is sky high. I would love to see a modern 3D rendition of it. Even if you have to borrow from God of War, and Prince of Persia, it could be a lot of fun. Just keep the tension and atmosphere. Sega is unfortunately still reluctant to draw from their back catalog or even localize the games they do release, but that doesnít stop me from wanting to see a new game from this forgotten franchise.

Well there it is. I know I still didnít get to everything, but the more I think about what games Iíd like to see the more keep coming to me. So, Iíll let it rest for now. But if any of you have any more suggestions for sequels I would love to hear about them in the comments.








Okay I think we've all be there. You'll be playing a game and it won't stop trying to teach you how to play. You've been playing a series of a game for the past 5 years but they can't help but to give you unskippable cut-scenes how to use that power up or defeat that enemy.

On the contrary, I feel like we've all been on the other end of the spectrum where the game essentially throws you out to the wolves. That RPG that sends you out into battle with almost no understanding of how to survive and acts like you should know exactly what to do.

I've often thought: where's the balance? In the 8 and 16 bit days there were sizable manuals to help you along, but without one you could be left just wondering around trying to figure out what you were supposed to do. Sure most games were simple enough, there were only a handful of buttons and actions that a character could take, but some of those NES games could be dauntingly complex.

When I was a kid I picked up a game called Overlord (NES). From the best I could tell it was some kind of strategy game where you managed resources and sent out ships. It looked really cool from the box and the premise was cool, but I never did figure out how to play. It was just too complex with no real way of understanding what I was supposed to do.

Another shining example of this was Nightshade (NES). It's a detective game where you must explore your environment to solve puzzles and thwart crime. There was also some basic fighting mechanics involved. It was daunting to say the least (you start out tied to a chair next to a ticking bomb) but at least it gave you some clues how to proceed. The brilliant part of the game was that it gave you multiple solutions to a problem; a trial and error sort of setup. This to me equated to complexity with a smart design.

But as games moved on from just trying to get a basic premise across to coming pretty close to simulating an experience, things just got more complicated. Shadowrun (SNES) offered an experience with those kinds of ideas. You start out dead in a morgue only to wake up and (understandably) scare the hell out of the morticians. The game never tells you to pick up everything you can, actually it doesn't tell you that you can pick up items at all. You are just expected to find that out. It does later tell you that you need a weapon, but never how to use it. Same problem with conversations. Fast forward to 2013 when Shadowrun Returns comes out and it has the same kinds of mechanics but does a much better job of easing you into things. It's just a better design.

Many modern games still seem to struggle with this, but it seems like it's the opposite problem. Take one of the more notorious examples: Legend of Zelda Skyward Sword. The game starts in a painfully slow fashion. Granted, the controls are pretty nontraditional, but even so, it's about 2+ hours in before the first dungeon. Even with a game of that scope where you expect a slower introduction, a lot of people lose interest quickly. They never actually discover what the developers intended just because they were reluctant to let you spread your wings.

Metroid Prime is a fantastic example of doing it right. You come to investigate a distress beacon on a ship. The cut-scene is brief, you get out there and it gives you your controls and slowly introduces elements into the game. The pace of the mission picks up along with the story and tension until you face the boss. After you defeat it, you have to escape the ship before it explodes. In the process of escaping you run into Ridley and lose all of your equipment. The rest of the game is spent getting back all of your lost equipment and finding more. Hence you build on top of the knowledge you have. Line upon line, precept upon precept, so the player is never under or overwhelmed.

That is what I call an overture. An overture is supposed to be an introduction to a set of music. It sets the tone and pace for the rest of the work, basically it gives you an idea what to expect. A readers digest version if you will. Nintendo has been implementing this technique for years.

While that works well for an adventure game other genres have used other techniques. Tony Hawkís Pro Skater 3 had an optional tutorial mode, you just had to select it in the menu. Even though I had played previous games I felt like I could benefit from learning the game from the ground up. It turned out to be very beneficial, 20 minutes in the training mode made me a substantially better player.

Gears of War 2 took a similar approach, an optional tutorial. You could choose to train Carmine and get some collectables and achievements for your trouble, or just skip it. On a second playthough thereís literally no reason to do it again. Seamless introduction.

Some bad modern examples include Monster Hunter 3 Ultimate. I spent about 2 hours trying to figure out what to do. Thereís no tutorial, no real guidance, you are thrown out to the wolves. You are given some basic equipment to start, but youíll also find different types of weapons in your house. Which one is the best choice? Who knows? Iím sure thereís an awesome game underneath all those layers of inaccessibility but Iíll be damned if I can find it. †

Another bad example is Virtua Fighter 5 Final Showdown. This is the real deal, a hardcore 3D fighter that requires a lot of practice and patience to learn. I know Sega wanted to get their flagship fighting series out to the masses by releasing it as a $15 download but they stripped out the quest mode. Only the training and a handful of missions are given in order to make you a kung fu master. And itís not even like other fighters where you can learn the basic techniques and know a few fighters, each fighter feels vastly different. I would be impressed if anyone was able to get into the series with such little instruction.

My point is to this blog is developers need to find a seamless way to bring players into their world. The fact is the most important hour of any game is the first. In a world where quality games of any genre can he had for cheap, itís far too easy for gamers to look elsewhere to find something they want. Why would they create a massive world with hundreds of things to do, only to put it behind an inaccessible wall? It does a disservice to the community, it does a disservice to the developers. I canít help but feel if the proper attention was given to the introduction, more games would be followed through to the end.








Okay so I'm sure this blog has been written by many others the world over, but I would like to talk about games that need sequels. Now this is my personal list, so you won't see games like Shenmue or Half Life on here, simply because I personally didn't enjoy the existing games enough to get excited over the premise of a sequel. Also, it should go without saying, but some of these games here already have sequels, but they were either too long ago, or didn't fulfill my expectations of what a sequel should offer. So without further adieu lets begin.

Super Mario 64

The original game needs no introduction, it pioneered 3D games, it invented the 3D platformer and was my favorite game of all time. †Now you may be thinking, we got sequels to Mario 64: well, yes and no. Mario Sunshine and Mario Galaxy 1+2 certainly carry on that style of gameplay but I never truly felt like they fully embraced the vision I had for them. Nintendo always had this whole "lets make a super version" for each subsequent sequel in their series, and I can't say that really happened with Sunshine. It felt like a more refined Mario 64 with better tech and a tropical motif. Don't get me wrong I adored the game despite initial reservations, but it wasn't the sequel I had hoped the Gamecube would offer. Mario Galaxy 1 +2 definitely felt like a step in the right direction and were much more ambitious in nature, but they were held back by the limited power of the Wii. The levels still felt too small and sparsely populated. Again, brilliant games, the both of them, but again I met with disappointment. Fast forward to the Wii U and Mario 3D World took a few steps back in the direction I wanted Nintendo to make. Once more I bought it, enjoyed it immensely, but was still left wanting that true sequel.

What I want from a sequel to Mario 64 is an open world platformer. To my knowledge this has never been attempted, let alone accomplished. The first time I laid my eyes on Mario 64 I envisioned being able to explore the Mushroom Kingdom to my hearts desire. I could go on royal missions for Princess Toadstool, ride a Yoshi on the 3D Donut plains, and use a magic whistle to quickly warp to the other side of the fantasy world. I would love to explore ice caves on my own terms and even have some RPG elements where I could enhance Mario's abilities. Maybe someday in the future, but for now it's not even announced.†

Rival Schools

This one is a bit more obscure, but the original game came out in 1998 for PS1 and it blew my mind. Basically it was about a bunch of Japanese High School students fighting against each other for dominance or something like that. Who cares, it was an excuse for Capcom to throw in a wild cast of characters including a football player, baseball player (you could hit kids with a bat!), school bully, and even teachers got thrown into the mix. The specials were just as quirky, you could use Shoma (baseball player) to send opponents flying or use Hideo (the gym teacher) to make them do push-ups before he whacked them with a stick. It even had a bunch of cool training modes, unfortunately the school life mode was cut when it was localized due to translation problems. While it may not seem like much special today, it was very quirky and unique, and frankly still is. I think what impressed me most was how seamlessly Capcom was able to transfer their 2D fighting engine into 3D. †

A sequel named Project Justice did make it to Dreamcast, which did a great job of updating the game, and to this day still fetches a pretty penny. While I would like a digital re-release what I truly want is a full on sequel. Honestly, I don'e expect the world, just update the visuals, maybe give it true tag team gameplay (the original games you just switched between rounds), a story mode and online play. A simple modernization is all that's really needed. Given the popularity of fighting games, this could really be something special.

Burning Rangers

Okay, so when I was a kid back in the 90's I saw this preview for a game called Burning Rangers on the Sega Saturn. It was about fire fighters in the future who used lasers to extinguish fires and rescue civilians. Don't ask me how lasers put out fires, science! Regardless, it's like Rival Schools, it doesn't matter why, it matters that the game is fun. But the thing was, I never played the game as a kid. In fact it was on my perpetual backlog until last year. I never bought it because I never had a Saturn. Even today that game is expensive, I got the import because it's about 1/4 of the price. It's an adventure platformer with some shooting elements. You collect these diamonds and they act as heath, you loose them when you get hit, very similar to how Sonic works. What do you expect, it was made by Sonic Team.

I'll admit that this would be kind of a hard sell, but the modernization could be really straightforward. Third person shooters are common enough and taking the mechanics from that would work well enough. I could see adding different guns, power ups, and platforming elements. I also think you could alter the way water acts to put out fires to incorporate puzzle elements. †I liked it because of the anime style visals and I think that would totally hold up today.†

Power Stone

The original Power Stone was a launch title for the Dreamcast back in 1999. And it was a pretty unique game. Essentially, it's a one on one fighter where you play on a 3D plain, you can't block but you can easily run around your opponent. Your actual physical attacks are limited to basic punches and kicks but you can use the environment around you as a weapon. You can swing on a lamp post to build momentum for a power kick, pick up benches to throw at your opponent and weapons such as flame throwers and rocket launchers are scattered all around. The reason for the title is there are 3 stones scattered around, if one player collects all 3 they turn into a super version of themselves with the potential to decimate their opponent. Long story short it's Street Fighter meets Smash Bros in a 3D arena. It's a party game for sure, but that's hardly a bad thing.

The sequel tried to one up the original by adding 4 characters and more intractable stages bosses and turrets. While I like Power Stone 2 the additional content changed the intensity of the game and the flow of the fights.†

I think a sequel could be done as a downloadable title. If it could just capture the look and feel of the original game with a broader selection of characters and options that would be fantastic. Online play would be a must as the frantic nature of fights would lead to endless rematches. It could add secrets and unlockables like Smash Bros has. If done properly, Capcom could have another hit on their hands.

Sonic Adventure†

I loved Sonic Adventure back in the day, I remember getting my Dreamcast on Christmas of 1999 and playing the demo to the beach stage over and over again. Even before then I remember salivating at the screenshots posted on a lengthy article in Electronic Gaming Monthly. So you'll have to excuse me when I look at Sonic Adventure with rose tinted glasses. Obviously what I'm getting at is the game has aged rather poorly. Camera angles are terrible, voice acting is atrocious, secondary characters aren't any fun to play as (yes you Big the cat). But for 1999 it was easily the most ambitious platformer ever made. Just playing through Sonic's levels you could easily see Sega's vision for the future. It even had some online functionality.

Yes it got a sequel, and frankly people love it, and I, well let's just say I didn't play it till much later without rose tinted glasses. And I don't particularly care for it.

I really want a Wii U sequel. Now up until this point I've never made a declaration of what platform I wanted a sequel on, but in this case I feel like it could be the perfect fit. It needs that whole feel of Sonic Generations where it's just a Sonic game with no wisps, no werehogs and no gimmicks. Just make the Sonic levels play like Sonic levels should. I want Tails and Kuncks in the mix, but just make them straightforward, no shooting, no hunting for emerald shards. I would like an overworld with side quests, give it a two player mode via the tablet, and bring back chao raising for longevity.†

So there it is, I didn't get to every game on my list but look forward to part 2. Sound off in the comments, what games would you like to see sequels to?