Feb 262013
 
This is what trading on a bonus credit day feels like.

This is what trading on a bonus credit day feels like.

I used to be the kind of guy that rushed out to their local GameStop to trade in a game the moment they were done with it. It wasn’t too long ago that I decided this was a poor way to go about things. Not only do these kind of stores typically take advantage of their customers looking to get something new to play with minimal out-of-pocket investment, but they are also keeping money out of the hands of the developers that make the games we all love. Besides that, I have recently found myself with a small case of “trader’s remorse”, because there are games I wish I still had that I traded in long ago. Some of these games simply have sentimental value, but the others I genuinely think I could get some replay value out of.

Jade Empire
This was one of the three games I played on my original Xbox before getting tired of the thing and trading it in. It is an action RPG set in a mythical ancient Japan. The combat was really interesting, and involved a mix of martial arts, magic, and transformations. In typical Bioware style, there was an intricate dialogue system that allowed you to develop branching relationships with the characters. There were multiple endings to this game, and I got them all but I still can’t help but want to play this again!

I will miss my forays into a mythology tinged version of ancient China.

I will miss my forays into a mythology tinged version of ancient China.

Star Fox 64 3D
This was a very, very short game but it was also a lot of fun! I also never had a chance to try out the local multiplayer (because I have no friends). It took quite a while after beating it for trader’s remorse to kick in, but Star Fox 64 3D definitely gave me a case of it!

The Fable Series
I’m not talking about any of the weird Fable spin-offs here, I’m just talking about the main three games in the series. They weren’t the most well-received games, but overall I found all of them to be pretty fun. The magic system was simple and easy to master, even with the changes brought in later in the series. It was a blast to be able to work through the game as both “good” or “evil”; which I really thought of as “boring” and “quickly efficient” respectively. None of them were much on story, but sometimes you just really want a game that will let you jump right in and senselessly electrocute creatures to death with magic so you can unwind from a long day of work.

The Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic Series
Knights of the Old Republic was one of the first “true” console RPGs I got into. There is a fantastic amount of depth here, several branching storylines, and a complex combat system that was easy to learn yet challenging to fully master. When the Old Republic MMO was being teased, I mistakenly got my hopes up thinking this could be the third installment in one of my most loved game series, but it was not to be. Even though the console they were made for is now incredibly obsolete, I find myself wishing I could take a second crack at these two games.

 

Dark Side of the Force? Nah, more like insanely awesome side of the Force.

Dark Side of the Force? Nah, more like insanely awesome side of the Force.

Zack and Wiki
This was an interesting and very cute point-and-click puzzle game for the Wii. It was also insanely hard! After making my way about halfway through this one, I found myself running to GameStop as fast as I could before I shattered the disc into a million pieces in a fiery rage-fueled fit. Now that I’m older, I think I have learned to be more patient with a game like Zack and Wiki, I regret getting rid of it and would love the opportunity to sit down with it again.

This isn’t intended to be an anti-used games rant, but rather an account of why you should consider hanging on to games for a little while after you’re finished with them. Sure, their “value” goes down in a used game store’s eyes and they’ll only give you $5 instead of $7 for a game for which you paid $60. Just stop for a second and ask yourself what the non-monetary value is for you if you keep it and decide to play it again a year down the road. That’s the kind of value that never depreciates.

Jan 282013
 

brentalfloss

There are many types of people in this world. There are thinkers and there are doers. Then comes along a man who does both. This man is known as brentalfloss and he has challenged the mind and the soul by asking the most important questions known to mankind. What if (insert video game title) had lyrics? Not only does he ask that question, he solves it.

 

Mega Man 3 with Lyrics was his first entry of the series and it wasn’t just some beginner’s luck either. He went on to solve that riddle for millions (Over exaggeration) of video games. He wasn’t finished there either mind you. He cut a swath through the internet like no one has ever seen! Not only did he spend his valuable time to answer the most important of riddles, he also gave us a wonderfully comedic web comic, as well as other video game themed videos. Want to listen to his stuff on the go? Well he has two full length albums.  The man is funny, he is smart, and he can play the hell out of a piano. He proves it live as he travels the country telling his story. His live shows with the Cartridge Family are uncanny explosions of funny. To honor him in this VGM Spotlight, I’ve shared my five favorite brentalfloss videos!

 





I hope you enjoyed this VGM Spotlight. If you have a favorite VGM type act for me to check out, let me know!

Dec 042012
 

The Wii U has been out for a bit now and every one has been enjoying the launch games. A launch game can only hold attention for so long before it’s time to wonder what’s over the horizon. Here’s a look at how some of Nintendo’s classics could work on the Wii U.

Continue reading »

Dec 202011
 

I still remember the day a while back that my friend showed me images of Star Wars: The Old Republic in its youth. It was just concept art, really and I said to him “Man, I hope they don’t screw this up!” For a while I was very skeptical of this title. I just knew something would go wrong with it. More information kept coming out. I knew if I gave SWTOR my heart, it would inevitably become broken. Often times we hype ourselves up so much only to be disappointed. I tried so hard not to get wrapped up in it but on that fateful day in 2008 it happened. This of course was due in part to the fact that I decided to sign up for the SWTOR beta, but against my better judgement, I began to get excited. Each month passed and I gradually became more and more excited and curious about this new MMO. Bioware generally makes decent to excellent games right? They did KOTOR which was fantastic, right? How could they possibly ruin SWTOR? I was drinking the Kool-aid, and man did I drink a lot of it. I soon became almost cultist-like with the amount of pro-SWTOR propaganda that would come spilling out of my mouth. My expectations were so high. Too high one might say. Many of my friends tried to pull me back to earth, tried so hard to make sure I wouldn’t be hurt. I commend them for trying, but it didn’t work. I was higher than a donkey in space (What the hell does that even mean?!) There has been a lot of hype for SWTOR from a lot of different sources too, so it’d be easy for someone to be pulled in like I was. The big question is, did SWTOR meet my expectations?

Awww Yeah! Work that pole!

I must first point out that with any MMORPG, it is difficult to truly give it a definite score for the game’s entirety. MMORPG’s are never actually complete because in the weeks, months, and years after launch these games evolve so much. I would like the reader to understand that this review is based on everything I have experienced. Now that we have that cleared up, let us begin shall we?

Let’s start at the beginning, character creation. Your first task is to choose your allegiance and class. The Republic has access to the Jedi Knight, Jedi Consular, Smuggler, and the Trooper. The Sith Empire has access to the Sith Warrior, Sith Inquisitor, the Imperial Agent, and the Bounty Hunter. Each class branches off into two advanced classes you can choose from. From there you get skill trees that further specialize your character’s play style. Then you get to pick your race from various famous Star Wars races. At that point it is time to decide how you will look. This is probably one of the weakest parts of the game. The customization options are good enough to get a decent result and are more detailed than some games, but ultimately it feels a little lacking. I personally would have liked to see more playable race combinations.

I love this quest!

Once you have a carefully and well thought out name selected, like “Darthfacemelter,” you can hit the play button.Your story begins! WHOA WHOA WHOA HOLD THE PHONE?! Did you just say story?! Why in the world would an MMORPG have a story?! Aren’t MMOs just a big race to the end so we can all get our E-peens huge by raiding 9 days a week?! Well sir, I am glad you asked. In Star Wars: The Old Republic, each class has a detailed story filled with all sorts of great moments. SWTOR is different from many other MMOs, especially in this way. The game is very story driven. This is accomplished beautifully with tons and tons and tons of cut scenes filled with voice acting. They aren’t just cut scenes though, because you are given choices for how your character can respond. These responses ultimately affect your character physically.

I will attempt to explain how the Player Versus Environment content works in a simplified manner. You approach an NPC that is offering up a quest. You are then given a cut scene where the NPC gives you details of what is going on. You then react accordingly. Let’s pretend this is a mission to go to a droid factory and destroy the power generators. Obviously you want to get some experience points and some loot. Upon accepting the quest you are then to head on your way. Along the way, you will run into enemies. Upon killing one, you will notice next to your quest tracker that a bonus quest has appeared. It seems you now must kill 15 more of these things. Well, you are going that way anyway, and these things WILL attack you, so hey awesome! Free bonus EXP right? While in the droid factory you may find some other quests, but for this example you don’t. Once you get to the power generators you click on the flashy thing like you’d expect. Then another cut scene begins. A frightened man runs up and explains if you destroy the generators it will release toxins into the river that will kill the fish which is a local village’s food source. You are then given a choice: Either destroy the generators and poison a people’s food source and receive dark side points, or find some alternative way to deal with the situation so that you do not harm these people and receive light side points. The choice is YOURS! These points aren’t just there on your stat sheet either. The more you get, the higher rank in that side you get. For example, my Bounty Hunter is considered Rank II Dark Side. In fact a neat feature is that the dark side has actually corrupted him to where his skin has gone pale, dark circles under his eyes, and he has scorch marks around the corner of his lips. I assume something else happens for light side, but it’s probably silly. There is an option to turn these effects off, but why would you do that? The questing doesn’t feel like typical questing where you click the person, a box of text pops up, look at the rewards, and then just hit accept. No, it actually wraps you into the world of the game and you feel involved. There are some that complain that you can’t skip the cut scenes and just power through, but maybe just maybe this isn’t the game for you. Some of these quests are more difficult and require a group. These are called heroic quests, and can be quite fun. This also shows off how Bioware encourages grouping. In a group during these cut scenes, everyone gets to pick something to say. Once all the choices are picked a die is rolled and the highest actually gets to speak. During these grouped cut scenes you earn social points which you can redeem for all sorts of great items later. Also, don’t freak out because some goody two shoes decides to save the day and be all light side. Even though his roll won, you will still get dark side points if you chose a dark side choice. The other form of grouping are Flashpoints, which are pretty much dungeons. Many of them are filled with story rich cut scenes, while several others just turn you loose to get to working together.


Sure, killing off AI can be fun and rewarding, but sometimes you just gotta beat another player’s ass. Well, SWTOR is no slouch when it comes to PVP. It begins with the Warzones. Currently there are three, each with a different play style. First you have Battle for Alderaan which is your typical capture point type. In this mode, you are to capture three turrets to have them fire at the enemy ships in orbit. The second is Void Star, which is an attacker/defender type. One team has a door in three areas to destroy to get to a computer console. They can plant bombs on the doors, but the defenders can disarm them. Once the attacker team completes the objective, the defenders get a shot at attacking, but they only get the amount of time it took the attackers. Then comes my favorite. ARE YOU READY FOR SOME HUTTBALL?! Huttball is the newest intergalactic sport that takes two teams. These two teams must compete to gain control of a ball. Once they gain control they must cross the other team’s goal with it. At first you’re thinking “So it’s like capture the flag?” Well partially right, except you can pass the ball! Which also means you can intercept the ball! All the while an announcer is calling the plays! The ball carrier is slowed down, so it takes a lot of team work and good passing to score. If that wasn’t enough, the Huttball field is filled with hazards like flame thrower panels and acid pools. That’s not all. Huttball is the only Warzone that can have the same faction playing against each other! That’s right, Sith vs Sith, Republic vs Republic, and of course the standard Sith vs Republic. This greatly increases the player pool. By doing Warzones you get credits, experience, valor (which is your pvp level) and accommodations which are used to purchase pvp gear. Also a neat thing is that at the end of each match you can vote for someone as MVP. Each vote they get gives them more accommodations. The actual fighting in pvp seems very balanced so far. It’s obvious that Bioware cares about pvp because they have done a neat thing, and everyone gets this little bar under their health. You will notice it filling every time they are affected by crowd control. Once it’s full, they become immune to all CC affects for a short period of time. It gives you something to pay attention to so you don’t pop your stuns when you know it won’t work.


As you level up in your class story, you eventually get your first of many companions. Companions follow you around and support you. Depending on their “class” they can heal you or just help you kill stuff. They also like to sit in on your conversations and react to things you say. If they enjoy the way you make your choices, you may be able to score some virtual nookie from them. These companions can be outfitted just like you would your own character. They can also fill a spot if your group is in a bind. While they are not as good as player, they can often still prove useful. You will also notice that they aren’t complete morons just running around doing whatever. Their AI is actually pretty decent, as they know when to heal you and when not to shoot. I would say though that the companions’ most important tasks are the crew skills.

Crew Skills are SWTOR’s wacky way of naming their crafting system. You get three crafting skills. Typically you get one that makes stuff, like Armstech which makes weapons. Then you get two gathering skills. The best part is that ultimately you don’t have to do any of it! Sick of gathering materials all day? Well, just send your companion to do it! That’s right, you can put your companions to work by sending them on gathering missions and even telling them what stuff to make with it. Upon making an item you can reverse engineer it to get parts back. While doing this there is a chance to discover a better version of the thing you just made. This gives the crafting system a little more depth.

Speaking of items, one of the coolest things I have seen in an MMO is the modding system. Let’s say you get this really awesome piece of armor. In a typical game you’d have to replace it with some crappy purple robe because it has better stats. In SWTOR, they have certain pieces of equipment that you can mod. If you have one of these pieces and like the way you look, you can just mod it! What am I talking about by saying mod it? Well, modable armor has a few mod slots in it. These slots can be filled with armor plating, mod kits, and other enhancements. As long as you keep the mods upgraded, you can keep looking badass! The coolest thing that makes so much sense is that you can take the mods out (for a moderate price) and keep them. Essentially this means you can have multiple modable armor sets and just swap out the mods whenever you wanna change your look. There are some versions of this type of system in other games, but not nearly as great as this! It’s so user friendly and makes sense in lor as well as in game play.


Not only do you get access to your own companions, you get your own ship. These ships are used for you to travel to different planets, as well as to give your unused companions a place to hang out. These ships aren’t just for show either. You can also go on space missions and fight in epic space battles. There has been talk about the on-rails nature of the space battles. Well, you know what game is an on-rails space shooter? Star Fox! Panzer Dragoon! These games are great fun! The space battles in SWTOR are just as good if you ask me. You are also able to upgrade your ship’s weapons, armor, and shields.

 

The game play appears at first to be what some would call “tab targeting.” Well, most MMOs are. That’d be like calling Mario games an “A to jump” platformer. There is no auto-attack which is nice, keeps you in the action as you use your epic feeling abilities. Bioware had a vision to make everyone feel epic, and I think it was fulfilled. Right from the start you get some decent abilities that make you feel like what you are playing. From there the abilities get better and more specialized depending on which route you go. There are the typical skill trees that you use to put points in.

This is all accompanied by a great soundtrack filled with new and classic Star Wars tunes. The music goes great with the graphical look of the game. Environments look amazing as do the character models and creatures.

Star Wars: The Old Republic

ProsVery Polished! Great Game Play, Great art style, great voice acting, great PvE, Great PvP, Great story. The Game FEELS like Star Wars. The planets get bigger and bigger and feel very alive. You feel EPIC as you play.
ConsThe character customization can be limiting.
VerdictI have played a lot of MMORPGs. I have been playing them for over ten years now. I can honestly say that SWTOR is the best one I have ever played. The thing that excites me even more is the future of it. Bioware has already hinted at some great things they have planned. (Capital ships for guilds?! YES PLEASE) There is so much potential for great updates and expansions. New Races! New Planets! New Story! Star Wars is a rich universe and this game can really bank off of that. It really has that great Star Wars feel which is very important.
Rating
100%

 

Oct 042011
 

Bioware finally gave us a release date and now, as I look at the calender, we are merely less than three months away from Star Wars: The Old Republic. I am squirming in my boots in excitement. It’s no lie I’ve been waiting for this game for a long time. I have been registered on their website since 2008 so I am eagerly awaiting my beta invite. So, with my fingers crossed, I give you the top five reasons I am looking forward to Star Wars: The Old Republic.

5. Space Combat
In the last couple of months, SWTOR info has been a whirlwind of action, unfortunately they have not given us too much information about the space combat except for what we already know. I have not forgotten though. There are a lot of whiny folks crying and bitching about space not being open. Yeah yeah, you can’t just go fly around and circle random asteroids or just park in space and watch planets do nothing. I don’t give a bantha poo-doo. What I have seen is some serious “on-rails” type space shooting that looks action packed and filled with explosions and “Oh Crap” moments. It actually reminds me of another game that was “on-rails” space shooter. That game was Star Fox, and guess what? IT WAS BADASS! Maybe a bunch of furries won’t be yelling for me to do barrel rolls, but I will be on the edge of my seat barreling past capital ships blasting wildly at anything that moves.

4. PvE Content
Bioware has told us that SWTOR will be story-rich and filled with interesting quests. Voice acted dialogue will give us a little more feeling for whats going on in these quests rather than silly blocks of text. These quests will also involve choices that affect your alignment. Want to be in the Republic and be Dark Side? Well, you can! Light Side Sith, DONE! Not only are there going to be exciting choice-filled quests, but there will be some great Flashpoints (dungeons) to explore with your friends. These flashpoints will also be filled with choices and epic bossfights, and not your typical tank and spank fair either. Along with the flashpoints are the Operations (Raids) which will challenge larger groups at end game. One great thing about these Operations is the wonderful loot system. No more drama with ninja looters or dragon kill points, or anything else silly like that. Once a boss is downed EVERYONE gets a loot bag that will either have equipment for your class, or currency that can be saved up and turned in for gear. Now players will be much more focused on actually working together rather than wondering if they will win a roll or not.

3. PvP
Considering that I will be playing a Bounty Hunter, I want to hunt other players. Sure, they don’t have a player bounty system in place yet, (*crosses fingers*) but that won’t stop me from hunting down Jedi and making them pay. The warzones they’ve revealed so far look pretty team oriented which is a plus to me. All the classes will be helpful in PvP, including tanks. Alderaan is a control point type battle, but with a cool twist. Huttball looks even more interesting. Essentially, it is a blood sport involving a ball in the middle and each team trying to cross the goal with said ball to get points. Hazards and traps will prevent your team from scoring as well as the other team. One interesting thing about this is that you can play against your own faction. Another cool thing is that you are not stuck with the ball, you can throw it to team mates and set up plays. Open World PvP also sounds very fun. They announced that there will be objectives to capture and the like with all sorts of rewards. To prevent zerging, there will be cool ways for people to tip the balance with guerrilla warfare. What’s better than blasting someone in the face with a Jawa at your side?

2. Companions
Speaking of Jawas, one intriguing thing about the game is the companions. Bioware is notorious for having interesting characters join you on your quests. Filled with great story-lines as well as being combat ready, companions will no doubt be a HUGE part of the game. Each class will get several unique companions that you can outfit with weapons, change their appearance, and even fall in love with and probably give the “Dirty Wampa”. In addition to making sweet sweet slave love with your Twi’lek, you can assign your cohorts jobs while they sit on the ship. That’s right, why should you get your hands dirty messing with crafting when you can make your companions do it for you? Oh, and the Bounty Hunters get a JAWA! Watch the clip below and watch the Jawa portion. HE USES A FREAKING ROCKET LAUNCHER! I AM SOLD BIOWARE! HERE IS MY MONEY!

Eh hem, sorry about that, I got a little excited.

1. IT’S FREAKING STAR WARS!
I am a HUGE Star Wars fan. Heck, I am wearing Star Wars pants right now. It is a universe filled with rich lore. It’s set way before the movies which gives them a lot of freedom. Lightsabers! Wookies! Jedi! Sith! Bounty Hunters! Aliens! There is so much potential for new planets, races, and all sorts of things. The biggest thing is for it to FEEL like Star Wars. I have not played it yet, but every clip I’ve seen or article I’ve read has made me feel that it may live up to that. It’s no lie that the hype train is charging down the tracks and we’ve all got our fingers crossed that it won’t derail. Either way, come December I will be in a Galaxy Far Far away….

Oh, and if you are looking for a guild think about the Hand of the Sith.

Sep 222011
 

When one thinks about anthropomorphic foxes, wolves, and bears, Star Fox 64 3D is probably not the first thing that comes to mind. Rather, if you’re anything like me, what you think of is a dimly lit convention center with lots of creepy people walking around in furry animal suits that have mysterious crusty spots on them. Time to get your mind out of the gutter, and into outer space because we’re not talking about yiffing or a furry convention; we’re actually going to talk about the aforementioned game, which came out a couple weeks ago for the Nintendo 3DS. In it, players will guide protagonist Fox McCloud and his team of critters take flight in ships called Arwings, and try to save his solar system from the dastardly plots of an evil scientist known as Andros. Read on to find out how the game handles on the 3DS, and if it’s worth 40 of your hard-earned dollars to play a game you probably already played when it originally released 14 years ago.

Gameplay
In the main story mode of Star Fox 64 3D, you will guide Fox and his posse around a map of the galaxy in their efforts to reach the planet Venom, where Andros resides. There are several paths to Andros’s world, and you will have to become an incredibly skilled Arwing pilot in order to complete every mission the game offers. Getting to Venom via the “easy” path takes about 2 or 3 hours of total gameplay, but you will then likely want to start all over again and try to find the means to access the other missions. If you’ve played any games like Super Mario World, or more recently, New Super Mario Bros. Wii, you will already have a rough idea of how you get these branching paths in the world map. You have to search for an alternate exit in a world, and it is likely to be very challenging to reach. For example, to reach the alternate exit on the Meteo mission, one must hit seven “warp rings” in succession. Each warp ring makes your Arwing go exponentially faster and they are at such odd angles that it will take some super piloting skills to hit all seven and access the alternate mission. Sadly, even these branching paths throughout the levels will not add much depth to this game, and players can easily expect to complete every mission in about ten hours.

No amount of barrelrolls will save you from this fiery mess!

Aside from the main story mode, there is also a mulltiplayer mode (which was not played for this review), and a score attack mode. Multiplayer is accomplished via a local wireless connection, and can be done with one game card. You can see each others’ real faces due to the use of the front-facing camera, which may be undesirable if you’re like me and like to wear you kitty cat ears and false whiskers while playing to make for a more immersive experience. Score attack mode is pretty self-explanatory – you simply replay missions, trying to get as high of as core as possible. Unfortunately, no Nintendo WiFi Connection support was included, because some online leader boards or online multiplayer matches would have been awesome and really made this game a lot more valuable in the long run.

Me in my Star Fox gear! :D

When settling Fox into the cockpit of his Arwing, you have a lot of different options when it comes to control schemes. There is the traditional N64 controls, and the newer 3DS scheme which is far more intuitive with its button arrangement and allows for use of the 3DS gyroscopes to control the ships in the game. The N64 setup seems really clunky by today’s control scheme standards, but the 3DS one works like a charm. Pressing A for lasers, Y for bombs, X to boost, and B to break was so natural the game only had to give control instructions once and it was remembered throughout the game. Gyroscope control seemed like such a neat idea, but ultimately didn’t pan out.. The amount you have to move the 3DS seems incredibly out of proportion in comparison to how much the ship moves. Also, as you probably already know, the 3D effect on the 3DS requires you to be still and centered, so gyro control isn’t an option if you will be playing with 3D turned on.

Presentation
The graphical overhaul in Star Fox 64 3D looks awesome, even with the 3D turned off. Colors are brighter, models look crisper, and the framerate is smooth as butter. With the 3D turned on, you will be treated to some of the best looking 3D available on the 3DS so far. There is little to no blurring or ghost images if you get slightly out of your 3D “sweet spot”, and the display offers a level of depth unparalleled even by The Legend of Zelda:The Ocarina of Time 3D The music is great and adds a certain level of campy charm that is appropriate for a game featuring spacefaring people/animal hybrids. The voice acting is a little silly, but the original cast reprised their roles quite well.

I HEARD YOU THE FIRST 20 TIMES!

If you told me today that I would enjoy playing a game where foxes, bunnies, frogs, and birds pilot spaceships to stop an evil monkey doctor from destroying the galaxy, I would have laughed in your face. However, since I have some nostalgic fondness for Star Fox 64 3D, I was able to have quite a bit of fun with this remake, despite the game’s shallowness or goofy cast of characters. The game’s $39.99 price tag is a little hefty considering the sparse amount of content, but for those looking to relive some of their fond N64 memories, but now on a handheld console and in shiny new 3D, this game is a must-have. If you happen to not like it, I’m sure you could turn a profit re-selling it at your city’s local furry convention.

Star Fox 64 3D

Pros Great 3D graphics that show off the 3DS's capabilities well, overall the game is pretty fun while it lasts.
ConsVery shallow game, voices can get pretty annoying if you're unable to find campy humor value in them, gyro controls don't work very well, no online functionality in a game that seems perfect for it.
VerdictStar Fox 64 3D is a nice nostalgic gem on the Nintendo 3DS, but with little to offer other than a graphical overhaul it may be difficult to justify the price at this time.
Rating
70%
May 232011
 

Each generation of gaming, specifically console gaming, has tried to give us something new. Whether its new graphics or new technology, it really comes down to the games. The games we remember and get all nostalgia-y about and have fond memories of are really what make us look back at these generations with varying opinions. Let’s take a look at them.

NES Years

Really the NES was pretty much all on its own in this generation. Unfortunately, being the only real console choice for its time, there was a lot of crap. Everyone was making games for the NES, often games that shouldn’t have been made. Despite the overabundant amount of crap, there were solid gaming experiences out there. While it would be easy to give the NES an A for being the first step of gaming for many people in my age bracket, I am really just trying to focus on the games and the consoles themselves. History aside, The Nintendo was a solid system, yet you still found yourself having to blow on that cartridge to get it to work. There are a lot of classic games that still hold up to this day and are often much more difficult than current generation games. Nintendo marketed the heck out of the system too. Magazines, TV shows, and even an entire movie about the games were all over the place. Granted, The Wizard was pretty bad-ass, though it was still slightly embarrassing. Many failed peripherals were also made for the system that really served no functional purpose other than piss off the player. Nintendo was young and trying new things so you can’t really fault them too much. Overall, I have to give them a Solid B+.

SNES VS GENESIS

Console Wars began to creep up around this time. We then had Nintendo and Sega competing for your gaming buck, which obviously made the games better. Gamers didn’t want to shell out the cash for bad games anymore. Sure, they still got made, but with the competition, the two companies didn’t want to lose out on your money. This era saw some great plat-formers and RPGs, especially on the SNES. Chrono Trigger, Final Fantasy III(US), and Secret of Mana all showed great success. Super Mario World was a platforming favorite. Sega gave birth to a fast running smooth talking Hedgehog. All was right in the world. Nintendo seemed to hold off on the wacky peripherals too. Sega decided to take a different route entirely by adding extra cartridge slots, CD players, and games that stacked on top of each other. The graphics were improving, the sounds were getting better, and the gameplay was still fun. This was a great time to be a gamer.

B+

Rise of the Playstation

Nintendo had quite the run and they were looking to push the envelope once again with the Nintendo 64. The N64 had some great titles that made the system worth having without any real consequences. This time, however, a new opponent surfaced. Sony showed up to the gaming arena with their fabled Playstation. Sony laughed at the thought of using those wacky grey cartridges and instead looked to the stars for the future of gaming in the form of compact discs. This time around Sony was doing the innovating while Nintendo just gussied up the graphics. Still, the two companies battled long and hard and we as gamers were rewarded with great games like Mario 64, Starfox 64, Shadows of the Empire, Ocarina of Time, and Majora’s Mask for Nintendo. Sony did us proud with three solid Final Fantasies, Metal Gear Solid, and a plethora of wonderful RPGs and action games. These two systems gave many gamers great memories and may very well be the highlight of gaming history. The gaming world was discovering a new dimension, and the reactions to this were all-important.

A+

Console Wars

Sega wanted back in so badly. I really miss those guys, and they sure made one hell of an effort back then. The Dreamcast stepped up to the plate almost a year before Sony. They had the ball in their court and somehow fumbled. Sure, outstanding hits like the Sonic Adventures and Shenmue series can take you so far, but Sony sat in the bushes waiting. The Playstation 2 was born and tore the little white box to shreds with its might. Featuring full backwards compatibility, the system came fully locked and loaded with thousands of gaming options right off the bat. A year later Nintendo would jump on the disc bandwagon with the Gamecube. And let’s not forget the elephant in the room, Microsoft, who stepped into the ring with the Xbox gaming system. All three of these consoles were pumping out great games. Truthfully though, The Playstation 2 had it in the bag. Despite disc read errors and a next to useless hard drive, the PS2 simply had more games. They still had Microsoft and Nintendo on their back, though, so they couldn’t back off on the quality, thus producing some amazing games. Even still, a cloud was forming.

A+

Current Generation

In this era of gaming, we have witnessed many things. Nintendo came out swinging nun-chucks as they planned on innovating the way games were played. They also gave us backwards compatibility and a virtual console to buy classic games. They got labeled a machine for casual gamers, kids, and grandparents. They’ve done little to try and change this, but let’s face it, they really don’t have to. The bad press was a little unfair and they did have a good library of games, unfortunately they opted out on high definition. Microsoft pushed out the Xbox 360, and while it was a quality system, it has been plagued with red rings of death as well as several other issues that can potentially brick your system. Great games don’t do much when your system is always breaking. They’ve claimed to have remedies for these issues, but many still pop up. Sony kicked the door down with the Playstation 3, but the starting price was ridiculous. They boasted backwards compatibility as well, but after many issues were found in the system, future systems were not given this function. The games in Sony’s lineup were not very impressive at first. A few key titles gave it hope, but it took them a little while to start cranking out goodies. Unfortunately, as of late, Sony’s network was the target of a serious hack attack, crippling many PS3 gamers’ ability to game for almost a month, as well as stealing valuable personal information. This problem has since been rectified, but you would have thought this kind of attack could have been prevented. This generation has seems to be all about the graphics and not about the gameplay, though there have been good games, no doubt. I’ve enjoyed gaming on these systems, but nothing really holds me by the balls. Technical issues that hinder the gamer’s enjoyment are also a huge downside.

D+

With E3 bearing down on us, Nintendo is already in the batting cages with information about “Project Cafe”. I hope they start the trend to fix what went wrong with the last generation and bring gaming back to what made it so enjoyable. We want our memories back. I might sound like an angry bitter old gamer shaking his walker at the flashy new thing, but I just want what’s best for gamers. I just want to have fun, and not have shit break every week.

Jul 172009
 

Ah, who doesn’t have fond memories of playing Star Fox back on the ol’ SNES?  Why, if you answered that inquiry by saying, “I don’t”, then you’ve just outed yourself as a commie and a traitor to freedom, and you know, whatever.

Anyhow, Star Fox games have been few and far between.  And, if I may say so, they’ve also been steadily on the decline as far as fun goes as well.  But a group of fans might just change that with a labor of love that has culminated – over the course of six years – to bring about Star Fox: Shadows of Lylat.

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