Sunday, June 28, 2015
14.50 – Our favorite Amiibo sculpts
20.20 – Chris finished Steamworld Dig
26.00 – Dustin is liking Lords of Shadow 2 a bit more
27.00 – Luke and Dustin are still loving Puzzles & Dragons: SMB
31.00 – A whole lot of nothing for new releases
32.00 – Free PS+ games for June
35.45 – Error Machine describes: Rocket League
40.00 – Deconstructing Twisted Metal canon
42.15 – Fallout 4 teaser trailer discussion
46.30 – Bathroom horror stories
47.40 – Dustin recounts the story of the poopy sock
50:45 – Mighty No. 9 getting a physical release
56:30 – Outros and plugs
Tuesday, June 2, 2015
Monday, June 1, 2015
I know that people really love these games. For one reason or another, they just didn't resonate with me the same way they did lots of other people. While this certainly isn't the entire list, I've compiled 7 games, all of which were released in the modern era (the oldest being a PS2 game), so for the most part it shouldn't be too hard to at least go back and give these games another try. I've tried my best to pinpoint why I put them down without finishing them, and some reasoning as to why I haven't already made the return. First up is a game that I still hear people speak very fondly of.
Friday, May 8, 2015
When the topic for May's Monthly Musings was decided upon, I got really excited. Being a man who is ever-so-desperately pretending he isn't about to turn 30 (actually, it's not that big of a deal), I have lots of fond memories of videogame magazines. I have a nice little collection of Nintendo Powers tucked under my television stand that I like to take out and peek at every so often, as well as a large bank of memories of staring at GamePro and Electronic Gaming Monthly. But magazines are not what I want to talk about today, at least not in the traditional sense.
I'm a collector of many things: Terminator, Simpsons, and wrestling memorabilia, and videogames. Okay, so, like four things, I suppose that still constitutes the use of the word "many." But one of the sub-genres of videogame merchandise that I collect is strategy guides. The only problem here is that I've already written in the past about my weird obsession with game guides, so how do I approach this without treading the same ground? By talking more generally and also by speaking about a specific type of strategy guide: the password/code book.
With the explosion of retro-styled indie games in recent years, the thing that continuously and tragically gets overlooked in these endeavors is the inclusion of codes. Axiom Verge gave you the ability to input the exact same code from Metroid and allow you to play as a sexy lady. I mean that literally, too. It's the exact same "Justin Bailey" code from Metroid. At least change it up a bit there, Tom. But before that unoriginal example, I can't even remember the last game I played where I used a series of button presses, whether from the menus or otherwise, that changed the game in any significant way.
Lots of modern developers include perks and unlockables for use in their games (
Every early issue of Nintendo Power included codes, maps, and revealed secrets that had previously gone undiscovered to all but the most elite of NES savants. Those tips and tricks sections (or "Classified Information" for the NP reader) shaped the way that I play games today. It was these few colorful pages that taught me to check around every corner and leave no stone unturned. It's the reason that any time an NPC says "follow me," I tune that garbage out and walk in the opposite direction, usually resulting in the acquisition of some sort of collectible.
But there's something to be said for a dedicated videogame password guide. The publisher of these books (whether written as a novel or in the traditional magazine format) did an incredible service for the children of the late 80s/early 90s. These books introduced me to the Konami Code, enabling me to finally ward off the hordes of the Red Falcon invasion. They proved to me that Battletoads continues past that first speeder-bike level.
Unfortunately for me, the rise of the Internet became the death knell for codebooks. GameFAQS now provides tips and tricks for free, as well as a very active forum that answers any and all questions almost immediately. YouTube took it up a notch and not only tells you what to do, but shows you as well, leaving zero room for error.
I don't know which I'm lamenting more, the medium of password guides, or the loss of codes as a gaming concept. Either way, it's an era that we'll never see return, and an aspect of my life that I'll always cherish.
Thanks for reading. Here's all my personal plugs:
My latest YouTube video
Wednesday, April 29, 2015
It's been a couple weeks since I've actually posted one of my weekly top 5 blogs. I do sincerely apologize. It was the first time since I started doing them that I didn't post one, which began last summer. I had a pretty good streak going on, but now I must start over.
And the easiest way for me to get back into the swing of things is to go to my bread and butter: Mario. It may be generic to say that Mario is still my favorite videogame character to this day, and I get more excited about a new Mario game than I do most other things, but I can't help it, I love that portly plumber. You can chalk it up to nostalgia and there would be very little I could say to refute that. Mario has been with me for about 26 of my 29 years on this earth. I grew up with Mario, and now I'm growing old with Mario, though he has definitely aged better than I have.
I'm putting this as an honorable mention out of necessity and a desire to not be sent a mailbomb. I had converted to the Playstation in the mid-90s, so my exposure to the Nintendo 64 was very limited, and the small amount of time I did own the system were spent almost exclusively playing WCW/nWo Revenge. Even if I don't have those nostalgia tingles for this game, no one can deny why it's legendary in the grand scheme of gaming.
Nothing bothers me more than when someone acts like the Super Mario Bros. 2 we got in the States isn't the real SMB2. Yes, I know it was just a re-skin of a Japanese game called Doki Doki Panic, but there's a reason for that. The reason is because the "real" Super Mario Bros. 2 sucks. It sucks hard. If this were a worst Mario games list, it would undoubtedly be at the top (or bottom?). I'd rather play Hotel Mario.
But the U.S. game is outstanding. Was it weird? Yes. But gaming was still in its infancy, and a lot of sequels in the era were much different than their predecessors because there was no established blueprint for what a game had to be. Castlevania II was much different than Castlevania, Zelda II was different than The Legend of Zelda in every conceivable fashion, and yes, Mario 2 is different than the original, and it's amazing. You pull a vegetable out of the ground which turns out to be a rocket ship, which then flies you to the next level. That's what videogames are supposed to be.
Stop being a retro gaming hipster and admit that Mario 2 is great.
The world rejoiced in 2006 when we finally got a new, true, 2D platformer from the Mario series in the form of New Super Mario Bros. on the Nintendo DS. It was the first one we had gotten since Yoshi's Island, and some people argue that Yoshi's Island doesn't count as a true Mario game, meaning you have to go back to Super Mario World. New Super Mario Bros. was a decent little Mario game, but it seems to have suffered a little bit from revisionism over the years, but one thing that it did was lay the ground work for it's outstanding console counterpart: New Super Mario Bros. Wii.
The real innovation with New SMB Wii was the inclusion of cooperative multiplayer. But this wasn't just a game that you played with your one friend who hadn't moved on to cursing at 12 year olds on Xbox Live. This was a game you played with that friend, his girlfriend, and her cute cousin who you have no shot with. That's right, 4-player simultaneous co-op in a Mario game. This was the future!
With one player, the game is great. With four players, it's absolute chaos in the best possible way. It's one of the few games to get a perfect 40/40 score from Famitsu, and I'm sure that was in no small part attributed to the amount of fun the game is with multiple players.
It also has arguably the best final Bowser battle in Mario's long history.
I tend to get impatient, which is why it was such a bad idea for me to buy a Nintendo 3DS on launch day. I bought it with Bust-a-Move Universe because I love the series, but after I went through all the levels in a day or two, I went months without turning the thing on, at which point, it went right back to the GameStop that I bought it from.
Nearly a year went by and there still wasn't a whole lot on the system that convinced me to buy another 3DS. That is, until Super Mario 3D Land. I was still skeptical, knowing that I would one day own the system again, and likely at a much lower price or with a much bigger screen, but Mario's call was too great. At the time I was working a third shift job, so when my Thanksgiving morning shift ended around 4am, I headed straight for the local Meijer and got in line for four hours for the red 3DS bundled with Super Mario 3D Land to go on sale. I was not disappointed..
It's one of the must-own titles on the 3DS, and one that I felt compelled to beat 100%, which doesn't happen often. Even though I just sang the praises of cooperative multiplayer, I chose 3D Land of 3D World because of its multiplayer omission. There was a greater challenge in 3D Land, and that final level was the first and only time I've ever put my 3DS into sleep mode out of frustration.
This was also one of the first games to show you the value of the 3D technology in the system. While you can certainly find all the green stars and hidden items without it, the 3D does help you in some instances. It's a timeless game, so if you've never taken the time to play it, there's no time like the present.
For those of you who were born after 1990, I don't expect you to understand Mario-mania, and to a greater extent, Nintendo-mania. Nintendo was everywhere you looked. You probably already know that Super Mario Bros. 3 was first revealed to American audiences in the movie The Wizard. I'm not kidding when I say that The Wizard is legitly one of my all-time favorite movies. I even gave it its own dedicated weekly top 5 list. But that's how huge Nintendo and Mario were. They created an entire theatrically-released film that was written and built around the reveal of Super Mario Bros. 3. That wouldn't happen today. Actually, that couldn't happen today. In the age of the Internet, whatever game tried to take this same course of action would be leaked months in advance.
If Super Mario Bros. 2 was a departure (like I mentioned earlier), then SMB3 was the prodigal son returning. This felt like a next-gen game. Of course, we didn't have the term "next-gen" back then, but you get what I'm saying. Mario controlled better and had more abilities, there was a map screen (which meant that you could skip certain levels in favor of others), more power-ups, more diverse worlds, everything that had already made Mario so great was made even better here.
The only detriment to the game was it's lack of a save feature. In some ways it can be forgiven; Mario game had always been a one-sitting experience up to that point, and it wasn't until Super Mario World that Nintendo realized that the game had grown far too large for saves not to be included. But, as we know, there were ways to get right to the end of the game from the first world, so you didn't have to sit unhealthily close to your television screen for multiple hours to reach Bowser's castle.
Required playing for anyone who fancies themselves a retro gamer.
The Nintendo Wii, at least for me, became the first Nintendo console that I purchased solely for Nintendo's first-party titles. Don't get me wrong, I certainly played lots of other games on my Wii, but it was the Marios, Wii Sports, Zeldas, and Punch-Outs of the world that made me desire the system. Due to the high demand, I didn't get mine until a year after release, but it's not that big of a deal because that's when Super Mario Galaxy launched. The Wii was the first time (and likely the last time) that I stood outside of a store all night to try and get an item. I stood outside of a Toys R Us with two friends for over 8 hours in a crippling Ohio winter. By the time the doors opened, my feet hurt so bad from the cold that I was convinced I had done irreversible damage to them.
Nevertheless, when I finally got my hands on Super Mario Galaxy, it was worth every second of pain I had endured. I went through the game with both Mario and Luigi, collecting all 240 stars in about a week. Then, shortly thereafter, my system kicked the bucket. This was very weird considering Nintendo's track record of system quality. Since the system was obviously still under warranty, they repaired it and sent it back, but I lost all of my data in the process. But I didn't look at that as a negative, it was just a reason to go back and collect all 240 of those stars again, which I did.
Super Mario 64 was a landmark evolution for the series, and even though I really enjoyed Super Mario Sunshine, it was Galaxy that was truly the next step in that evolution. A lot of people prefer the sequel, but I've always been partial to this one, which is likely because of how much I suffered in order to play it.
And I think that we would all be in agreement that Nintendo needs to either make Super Mario Galaxy 3, or an HD collection of the first two. I would buy either one of those (or both) without hesitation.
If you want an in-depth explanation why this is not only my favorite Mario game, but my favorite game of all-time, then you can just go here. But if you're too exhausted from all this reading and don't want to read more, I'll make this an abridged version. Basically, everything that was great about Super Mario Bros. 3 was cranked up to 11 in Super Mario World. I love that Dinosaur Island is one continuous world and no longer a grouping of levels into stages, allowing you to go back and play previous levels for anything you may have missed. Speaking of things you may have missed, I love all the secrets packed into this game. I love that the only level you'll encounter the Torpedo Ted enemy in is one that requires you to sacrifice your bipedal dinosaur friend. A noble sacrifice, indeed.
The Valley of Bowser was a fitting atmosphere as a buildup for the finale, with Bowser himself flying around his castle with thunder and lightning crashing, silhouetting him every so slightly. The final battle was something that I had never experienced before, and for the six-year-old kid that I was at the time, it was a very nerveracking battle, especially when Bowser's clown 'copter begins stomping its way towards you with blood on its mind.
I own the game in five different ways (six if you count emulators), and I still play it on a regular basis. Again, you can read my full thoughts on the game in that link above, but for now, I'm going to go see if there's any other ways for me to spend more money on Super Mario World.
Thanks for reading, here's where I appear elsewhere on the internet.
Monday, April 27, 2015
On this episode of the Hall of Game, I take a look at a videogame based on one of my most nostalgic television shows: American Gladiators.
If you're viewing the video on a device that doesn't show links, you can subscribe to our YouTube channel here.