Wednesday, December 29, 2010

This is why I don't go on dates with women...

You may have thought I was done obsessing about 'The Elder Scrolls.' If you did, you were very, very wrong. With Bethesda's announcement of the next installment of the Elder Scrolls series, I have found myself contemplating the future of the franchise once again.

I was introduced to the games with the third one, Morrowind. At the time it was groundbreaking. It was well-written for an RPG, had impressive graphics (for its time), and allowed players to enjoy an increased sense of role-play. It improved upon its predecessors' flaws in many ways. Though it cut features from the second game [most notably by decreasing the size of the game environment, and removing randomly generated dungeons and quests (it also eliminated the nudity; whether this was good or bad is up to you)], Morrowind was able to focus on certain design elements and season them to perfection.

Daggerfall, the second game in the series, was a direct step up from the previous game. Again, it changed scale from its predecessor and focused on a smaller part of the game's world. However, it magnified that smaller area (that of the Iliac Bay) and made it larger than any game environment yet in existence at the time (this was in 1996). It expanded Arena's basic gameplay and elevated it above that of a dungeon-crawler. Daggerfall allowed for deeper character customization and role-playing. Alternate endings allowed players to pick sides of a complex and fantastic political conflict. Unfortunately, its graphics have aged even worse than those of Morrowind; additionally, the game was kind of a buggy mess to begin with (the original release of the game was so error-riddled that the main questline couldn't be completed by normal means).

Oblivion, the fourth game in the series (please excuse my Tarantino chronology here), is much more difficult for me to evaluate. I liked the game a lot; however, I am prone to get into annoying rants about the game if prompted (and these rants are typically extremely critical of the game and its shortcomings). It wasn't necessarily an improvement over Morrowind in every way. However, the graphics were better, the combat was better, the magic system was more streamlined, and the quests were in general executed better (it did a lot of things right, I'll cede that). I'll go into all of these improvements in more detail, but I'll also look at the drawback each improvement came with.

Obviously the graphics were better than those in Morrowind. Oblivion pushed the limits of the hardware of its time. However, years later, the graphics have aged pretty poorly (most notably the character animations). I'm not picky about graphics, so I won't fault the game for aging in that department. I will fault the game for its faces. The game featured a face generator (the first in the series); it's janky. It takes entirely too much effort to get a face that doesn't look like it suffers from Down's syndrome. That is certainly something to be taken into consideration in the development of TES 5.

The combat was actually very good. It removed the random element from the combat of the first three games (some argue the random element was a good thing, but I don't have the strength of thought or fingers to go in-depth about it here). Blocking is mapped to a separate button or keystroke and attacks always hit. All Bethesda needs to do in the next game is improve on the system that they set up in Oblivion and add more complexity (as long as they don't overshoot and make the game too complicated). Magic was improved in much the same way. In the previous games the player was constrained by character skill as far as casting spells went. In Oblivion, every spell succeeds. This is good and bad. It is good because casting success is no longer random; it is bad because every character can cast magic, whether they have any skill with it or not (the same goes for most skills in the game). These streamlining features defeat the purpose of a lot of the game's mechanics and destroy a lot of that sense of role-play that the previous games had.

The quests in Oblivion were interesting enough. They improved on the previous titles' quests by adding more personality to each quest. Additionally, rewards for completing quests were generally more exciting. However, they sacrificed a lot of the quantity for the sake of making every quest special. They ought to have put in more generic quests to fill out the empty space (which Oblivion had a lot of). Not every job or task you do in everyday life has some dramatic turn.

OK, all of that being said, I'm going to tell you the biggest aspect of Oblivion that needs to be amended for TES: Skyrim: level-scaling. As your character advances in level, so do all of the enemies and all of the loot you find in dungeons. This sounds great on paper, but it ruins the purpose of progression in an RPG. Due to the scaling of enemies, it actually makes the game easier to never level up. Yes, you can save the world at level one (and it is a significantly easier task at that level). This gets me worked up to no end. This blind oversight works me into a white-hot rage just thinking about it. What were they thinking? Morrowind was fun because at a certain level, you were stronger than anything in the land! You could literally fly (Oblivion removed the spells that allowed you to fly) across the land dropping hellfire from your hands while the general populace was powerless to stop you! There was a real sense of improvement that made the game worthwhile!

I'm going to stop myself here. I feel that I have so much more to say about the game, but this has gone on for too long and it's starting to devolve into a mess of rants and loosely-related blocks of text. Oblivion was so close to being something great, but it ended up being a lifeless shell of a game. Unfortunately for nerds like me, the game sold so well that Bethesda is unlikely to address any of the above issues. They will likely continue the process of streamlining the game further until it is ground into a generic pulp. I may have to abandon the franchise before it really takes off. That's a downer for me...

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Sound Test 2

It's that time of the month again! In honor of the recent announcement of the newest installment of the Elder Scrolls series (slated for November 11th of the coming year), I present to you this month's sound test.

Imagine a door in a dark room. It opens and light spills into your world. A hero stands surrounded by the light, creating a dramatic silhouette. Is he a axe-wielding barbarian, a swashbuckling rogue, or perhaps a venerable sorcerer? Maybe the hero is in fact a heroine (I'm just messing with you, a woman couldn't possibly defeat the evil Jagar Tharn and become the Eternal Champion of Tamriel, right?).

In The Elder Scrolls: Arena, you can choose to be any of these and a myriad more. Before you even begin playing, the game prompts you to create your character. There are eight races to be, 21 classes to choose from, and eight stats to be rolled. During the process a rousing tune plays. It is the subject this month's sound test.

I disdain the gross overuse of the word 'epic' in today's society, but this song has no other word to better describe it. It has a driving percussion sound that evokes the image of the mythical Hephaestus hammering out wonderous creations in the belly of a volcano. The song builds up from a simple beginning and continues to develop while a drum bangs out the 10/8 time throughout. It is a glorious song that shadows the meteoric rise of the player character from an anonymous prisoner to savior of an empire.
They don't make 'em like this anymore, folks:

TES: Arena Character Creation Music (Soundtrack Version)
Character Creation Process (Intro sequence, character creation, and first dungeon)

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

A Star Fox Guide to Romance

Star Fox 64 is one of the most awesome quotable games ever. Everyone knows this. What some men out there may not have ever realized is that these quotes could in fact secretly contain messages to help them find love. Luckily for those men I am here to translate. So without further adieu here is a Star Fox guide to love.


Never give up. Trust your instincts. – James McCloud

Translation: Exactly what it says. CONSTANT VIGILANCE!

Go for the chest! – Peppy Hare

Translation: Boobs are awesome, and should be used as a tool in selecting a potential mate if you are doing it based on looks alone.

Let’s take ‘em all out! – Falco Lombardi

Translation: It’s a numbers game; you have to go after as many women as you can until you find the right one.

You’re not getting away that easy! – Slippy Toad

Translation: Don’t give up after one rejection, she may be playing hard to get. Don’t go overboard though stalking a woman is never a good idea.

Looks like you could use some help, Fox – Bill Grey.

Translation: In case things go wrong it is always good to have a wingman. Even if it is just a dog………a gay dog.

Location confirmed. Sending supplies. – ROB 64

Translation: Make sure your wingman knows where you are at all times, so he can be ready to supply you with protection if necessary.


You can’t beat me, I’ve got a better ship! – Pigma Dengar

Translation: Women like cool cars. Pick them up for dates in cool cars, and they will like you.

Don’t get too cocky, Star Fox. – Wolf O’Donnel

Translation: Confidence is important, but too much can turn a woman off.

This is one steep bill! But it’s worth it. – General Pepper

Translation: Don’t be cheap. Pay for her dinner/drinks. Things will work out better for you if you do.

I’ve got a present for ya! – Attack Carrier

Translation: Buy girls presents. They like presents.


Here it comes! – Fox McCloud

Translation: BOW CHICKA BOW WOW!

(Well I apologize for all of the quotes that are missing links, but I can only find 2 websites that have the audio clips and unfortunately the one with the better selection is apparently run by a bunch of assholes who don't want to share the glory that is star fox with the rest of the world.)

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

A Christmas Tale

For the past little while schoolwork (and halo, and sonic colors, and assassins creed brotherhood, but mostly schoolwork) has wedged itself into my life and made it impossible for me to even consider writing anything for this blog. Tonight however is a rare occasion where I have no homework due tomorrow, no friends on Xbox live to join, and no pressing matter to attend to (I don’t have to use the bathroom). So that leaves me with an entirely new dilemma: what to write for this blog. I like to imagine that all 9 of you readers care immensely about seeing the blog updated frequently, and I as one of your humble writers will seek to appease you...

Well, I just perused some of the games in my collection of gems (and a few turds) and have decided to analyze a story for you. It is a story of love, of evil desire, of facing one’s inner demons to overcome an opposition and become a greater person. Of course, I’m referring to the story in the instruction manual of Sonic CD

Fast Facts:

System: Sega CD (Mega CD) PC

Release Date: Mega-CD JP September 23, 1993 NA November 19, 1993

PC: JP August 9, 1996 NA September 26, 1996 EU October 3, 1996

7 Zones, 3 Acts Each

Average Ebay Price: around 20-30 dollars for complete package.

Rated #1 Sonic Game by Screw Attack

Fun Fact: The US version and JP version have entirely different music. A lot of people criticized (and still today critizie) the American soundtrack, and this fact alone caused the game to get lower scores among some reviewers.

The Story:

A World That Defies Time!

“Sonic, where are you going now?”

Sonic the Hedgehog looked over his shoulder at Princess Sally, (as a fanboy, I need to gripe here. This character is for all intents and purposes Amy Rose. Princess Sally Acorn is and only ever has been in the Sonic Comic books done by Archie Comics. Apparently at one point they were going to kill her off, but Sega didn’t let them because they wanted to put her in a game. That was a long time ago. I’m still waiting, Sega…) the young hedgehog who was racing hot on his heels.

“To Never Lake,” he called back.

“Why Never Lake?”

Sonic slowed down a little so he could explain. “Ever heard of the Little Planet?”

“Isn’t that the tiny world that orbits around Mobius?” Princess Sally asked. “The one with the special stones that alter time and change everything around them? I heard that the planet’s full of places that are completely ignored by the passage of time!”

“Yeah. On the last month of every year, the Little Planet appears over Never Lake. It’s that time now, and I’m going to check it out. I bet space travel will be exciting!”

“With all those Time Stones, I bet you’ll try to outrun time itself!”

Princess Sally sighed in adoration.

Sonic didn’t reply, he just smiled, eyes gleaming.

When they arrived at Never Lake, the Little Planet was there as expected. But something was wrong. Where there should have been tall trees and bright flowers, there was nothing dry sand and jagged rocks. The Little Planet was tethered to a rock with a huge chain, and its surface was covered with twisted, gleaming metal.

“What happened?” Princess Sally wondered.

Before Sonic could reply, something wooshed over them. Princess Sally shrieked as she was snatched up, and she and her captor vanished in a blue streak of light!


It didn’t take long for Sonic to realize what had happened.

“This has to be one of Dr. Robotnik’s tricks!”

Indeed it was! Upon discovering the location of the Little Planet, the evil Dr. Robotnik and his robot cronies had immediately set about converting it to a giant fortress. When Robotnik saw Sonic approaching, he had dispatched his prize creation, the Metal Sonic, to grab Princess Sally and lure his arch enemy into danger.

“How convenient!” Robotnik crowed, bouncing about like a malicious rubber ball. “This time my scientific expertise will crush you! Once all the Time Stones are in my hands, I’ll be able to manipulate time and conquer the world! HO, HO, HO, HO!”

Sonic stood on a rock and thought. Robotnik had control of the Little Planet. He had Princess Sally, and soon he would have the Time Stones… but not if Sonic got to them first!

His adventure on the Little Planet was going to be more exciting and dangerous than he’d planned. It was time to get a move on!

So how is that a Christmas Story? well as you can see, it’s the last month of the year. The Little Planet has come and will only be here for a little time, so what will you do? Will you let this once in a lifetime chance pass? Will you allow yourself to be content with your mundane, everyday life for another year? Or will you get a move on? Will you do something you’ve always wanted to do? Will you face your fears? As Rocky says in Rocky 6, maybe you’ve got something you’ve always wanted to do-something you’ve wanted to say to someone, SOMETHING. And after you’ve done all you can do, who’s got the right to stop you? Nobody. So in this last month of 2010, accomplish something. Do what you wanted to do. Save your own personal Princess Sally. Also, eat a ton of food, give presents to your family and friends, and of course, play some vigigames. Merry Christmas, Happy Chanukah, or uh…Good Kwanza?

Monday, December 6, 2010

A little prose on being a collector

This is a repost from an old blog that ProtoScott and I started a while back.  I thought it would work well here since people actually read this blog. Enjoy!

Being a Nintendo collector, despite being big heaps of fun, is not easy.  Where I live, there are four stores that specialize in old/used video games. Three of these are part of a local franchise business, while the fourth is a separate entity. These stores are great and, for the most part, the employees are very helpful. Case in point; I was scouring the city hoping to find a copy of F-Zero X for the N64 – quite honestly it’s one of the best futuristic racing games ever, and certainly the best on that particular console. The employee helping me at the time checked all of their locations in the city, but ended up having it shipped from Indianapolis. Now, we’re talking about a $5 game here. I’m pretty sure that they spent more on the shipping than I paid for it. That’s customer service (cyber shout out to McVan’s Video Games).

This isn’t the case for every game though. Anyone who has ever looked into purchasing an old cartridge knows that games can range from $0.50 to hundreds of dollars. For the most part, when I go and buy an old game (usually for the NES or SNES) I’m going to spend around $10 per game on average. That isn’t to say I haven’t made a few impulse buys. Just the other day, I spent $30 on Final Fantasy II. Was it worth it? Totally. If you are a gamer and you are getting into the retro systems, be prepared to spend a good chunk of money. For the most part, a store that specializes in old games will know the rarity and street value for just about every cartridge they have. You could find an online store ( for example) and usually the same game will be about the same price.

But that’s boring. Going into a store and just picking up the game you want doesn’t supply any fun. It’s like grocery shopping; you know what you are going to buy before you even go in, so there aren’t any surprises. However, just recently, I had an experience that had the potential to be very joyous for my consoles.

I like to browse the local Craigslist ads just to see if anyone is selling old systems for cheap. I happened to find a guy that was selling his entire NES collection, which included: The NES system, an Advantage controller, a 3rd party controller, light gun, and 11 games. If you were to buy everything he was selling from a dealer it would cost somewhere around the $170 range. He was selling this collection for $65. Unfortunately, the timing was off. By the time I could have arranged a time to buy it from him, he would have moved to a different state. But this occurrence gave me that rush that one feels when they find a veritable gold mine in what someone else considers trash.

There are a lot of people in this world who don’t put any value in video games. Sure, they have a few lying around in their closet, but they’d much rather get rid of them and make a few bucks than spend a few moments on the internet to find out what they are actually worth. This is where collectors like ProtoScott, Heavily Armed Timo, willtaculer, and myself have fun. Sometimes, you can find rare games with street values of $20+ in someone’s garage sale for a buck. It feels like stealing, but it’s the good kind of stealing. The only downside is that these treasures are few and far between. Most people know that they can take their games to a dealer and get cash, so stumbling across those cheap and rare games has become difficult, if not near impossible. But that’s not to say it isn’t possible to find one man’s trash that is your plastic treasure. Keep your eyes open and you never know what you’ll find. Also, if you are selling your games, my email is I also take donations.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

My Favorite Trilogy: Jak & Daxter

   The PlayStation 2 was an important console for me.  I don’t really know why, since I’ve owned way too many crap games, but it definitely holds a large place in my heart when it comes to consoles (granted, probably not the largest).  One of the greatest games on that system is Jak & Daxter.  It’s a relatively simple platformer, but the story is fantastic and the gameplay is amazing.  Surprisingly, not many people know that J&D was actually the first game in an expansive trilogy.  The sequels were titled Jak II and Jak III, choosing to remove Daxter from the title, though not from the game (we need our comedic relief from somewhere).  Before I dive into the amazingness that is the J&D series, I’d like to preface my argument with a quick note: There are spinoffs to this series, and they aren’t that great.  One of these spinoffs is sometimes considered the fourth game of the series, “Jak and Daxter: The Lost Frontier.”  Those who consider this game as part of the main series are wrong, including Wikipedia. That’s right. I said it.  This game is nothing like the main three games, and the story is solidly wrapped up within the trilogy, so for the sake of this blog, I’m going to ignore this game and the two other spinoffs, and focus on just the trilogy.
   I’d rather not have to summarize each game, as the stories are crazy expansive and I don’t like to talk forever on one thing like ProtoScott does, but unfortunately, some familiarization is necessary.  Jak is a simple young lad, with a mouthy friend, Daxter.  They live in a peaceful town and life is good, until our two characters go exploring and see some baddies up to no good.  Oh, and Daxter turns into a small, ferret-like creature called an ottsel (which is apparently half weasel, half otter).   The cause of this transformation, and also a huge component in the trilogy, is a material called “eco.”  It represents a sort of life force for everything in the world.   There is also time travel in the trilogy.
   Down to what makes this trilogy great.  The story is incredible.  ‘Nuff said.  There are tons of side stories and side quests in the later sequels that develop each and every tiny character.  The first game provides an epic farmboy-turned-hero story that, while it may feel cliché, is refreshed by an incredibly vivid world and hilarious characters.  The later stories are much darker and epic.  Jak becomes fueled by dark eco and also gains some new weaponry in the form of a constantly-upgraded gun.  I really don’t want to give too much away because I believe that everyone should play this trilogy to see how the game develops from a simple platformer, to an expansive action RPG. 
   When it comes to characters, the J&D series has it all.  Each character looks fantastic and doesn’t ever come across as recycled.  Also, every single one exhibits brilliant voice acting.  The design of every baddie is also very cool. From humanoids to “metalheads,” each one provides depth and sometimes terror for the player.  Personally, it’s the voice acting that sells each character for me.  All of the voices match the look and attitude displayed by the characters, and they are also written in such a way that you feel whatever emotion they are meant to display. 
   While it’s not the best-known trilogy on any system, the J&D series is fantastic.  I’ve played through it many times in my life and it never gets old.  I laugh at every joke, despite having many of them memorized, and I know every twist and turn.  I highly recommend this game to any gamer who is a fan of action RPGs, platformers, and awesome stories.  The J&D series is worth playing, and for those who have the PS3, rumor has it that the entire series will be released for the console at some point.  Please check these games out… I beg you… You won’t regret it.

A Few Thousand Words About Mega Man 3

Anyone who knows me even remotely well knows that my favorite game is Mega Man 3. It has been since the first time I played it as a little kid, and it always will be. I have easily beaten it 50 times. I have forced all of my close friends to play it. I have beaten it on the emulators, on the Mega Man anniversary collection, and even worn my ipod’s battery out trying to beat it on there. I have beaten this game so many times that I can beat levels with one hand and bosses with my eyes closed (no this is not an exaggeration). It is the epitome of what a game should be (at least an NES game) and as such I can think of no better game to be the subject of my first review on this blog.

Rather than just continue to nonsensically prattle on about all the lame memories and geeky habits I have with Mega Man 3 I think it would be better if I examined the game in terms of the elements that I think contribute most to making a game great.


The main story of this game is your pretty basic Mega Man stuff: Dr. Wiley (more commonly Dr. Wily) deceives you into helping him, you fight 8 robot masters, after beating the masters Wiley turns on you and reveals his evil scheme, and then you go to stop him. This storyline may seem stale to some (as it is basically the story to every Mega Man game) but for me it is the only way a Mega Man story should be.
Now I know you are saying to yourself “well Scott that story doesn’t really seem worthy of an 8 even by NES standards” and to that I say “shut up I am not done explaining myself!” The aspect of this story that I feel makes it worthy of an 8 is the side plot of Protoman (hey that’s where I got my name from!!!). Protoman, as you find out at the end of the game, is (20 YEAR OLD SPOILER ALERT) Mega Man’s brother. He is your classic tortured villain fighting an inner battle between wanting to please his master, and wanting to protect his younger brother. If you play through the game in the order I do (Top man, Shadow man, Spark man, Magnet man, Hard man, Gemini man, Needle man, and Snake man) you will see him go from fighting you on your journey, to helping you move forward, and eventually to saving you from Wiley’s crumbling fortress at the last minute. Now that is some pretty serious depth for an 8-bit prototype robot.

Score: 8 Out of 10 (By NES standards)

Game Play:

It is pretty obvious why this is a criterion for a good game since you know it is basically the whole concept for what the game is and all. Luckily for Mega Man 3 everyone (read: I) loves fast paced action platforming, and this game has it out the wazoo.

While the platforming and action elements are a major component of the game play, they are a pretty standard idea for the NES. What really sets this game, and all Mega Man games apart, is what can only be referred to as the “rock, paper, scissors” element. Upon defeating each boss in the game you will receive a power from them, and each boss in the game is weak to one of the other bosses powers, so the best way to attain success in the game is for you to learn what weapon is best suited to defeat each boss. This allows for hours of extra play time as you test out different weapons on different bosses to find out the most effective way to defeat your robot enemies. This gives the game tons of replay value, and gives you a real sense of accomplishment when you are finally able to come up with the best way to defeat each of Wiley’s dastardly henchmen.

Score: 10 out of 10

Perhaps the most important thing for any NES game is the control. Far too many otherwise good games are ruined by the fact that you slide all over the place when you stop moving, or that when you jump you have no ability to change direction, or worst of all by horrible button layout (damn to the depths whoever thought making anything other than A the jump button was a good idea). Bad control simply takes the genuine fun challenge out of a game and makes you feel less like you are battling the characters in the game and more battling the characters themselves. Luckily, this is where Mega Man 3 truly shines.

The control in this game is nothing short of perfect. Mega Man bends to your every whim. If you decide you need to bail out mid jump and try again, well that is no problem just turn your ass around in the air (provided you haven’t gone too far forward). And unlike previous Mega Man games, if you are running and need to stop quickly to dodge and enemy you can do so on a dime without any of the slight forward slides. Speaking of slides, perhaps the greatest aspect of control in this game is the newly added power slide feature. This empowers you with the ability to make a quick get away from an opponent and to add just a little bit of extra forward momentum to your jumps, making even the most difficult of situations a synch to master. The great control compliments the game play, and leaves you with no one to blame but yourself if you should die at any point in the game.

Score: 10 out of 10


As Timo mentioned in his Sound Test Blog I, like all the other members of this blog, am a musician so obviously one of the most important features of a game for me is the music. This should be obvious since the Japanese name for Mega Man is Rock Man but I think it needs to be said: This game’s soundtrack ROCKS! From the hauntingly beautiful and melodic title screen music, to the bass heavy and bluesy (read: sleazy) jam that is Shadow Man’s theme, all the way to the just plain trippy music that accompanies Gemini Man’s level; This game’s music burrows into your brain and will have you singing along and wanting to do heavy metal covers in no time. They may all be simple 30 to 40 second loops but those little loops go a long way toward making this game achieve total pwnage (obligatory use of the word pwn in a video game blog).

Specialty Awards for Each of the 8 Main Songs:

1. Top Man: MOST ROCK AND ROLL (What guitar player wouldn’t want to play this song?)
3. Spark Man: MOST APPROPRIATE DRUMS (The hi-hat sounds like sparks to me)
8. Needle Man: MOST FORGETTABLE (It still rocks though)

Score: 10 out of 10


The level design in this game is superb, and diverse. Rather than simply pallet swap and change a few minor details about the levels, like some NES games try to get away with, each level in this game has its own unique feel that keeps the game from getting stale, and thus keeps players hooked.

In the interest of putting as much information into this long delayed review as possible I will go into brief detail on each of the main levels.

Top Man’s Stage: A good first level for people just getting started with Mega Man, this level, while a bit polluted with enemies in the beginning, does not have any insanely difficult jumping sequences and possesses a lot of common enemies so you can get used to fighting them early on. Most people usually find it only slightly difficult or easy, with the exception of the first cat mini-boss.

This is not the greatest stage visually, being that it is a level about tops and the entire thing looks to be built of containers of pot leaves, but hey it is still tons of fun to play and it will most likely be the one that you play the most as top man is the easiest first boss.

Most annoying part: The first couple screens. All those jumping enemies can get old real fast.

Most fun part: The jumps across the hovering tops before the boss gate. The effect of Mega Man spinning closer and further away on them looks cool.

Score: 10 out of 10

Shadow Man’s Stage: The difficulty gets ramped up a little bit more on this level. Jumps with enemies to deal with at the same time may leave some people frustrated at first. The developers did do a good job of making the play diverse in this stage. You have your intro falling part, followed quickly by a mysterious whistle toting mini-boss, then the challenge of having all the lights knocked out so you can’t see the ground, and then jumping across the platforms to the boss gate with floating enemies falling down on you.

The stage is ok visually, but I am not sure what what appears to be magma has to do with a ninja themed boss. Really who cares though lava and ninjas are both awesome so having them together is just twice as awesome. It is just a nice satisfying dark level overall.

Most annoying part: The jumps to the boss gate. The only way I know to avoid the enemies that fall effectively is to constantly jump back and forth between the platforms so I can kill them from the previous platform.

Most fun part: The aforementioned lights out part. It looks cool and it is exciting.

Score: 9 out of 10

Spark Man’s Stage: This is one of the toughest levels for a lot of people, particularly toward the end. The enemies in the level are for the most part a synch but the jumping sections can take you out if you don’t have the skill for them (which you most likely won’t your first time playing). You will be forced to jump across platforms that move upward toward a ceiling of instant death spikes while at the same time trying to dodge flying bolt enemies that can knock you off. It is pretty difficult and it may just drive you insane. Still the difficulty only serves to make it all the more satisfying to beat and this is personally one of my favorite levels to play

Visually, this stage is the first one that really hits it on the money, and when you play it it doesn’t require a huge stretch of the imagination to see that it will have an electricity themed boss. The circuit board floors and ceilings aren’t beautiful but at least they create a recognizable atmosphere.

Most annoying part: Any part with the platforms that float up toward the instant death ceilings. It is incredibly nerve racking.

Most fun part: The 4 or 5 screen falling part with no enemies. I like to put on the top spin power and ballerina spin the whole way down.

Score: 10 out of 10

Magnet Man’s Stage: While not the most difficult stage, this is probably the one that is most likely to make you stop playing Mega Man 3, because it is certainly the most annoying level. Not only does it contain the first appearance of what I believe to be the most annoying enemy in the game (the stupid guys that shoot the little missile out of their head), but it also has the most tedious jumping part of the whole game. Midway through the level you face a section with blocks that disappear and reappear and you cannot move on (unless you play the game in a way that gives you rush jet earlier) unless you make it cross these blocks. This would not be so bad on its own but all the while there are magnets that suck you off of the blocks if you stand too close to them. You can easily get too frustrated and spend 20 minutes on this stupid part, and since usually don’t die when you fall off of the blocks you have no real reason to stop trying. It can be a pest, but it is worth it to persevere and get passed as you are only a short distance away from the boss gate.

Visually, this level is hit and miss. I find that I enjoy the intro portion where you can see the sky and really like the look of the batteries that power the magnets that suck you toward them, but the color scheme is pretty gross. Putrid green backgrounds with boring gray floors. Magnet Man needs a new decorator. This is only really something that will bug you when you are stuck at the disappearing block section as you are often forced to look at the throw-up walls for long periods of time.

Most annoying part: The sound the blocks make when they appear. I have nightmares about it.

Most fun part: The beginning part with the magnets that pick you up. I know that they are supposed to be enemies but I find them fun to just play around with as only a few of them ever really hurt you.

Score: 9 out of 10

Hard Man’s Stage: Difficulty wise this stage is probably a bit easier than the previous two were. The bee enemies in it can be a bit of a hassle but you can glitch them off of the screen so they are rarely an issue. Other than the bees and the bear traps most of the enemies shouldn’t give most players an issue though. Even without the intense challenge of the previous levels this level is still exciting due to its contrast of tight areas with barely any room to jump and wide open areas with almost nothing in them.

Visually it is pretty awesome. It gives the impression of fighting in an abandoned construction zone of mine shaft, and even though it doesn’t have any incredibly complex graphics or really a theme that seems to go with a boss (what the hell can you do with a name like Hard Man though) it is still an exciting environment to destroy robots in.

Most annoying part: Fighting Protoman. The ground is raised which leaves you with no really effective strategy for avoiding taking damage.

Most fun part: Glitching the bee enemies off of the screen. I love stuff like that in old games.

Score: 9.5 out of 10

Gemini Man’s Stage: This is one of the hardest and most fun levels in the entire game. There are tons of enemies, instant death pits, and difficult jumps. This can be frustrating at first, but once you get used to it the challenge just ups the excitement and joy you get from beating it. As an added bonus a lot of the enemies in this level are unique, which adds a lot of much needed spice to the game at around the halfway point(provided you are playing it my way through at least, and are also only considering the first 8 levels). Try to get over your stress on this level because if you do it can be one of the most thrilling parts of the game.

This is the best level visually. It is insanely awesome. The beginning outside portion with the starlit sky in the background is a great way to start the level since you don’t often have night time levels, but once you get to the indoor portion it is even better. The whole level feels like you are parading around inside of a giant fish. Things are dark and look damp, and the fact that floor is constantly changing colors is a really awesome effect. This level just has a very satisfying and unique look that will immediately draw in players that may have (somehow) gotten tired of the more industrial feel of the last few levels.

Most annoying part: The part where you have to either jump over or travel through the water in rush jet. It is difficult no matter which option you choose, and even the most seasoned of players can mess up and die here.

Most fun part: Shooting your way through the weird eggs that block your path. Little sperm totally cum out of them LOLZ.

Score: 10 out of 10

Needle Man’s Stage: There is not a whole lot to say about this stage game play wise. It is pretty medium in difficulty and doesn’t have a whole lot of frustrating or memorable parts. To me it has always felt as though it were a little too short. It is not a bad level but it is probably the only level that I would ever consider adding anything too. I will say that the needles, while a very obvious tie in to the boss name, are pretty fun to dodge when they come down from the ceiling.

What this level lacks in memorable challenges it makes up for in style. This is perhaps the second most visually appealing level. It has a sweet metropolitan feel to it and the color scheme outstanding. The best way I can describe it is sort of like a space pirate ship (this is probably just because of the canon enemies). Also it probably contains the only appealing use of green in the whole game.

Most annoying part: The porcupine enemies. They always shoot their needles and block the last shot that I need to hit them with to kill them.

Most fun part: The enemies that throw the ball and chain at you. You can totally kill them below their attack range by staying just barely on the ladder.

Score: 8 out of 10

Snake Man’s Stage: This level starts out pretty basic just a few snake themed enemies to kill (oh and dumb jumping enemies that have nothing to do with snakes but are still fun to watch hop around) but gets a bit more exciting with the part up in the sky at the end where you have to jump across the floating clouds and dodge the bullet bill wannabe clouds. By this point in the game there aren’t a whole lot of surprises in the 8 main levels but this one is still well designed and a lot of fun to play.

If you are a fan of green then you will love how this level looks.

Most annoying part: The really wide jump after the second snake mini-boss. I always think that I am not going to make it.

Most fun part: The part up in the sky. It is the only part that isn’t green.

Score: 9 out of 10

Wily Stages: These stages are awesome and since I have already talked about the first 8 stages in detail I will let any potential players be more surprised by these stages. They basically compile all of the best elements of the previous levels as well as add a few challenges of their own.

Most annoying part: Memorizing the pattern to the second stages boss.

Most fun part: Beating the game. WITH TOP SPIN! (whoops should’ve called spoiler alert again)

Score:10 out of 10

Overall Score for Levels: 9.4 out of 10
(Yes, I know I skipped the second time through Spark Man, Gemini Man, Shadow Man, and Needle Man’s stages with the Mega Man 2 bosses. I am tired of writing about levels though so just imagine everything I already said only slightly more difficult.)

Character Design:

Ok I was gonna put a lot here, but this is getting way too long and out of control so let me sum it up for you.

These Characters get 10 out of 10 for their awesome design: Mega Man, Protoman, Top Man, Spark Man, Shadow Man, Hard Man, Needle Man, Gemini Man, Magnet Man, Dr. Light, and Dr. Wiley.

These Characters get 1 out of 10 for just looking like a dude wearing a lame snake costume: Snake Man.


Score: 9.3 out of 10


Final Thoughts:
This game may not be perfect in every single aspect, but it is in all the areas that really count to me, control, gameplay, and music. Sure the character design sucks some times (*cough*Snake Man*cough*) and the theme of the levels doesn’t always go along with the boss the, but nostalgic value that I have for the game makes even the little flaws seem endearing to me and really boosts every category to a perfect 10.
Weighted Nostalgic Overall Rating: 10000000 out of 10

P.S. Sorry this sucker is so long. I really love this game.

P.P.S. I apologize for any lack of consistency when it comes to putting a space between the first part of a robots name and the word “man”. I am never sure how it should actually be and I generally change the way that I write it on a daily basis.

Monday, November 29, 2010

The Return (or Possibly True Arrival) of ProtoScott

As I alluded to in my last blog post (about how Timo is a putrid piece of poo-poo), I have been without a laptop (I mentioned something about how I was typing the entire thing on an IPod for those of you who do not wish to scroll all the way down to my last post.) This issue has caused me to be somewhat silent on this blog as of late, but I am happy to report that the situation has been rectified and even now I am typing this blog (and absentmindedly navigating the Facebook) on my newly repaired HP laptop. This means that I will be able to post much more frequently and hopefully Timo can stop having all the pressure be on him.

I am not quite sure if this counts as a return to the blog since I have never had a chance to post on the blogs with my own laptop anyway but whatever it is I am finally able to participate fully. In the near future I am hoping to begin some reviews of the NES games I own and will hopefully have the first one posted this week, over what I believe to be one of, if not the, best NES games ever made. MEGA MAN 3.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Warmth and Togetherness

First off, I'd like to thank the readers. Yes, I know there are only two of them at the moment (that I know of). If you are reading and haven't subscribed, I would feel warmer inside if you did. Thanks.

Today is the wonderful holiday of Thanksgiving. What does this have to do with gaming? Well, I typically spend Thanksgiving at my sister's house. Her husband has a Super Nintendo and a wonderful gem called Tetris Attack. As the title suggests, it plays like Tetris. However, like other games that are like Tetris, it differentiates itself from its parent title. I won't go into the mechanics, but they aren't terribly complicated at their core. Thus, fun times can be had by all.

It's just one of those games. The sort of fun that brings folks closer together. Even though I don't always like my family, I can still play a little Tetris Attack with them.

Games are great for bonding. Play games with your friends and family. Don't play online all of the time; get together and play side-by-side as God intended. You may find that the spirit of Thanksgiving (that of warmth and togetherness) can be found any time of the year.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Sound Test 1

I had no ideas for an update this week, and my compatriots in blogging are no doubt busy with their respective lives; thus, I find myself with a dilemma. Should I skip updating this week? No. I'll just invent a low-effort monthly segment.

I call it Sound Test.

In this segment I would like to call attention to the vast selection of fine music that can be found in video games. I myself am a musician (as are my fellow writers here), so I naturally find myself obsessing over game soundtracks. Video games have been around long enough for several instantly recognizable tunes to emerge (the Mario theme comes to mind the most quickly). However, too often people forget equally great songs from other games. Whether it is because the game is lesser known, or because the song is played only in obscure areas or moments in the game.

Today, let's listen to the game corner theme from Pokemon Gold/Silver/Crystal. It is easily the catchiest game corner them from the series and conveys its own mood and atmosphere. It has both a driving beat and bass line; the melody is pretty slick too. I would almost describe the entire song as slick, but that doesn't quite do it justice. Sleazy. That is the word that I use to describe it. This song musically portrays the oily filthiness of casinos and used-car salesmen in a way that no other song can. It takes the player to the seedy underbelly of Goldenrod City: behind the plated, plastered veneer of that great city lurks a gaming hall (and slave market) where desperation and greed thrive. The environment provides a striking contrast to the overworld of Pokemon where values like friendship and kindness are most pervasive.

With that in mind, enjoy this wonderful piece of music.

Also have a snazzy piano rendition. (it's a tad sloppy, but that can be forgiven due to the difficulty of the piece)

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Friendship! Friendship?

Gamers typically live in a world saturated by blood, gore, and gibs. Violence has, of course, always fascinated man. However, there are numerous games that do not fixate themselves on violence and destruction, and these games offer an interesting look at what games offer us as people.
The Harvest Moon series transports the player to idyllic, pastoral settings; the player then engages in developing a plot of land into a well-functioning farm and homestead. The only violence to be found is the ability to cut grass with a sickle. You can also apply the hoe to your farm animals; they don't like it, and thus produce less (also, you have exhibited one common trait of serial killers). The game focuses on development: there are no taxes in the game and no way to lose. Your character never starves, most every other character you meet is willing to make friends with you, and in the end things inevitably turn out alright.

Sim City, a popular game franchise from the brilliant minds of Will Wright and the folks at Maxis, offers another look at concepts of growth and prosperity in games. Again, the focus of the game is development rather than destruction. Players do have the ability to invoke various natural (and unnatural) disasters upon the virtual denizens of their artificial cities, but they are primarily encouraged to build. In fact, there is no way to win the game. You simply can't. You just build and build and build and build. Naturally, some gamers are bored by this manner of game progression; others relish the ability to set their own goals for gameplay. Either way, the lack of violence and dischord within the game environment set it apart from mainstream games.

These are not by any means the only non-violent games. However, it is striking that there are so few of these sorts of games. Does this say something about the nature of humanity?

Of course it does. It does not say anything necessarily negative about us as a race. Humans find brutality and carnage more instantly gratifying than careful consideration and development. The concept of instant gratification is what pulls many people to play games. Being able to achieve skillful feats from the comfort of the sofa naturally attracts the soul to pick up the controller.
This isn't to say that peaceful games of progression aren't fun whatsoever. They stimulate the imagination by allowing a more infinite canvas in which to build worlds; worlds which would not otherwise exist.

As usual, I have an encouragement to make to you, dear readers (which at this point, I still have very few). If you have never tried peaceful games: try them. Many of them are very simple to learn, and your psyche may find it relaxing to foster friendship instead of fatality.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Tim = Poopie: a Quick Proof

As a freshman math major in college i find myself spending a lot of time proving stuff everyone already knows or accepts to be true. The following is an example:

1.) Let us first define what Poopie is.
C.Human waste that belongs in the toilet

2.)We must now prove that Tim also satisfies all of these conditions.

2-A.) HeavilyArmedTimo does not bathe for days at a time and has been known to not brush his teeth. He is unmistakeably smelly and anyone who has had the displeasure of being within 10 feet of him can verify this fact.

2-B.) Tim is a one-lunged less than human freak. His inability to gather even a semblance of normal lung capacity leaves him of a state of severely crippled mobility which can be rounded down to equal complete immobility.

2-C.). As previously mentioned Tim is crippled. This is a result of the fact that some higher power obviously realized he was not worthy of existence. This being tried to abort Tim while he was in the womb and turn him into a miscarried toilet baby. Unfortunately, Tim, much like the T-1000, proved to be a son of a bitch to kill and he somehow survived.

3.) since Tim clearly satisfies all of the characteristics of a steaming number 2 it can therefore be concluded that he is little more than feces.

Now obviously we should marvel in the fact that a piece of excrement has gained sentient thought and is able to post on a blog, but let us not forget that anything Timo posts on this blog basically amounts to what he is. 100% Crap.

(I apologize for any spelling or grammatical errors this whole post was written from an ipod as I did not view Tim as a worthy enough reason to make the 5 second walk to a laptop in my dorm room.)


Pokemon is a wonderful little game series. In the game, the player collects monsters (called pokemon) that can fit inside little balls (called pokeballs). These critters are implemented for battles in the game. Throughout the course of the player's adventure, he will have run-ins with his or her rival.

The most memorable rival in the series is Blue from the first generation of games (Pokemon Red and Blue). He shows up at crucial bottlenecks of the journey and harasses the player with his well-trained, killer creatures. To put it quite bluntly, he's a piece of shit. In classic JRPG fashion, at the beginning of the game the player is given the option to name his hero and rival. Classy as I was at eight years old, my rival would sport such new age names as:

 As an older and wiser soul, I now give my rival a much more appropriate moniker. I give him the only name that I believe truly embodies the scummy tendencies of the mean-spirited trainer:

Every battle that I face against the rival becomes personal. I must destroy Scott. He is the worst person that I have ever met, and he is probably the worst person that anyone could ever have the misfortune of meeting. My monsters must defeat his monsters at all costs; I must prove my dominance every time.

You're not great. You're horrible. Readers beware, ProtoScott is the worst person ever. I hate him. Don't read his posts, you'll only encourage his lame tendencies. He's a doodoo head and you shouldn't listen to anything he says.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Star Fox 64: The Greatest Game Ever Created

Okay, so the title of this article may be debatable, but every other opinion would be wrong, so stuff it.  But seriously, Star Fox 64 is an amazing game and if you don’t agree, you’re an idiot.
I won’t talk about what this game means to me on a personal level, because that isn’t conducive to my goals of persuasion and education; opinions are fact homey. But this article will outline the merits of Star Fox 64 and why you should buy it, emulate it, or steal it if you haven’t played it in your life.
Let’s start with the plot of the game.  Something fishy is going down on the planet Venom, where Andross, an evil scientist has been exiled.  When the Star Fox team is sent to find out what kind of crazy mumbo-jumbo is happening, one of the team, Pigma Dengar, turns on his crewmates James McCloud and Peppy Hare.  James and Peppy are subsequently captured by Andross (one can assume that they were beaten, tortured, and probably probed in uncomfortable areas).  Peppy is able to escape, but James is not so lucky.
Fast forward a few years: Andross is waging war on the entire Lylat system and the new Star Fox team, consisting of Peppy Hare, Slippy Toad, Falco Lombardi, and James’ own son Fox, are sent to investigate.  The player takes control of Fox McCloud, obviously interested in avenging the death of his father.  Apart from the regular baddies, the Star Fox team meets with their rivals Star Wolf, of which Pigma, that backstabbing porky pig, is a member.   The Star Fox team will travel to different planets fighting Andross’ evil minions and eventually end up on Venom to face the evil scientist himself.
First thing’s first. As you can see from the above paragraphs, this game begins at the level of epic and only grows from there.  For one, you are battling across an entire solar system in what will be called the Lylat Wars (interestingly enough,  “Lylat Wars” was the title of the game in Europe and Australia).  Also, this was the first game to utilize the Rumble Pak accessory for the N46, which really added realism to being shot in the exhaust pipe.  Along with this, you have a plethora of enemy ships and giant bosses to destroy, and a rival gang whose members include the swine responsible for the death of your father.  This game would make one hell of a movie! Much better than Doom, at least. 
            The battle system is awesome in Star Fox 64.  Each planet is designed in a fairly linear way, but the doesn’t deny the player opportunities to make choices of which path to take.  Also, the order of planets can be altered depending on certain choices and number of kills that the player makes.  A certain path must be taken in order to defeat the real Andross in the end, but that’s up to you, fool.  When it comes to the basic enemies on each planet, the developers could have taken the easy route and had every single one be the same, but no, there exists a grand amount of enemy ships to explode with your lasers.  This goes double for the bosses.  Rather than being carbon copies that must be destroyed in the same way each time, every boss has its own weakness that you must discover and exploit.  Also very special to this game is the chance to do more than just fly the awesome Arwing ship.  There are two planets on which you will need a tank-style fighter called the Landmaster.  There is also a small submarine, oh-so-creatively named The Blue Marine, that is used on a planet that is covered in water.
            Star Fox 64 is also very special due to your teammates.  Each one is voiced, and they all have some incredibly memorable lines that I’m sure the other members here could quote for days on end.  There are times when you will have to make the choice whether to save your teammates, or let them be defeated by the enemy for your own personal enjoyment.  Do you save the whiny frog, or the douchebag bird?  Each character has their own qualities that make them worth keeping around: Slippy provides a health meter for each boss, Peppy supplies information on certain enemy weak spots, and Falco… Well, umm… He helps you on the first level if you save his ass – You know what? Falco is a dick and you should let him get cooked like Thanksgiving dinner.
            I could end this post by telling you all the important life lessons that one learns while playing Star Fox 64.  Sure, it teaches you teamwork and the consequence of losing your friends, and also that sometimes it’s important to save the beaked jackass despite your eternal hatred for him.  But that isn’t what this blog is about.  Star Fox 64 supplies a very creative type of gameplay that still cannot be beat.  The story is epic. The characters are memorable.  The Lylat system needs help and only you can save it, Fox.  Good Luck. 

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Another Lame Look Back at Why We Love the Classics

Well it seems that since everyone else on this blog is talking about their favorite systems and games that I might as well join in. My favorite system and by far the best system ever made is the Nintendo Entertainment System. It may not be the most original choice of favorite system but I don’t give a shit. The NES is the America of video game systems, it is the best and deep down everyone knows it.

I am not entirely sure how this system became my favorite system considering it was already 6 years old by the time I was born. Which means at best I did not begin playing it until it was at least 10 years old. By today’s standards that would mean it was long obsolete. And yet all of my earliest memories of gaming revolve around this piece of 8-bit glory.

The haziest moments I can recall are of sitting in front of a television set for hours watching my siblings attempt to foil the evil plots of Bowser and Dr. Wily (or Wiley if you are playing Mega Man 3). I fell in love with the music, the graphics, and the characters of many of the classic NES games just from watching my siblings struggle to beat them. I practically lived for the moments when one of them would get frustrated and hand me the controller. Those brief 30 seconds or so I would survive (I was like 5 or 6 years old and lacked the hand eye coordination necessary to stop the vile red falcon) before falling down a pit and having to hand off the controller were worth every hour I spent waiting.

Since those early days my skill level has changed quite a bit (for the better), but my love for all things 8-bit has not. I would like to say that as the years passed I didn’t get sucked into new games and occasionally neglect my beloved regular Nintendo, but that just isn’t true. What I can say with honesty is that no matter what new fads or games I got sucked into I always found myself returning to the NES and I always will. My heart belongs to the 8-bit worlds of the Mushroom Kingdom, and Hyrule, and that is the way I like it.

I hope that through this blog I can help some of you rediscover, or even discover for the first time, some of the magic that the NES has to offer. There are game reviews and hopefully some humor to come. So stay tuned, and remember it’s dangerous to go alone, take this!

Why I love the Genesis

I lived a lonely, depressing childhood on most accounts. Oh, I had friends, I had had awesome friends, but without a car, and with mommy and daddy unable to drive me places all the time, I was stuck in the home. No kids my age lived on my street, just crack dealers and a home for the mentally insane. (You probably think I'm kidding. I'm not.) So I mostly just played with my toys. That’s all there was. Going outside was dangerous and involved physical exertion, so there was no way I would take that route. I was a lazy kid. By age 5, I was done with toys, I would wake up and watch nickelodeon until I slept. My mom eventually made me do little league soccer, but that is a tale for another time.

Finally, I reached the ripened age of six years. My brother, who didn’t live with me, decided it was time to give me his old Sega Genesis. Oh how wonderful it was! I no longer had to watch tv day after day, watching as characters made decisions I wouldn’t make, cheated on the test when I knew they could easily have studied, or studying when I thought they should just cheat. I was finally in control. I was Sonic The Hedgehog, and it was MY responsibility to make sure he survived his journey past lava, through tunnels, and over flamethrowers. As time went on, I too acquired and played more games. I had no friends close by, I didn’t play or care about sports. (I played little league soccer for a LONG time, but it wasn’t until I got decent that I actually cared. And by the time I got decent we had 2 Bosnians on our team. I did jack while the Bosnians went and won every game. Dang Bosnians.)

So, there were no kids nearby to play with. Ristar and Sonic were my companions. I can still remember the emotional experience playing Ristar was for me. I’d spend a whole day getting to the last boss, only to be humiliatingly killed and forced to start from the beginning. (Even though I knew the password for level select, it’s I LOVE U, duh.) I even asked my dad to help me with this stupid part in the third level, where you are briefly shown a pattern and then have to kill the enemies in the order you are shown. Every failure, every death, was MY fault. I cried over Ristar. I’m not ashamed to admit it. That game was an emotional roller coaster that has never been equaled in today’s world of Hi-tech 3d intense action games. That is truly beautiful. That Genesis taught me leadership and responsibility for each and every failure I made. But more importantly, it was my friend when I had none. While the Mentally insane people stole our newspaper every morning because the wrapper was orange, I was inside; safe, and learning life lessons while blowing up robots. And that is wonderful.

Many years later, kids moved in across the street, and I finally had kids to play outside with. And I did, so don’t think that I'm pathetic or anything. But nothing comes close to the years I spent sitting on the floor in my parents bedroom, playing genesis by myself. And sadly, nothing ever will.

(P.S. I own ristar on every system it’s been released on since. And I can beat the last boss without being hit. Just an FYI.)

Hello Friends, Now I Would Like to Talk About My Favorite Game

The second game I ever played on the Xbox was the Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind (released in 2002). The third installment in Bethesda's critically acclaimed Elder Scrolls series found it's way into my hands via my neighbor at the time. He was friends with my brother, Ben, and had recently broken his leg or something. His mom signed him up for Blockbuster's all-games pass to ease the recovery period (seeing as he couldn't go outside and play basketball or football on a broken limb). The all-games pass was a rental program that you could sign up for at Blockbuster that essentially let you rent games for free as much as you wanted. It was rad. Anyway, said neighbor pretty much rented every game for the Xbox at the time and my brother would borrow them from him when he was done with them. It was tight. One saturday morning, I went down to the basement (where the Xbox was hooked up to that old TV from the 70's) and saw another few games that I hadn't seen yet.
You had me at ancient runes...

The one the most caught my attention was Morrowind. The cover resembled an aged sandstone carving and had some kind of engraving on it. It had kickass RPG written all over it.

I was right. The moment I put the game in, it happened: hour upon hour of my life was taken in one moment. As the disc spun inside that infernal, black machine, thousands of future assignments and chores were left undone. This game would consume me. I didn't know it at the time, but I had just put in my favorite game of all time.

The game begins in a prison ship. Your character, a prisoner, is awoken from a restless sleep and told that the ship has reached Morrowind. A guard escorts your character off of the ship and into a swampy port town. There, the character is processed by a robed bureaucrat (this is the character creation process of the game). After that, you pass through a room filled with objects to interact with. I was amazed when I first played: almost every item could be picked up and put in the inventory (and thus sold in classic RPG fashion). Hot action! Passing through that room (after a good, healthy looting) led you to a guard captain who tells you why you were freed from bondage and what you are to do now that you are free.
Kickin' rad paper map that came with the game.

From there, you are free to do whatever you want. Disregard the orders. No one will stop you. After that brief introduction you can go adventuring, steal items, sell items, kill mudcrabs, kill citizens, train your skills, join a guild, join another guild, join yet another guild, explore the countryside, explore ancient ruins, search for treasure...

What was I supposed to be doing again?

I don't recall ever finishing the actual main quest line until much later in life. I was in the 4th grade when the game came out, so I didn't have the patience or the drive to finish that doozy of a quest (it's really not too bad). There were bandits to kill, vaults to crack, and governments to topple. It took me years of my life to discover just a fraction of what the game offered. I still put that game in and find new things (new quests, new items, new places).

Even though I can essentially bend the stat system over a table and make it my whore, I still love playing that game. It's got a unique setting unlike any other RPG I've ever played and that is what made it so fun to play. The game was chock full of lore and backstory. There was a real life to the world. Sadly, by today's standards it takes some imagination to play, but I whole-heartedly recommend giving it a go. Immerse yourself in it: you may find yourself hooked on a near-endless adventure like I did all those years ago.

Last Chance to Reason Will Rock You Sonically and Visually... and probably in the pants too

I love video games.  I also love metal.  When these two things combine, I’m probably the happiest guy in my apartment complex.  Say hello to a cool band called Last Chance to Reason.  They are a metal band from Maine (that’s a state way up on the northeast point of the US for those who flunked geography in middle school).  They also have an intense love for games of the past, particularly: Super Metroid, Contra, Metal Slug, and R-Type.  To prove this love, their next album will include a brand new video game for listeners to play while enjoying the album.  That’s right, the band’s music is the soundtrack for the game.  If that isn’t badass, I don’t know what is.

The music itself is in the same vein as Between the Buried and Me.  They have very proggy parts mixed with very electro parts, all while showing respect for past prog-metal greats like King Crimson and Meshuggah.  While they have only released a few songs from the upcoming album “Level 2”, they are garnering a lot of attention.  

The band has released a teaser trailer that displays both the gameplay and their music that will be featured in the game.  Personally, I think the idea of a concept album blended with a video game is a genius idea.  I don't know how the masses will take it, or if it will really be understood.  Needless to say, however, I'm very psyched about this.

Monday, October 18, 2010

SNES Memories

My first system was the SNES. A number of my siblings pitched in for it, and it lived down in the basement. Hooked up to an old TV from the 70's that never left channel 3, that old SNES entertained us hour after hour. Once I was old enough to hold a controller, I played. That system was special to me, and it formed the basis of many of my favorite memories.

One of my oldest recollections involves playing Super Mario World. In fact, that's the first game I remember playing. It had action and bright colors to keep me interested, lots of challenging levels and worlds to keep me occupied, and a nice two-player mode so I could play it with my brother, Brian. It remains a game that I still pop into my system and play once and a while.

I remember the first time I saw F-Zero. My brother, Carl, brought it home along with Mortal Kombat II one day (to this day, I'm really unsure of where he procured them but I think it was some shady shenanigans that brought those gems into my life...). I was mesmerized by the futuristic setting and kick-ass music.

Out of the two, Mortal Kombat II was the game I played much more of, however. At the time I was already a Power Rangers addict, so Mortal Kombat was the next logical step in the progression. I loved the outlandish characters and the gritty stages; I loved the bloody gibs that flew out on each strike and the anguished screams of unlucky fatality victims (usually me). That game turned me into a wonderful, well-adjusted child who grew up to be a perfectly sane adult.

I played most of the classic SNES games throughout my childhood. Donkey Kong Country, Legend of Zelda: Link to the Past, and Earthbound all found their way into my heart. I owe myself to them. They were companions in a lonely neighborhood. They were playmates to me, a crippled kid cooped up in the basement alone while his siblings were out playing football. They were exciting escapades in a boring, generic midwestern suburb where walking to the 7-11 was the greatest adventure that could be had.

My mind was always on those games. I'd play Mortal Kombat on the trampoline with my brother (trampoline fighting is badass). During recess, I would mope around the playground pretending it was a dungeon from Legend of Zelda (damn, I must have hated recess). I built Megaman stages out of blocks, Mario levels out of legos. Even when I didn't have a controller in my hand, I had a controller in my heart.

That SNES is gone now. I don't know what happened to it exactly. My mom must have tossed it out one day. It probably happened after we got the N64 (another worthy system). Today, I desperately try to reclaim those memories. I visit the local used game stores in order to piece together my childhood. As the games fill my shelves, I realize the futility of it all. I can't get those memories back. All I can do is make new memories that hold as much magic as the old ones did. As difficult as that prospect is, I press start to begin.