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tehlvler's blog

3:10 PM on 03.13.2008

Unknown Japanese games lvl 01: Centre Court Tennis

When I was living in Japan, I spent a lot of time shopping for video games in Den Den Town in Osaka (the equivalent of Hakihabara in Tokyo). At that time, I realized that I didn't miss anything special when I was living in Canada. Most of the games that never came out in North America are hentai games, quiz games, or crappy dating simulation games. Of course, there are some great gems (shmups, rpgs), but they are a minority and you really have to dig deep to find them.

Centre Court Tennis for the Nintendo 64 is one of those Japanese gems that nobody knows. I was only released in Japan and Europe. It's you typical tennis game with tournaments and stuff like that.

However, there's a different twist to it that makes the game much more interesting; you have to create your own character and entirely customize it from the legs to the head. As you progress through the game, you gain new accessories and clothes that you can equip to change the appearance of your character. It may sound silly, but it's really addictive. It's kinda like grinding in an RPG, but in a tennis game.

As for the graphics, they are the usual extremely low polygon blurry Nintendo 64 graphics. However, the typical colorful and cartoony Hudson style of that game is pretty nice.

There are many kinds of fields on which you can play, which keeps the gameplay fresh. For example, you can play on the top of a building, in a volcano, on ice with penguin walking around, etc. For each field, the referee looks different. That's a pretty nice touch.

This game may not be pure gold like some Treasure's games, but it's still a great game nonetheless. If you ever get the chance to get your hands on that game, you should definitely give it a try.


6:45 PM on 03.09.2008

MMO Grinding memories lvl 01: Ran Online

For my first post on Destructoid, I'd like to geek out about one of the best gaming experience Ifve ever had; Ran Online. Because of the fresh modern setting and the Asian school theme, I was extremely hyped about that game. I even drew a fan art while waiting for the North American launch.

The story of that game goes like this: In Ran Online, there is some kind of mysterious power that turns everybody into zombies. Four universities built a force field around their campus to protect their students from that mysterious power. However, as those force fields are becoming weaker, more and more students are becoming zombies. There's even a campus where everybody already turned into zombies. After joining a campus of your choice, your goal is to kill stuff while searching where that mysterious evil power is coming from.

This simple premise is just an excuse to put the game mechanics into action. In Ran Online, while grinding for endless hours like any other mmorpg, your campus is becoming stronger and it becomes some kind of competition between the three campuses. Actually, you can only form a team with people from your own campus and the only players that you can kill are players from other campuses. Therefore, if somebody from another campus is being an asshole or stole your farming spot, you can bring back together all the players of your campus and beat the shit out of this player. This can lead to some pretty cool campus wars. It may sound silly but, as you play, you really build up a sense of belonging to your campus.

And boy did I play to that game. From day one, the only things I was doing in my life was grinding, eating, and sleeping. I grinded so much that I stayed in the top 5 for more than a month. In the beginning, while everybody was wearing school uniforms (low level armors), I was wearing that sweet high level martial art kimono. When I was passing by, everybody was like "Holy Shit!" or "What a freak!". In some kind of nerdy way, I was the king of the Sacred Gate campus.

It is at this moment that I had the best gaming moment in my life. One day, while I was grinding alone in the schoolyard of my campus, a mysterious guy from another campus came to me. He was PhoenixZKing from Phoenix campus. I've never seen such a high level swordsman before, so it was impressive. After a while glaring at each other, he started talking to me:

PhoenixZKing: Just passing byc
Zakumi (me): Nice armorc
PhoenixZKing: emote *show gratitude*
PhoenixZKing: You too youfre a fast player.
Zakumi: Yea, I guess soc
Zakumi: Not much people around herec
PhoenixZKing: emote *pointing at me*
PhoenixZKing: Hey, wanna duel?
Zakumi: Sure, why not?
Zakumi: emote *warming up*

Then, the duel started. It was a pretty even battle, but thanks to his rare equipments, he ended up beating me. This was the beginning of a great rivalry and friendship. This guy could be a hassle at times, but he also had his good points. After all, he really was the number one player of that game, so I guess he kinda had the right to be pretentious and impose his power a little bit. When I was talking to him personally, I felt that he was a pretty cool guy. He just had his own way of playing the game, which I think is not a bad thing. Beside hacking and harassing other players, everybody should do what they feel like doing to enjoy the game. This creates a diversified community which, in my own opinion, makes the game more enjoyable.

After a while, people in my campus wanted to create a clan. Since I was the highest level in the campus, they chose me to be the leader. We created GateKeeper, the first clan of the Sacred Gate campus. Having the logo of my clan over my character's head was pretty exciting, but maintaining a community wasn't really my thing. I play mmorpg because I like to see numbers raise and get fancy equips. Because I was too busy grinding alone, I wasn't involved at all in my clan so I kinda made it die. I enjoy being in a clan, but I donft think that I can get dedicated to a game enough to be a good leader.

When I moved to Japan, I didn't have access to the Internet for a while, so I couldn't play Ran Online. When finally got the Internet, I logged in just for fun. Nobody was online, so I felt like the game was dead. Finally, the servers got shut down on December 2006. Since I invested hundreds of hours into it, I was kinda sad to lose my character, but at the same time, I felt that I enjoyed that game as much as I could and that there wasn't anything left to enjoy.

If you want to try Ran Online, there are still some Philippines or Malaysian servers out there, but they lag like hell and players speak extremely broken English.


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