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Title: The Top 10 DS Acronyms
Posted: May 13, 2008 (06:26 PM)
March 31, 2007
Featured
Update 2008: CrossworDS - just brilliant! (BTW, I do realise that these examples technically aren't "acronyms", but meh)

ac·ro·nym [ak-ruh-nim] –noun 1. a word formed from the initial letters or groups of letters of words in a set phrase or series of words (Dictionary.com; March 2007). A good 2 years and more has passed since my favourite portable system was introduced, and since then I feel that there has been enough wordplay on the DS initials to warrant the compilation of this Top 10 List. These days more and more producers are starting to come up with their own original subtitles, and it is rare to see a new game which uses the art of alphabetism to provide some cheesy header, or simply tack on 'DS' at the end. But who knows? As of the week before Easter 2007, these are the best DS acronyms currently known.

10:Castlevania: "Dawn of Sorrow"
The sequel to Aria of Sorrow sounds just as intriguing, but it doesn't make the slightest sense. For one thing, dawn implies the beginning, which apart from the musical remix this entry is anything but. Secondly another musical term would have carried on the subtitle tradition beautifully, but the run seems to have ended here for the unforseeable future. Nevertheless, it's a great game and it just had to make it to (the bottom of) my list as a shameless plug :P

9:Super Black Bass: "Dynamic Shot" (J)
This is a case of misleading advertising. While it sounds like you're going to have a lot of fun simulating the dynamic experience of real-life fishing with your tiny DS stylus, this al-lure-ing name is probably the best thing going for it. Let's face it, fishing is a sport where the enjoyment comes from taking time off and relaxing with mates or a chilly bin full of beer. Nothing dynamic about playing fisherman on a tiny screen with a pitiful excuse for a rod and line. Still a great title though, albeit false.

8:Bokura no Taiyou: "Django and Sabata" (J)
How much of a Boktai fan are you? This is the Japanese title for Lunar Knights as it is known elsewhere. Originally the leads were the sun gunslinger Django (not the original hero), and the dark warrior Sabata, both their names giving rise to the DS abbreviation. Well this was lost in translation with the switch to Aaron and Lucian respectively. However I think Lunar Knights sounds pretty good on its own even without the fancy acronym, but no offense to Aarons the world over - Django is so much more manly...

7:"MinDStorm"
"Ahahahaha.. no" is what you might think at first, but get this: due out sometime in the middle of 2007, this is purportedly another brain training game which will truly overload your mind with a diverse range of memory, observation, general knowledge and geography-based challenges (IGN, March 2007). It probably won't spin my world, but it may do it for you if you happen to be someone who read the title as 'Min-DS-Torm' and wondered if this was yet another crazy Japanese title!

6:"Dual Screen" - DS Hardware
This is clearly the most obvious example. Back when Nintendo first unveiled their mysterious new handheld console, this term was coined by the gaming public, and a short while later it was officially stated that this was in fact the correct name for it. Simple and clean and it makes sense full stop.

5:"Derek Stiles" - Trauma Center: Under the Knife
The initialism (geez there are a lot of synonyms!) is not found in the title, but within the title character himself. Derek is a young doctor doing his residency at the local hospital, and unbeknownst to him he has the most amazing gift known to medical man. No it's not his healing touch (something to avoid when aiming for those coveted S/XS-ranks), but the power of DS!

4:Zettai Zetsumei Dangerous Jiisan DS: "Dangerous Sensation" (J)
This is one of the most dodgy titles I've seen, especially since I haven't a clue what the main title actually says. Alas this is game for a Nintendo system so no R18 material here. Instead you have a bunch of simple minigames themed around the Japanese Koro Koro comics, and the surprise guest appearance of Rockman EXE. Great title, not-so-great game.

3:Resident Evil: "Deadly Silence"
Another sweet sounding abbreviation used to inform us that this isn't the exact same game we played all those years ago (not far from it though). The zombies are 'deadly' and the lack of music adds some eerie 'silence' to the atmosphere. Ah, the perfect title. And it sounds just as cheesy as the game itself!

2:Tenchu: "Dark Shadow" (J) AKA "Dark Secret"
Tenchu games were an excellent blend of stealth, action and gory signature kills on the home consoles. This DS try-hard doesn't deliver in any of these respects and the developers know it; it truly was a 'dark shadow' of their former glory and when released outside Japan, in was done so in very limited quantities and adopted a new moniker in the hope that it would remain a 'dark secret'. Too bad guys, Arkrex has you exposed and put you right at number 2 on his list!

1:Advance Wars: "Dual Strike"
One of the first wordplays and still the best. Not only does the title sound nice, but it aptly describes the brand new element featured in this latest Advance Wars instalment. You can now command 2 CO's at a time and by building up both their star powers, you can unleash a vicious double-team ability that can skyrocket your battle prowess to the heavens.

Super-duper! Is that what you think of my list? Some of these titles are creative, but many border on saturated cheesiness. There are a couple of others out there, but they have relatively uninteresting backstories, and so I picked the ones which I thought were worth mentioning. There is only so much you can do with 2 letters, and developers seem to have realised this and acronyms don't appear as often anymore. But I'm sure there a few more good ones, so keep the flame alive guys. This art is delightfully simple, but others may consider it dumb and stupid. I hope you enjoyed this Duper-Super list, a filler for what's coming up next...
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Title: The Top 10 Strange & Unconventional Weapons
Posted: May 13, 2008 (06:22 PM)
March 17, 2007
Featured

Most of us gamers pretty much know how to wield a sword or handle a firearm with ease. But what of the other methods of destruction, that would be very out of place in the real world? Video games allow us to toy with some of the wildest weaponry that can be imagined, and although they aren't always of the most practical use, they can still be excellent tools to help aid your quest for glory, domination, revenge or what have you. None of these 'weapons' are currently available on the market, and they probably never will be; even the baddest terrorist with a solid AK would cry in the face of these babies.

10:Head-whip - Earthworm Jim (GEN)
"Eat Dirt!" Even though he has a killer firearm, this worm can always rely on his own head in the heat of battle. I mean this literally. It may not contain any brains, but Jim's head is a wonderful way to whip up bad guys into shape.

9:Joachim's Frozen Tuna - Shadow Hearts: Covenant (PS2)
This bulked-up dude can use anything and everything as a weapon! A fat catch of protein and omega-3 rich tuna is one of my favourites. Apparently it suffered from an uncurable disease and froze itself (wtf?!), but it still smacks hard like a bodybuilder's prime food should. Now to go find myself some of this good stuff.

8:Dino-made Eggs - Super Mario World 2: Yoshi's Island (SNES)
Eggs have been used for many years in human civilisation as a derogatory, and cheap, form of ammunition. In the world of video games, Yoshi's eggs stand out amongst the rest due to how he obtains them; swallowing up enemies whole with his freakishly long tongue, and excreting them as a freshly compacted, multi-coloured egg! Forget chickens, Yoshi takes only seconds to butt-deliver this super-sized ammo and he can throw them with startling accuracy too. There are no bad eggs here; the only thing cracking would be the enemy on the receiving end of this little dino's shotput.

7:Telekinesis Slam - Psi-Ops: The Mindgate Conspiracy (PS2)
Offensive psychic powers just had to make it into this list. Telekinesis is definitely the best of the bunch. But why levitate a flammable barrel and throw it at those morons gunning at you, when you can do the exact opposite and feel all the more better? That's right, make those worthless soldiers squeal as you raise them helplessly into the air and hurl them straight into a can of whoop-ass! The mind is a very powerful weapon indeed.

6:Chippunks - Oddworld Stranger's Wrath (XBOX)
They aren't really weapons per se as they don't actually deal damage. What they do do, is hurl insult upon insult to whoever is in their vicinity. These 'live ammo' are shot out of Stranger's multi-purpose crossbow, and can be used to lure enemies into traps and ambushes, or simply to divide and conquer. No-one can ignore a smart-ass chipmunk look-a-like with a foul mouth.

5:Quina's Fork - Final Fantasy IX (PS)
Quina is a 'gourmand' - whatever that is. Apparently he/she likes to cook and eat stuff and he/she always carries along his/her trusty fork along at all times. The simple fork allows him/her to gobble up a wide variety of Final Fantasy critters and learn the secret arts they possess. Whether you're a little cactuar or big-ass behemoth, run away as fast as you can when you hear this gourmand's tummy rumbing.

4:Psychosis Gun - Perfect Dark (N64)
Its puny size may make it look like nothing much, but the Psychosis Gun is not something to be scoffed at. Whoever your enemy is, sneak one shot up their backside and they will become your slave, whether it be to provide covering fire or to be the cover itself! Tip the odds in your favour and make all those who oppose you your new best friends.

3:Traffic Attack - Burnout Revenge (PS2)
The name says it all. Ram your hot-rod right into oncoming traffic and send any car in your way flying through the air to come crashing down on that idiot who thought he could overtake you without consequence! A most satisfying way for vengeance and to fulfil your wildest road rage desires.

2:Maria's Doves - Akumajo Dracula X: Chi no Rondo (TCD)
Oh no! It's Lord Dracula! Somebody save us! Where's that Belmont whippage when you need it? ... Who cares when Maria and her 2nd-day-of-Christmas presents are here to save the day! With a pair of magical doves, this little girl sure packs a wallop; Dracula still hurts from the beating he got from her 100 years ago! Tweet tweet.

1:Sputum Head - Stubbs the Zombie in Rebel Without a Pulse (PC)
After amassing enough 'brain power', Stubbs can self-decapitate himself and skilfully bowl this expendable hunk of anatomy into enemy territory, knocking down all those who get in the way, coughing up sputum at nearby locals to convert them into zombies, before finally self-destructing in grand fashion. When in doubt, use your head. Ha! And you thought all zombies could do was just moaning and groaning.

Strange enough for you? You see, guns and swords needn't be your one and only when playing in virtual reality. There is such a diverse arsenal available, I'm sure there's something unconventional out there to suit everyone. Through my many experiences, these are the cream of the crop I've come to treasure. All put together, I'm pretty much loaded for anything thrown at me. Thing is, most of my opponents would probably die from laughter before anything else! Oh well, a win is a win.
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Title: The Top 10 Ways to Die (in a videogame of course!)
Posted: May 13, 2008 (06:19 PM)
February 27, 2007
Featured

Why do we play videogames? For the virtual thrill and sense of achievement of course! But it's never a pure win situation; there will be those times when you 'accidentally' slip and lead your hero or heroine into the darkness that is game-over. You may laugh it off at times, or maybe break a controller or two during others, but death will always be an inevitable part of a good life and a good game. Here are my top 10 ways to go to virutal heaven or hell.

10:King Kong (DS) - Sudden Death
This is a fairly recent title, but one that I won't forget about anytime soon, if not for the horrendous gameplay, then for the abyss glitch 30 seconds into the game. It's a dark barren land. You walk- no, tip-toe across the uniform rubble. You head towards a plain-old rock, which seems to look different to all the other rocks around you (but doesn't). You are now falling into an abyss. Game-over.

9:Counter-Strike (PC) - Head Shot
Haxor! It always feels like a cheap shot when you get nailed by one of these buggers out of nowhere, but it is one of the cleanest ways to die. Find out who the perpetrator was and ravage him in the next round.

8:GoldenEye 007 (N64) - Slapped Silly
When you're out of ammo in a game where shooting things is the name of the game, there's always the art of unarmed combat, or slapping. Getting up into someone's face and giving them light smack shouldn't be lethal, so if you die by the sweaty palm of a secret agent, 007 or not, consider yourself pwned!

7:Mortal Kombat (ARC) - Fatality
The first beat 'em up that actually allowed you to kill your opponent in various despicable and gross ways. Back in the days when the finishing moves were more modest, it was always enjoyable to watch how your rival would utterly destroy your loser of a character. Sub-Zero tearing your head off (spinal column intact) and Kano ripping your still-beating heart out of your chest can still help bring down work-related stress these days :P

6:Metroid (NES) - Wrong Way!
Upon defeating Mother Brain, you only have a few minutes to escape from planet Zebes before it self-destructs. You have more than enough time to make it out but, if like myself, you went RIGHT (i.e. back-tracked), you will find that your efforts will be in vain. With only 10 seconds to go, I finally admitted my mistake; I should've gone left through the "BOOM"! Yeah, we all make mistakes OK! (N.B. I'm aware that it's actually possible to make it out in time by going backwards.)

5:Super Mario Bros. (NES) - Goomba Collision
Begin your adventure with a bang by running head-on into goomba no. 1 in world 1-1. C'mon, I know some of you guys out there have succumbed to this whether it be due to some arrogant late jumps or simple stupidity. Still as funny as always, and a powerful reminder that Mario is no Sonic.

4:Soul Calibur II (PS2) - Ring Out out of the Stage of History
Ring-outs weren't something new when this fighter came around, but with its extremly fast pace and wicked-looking special moves, the ring-outs here brought new meaning to self-defeat. As Cervy, an inaccurate dive-rush will send you out; Yoshi better watch he doesn't do too many air-strings near the border; and I can't remember how many times I've KO'd my opponent with Voldo's mantis-crawl only to have him not stop in time and drift right off the edge into the endless canyon below!

3:Castlevania (NES) - They All Fall Down
Nothing beats getting hit in mid-jump by a stupid-looking medusa head, sending you down into the depths of nothingness. Oh wait - how about attempting to walk down a flight of stairs, only to walk right OFF the platform and fall to your doom? The monsters ain't the only hazard in this game!

2:Unreal Tournament (PC) - Juggled in the Air
The arena I'm referring to particularly here is Morpheus, a low-gravity area which allows for massive jumps. But take care while airborne as you make an easy target for skilful snipers who will shoot you up silly. One of the best deaths I've ever had is watching someone down below shoot a rocket right into my face; I could really see my life flash before my eyes!

1:The Legend of Zelda (Nintendo) - Death by Chicken
Kids can be cruel. When I was a young-un, I did a whole lot of stupid things which only kids do. Now I have never harmed any real animals before so don't go all SPCA on me, but I delighted in abusing those innocent MYOB cuckoos found throughout many a Zelda game. Little did I know that each chook belonged to a gang of many, and that collectively an onslaught of live poultry could dish out pain faster than your average Joe moblin. A whole flock of attacking chickens is enough to make anyone go cold-turkey on KFC.

I hope your inner-demons had a good laugh at my expense. There are so many interesting and goofy ways to kill thy self; these are just the cream of my crop. I'm sure many of you have had similar memorable experiences, but these are the times when I didn't really mind the abrupt end. If you have a chance, try them out for yourselves. Just remember folks, DO TRY THIS AT HOME, but only on your computer & video-gaming systems!
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Title: The Top 10 Violence-Free Games
Posted: May 13, 2008 (06:16 PM)
November 11, 2006
Featured
Update 2008: Guitar Hero/Rock Band; Bejeweled; Wii Fit

Sex sells, but guess what? So does violence. Video games have been put under intense media scrutiny following supposed correlations between virtual violence and real-life violence. It's not real people! But violence in a game, from crashing your vehicle head-on with your mate in Burnout, to going on a mass killing spree in GTA, to squashing that little innocent Goomba - they all make playing all that much more focused and enjoyable. But then again, there are games that do not need to resort to such brawny tactics. Games can be fun, yet free of fighting, destruction and blowing stuff up. Here are my top 10 picks that you ought to try when simply killing that old bat just didn't feel like much fun after the umpteenth time.

10:Solitaire (PC)
A light game of cards played on your own can kill time or relieve stress whenever you have a couple of minutes. Simple and clean, yet cleverly addictive. No messy shuffling and dealing, and best of all, it's free, and right there on your desktop ready to go!

9:SingStar (PS2)
I don't have the vocal quality to be a performer, or even a mildly entertaining karaoke-wannabe. But SingStar is just so hard to resist! Pitch is what you are judged on so fair is fair. Competing with fellow friends (or rival flats!) is truly an experience to be had. There are a wide variety of songs to cater for all, and no motor co-ordination skills are required. Just stand up, slam down them butterflies in your stomach, and belt out the most powerful voice you can openly muster. SingStar makes singing fun for everyone. And even good singers can't blame the game system if they get bad marks!

8:Osu! Tatakae! Ouendan (DS)
I always knew the Japanese were bonkers, but Ouendan redefined my modest understatement. It's rhythm action, with a stylus, featuring some crazy male cheerleaders and some zany stories of people requesting an S.O.S. The beats used are great; tapping, sliding, spinning is very addictive; Ouendan is so over-the-top fun the antics shown will seriously create a better outlook on life for you. From the opening "Osu!" me and my sister were already ROFL. Everyone who we've lent it to have gone nuts for this game too. Whenever you feel depressed, down on your luck, or just need a quick caffeine-free pick up, pick up that DS and boot up that strange card with weird foreign writing. My exams have just finished (today!) and I'm glad I got through, but I tell you there were many times when I was saved by "Oueenndaannn!"

7:Chip's Challenge (PC)
This game is pure challenge. Over a hundred levels, and a variety of traps await our young little sprite as he makes his way one square at a time to reach an arbitrary goal point. It's like a mini-adventure, but with a sole focus on pure cerebral thought. Another game long gone by.

6:Nintendogs (DS)
"Woof woof!" You know the deal. Raise some puppie, teach them tricks, pamper them with love (or neglect if you're mean!) It's a virtual dog simulator that gives you all the joy of taking care of a cute little pup without having to physically deal with all the messy stuff which goes on behind the scenes. Girls love it, girls love guys who love it, everyone wins! Nintendo just got cooler.

5:Clockwerx (PC)
Clockwerx is the successor to the original Spin-Doctor Challenger for the Mac(?) It is a very old game, but I still have fond memories of my primary school years trying to get through the ingeniously tricky set-ups. You play as a clock-hand (kinda) and by spinning around and switching from dot-to-dot (or lines) you make your way to the goal while avoiding rival clock-hands, globs of bio-goop, swtich-doors, bullets and other impediments. A lot of reflex and co-ordination is required, but the more you play the better you get, and the harder it is to stop when your teacher (or whoever) says so. Plus you can also play co-operatively to help with switches, enemy diversions and to see who can finish first. It's a brilliant concept, and I'm absolutely guttered that it hasn't been revived for over more than a decade now! This game is gold.

4:Brain Age (DS)
You may not consider this a "game", but once you get hooked in along with the rest of your family and friends, it definitely beats that Monopoly board or Atari 2600 stashed away in the corner. Solving simple problems has never been more fun as you attempt to beat your high scores, as well as those of your cunning mates and the siblings who are supposed to be not-as-smart as you are... A few minutes a day will see marked improvements in your pre-frontal cortex and your concentration during real-life tasks will see you reap some great rewards. I can attest to this as this non-game has really helped me focus on my studies, amongst other things too. It's one of the highest-selling apps of all time, it's cheap, it works, it's fun, it's a smart play.

3:Sim City 2000 (PC)
The revamped version of the original "sim" which started it all! Sim City 2000 is still wholly playable to this day, with incredible customisation, detail, and management as you strive to create a bustling, prosperous city, or 2(000). There are scenarios to complete, cheats to tamper with, or you can just go freeform and build you dream city to your heart's content. Sim City is the best "Sim" franchise out there imo; it's easy to get into, complex enough for the boffins, and with the latest incarnations, offer an unprecedented amount of replayablity.

2:Dance Dance Revolution (ARC)
Not only can you have fun and look cool (or stupid) while playing a video game, but with the library of DDR games available at your local arcade (guaranteed!) and/or home console, you can burn fat and feed the muscle while you're at it. Killing a whole flock of birds in one go is the only 'violence' I see here :P Difficulties cater for all, song selection encompasses nearly every piece of popular music genre out there, and with a couple of friends and spectators, hitting the dance floor has never been so much fun.

1:Tetris (Super multi-platform)
The top V-free game is one everyone knows - Tetris! Any version will suffice as they all share the same concept: place blocks, form lines. There's no story required, no fancy graphics, just pure reflex thinking. It is highly addictive and very much PC. The latest version for the DS allows for WiFi connective play so that you can duke it out with the best minds on offer at a global scale. It is easy to start, fun to challenge others, and damn hard to stop. And there's no violence, unless you self-inflict pain upon yourself for placing that block just 1 unit to the left, doh!

Yep another top 10 bites the dust. All the games are highly recommended if you get tired of playing the usual violence-infested video game. But even if you are a sadistic person, you may find some inner peace and harmony by trying something more innocent for once. For these games all show characteristics of why we play games: for fun, for enjoyment and for laughs. I missed a couple of neat ones such as Guitar Heroes and those new Cooking sims (seeing as I love cooking too!) But I did want to get a wide range of genres included and so despite the recent outbreak of rhythm-based and sim-everything games, this selection encompasses the best 10 for anyone, for everyone. Peace and love everyone!
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Title: The Top 10 Character Transformations
Posted: May 13, 2008 (06:12 PM)
October 24, 2006
Featured
Update 2008: Wander turning into a Colossus

We play so many games that feature a whole host of unique individuals, but for some of them the ability to transform for whatever reason makes for a more memorable experience. Whether it be to gain massive amounts of power, gain a whole new repertoire of special abilities, or just for pure cosmetics (possibly with some humour too), it's always fun to watch the physical changes that occur in some of the most beloved characters in videogame literature. So here are my top 10 picks, and strangely not a Transformer to be seen...

10:Link -> Fierce Deity -- The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask (N64)
Majora's Mask may have been the titular all-powerful mask in this game, but for gamers who sought each and every one of the 24 collectible masks, obtaining the Fierce Deity mask was definitely a great bonus. When Young Link puts on this special mask, he transforms into a fighting God! He's taller, stronger and looks damn groovy! One of the greatest bonuses ever sadly dumbed down by the fact you can't legitimately use it outside of boss fights. It's one transformation that I'm sure many fans would like to see again some time in the future...

9:Saiyan -> Super Saiyan -- Dragon Ball Z: Budokai Tenkaichi (PS2)
Although the origins of the Saiyans lie in the manga/anime, there has been such a large variety of DragonBall-based games that you just can't ignore this transformation. When consumed by rage, the Saiyans possess the ability to boost their strength, speed and agility by folds of incredible amounts. They do this by becoming a Super Saiyan, characterised by a golden hairdo, striking blue eyes and a sparkling aura. There are multiple levels of this form, each one requiring more power to initiate and sustain. The prime example of this transformation is of the lead character's (Goku's) change on planet Namek following the death of his best friend Krillin from the evil tyrant Frieza.

8:The Prince -> Sand Wraith -- Prince of Persia: Warrior Within (PS2)
This sure was a twist of events! The Prince, exasperated with the relentlessly, stalking Dahaka, decides to search for the Mask of the Wraith in order to change time yet again and save his own skin. When he dons the said mask, he transforms into the very thing which has been haunting him this whole time; he is now the Sand Wraith! With limitless powers over the Sands of Time he goes about at rapid pace aiming to do what he did before and warn his past self of mistakes to come. Confusing? Yes, but still a great transformation!

7:Phat CJ -> Fat CJ -- Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas (PS2)
Ahh, who could forget this tongue-in-cheek one? The super mega-hit set in the wide expanse of San Andreas introduced to us the character of CJ, who's physical appearance could be modified by what he eats, how much he exercises and what he wears. I bet there were many of you who like me took this feature for a quick test-drive at the local Burger Shot and fed CJ all the super-combos money could buy. After about 10 or so we would exit the fast-food joint and lo and behold... Cj's gone from phat to fat! Haha, okay so this could never happen in real life in the space of 1 minute, but watching my man here pack on several dozen pounds in one sitting and begging for a change of clothes made me roll over laughing. Talk about extreme makeover; time to get some new threads and then hit the treadmill - Fat to Phat in less than 30s a day!

6:Jin/Kazuya -> Devil -- Tekken 5 (PS2)
The Mishima family is more dysfunctional than all the Simpsons, Family Guy, and Malcolm in the Middle shows put together. Consumed by the need for power, they will do anything to get what they want, including making pacts with the being known as Devil. Kazuya was the first to harness the power of Devil making him an unstoppable force for a period of time. Later his son, Jin, inherited the power of Devil. As witnessed in Tekken 5, Jin was unable to control the Devil within, and subsequently exploded into a raging fury destroying the surrounding forest he hid himself in. I put this at number 5 not just for the storyline aspect, but also cos I loved the Kazuya-Devil tag-team transformation in Tekken Tag PS2; nothing taunts as much as taking the vulnerable timeout to morph while your opponent is on the ropes!

5:Banjo -> Washing Machine -- Banjo-Kazooie (N64)
Banjo the luvable bear, with the aid of the mystical shamam, Mumbo-Jumbo, was able to turn into a wide variety of creatures to help him in his quest to save his sister. But the best one has got to be the mystical boo-boo (via Cheato's code) which had ol' Banjo transform into a mini washing machine! Although he couldn't attack, he was as mobile as ever. Plus I guess on a long journey it helps to always be able to keep your clothes clean right? LOL!

4:Dracula -> A variety of final forms -- Castlevania (NES)
The Dark Lord of the vampires is a man of many transformations. He is probably the most overused final boss ever in a videogame, but each time we meet him, he almost always has some sort of surprise metamorphosis following his initial human appearance. More than likely he transforms into some sort of hulking creature, a giant beast which sends shivers down the spines of any mortal.

3:Magikarp -> Gyarados -- Pokemon Yellow (GB)
Who would have guessed that a pathetic, helpless, flailing fish would evolve into the gigantic monstosity known as Gyarados! A useless pokemon to start with, but when this stupid fish evolves into a powerful sea-dragon at level 20, no-one will be teasing you for initial choice of companion! One of the strongest beasts out of the now 450+ and counting!

2:Raiden? -> Naked Snake! -- Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater (PS2)
Who said they loved MGS2? I did! And so I was shocked to see that I was playing as Raiden?! After jumping plane and landing in the middle of a dense, inhospitable jungle, we see our main protagonist as he stands up erect and pulls off his face mask, revealing the wide grin of the one and only Snake! Yes! We are playing as the main man of the series after all! Whoa there Kojima, you're one cunning director!

1:Ganondorf -> Ganon -- The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time (N64)
After defeating the almighty leader of the Gerudos (rather easily I might add), everyone knew there would be some sort of 2nd form. After escaping the crumbling castle, you meet your final match as Ganondorf transforms into the giant beast Ganon! It is one of those moments that will leave you in awe as you come face to face with a more dangerous adversary wielding dual blades of chaos. The whole scene is my most memorable in my entire videogaming history. The atmosphere was incredible in 1998, and it still is in 2006. Awesome stuff.

And there's a fine list of transformations if I may say so myself. As always, there are plenty of others which are incredible spectacles as well, but alas I could only pick 10, and these are the 10 that stay in my mind and the 10 that you should check out if you haven't already done so. I missed a few other personal faves such as Super Sonic, Tak's crazy suits, a mother-load of RPG final-boss types and or course the Transformers (which have their own decent game finally!) Gimme more. I'm a sucker for fancy change :)
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Title: The Top 10 Super Special Moves
Posted: May 13, 2008 (06:09 PM)
October 19, 2006
Featured
Update 2008: Devil May Cry 4 - Nero's situational Devil Bringer; SSBB - Falco's Final Smash

Nearly every single game is loaded with all sorts of special moves. Some are highly efficient, others are there as a joke. Some will make your jaw drop, others will send you ROFL. And then there are always those abilities which will make you think WTF?! Well without further adieu, here are my top 10 special moves that demonstrate some of the finest gaming has to offer.

10:Omnislash - Final Fantasy VII; Advent Children (PS1, DVD, PSP)
First up is Cloud Strife's ultimate limit break, Omnislash. Originally in FF7 he delivered 16 successive blows (to defeat Sephiroth). More recently in FF7: Advent Children, his new sword, the First Tsurugi, splits into 6 deadly blades that levitate in the air as Cloud readies himself. He then performs 6 rapid slashes with each one of increasing brutality. Needless to say nothing can survive such an onslaught.

9:Kuma's Deadly Fart - Tekken 3 onwards (ARC, PS1, PS2, PSP)
Probably not the best move in the whole Tekken arsenal, but definitely the most deadly! You would have to be an idiot to run right up to a great big bear, especially as it starts to turn around and expose its backside to you. But there are some silly folk out there who would give anything a try once, and by running into Kuma's patented 'gas' they will be instantly knocked back and knocked out for the count, regardless of their 200% handicap or not. Yes Ogre even you, almighty God of Fighting!

8:Grappling Hook - Ninja Five-0 (GBA)
This tool has been used in all sorts of movies, and Bionic Commander showed its first use in a videogame. But our modern ninja here makes the craziest use of the traditional grappling hook. Swinging around ceilings, zipping up and around enemies, whacking them silly, before spinning twice more in a loop-de-loop to land right where the hostage is tied up. You have got to experience the craziness for yourself really. The controls sure take a good long while to get used to, but damn is it fun. Crazy. Go play this game now to check it out, or better yet, go watch the speed run!

7:Nutcracker - Mortal Kombat II and various followups (ARC, multiplatform, movie)
Ah, Johnny Cage's classic move. Also featured in the first Mortal Kombat movie (I'm sure everyone will remember that memorable scene!), the aptly named nutcracker has Cage do the splits whilst still managing to deliver a striking mid-blow that would get an instant foul in any official martial arts bout. Range is poor, damage in the game sucks, but it is combo-able! Guaranteed to put a dent in your opponent's ego (for males only!)

6:Hydro Storm - Akumajo Dracula X: Chi no Rondo; DXX; SotN; PoR (TCD, SNES, PS1, SAT, NDS)
Everyone knows that holy water is the bane of Dracula (and his minions). Well Richter Belmont goes one step further with his item crashing skills, delivering a torrential down-pour of this blessed liquid. All evil present will presently die, and even the strongest of bosses will be cursing that they forgot to bring an umbrella to work! Note: also known in the upcoming Portrait of Ruin as Divine Storm (PoR, 2006).

5:Cardboard Box - Metal Gear Solid quadrilogy (PS1, PS2, PC, XBOX, GCN)
"What was that just now? Hmph, just my imagination." Yes, Solid Snake strikes again! Through his masterful art of diguise during covert operations, Snake is able to use a mere slab of cardboard to avert suspiscion and infiltrate the most secured fortresses, jungle camps and even cities. His mobility remains unaffected whilst boxed in, he is able to swiftly duck under scouting eyes, and best of all he can even transport himself to different areas via cargo bays or trucks! So the next time you walk past a seemingly ordinary cardboard box, make sure your wits are about you!

4:Making Eggs - Yoshi's Island; Yoshi's Story (SNES, GBA, N64)
Which came first, the chicken or the egg? Well from Yoshi's POV, the answer is Shyguy! After swallowing whole a small enemy with his hyper-extensive tongue, Yoshi's strange digestive system is capable of metabolising it into an egg. Yes an egg, which can follow him around bobbing about merrily before he picks it up and lobs a hard one at those who oppose his happiness. So now you know the answer to the age-old question. Just don't try lobbing your excretions at anyone please.

3:The Power of Revival - Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time trilogy (PS2, PC, XBOX, GCN, GBA, PSP, MOBILE)
The Prince was the first to do this with style and finesse. In the past, mistiming simple jumps lead to instant death via spiked pits. Getting distracted my your incessantly calling mother would lead to that big orc slamming your head into a pulp. Now with the power to rewind time and correct the mistakes of the past, if you need dodge a spiked pendulum and you're 2 shots overdosed, just go for it. Spontaneity is what keeps us 'alive' after all.

2:Voldo's Blind Hump - Soul Calibur trilogy (ARC, DC, PS2, XBOX, GCN)
Officially known as Fool Ritual, but doesn't the former sound more er.. appropriate? Well this is one of the oddest moves ever so bear with me here: first our bondage boy goes into a sort of wrestler's bridge stance (Mantis Crawl), and then he 'thrusts' his pelvic section upwards. Picture that in your mind and if it looks wrong, then well, you've pictured it right! But surprise, surprise, this is actually a very useful move. Vulnerable opponents can be skyrocketed into the air and subsequently bounced all around the arena. Combos can do good damage, and from his position, Voldo is able to chase them up all over to finish them with a more 'decent' attack.

1:EWGF - Tekken 3 onwards (ARC, PS1, PS2, PSP)
Here at the coveted top spot is a move only seasoned Tekken fans will be familiar with. The acronym spells out "Electric Wind God Fist". Throughout the Tekken series the Mishima family spearheads the way, dominating all competitors with their powerful dashing uppercut attack. The power to launch enemies for damaging juggles and high priority makes this their key move. From Jinpachi to Heihachi to Kazuya to Jin. The God Fist is feared by all players, and with the 'electric' version being all the more deadly. Coupled with esthetic sparks, insane framedata (quickest launcher, +frames on block, knockback, instant execution from wavedash mix-ups etc.etc.) and proof of skill, the EWGF is THE move of Tekken. It doesn't have gimmicks, it doesn't look as brilliant as other specials, but it simply knocks out any other moves that try to out-prioitise it; watch top-tier Tekken 3, Tag, 5 and DR matches and you'll come to realise the awesomeness of f,n,d~d/f+2.

Wooyeah! I made it through! That's 10 of the very best specials seen in a video game to this day. As always there is room for arguments, but considering that there are like what, 20 grand worth of games.. that makes for at least a billion special moves eh? Narrowing it down to just 10 was tough. Of course I haven't had the oppurtunity to sample more than a fraction of what is available, but based on my experiences I'm sure many of you can agree with these choices. Take a photo, make a video, whatever; these are some special moves definitely worth remembering!
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Title: The Top 10 Surprises in Video Gaming (Spoilers)
Posted: May 13, 2008 (06:05 PM)
October 16, 2006
Update 2008: The Wii; Apollo Justice - Kristoph being the murderer; Soul Calibur IV feat. Star Wars!

Have you ever been surprised by something a video game has to offer? This interactive form of media has played host to a whole lot of generic, even-paced fun. But now and again, it is nice (and sometimes not so nice) to experience something totally unexpected, out of the blue, that it will send you an instant adrenaline rush while sitting on your couch. These are my top picks for surprises, shocks and spills in Video Gaming history - excluding game-breaking glitches of course!

10:Insane jump in difficulty level - Trauma Center: Under the Knife (DS)
It was neat to finally have an interactive surgery simulation game. Trauma Center made excellent use of the DS' touchscreen and while there was a steep learning curve, it was easy going once you developed a habit. However nothing could have prepared anyone for the last few Sin (and X) operations. I thought I was a pro, but I was wrong. These missions will stretch your patience, reactions and nerves to the limit. The huge leap in difficulty was definitely a big shock to my gaming technique self-esteem. This edges out at number 10, just cos I'm biased towards clinical work!

9:Thinking way outside the square - Trace Memory (DS)
Trace Memory (AKA Another Code) was an interesting early DS game featuring good old point-and-click adventure gameplay. But with the new technology, came new ways of presenting and solving puzzles. 2 such puzzles spring to mind as "o.O": shutting and reopening the console to stamp from one screen to the other; and examining the reflection of one of the screens in order to piece together the riddle of the book. This was the first game I had ever played that required such a crazy 'think outside the square (or DS)' school of thought. Truly an innovation in the way we play our games.

8:1337 sp34k - Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney (DS)
Yet another DS title! (It must be my recent surge of interest in this explosively blooming portable.) Not only did this game receive a top-notch translation that was as witty as it was deep, but it actually featured some modern lingo ie. leet-speak! After reading a couple well thought-out phrases - "rolling on floor starving" - lol!, I was truly ROFL.

7:Soma-cula rises - Castlevania: Aria of Sorrow (GBA)
I always knew there was something odd going on with Soma. The game was so fast-paced and hard to put down that I didn't really have much time to put much thought into it, but then it hit me. You are not playing as a merely blessed/cursed human, but you are playing as the reincarnation of Dracula's soul! Wow! That sounds so cool, and once you uncovered this twist, you were off to fight the 'true hero' of the series - a Belmont, and as it turns out, this one Julius Belmont was the guy who finally put a definitive end to Dracula in the first place! Epic battle? Heck yeah!

6:Attack of the Hydra - God of War (PS2)
A had read a good deal of glowing reports about this game, but I did steer clear of any spoiler-type material; thus my experience with God of War was quite fresh. Nearly every single game starts out rather modestly, but the ambush at sea right from the get-go was the most intense experience I had ever witnessed, and that's including a truck-load of blockbuster movies too! Torrential rain, ravaging waters, enemy invasion, a wrecked ship, and then the encounters with the Hydra - all of this made my rumbling hands tremble with excitement as my facials struggled to keep up with the hyper-activity. From the moment I booted this disc, my heart rate must have doubled within a few seconds!

5:The Inverted Castle - Castlevania: Symphony of the Night (PS)
I fininished this game once and I thought, "Hmm, not bad". But then my friend persuaded me into collecting the Holy Glasses before facing Richter, leaving no explanation other than a glint in his eye. Since I had nothing better to do at the time, I took his advice. Then I found out that I had not 'finished' the game, in fact I had barely begun! Satifying the condition of releasing Richter from the influence of Shaft and his magic orb, Alucard teleports to a different area with a weird sense of Deja Vu.. and then "whoa!" You are still in the same castle, but it is now upside down! Not only is traversing much different now, but there are a whole load of new enemies, new bosses and new powerups to collect! Well at least I'm halfway there; now to carefully find out what the heck is going on!

4:Auto-scrolling levels - Super Mario Bros. 3 (NES)
Super Mario Bros. 3 was the first game I loved so much, that I went over to my friend's place way too many times just to have another go. The gameplay was simply pristine and coupled with the great competitive 2 player mode, this was one title destined to be a classic (and sure enough, it did!) The biggest surprise in my mind was the introduction of levels which automatically side-scrolled, and in doing so meant that you had to be on your toes the whole way through, dodging copious numbers of enemies, their attacks, and of course avoiding death by being squashed against mere obstructions. I still recall me and my mate's first reaction: holy moly, the screen is moving by itself!? Quick run Mario! "Dit" - queue death music after running straight off the platform :)

3:Enter: Devil Jin - Tekken 5 (ARC)
I really got into the Tekken scene with PS1 Tekken 3 and Arcade Tekken Tag. I subsequently played the stuffing out of PS2's TTT and T4, and became quite a competitive player on the scene. After T4's disappointing arcade turnout, things were starting to look up from impressions gained from playtests of Tekken 5. I recall avidly eating up all the news I could get my hands on, and watching all the recorded playtests from around the world. And then the video of Koreans playing the single player mode came around. As the guy who was playing reached the 7th round, the match-up was announced: Hwoarang vs. Devil Jin!! The crowd in the video were elated as I was too; Namco finally put our dream character in! But how did he play like? That's the best part; Devil Jin played nearly identically to the good old Jin from TTT! The 2 single best moments were witnessing the CPU perform Jin's trademark EWGF and Laser Cannon canned combo; the crowd was then going mental and I was jumping around like a maniac in my tiny little dorm room!

2:The Death of Aeris - Final Fantasy VII (PS)
It has been said much too many times, but how could I not include this jaw-dropper? RPG's are known for their in-depth character building, both gameplay- and storyline-wise. FF7's first disc was truly remarkable in both ways and we really got to form a unique bond to Aeris, as did Cloud. She became one of my primary characters for the 20-odd hours of play, until Sephiroth performed the ultimate evil. Watching him descend with a piercing strike struck my own heart. Then after the boss battle, seeing Cloud lay her body to rest within the azure lake brought about some tears. Then as "insert disc 2" was prompted and we continued the journey, I came to the realisation that she truly had left us. Not only was I surprised at how such a deep character was removed so prematurely, but I was surprised at how much emotion the entire scene evoked from me.

1:Metal Gear Raiden?! - Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty (PS2)
The enormous success of Metal Gear Solid resulted in incredible hype developing for its sequel. When I first flicked through a magazine previewing a near-complete build of the game, I quickly closed it again to view the publication month on the cover. Nope, it was no where near April. But this has to be a joke right? Solid Snake is dead!?!? And the protagonist of this revolutionary game is some new guy with long, blonde hair going by the name of Mortal Kombat's Raiden!? Hideo Kojima sure did a good job to cleverly hide that fact with all previous previews AND the in the playable demo I got with Z.O.E. Biggest. Shock. Ever.

There are of course many other fine examples I'm sure to have excluded; either they just missed the cut, I played an early game at a later stage which lessened its impact (Resident Evil's zombie dogs), or I just have not played one such title. Some noteworthy mentions include: Castlevania SotN's grotesque Beezelbub, AoS' Bat-squashing Balore, DoS' 'falling-through-the-tower' Gergoth; SotC's King Kong colossus no.16; Brain Age's tease of 79; Dead or Alive's bouncing breasts; Super Metroid's souped-up baby metroid; Warcraft 3's Prince Arthas' downfall etc. etc. etc. There are plenty of classic surprises scattered throughout so many games, I could go on forever,, but I won't. This is why I love gaming. Surprise me.
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Title: The Top 10 "Whoa!" Introductory Levels
Posted: May 13, 2008 (05:59 PM)
October 11, 2006
Featured
Update 2008: Contra: Hard Corps; Apollo Justice; Space Megaforce; Project: Snowblind

First impressions last. For every video game, this holds especially true for me. Being a veteran gamer for 15 years now, I have been exposed to many quality titles, and for some of them, the opening level shows some of the most inspiring moments ever. After playing for the first few minutes you begin to salivate, your hunger intensifies, and you feel compelled continue on to the meat of the game. These games hook you in right from the start. But enough talk, here are my top 10 intro levels, have at you.

10:Space Pirate Frigate - Metroid Prime (GC)
I begin with the first 3D instalment of a most wonderful franchise. Metroid Prime was an all new genre in itself - the First Person Adventure - and many wondered how it would work out with the 2D to 3D transition. Well the opening Space Station level was a nice way to introduce the new control style and interface. The ambience was appropriately brooding and mysterious as Samus seeked to find out what was going wrong there, dead creatures and all scattered about some impressive architecture. The first boss encounter occurs in this level and then in classic Metroid-style, it is time for your swift escape. A mini-episode in itself and whets your appetite for more to come.

9:Tanker - Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty (PS2)
The famous Tanker level featuring Solid Snake is definitely one of the most memorable. Many got to taste it early with the demo bundled with Z.O.E. and it definitely warrants as the best demo I've previewed ever. Building on the successful formula shown in the prequel, MGS2 showed impressive graphics, incredible animation, interesting AI, unsurpassed interactivity (at the time) and a lot of spunk. And this was only in the opening Tanker level which lasted what.. 1-2 hours? But it really was an amazingly immersive experience, so good that more than a few were extremely disappointed at how the rest of game ditched Snake as the main protagonist.

8:Mako Reactor No. 1 - Final Fantasy VII (PS)
RPGs have a tendency to start real slowww... But in the system-seller FF7, things were hectic right from the get go. You are thrust into a covert bombing mission with urgency of the utmost importance. The music is pumping and you blast through the random battles briskly. As you make your way through some impressive pre-rendered backdrops of the Mako power plant, you eventually reach you goal, face your first boss, and then it is time to jet out and blow the place before the situation can get further compromised. A great fast-paced prelude to one of the best RPGs with an amazing legacy.

7:A Crazy Party - Devil May Cry 3: Dante's Awakening (PS2)
If your jaw has not dropped within the first half hour, maybe you should take some antidepressants. The opening cinema is utterly ridiculous action which will make you lol, wtf and o.O all at the same time. And following on as you gain control of the main man Dante, you will be pulling off some of the craziest, stylish actions ever seen in any visual medium. A bunch of demons try to tear up your crib eh? Well then lets take it to them by smacking that one into a pulp, thrusting him into those two at the last minute, doing a backflip to avoid the one behind you and coming down with a powerful downward thrust, jumping on his floored body and riding him like a skateboard while spinning around and shooting up all who get in your way. Yes. So much carnage in just the first level. Satisfaction guaranteed.

6:Bloodlines & Castle Entrance - Castlevania: Symphony of the Night (PS)
My favourite series of all time deserves credit where credit is due. I love all the opening moments of nearly all the 20-odd games, but if I had to pick one, you guessed it, it has to be SotN. I deem the "opening" to be split into 2. First you have the re-enaction of the final boss battle as witnessed in the direct prequel, Rondo of Blood; this must be the strangest way to begin a game! After those first intense minutes, you begin your main quest as Alucard, son of Dracula. You enter the dark castle and the air is quiet except for a faint breeze. As you fight of some of the monstrous residents, soon the lights come on and the music sweeps you of you feet in grand fashion. Welcome to Castlevania!

5:Siberia, 1990 - TimeSplitters 2 (PS2)
The opening level here is clearly a tribute to GoldenEye 007 for the N64. TS2 introduced a mission-based single player game into the series, and to start it all off, they begin with an updated rendition of the classic Dam level with all the quirkiness of TimeSplitters imbued within. When playing on the medium/hard difficulty, this (long) mission has elements of stealth, tactics, wackiness and all-out shooting. You infiltrate the dam, make your way to obtain classified info, have a run-in with some mutants, and finally make your way out to be extracted only to find yourself toe-to-toe with a hulking battle-copter! Thrills and spills aplenty; this is one solid, hefty first mission Sergeant!

4:Arkengelsk, USSR - GoldenEye 007 (N64)
To follow on from the "remake" I now bring you the "original"! The first mission here is comprised of 3 sections: infiltrating the dam, wrecking havoc within the top-secret facility, and finally making your escape via plane. GoldenEye was the first FPS to really make your objectives important; the goal was not to just make it to the end, but to accomplish your prescribed tasks whilst maintaining your secret agent status. This opening mission in Arkengelsk closely followed the film, and really did make you feel like you were in the shoes of the legendary James Bond. Follow the directions of your superiors, use whatever means you have to carry out your mission, improvise an escape. An intense start to a game which never lets down until the very end.

3:Bob-omb Battlefield - Super Mario 64 (N64)
Everyone was expecting big things from Mario & co. with the advent of the N64, and nearly everyone had their expectations shattered with the revolutionary outcome. Super Mario 64 was the first full 3D-platformer that did just about everything right, and in the introductory Bob-omb Battlefield course greatness was highly evident. These was a wide expanse of land, chaos ensuing, bright, bold colours, and lots of tasks to accomplish as made your way to the King of the hill at the top of the hill! The battlefield was a brilliantly realised realm straight out of a cartoon, and not only did it look good, sound good and play good, but it felt damn good too. Even to this day (especially with my portable DS) I still get fuzzy feelings upon entering this benchmark level.

2:Aegean Sea - God of War (PS2)
Wow! This introductory level staged on a ship at a stormy sea is the most visually breathtaking start I have ever seen. The presentation is unbelievable. As Kratos you make your way around the bombarded, crumbing vessel laying hurt to any monsters that cross your path. Water is spilling in due to all the damage on the sides, the thundery overcast is ominous, the most direct routes are breaking apart. All hell is breaking loose and you have to stop the damn Hydra from totalling the only thing separating you from the endless sea. Words can only express so much, you must experience it for yourself to appreciate just how epic the whole scenario is. The opening level here is better than 90% of action movies climaxes, and so good that it is a shame the rest of this bloody, brilliant game cannot match it.

1:The Highway - Mega Man X (SNES)
My number one goes to a game which does not have any fancy post-2000-era graphics, but still remains a classic to this day in my mind. Mega Man X was the original 2D action, before Capcom went on a rehash spree. I fondly remember the opening city stage, making your way as a more adult-like Mega Man through robot after robot, until reaching the cause of the chaos, Vile. You face off against your nemesis, but at your current state, he is too much for you too handle. All hope seems lost and then bang! - your teammate Zero helps you out the pinch and forces Vile to retreat for now. You need to gain more power if you hope to defeat Sigma, Vile and the whole host of Maverick warriors. It is now time to begin your quest. Simple, but very effective. Backed by an awesome BGM track and some neat animations this scene plays out like the start of something much bigger, and look at where we are now, because it has! I'm sure many would agree that this introductory level is a classic in all respects, and I'm thrilled to see that Capcom thinks so too. Maverick Hunter X has done a great 2.5D representation of it, and the more recent Mega Man ZX has done a new take on it as well.

So that's all folks. Those are my top 10 introductory levels over the past 15 years of gaming. It was an extremely tough call to make between the top 3 especially - heck it was already tough to single out games out of my top 10 the the first place! There are some other great beginnings worth mentioning such as Medal of Honor: Rising Sun, Time Crisis 3 and um, the rest of the Castlevania games :p But these stand out in my mind for many reasons, be it they look incredible, the experience is surreal, the gameplay is inspiring, or just that it is so complete that I can happily replay the (not always) brief beginning anytime, anyplace, anywhere. Thanks for reading.
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Title: The Top 10 Castlevania Heroes *Spoilers*
Posted: May 13, 2008 (05:49 PM)
October 03, 2006
Reason for rejection: "Too narrow"

In commemoration of the upcoming release of Portrait of Ruin, the 20th original episode in the long-running Castlevania series, I present to you what may be the first of many tributes to this great legacy. Over the past 20 years we have been exposed to the tales of many a hero/heroine versus the persistent Dracula and his minions. Good always triumphed over evil in the end, and so here I pay my respects to the best of the best. The Belmonts are arguably the toughest bunch of trained killers, but they haven't always been there to lead the way. These are my top 10 Castlevania protagonists.

10:Akumajo Dracula X: Chi no Rondo (TCD)
Beginning with a light touch of innocence, we have MARIA RENARD. She was a prisoner in Rondo of Blood, but once rescued by her brother-in-law Richter, she could go pwn up Dracula and co. with tiny little doves and some crazy wild animal summons. A sweet, little girl with a lot of potential eh?

9:Castlevania: Harmony of Dissonance (GBA)
MAXIM KISCHINE is the only Ninja to have appeared in the Castlevania series. His powerful and speedy abilities made him a warrior worthy to tackle to the forces of darkness. However, disheartened by his best friend Juste's inheritance of the famous Vampire Killer whip, he sets out to earn respect by doing a 'Simon' and collecting up Dracula's remains together. But his mind is too weak and he is possessed by the evil. Just like Maria, once Maxim is saved, he can go dish up some serious hurt: swift sword attacks, blazing fast footsweeps, healing magic, and an awesome imitation of Samus' patented 'screw attack' from Super Metroid!!

8:Castlevania: Symphony of the Night (PS)
RICHTER BELMONT stars in what is arguably the best classic-style Castlevanias (not Akumajou Dracula XX!), as well as one of the best 'Castleroids', and perhaps more... He goes out of his way to save many a damsel in distress, unlike the others whose sole missions seems to be kill, kill, kill! Richter has no need to 'power-up'; he already wields the most powerful Morning Star Vampire Killer! I put him under "Symphony of the Night" just because of what I find to be the best moves in Castlevania ever: the air dash, super jump, and my all-time fave slide kick :)

7:Castlevania: Bloodlines (GEN)
JOHN MORRIS was the son of the famous Quincy Morris (see Bram Stoker's "Dracula"). John was not of pure Belmont lineage, yet he still managed to wield the awesome power of the Vampire Killer whip; a true testament of his might. Along with his friend, Eric Lecarde, he travelled the world in search of the location of Dracula's resurrection. Their journey ended in Castle Proserpina, England, where they laid the Count to rest again. -- Latest info from "Portrait of Ruin" details how John died as a consequence of utilising Vampire Killer's potential. He did not pass it onto his son, Jonathan, for he wanted to protect him from the burden of the cursed legacy :( *sobs*

6:Castlevania III: Dracula's Curse (NES)
In 1476, Dracula waged his war on Valachia. At this time, the Belmonts had been banished from the lands due to their past activities. But as chaos went uncontrolled, TREVOR BELMONT decided it was time for action and set out to rid the lands of the cursed evil. He made a couple of allegiances during his travels, and together the team grinded their way through the hordes and eventually took out Dracula. Trevor was declared a hero. His 8-bit sprite will always be fondly remembered (as displayed by Alucard's reminescence!) and his updated 3D model is one heck of a killer! Shame he got blind-sided by Isaac.

5:Super Castlevania IV (SNES)
SIMON BELMONT was the first Vampire Killer introduced to us, and he is also the most redone sprite too! His appearance in "Castlevania Chronicles" is the coolest, but here in "Super Castlevania" he shows his mettle. With 8-way whipping there is no foe that can go unscathed; some fancy twirling moves can dessimate all that approach him; and for those that retreat, Simon can bring it to them with his sophisticated 'Matrix-float' jumping skills!

4:Castlevania: Symphony of the Night (PS)
It would kind of suck to have Dracula as your father right? After all the vanquishing, he would hardly ever be there for you... Well this is the story of ALUCARD's life! Making appearances all throughout the everlasting saga, Alucard's eternal goal is to keep his father, Dracula, away from the humans he grew up to care for. He first appeared fighting alongside Trevor Belmont and in lands of Valachia. He later took it upon himself to free Richter Belmont from the curse of the dark priest, Shaft. And much, much later he went under the guise of one Genya Arikado, aiming to prevent another Dark Lord from ever taking the throne again. What a busy fellow.

3:Castlevania: Dawn of Sorrow (DS)
When SOMA CRUZ came to the realisation that he was reincarnation of the Dark Lord, he was pretty much a lost soul. But with the help of his friends he managed to subdue the evil presence and came to keep his power under control. The power of dominance: the ability to use the skills and obtain the attributes of all the evil creatures around him; boy I wish I could be in his position :p Soma is probably the closest we will ever get to playing as the Dark One himself, and with a whole slew of abilities, he is the most versatile being on Earth. Just go crazy again already!

2:Castlevania: Lament of Innocence (PS2)
You can't have a serious top 10 list of heroes without including the original legend - LEON BELMONT! This holy knight took it upon himself to destroy monsters and save his true love from the clutches of the original vampire lord, Walter Bernhard. His chronicled tale did not have a very happy ending, and in order to defeat Walter, Leon had to sacrifice his (infected) lady to grant him the power to destroy the creatures of the night. And so Vampire Killer was born.

1:Castlevania: Aria of Sorrow (GBA)
The number one hero? This has to go to the only character to successfully destroyed Dracula, permanently! JULIUS BELMONT was the man of the moment in 1999. The events leading up to this moment are still a mystery, as is why he suffered amnesia following his victory. He is the last chronological Belmont we have seen and easily the most powerful (said so by Soma too). He is the future peacekeeper of good vs. evil, and along with Soma, Alucard and Yoko, they are an unstoppable force. If Soma ever acts up, you can be sure who will be there to kick his ass. Plus Julius is the only Belmont man enough to grow a beard! XD

And so it ends, for now. The good guys dominate and the baddies are kept in check. With so many illustrious warriors, it is not hard to see why this is so. The Castlevania series has been littered with many other worthy recipients who just missed the unfortunate cut: Cornell the caring Werewolf, Henry the knight with a gun, Christopher who beat Dracula twice(!), and Yoko - cos she's hot :D With still a few periods yet to be documented, as sure as the sun will rise, there are more noble warriors who have not yet been given their dues. As of 2006, these are the cream of the crop. I cannot wait to see what more is to come, and I'm sure Dracula is dreaming about it too!
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Title: The Top 10 Castlevania games AKA Akumajou Dracula
Posted: May 13, 2008 (05:41 PM)
August 10, 2006
Reason for rejection: "Too narrow"
Update 2008: PoR and Bloodlines

The battle against Dracula and his minions has lasted 20 years now. With over 20 games, spanning 10+ game systems, the Castlevania series (known as Akumajou Dracula/Demon Castle Dracula in Japan) does not look to be letting up anytime soon; now more than ever before, the fanbase is incredibly solid. This list will briefly document what I deem to be the top 10 titles of this illustrious line of action games, which have over time evolved to include some RPG elements and more exploration-based gameplay.

10:Castlevania: Curse of Darkness (PS2)
I wasn't too sure which I liked more out of this one or Lament of Innocence, but with musical score which is ALL good, more exciting bosses, semblance of the SotN's RPG style and of course Trevor, I had to give it to this one. The most recent title of this cursed legacy, with good concepts introduced, just not all that hot most of the time.

9:Castlevania: Harmony of Dissonance (GBA)
Another toss up between this and Super Castlevania IV. The latter was a good game with some nice graphical effects and an 8-way whip. The music wasn't as memorable I recall, and most of the way through gameplay didn't rise to anything great imo. HoD on the other hand has had a hard time in some places, but I feel the crazily desgined castle (attributable to its great title btw!), the funky synth-style music and the lessend difficulty were not that much of a big deal. The introduction of Boss Rush was most welcomed, the game provided some solid platform action, but most importantly, Maxim's adventure was totally ace. Fast movement, an array of abilities from the get go, and the 'screw attack' bumped this one up for me.

8:Castlevania: Bloodlines (GEN)
Dracula is in Rome?! No, not quite, but it was cool to have a change of scenery for once with our heroes travelling around the world to foil yet another ressurection of the Count. It's one of the shorter games here, but the whole way through is good 16-bit fun. The mirror-splitting effect seen in a late level is better than any Mode-7 that Super Castlevania pulled off in my mind.

7:Castlevania: Legacy of Darkness (N64)
Some may call me crazy, but I actually liked this odd-one-out! The graphics were decent 3D, the sound was appropriately haunting and eerie, the atmosphere was defintely there. But there are some issues (still) with the controls and some crazy hard platforming, but persevere and you'll find a rewarding experience filled with deathly traps and cool bosses. Lots of replay too here, for an early Castlevania title anyway.

6:Castlevania III: Dracula's Curse (NES)
It seems the final title for each trilogy (for NES, GB, GBA..) seems to do the ultimate service to the franchise, reinforcing elements of action with some new ideas of some sort and/or giving a more complete experience. Dracula's Curse may not look like much in 2006, but the game is still as fun as it was back in the days. The multiple routes and characters makes for some welcome variation not usually seen in an action title, the level design is mostly interesting, and the boss battles are some of the best from the 8-bit days. An inspiring work that rumour has it will be remade in the near future. Let's hope so!

5:Castlevania: Symphony of the Night (PS)
As 3D began to consume the mass gaming market, one title still proved that the ways of 2D still had its place. Fusing the refined Castlevania action with RPG-style levelling and customisation, and placing our protagonist in a large castle akin to Super Metroid's Zebes was a recipe for success. All fans of the current 2D games ought to try the 'maker' if they haven't yet. Although by current standards it doesn't compare as well, it's still another great romp with lots of stuff to see and do, some of the biggest bosses yet and some truly inspiring art & music.

4:Castlevania: Circle of the Moon (GBA)
The successor to the highly acclaimed SotN was surprisingly for the new portable on the block, the GBA. Despite how bad I put it, this was definitely a worthy addition and to this day, many still roam about this 'retconned' castle. The massive castle was translated well to the small screen, the music comprising of many remixed oldies is of amazingly high quality, the gameplay is tough as nails, and there's plenty of replayability to be had through the the bonus modes unlocked offering gamers a very long-haul bang for your buck.

3:Castlevania: Aria of Sorrow (GBA)
Being the last of the GBA trilogy, we expected a lot from this one. It was good to see then that it lived up to most expectations. A difficulty level between that of the predecessors, good-quality brand-new music, a refined ability system which allowed for a lot of possible ways to whip your enemies up (and without a whip too!) and much more. Control is tight, the 'new' setting adds a breath a new life, and for some reason it's just so easy for me to pick this up and play anytime I'm wanting a quick fix of action.

2:Akumajo Dracula X: Chi no Rondo (TCD)
One of the last classic-style Castlevania games, it is unfortunate that this gem was not released outside Japan, and even moreso that Konami refuses to re-release this title on a current generation system or otherwise. The action is relentless the whole way through, the music is of an awesome quality, multiple routes enhance replayability, Rondo of Blood (English translation) is the pinnacle of the original arcade-action style.

1:Castlevania: Dawn of Sorrow (DS)
The direct sequel to the hit GBA game, this installment offers more of the same great soul-collecting gameplay with more detailed graphics, excellent music selection, exciting boss battles and the best bonus mode yet, which harks back to the classic games with team-based mechanics, limited levelling and a focus on core action. It plays like a dream, and except for the unnecessary stylus use for seals, there are no real complaints I have about this one.. Well maybe the fact that Julius Mode is so much fun, more so than Soma's quest!

And so it ends for now. Konami is not showing any signs of letting up so you can be assured of many more sequels/prequels to come. However, times change and so future games must introduce new quirks to impart freshness, thus avoiding repetitiveness. IGA seems to be understanding this somewhat with the next installment, Portrait of Ruin, giving us a mix of classic 2D-action and modern Metroid-style exploration spiced up with a unique dual-player system of play. I understand many may disagree with my chosen 10, but remember the limitations as I truly enjoyed most of the 20 odd games. May the series go on and on as sure as the sun will set and the dark moon will rise.
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Title: Because GameFAQs is so damn picky when it comes down to Top 10 lists, I'm gonna post up all the ones I have written to date over here on my HG blog.
Posted: May 13, 2008 (05:39 PM)
Because GameFAQs is so damn picky when it comes down to Top 10 lists, I'm gonna post up all the ones I have written to date over here on my HG blog.

Some of them have already been spruced up and turned into full features over at Thunderboltgames and some other website that I've forgotten the name of.

Feel free to send me an email to praise/flame me for my additions/omissions. If I reply it means I'm in gamer mode; if not, I'm probably taking a break - which happens randomly depending on life circumstances.

Oh yeah, I'll add in GameFAQs reasons for rejection with every list that was rejected, too. Honestly, I use that site as a tool =)
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