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mariner Welcome to my blog. I'm sort of new to this whole blogging thing, so I haven't figured out how to update my custom greeting. That, or I am just lazy and don't really care. Either way, you're stuck looking at this stupid message and you know what? I don't care! That's right: I don't care! Otherwise, I'd obviously edit this out. But, uh... yeah. I didn't. Or did I?

Title: Twilight Princess: First Impressions
Posted: December 19, 2006 (10:42 AM)
I finally got the game I've been waiting 2.5 years to play. Not that I've played much of it (way too busy for that sort of thing), but hey, I got it. Which means, it's off to some very brief impressions. Spoilers, obviously, although I doubt there'll be any for anyone who hasn't seen any impressions from E3 or whatnot.

The good:

1) The opening music. I have yet to press start before the title shows up. Listening to a vocal rendition of the original opening music is just too awesome to resist. If there's one trick you need to make me giddy as a school boy, that's it.

2) Midna. Despite my self imposed blackout on all things TP, I couldn't completely avoid learning about her. And I was getting concerned. Fortunately, she seems like an interesting character. Nowhere near as annoying as Tingle, not as nonexistant as Navi, and even more sarcastic that Tatl. And she's enough of a mystery to make her a worthy addition to the Zelda saga. It'll be interesting to see what becomes of her, although I have a few (probably wrong) ideas.

3) Quick plotting. The game wastes no time getting you into the plot. OK, it wastes a little time. But I feel that the game has just begun, and we've already seen Zelda and seen some really cool cutscenes. I'm not complaining plotwise with what I've seen so far.

4) Puzzles. I have yet to step on a single switch, and have only had to light a few torches. Not bad. Some of the puzzles with using the bomerang to move the bomb enemies were fairly unique. After the borefest that was Wind Waker, seeing a few new ideas that require new ways of thinking is really nice.

5) Forest Temple Setup. The Temple wasn't blatantly linear. There were also plenty of random small (and large) optional rewards scattered around, clearly increasing the variety and the need to explore every inch. Sure, much of the temple felt predictable, but little things like finding a piece of heart where I expected a key was quite nice. And although I didn't need an FAQ, I was still stuck a couple times.

The bad:

1) Lack of Exploration. Egad, I'm 5.5 hours in and I still can't explore the land????? I'm still in the blatantly linear phase?!? That's freakin ridiculous. What happened to the good ole days where you could go anywhere immediately after starting the game? That, my friends, is what separates Zelda from the rest of the pretenders. This Forest Temple better be the last thing before I can be gree to do whatever I want. Sheesh.

2) Ordon Town. This has got to be the lamest town ever. There was absolutely nothing to do in there outside of the required aspects, and only one or two hints that there might be something more later. Look around the Kokiri forest. There wasn't exactly much to do there at first either, but it held a whole heckuva lot more promise than this stupid place did. Especially when you factor in the fact that you could roam around the Lost Woods as well before tackling your first objective.

3) Forest Temple architecture/puzzles. A combination of two things here. The minor issue is that the forest temple simply looks like a level in a game and not anything more enriching. Sure, that's kinda standard, but the original Forest Temple leaves me begging for more. Also, this temple follows the same freakin style as everey game since Link to the Past. Find the item, use item to find boss, fight boss. Fairly linear, involving lots of puzzles. Sigh. Let's try something different please.

4) Loading times. Maybe it's better on the Wii, but that doesn't help me any. It just seems a bit longer than usual, that's all.

5) Midna. Sure, she may be cool, but she's also an annoying little prick at times.

So I guess the jury's still out. The first two bad points are just so maddeningly frustrating right now, and better disappear real soon. On the flip side, the fact that the first temple was better than expected bodes well for the later ones. We shall see. All I know is that this will be a fun review to write =)
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Title: Shiny happy robots
Posted: October 19, 2006 (09:25 PM)
Mega Man review

After hearing about the utterly ridiculous prices for the Virtual Console games, I realized I was going to have to bite the bullet, unlearn everything I know, and buy Mega Man Anniversary Collection. And so I did. I think I'm used to the weird backwards controls now (for those that don't know, the GC version of this game has you press B to jump and A to shoot. Bleh.), but it was a pain to get used to. I was getting hit by Snake Man. Snake Man! And the worst part about it is that I'll never be able to go play MM3 on the NES again, for fear of messing me up even more. Sigh...

But anywho, in honor of that, here's my review of the first and worst Mega Man. Which is a rather unique review for me for multiple reasons. See, I actually thought up and wrote the review over a span of two days. That's gotta be a record; it usually takes me 2 months. It's also the shortest review I've written in a while, mostly because there wasn't much else to say. That also means it misses GameFAQs word count by a few hundred words, which I honestly thought would never happen to me (seriously, how can there be 50+ MM reviews? And only one of them with a score less than 6?). So this review's exclusive, at least for now. Maybe someday I'll write some crap about the graphics or something and put it up over there, but I don't feel like it at the moment. So exclusive it is.

So there's my review, which is finally up 4 days after I submitted it. I better not see any staff members complaining about GameFAQs management now... =P
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Title: Gasp, a review!
Posted: September 17, 2006 (08:01 PM)
Lufia II

OK, so technically it's a rewrite of an old review, but seeing as there's not a single sentence in this thing that was lifted from my old (and not so wonderful) review, it's close enough. Kind of a weird review, if I do say so myself. Heck, there's no intro paragraph! It's not exactly my usual style, but I kinda like it. I probably let my anti-RPG bias go too far with it, but whatever. What's the use of writing amateur reviews if you can't proclaim your own preferences to be 100% truth every once in a while?

Besides, it probably didn't help that I was playing FF Tactics while writing this (and finally finished it. Whew!). Egad, Square's had some awful storytelling before, but this is just downright atrocious. It's a good thing I stopped caring since the laughable death of a certain character introduced early on for the sole purpose of killing her. Of course, looking at all the reviews for this game it seems everyone else loved the plot. Sigh. I guess the number of plot twists, no matter how convuluted or out of the blue they are, is the sole indication of storytelling quality. Bleh. If this is the best Square has to offer, it's no wonder I hate RPGs so much.
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Title: I really shouldn't be surprised
Posted: September 14, 2006 (06:22 PM)
Let's play a game.

Sonic Mega Collection - $40 initial price, now $20
Sonic 1 - $8
Sonic 2 - $8
Sonic 3 - $8
Sonic and Knuckles - $8
Flicky - $8
Ristar - $8
Dr. Rbotnik's Mean Bean Machine - $8
Sonic Spinball - $8
Total cost on Virtual Console: $64

Mega Man Anniversary Collection - $30
Mega Man 1-6 - $30
Mega Man 7 - $8
Mega Man 8 - $10 (assuming PSX games would be the same price as N64)
Total Cost: $48 (not counting the two arcade games as well)

Mega Man X Collection - $30
Mega Man X 1-3 - $24
Mega Man X 4-6 - $30
Total Cost - $54

Midway Arcade Treasures 2 - $20
Spy Hunter II - $5
Gauntlet II - $5
Arch Rivals - $5
Mortal Kombat 2 - $8
Mortal Kombat 3 - $8
Pit Fighter - $8
14 Other games I can't immediately classify into generations - at least $70
Total Cost - at least $109

Midway Arcade Treasures 3 - $20
Hydro Thunder - $10
Rush 2049 - $10
Off Road Thunder - $10
Super Off Road - $5
4 More Games - at least $20
Total Cost - $55

Bah. Who cares about the stupid price of the Wii? That will come down eventually. Who cares about Wii Sports being packed in? At some point they'll have a package that won't include it. Who cares about the high price of peripherals? You can always buy them used. But somehow I doubt Virtual Console prices will EVER fall.

What a ripoff. Considering the Virtual Console was my primary interest in regards to the Wii, this just makes me sad. So much for amassing a huge collection of retro games. And time to start looking for a real NES. We all know Nintendo ain't gonna help me relive the past.
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Title: Go GameFAQs!
Posted: August 27, 2006 (11:12 AM)
It's now been about a month since RotDs were reinstated at GameFAQs. There are now about 40-45 topics on the boards there now. Compared to about 15 before the reboot. A few new faces have shown up. A few contests have started. The review progress topics have are still around. It looks like the community there is starting to come alive, and at least partly independent from Honestgamers. Awesome.
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Title: Sunshine and the night
Posted: July 08, 2006 (10:02 AM)
Super Mario Sunshine review

This is the "shortened" version, as it's, uh, only 9.5 KB long. There were a couple paragraphs I took out since they seemed kind of awkward and were only mentioned for completeness sake. And since when am I ever complete? But if you really want to read the long version, it'll be up on GameFAQs sometime next week. As it stands, I'm kinda happy with the way it turned out even without them. What I'm not happy about is that it took so long to write. Then again, a computer dying on you would do that, wouldn't it? Sigh... Maybe I should write a short, easy review next instead of anothr massive one on a popular franchise...

Yeah right.

So next up, I think, will be Castlevania: Symphony of the Night. I've been putting this one off for awhile, unsure of exactly how to approach it. But after playing through it again, I realized something I never noticed before. In many ways, this game is the spiritual sequel to Zelda. The original Zelda. My favorite game of all time Zelda. The Zelda that Nintendo seemingly forgot about, preferring to redo LttP over and over again. Small wonder I like SotN so much.

Title: Final Fantasy 3 characters ranked!
Posted: June 15, 2006 (08:22 PM)
(note: this is based solely on their usefulness in the game, not on their coolness factor or their theme song or whatever)

1) Terra - No question about it. She has the second highest natural magic power in the game. She's tied with Celes for the best equipment in the game. She has sufficient strength. All that's well and good, of course. But then there's her morph ability, which turns her into a frickin beast. Give her the Gem Box and morph. Osmose - Quick - Flare - Flare - Flare - Flare. That's at least 30k damage. Her natural cure and fire magic make her a decent character before she ditches you, and she'll be powerful enough to hold her own afterwards. And then morph. Heck, she can reach 9999 damage in the World of Balance! Oh yeah, and she's almost as quick to the magic 128% MBlock as Celes (she can reach 127% as easily as Celes can hit 129%, which is good enough for the most part). This was an easy choice to make.

2) Edgar - A tough choice, but Edgar's versatile, well-rounded, and consistently deadly power gives him a well-deserved runner up spot. First, the obvious. Tools are awesome in the WoB, outranking Sabin's Blitz and Cyan's Dispatch without any problems. Edgar will almost certainly be your strongest character in most situations. His equipment is second only to the girls, as he loses the Minerva and Mystery Veil. On the flip side, he gains spears, which is where he shines in the WoR. Give him the Dragoon Boots and the Dragon Horn, and he can easily get up to 10k damage. Or give him the Illumina, as he's stronger than Celes or Terra. Plus he's got the Force Armor as well, meaning he can hit the 128% MBlock mark. The only point where he MIGHT not be a huge contender is early WoR, but since you'll have him anyway what difference does it make? Edgar rocks.

3) Shadow - Very, very impressive. Shurikens are cheap, and are also probably the fastest way (save for Drill) to reach 1000 damage. Buy 99 of them in the WoB and you're set for life. Buy 99 Tack Stars in the WoR and you're set yet again. His stats are decent, and he can get some fairly decent equipment. Stunner in particular is a very nice weapon, thanks to it's built in ability to cast Stop. Plus he has Interceptor, the trusty dog who will block attacks for you and then go slaughter the enemy on your behalf. How nice! Sadly though, Shadow is hurt in two areas. One, he's used in a whopping two places in the WoB (normally), which limits the time you can teach him important spells like Cure 2. And two, he just can't get past the 10k damage barrier that easily. Thus, as strong as he may be for most of the game, he probably won't end up in the final battle. Too bad.

4) Setzer - Wondering what he's doing up here? He can wear the Force Armor, which is a nice bonus. Joker Doom (automatic instant death on anyone, including bosses) can be abused, but that's cheating. Even besides that, Slots can be fairly nice, and are at least comparable to Blitzes minus the Bum Rush. But Setzer's biggest contribution comes from the Fixed Dice. Able to be stolen from Kefka's Tower early, they have a very good chance of doing strong damage. So what, you say, Bum Rush always does damage. Yes, but couple it with the Offering. Normally, Offering allows you to attack 4 times at half strength. The Fixed Dice have no fixed strength associated with it, so you attack 4 times at full strength. You're almost guaranteed to be over 10k every single time, and you can hit multiple people too. That's just awesome. Sure, you sacrifice the Offering, but who else would actually use it? Besides, this doesn't require any time with Espers, so he can be quite deadly at the end of the game without ever bothering to build him up.

5) Relm - Undoubtedly the most underrated character in the game. Yes, Sketch is all but useless (besides it's required use with Ultros, the only other place where it might be useful is killing Cactrots). Yes, she has no physical attacks worth mentioning. Yes, a sneeze could kill her. Yes, she arrives late with no magic, making her nothing more than deadweight. But her magic power is HUGE. She'll easily outclass everyone when it comes to magic, even Terra. In other words, she's naturally one of the most potent offensive characters in the game. Couple that with equipment that no one else can use (save Strago and Gogo, but you'll never have two of them in the same team except for the Hidon fight) that vastly increases magic power AND MBlock, and she'll be nigh invincible while still packing a massive punch (she's the only character that can hit 128% without the Force Armor). She's easily a contender for the final battle, and quite useful throughout the WoR. Think about what she could have become if you could have obtained her earlier in the game...

6) Celes - To be blunt, Celes is Terra lite. Slightly worse magic power, slightly better strength. But the magic power's more important. Runic is worse than useless in most situations, although extremely useful for 3 battles. The fact that she can hit 128% before Terra is quite nice, but really only rears its head when you battle for the Illumina. She provides a nice substitute in the WoB for all the scenes where Terra's unavailable, and the fact that she's the first character in the WoR means you'll have a lot of time to build her up. Enough to increase her magic power beyond Terra's? Possibly. She'd certainly be ranked higher on her own (probably top 3), but her biggest downfall is that she is just a clone. You can only have one Gem Box, and that's going to Terra. Or one Illumina (Terra's!). Or one Minerva. Ouch. But she'll definitely be the front man on one of your three teams at Kefka's Tower, and is at least worth considering as a backup mage for the final battle.

7) Sabin - At a casual glance, one would expect him at #1. I mean, Bum Rush! But a deeper look shows that Sabin is not as good as he initially seems. For one, his equipment is terrible. He has absolutely no weapons or armor to speak of. His stats aren't much better. Bum Rush relies on magic power, which is a pathetic 28. Meaning, chances are you'll only be hitting for 5-6k by the end of the game while several people can get past 10k. He's #1 on physical strength, but his lack of weapons will easily make him fall behind Cyan and Edgar. On the flip side, there is no denying his use in the early sections of both the WoB and WoR. Aura Bolt will be one of your stronger attacks early on and will get you out of most situations. Bum Rush will one hit KO most normal enemies. And because you'll be using him so much, you have time to build up your stats. I probably rank him higher than most FF players based on his strength in certain parts of the game, but there's no denying that by the end of the game he's a midcarder at best, and he doesn't end up making my final team against Kefka.

8) Mog - Oddly enough, the best thing about him has nothing to do with battle. He can equip the almighty Moogle Charm, which translates to looting the Fanatics Tower and Kefka's Tower early. Woo, free Force Armors and Shields! Fixed Dice! Awesome. In battle though, he's a bit of a different story. Dance is quite powerful in the WoB, and if it wasn't for the low chance of it working, would be your best bet in almost all situations (yes, even above Edgar). But it's effect fades in the WoR, and there's nothing to back it up. Like Sabin, his stats are useless for his actions. He starts at high levels, making it difficult for him to build up his stats. He's a decent mage, but nothing special. He's a decent fighter, but nothing special. Your best bet is to turn him into a Dragoon, but with Edgar around that may be pointless. But still, that Moogle Charm is awesome.

9) Locke - Locke has the dubious honor of being the only character to be below average from the very beginning of the game to the very end. Yeah, his physical stats aren't bad, which would mean he's pretty much a fighter. But special skills trump that early on, and magic trumps it later. He has great speed, but that's not worth much in this game. He has back row weapons, but they're fairly weak with one exception. Steal is nice, but only nets you cheap items unless you want to try forever to get the Economizer (no thanks). He has strong equipment, including the Illumina, but chances are those will be reserved for Terra or Celes. His only shining moment is the Hawkeye, an awesome backrow weapon that has the possibility of dealing massive damage to flying enemies. But that only lasts for the Thamasa sequences (since you almost certainly won't be taking him onto the Floating Continent). At best, he can be the Illumina user in one of your three parties in Kefka's Tower, but that's about it.

10) Gau - If you want to get down to it, Gau is technically the best character in the game. There are a couple rages (ok, just Nightshade) out there that, if properly used, make you completely undefeatable. But personally, I don't put much stock in it. Why? Getting these rages is a pain in the neck. It seems to me that the purpose of learning the intricacies of the various stats and attacks is to decrease the amount of time it takes to beat the game. Battles are boring, after all. So why would you want to waste time getting them? Besides, Nightshade means battles are extremely slow, and the Wind God setup requires the Merit Award. The game's easy enough to go through all this trouble. So while Gau could be the best, he's not worth it. Which actually makes him the worst, but I figured I could toss him up here a bit to point out his possible advantages.

11) Gogo - As strong as Mime usually is, Gogo's not all that great. First of all, his stats are atrocious, and you can't actually build them up unlike everyone else (save Umaro). His equipment ain't exactly anything to write home about either. In fact, he has the worst armor in the game, despite already being the second weakest character! In the end, Gogo becomes a jack of all trades, master of none type of character. At best, you can fill a slot with Blitz, and end up with a weaker Bum Rush. His Mime skill is a bit better though. But really, about the only thing worth miming is a Gem Box-Quick attack. Besides which, his existence means there's one slot where a character isn't learning magic or beefing up his stats. So get rid of him.

12) Strago - Talk about getting shortchanged. His stats are among the worst in almost all categories (yes, even below Relm). The obvious exception is magic power, but even there he's significantly behind the three girls. Equipment-wise, he's slightly worse than Relm. Which means the only thing that could possibly save him is his Lore ability. Sadly, besides Aqua Rake against the flames or the IAF early on, they're not much to talk about. Big Guard is nice, but useless to the characters who are already invincible. Grand Train can do some strong damage, but only about 6-7k max. And the rest are too random to worry about. You definitely don't want him when Relm's around, and at best he'll make a secondary mage to Terra or Celes in Kefka's Tower. Oh joy.

13) Umaro - Pathetic. Completely. Yes, he has high stats, and his Rage Ring is fun, but he's perpetually beserked. And you can't actually build him up, much like Gogo. On the flip side, he is a lazy person's character, so you can always use him if you don't feel like tweaking stuff. And that's the only reason I'm putting him above Cyan. In fact, he actually makes my #12 slot in Kefka's Tower sometimes for that reason alone (remember, Gau ranks dead last for me because I'm lazy).

14) Cyan - It's painful to say it, but Cyan is absolutely, positively worthless. First of all, he has no magical skill, so don't ever think of using any spells with him other than Cure. Secondly, SwdTch is wrthless, as no one wants to wait forever for that gauge to build up. All you'll use is Dispatch, which is decent early on but quickly falls behind. And early on, he has to compete against a much improved Sabin and the always impressive Edgar. No thanks. The Tempest and the Scimitar are decent blades, but are not enough to counteract the general trend of Sabin's total uselessness. At best, he may make the fourth member of the defense against the Empire at Narshe for your main team (not me, I prefer Terra). Other than that, he's doomed to perpetually be stuck on the airship, trotted out only to get his dreams eaten by the Stooges.

Looking this over, I think I biased it a bit towards end game decisions (particularly with both Relm and Setzer over Celes and Sabin, although Setzer over Sabin is true in all cases but early WoR), but whatever. If you disagree, just remember I played this game far more than all of you combined. =)
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Title: I hate handhelds
Posted: June 10, 2006 (03:43 PM)
Well, a new month has come and gone, and a new month of pathetic sales for DS and PSP. And to that I say good riddance. Nothing delights me more than seeing the American market stand up and resoundly reject the videogame overlords' high-tech handhelds. (Well, ok, so lots of things delight me more, but this is a blog. Hyperbole is to be expected.) My only hope is that they get the right message (probably not, especially when Japan is giving the exact opposite message).

You know what was my second favorite game last generation? That merely glancing at someone else playing it made me convinced I needed a PSX? That I would kill for a sequel for? Castlevania: Symphony of the Night. You know what I will never get a sequel for? Castlevania: Symphony of the Night. Oh sure, the sequels exist. And people claim Dawn of Sorrow is actually as good as this classic. But it's a DS game. The next one's a DS game too. And the three before it are GBA games. Note to Konami, I want a console game.

Why, pray tell, are the 2D Castlevanias (and 2D Metroids, and 2D Zeldas, and 2D Marios, and 2D everything else) on handhelds? They're adventure games, meant to draw you into their worlds. They take hours to complete, require a significant amount of concentration and devotion, have tracking and backtracking, and tend to have quite lovely scenes and lovelier music. What's the handheld experience like? Playing for 10 minutes at a time on a crowded bus being jostled and unable to hear anything while trying to stare at a dinky screen?

The developers of these games claim that their games are ideally suited for handhelds. But why? What advantage does the DS give to these games?? Portability? We didn't need that when we played SotN. Touch screen? Yeah, right. 2nd screen used as a map? OK, it's nice, but hardly a necessity. And what do we lose in the process? A large screen. A comfortable controller. Enhanced sound. The ability to play for extended time without cramping up or hurting your eyes. In other words, an experience.

What these developers really mean is that they don't think there's a market for the 2D games on consoles. Of course, I have to wonder where they get that idea, since there hasn't been any test for that hypothesis in almost a decade. But it seems gamers are intent on reinforcing that stereotype. With the constant obsession with graphics and the latest and prettiest technology, people are content to let the tried and true concepts slide even if they still have some gameplay depths that have yet to be uncovered. Indeed, it seems most gamers welcome the concept of putting these 2D classics on handhelds. Again, why? Why is it a fit? Especially when many of these gamers play their DS or PSP at home on the couch. Wouldn't it make more sense to play them on the TV?

Furthermore, putting these games on handhelds means that the developers don't have to try. By placing their games on inferior systems that don't have their 3D counterparts, they're practically guaranteed to be the highest quality games and get the most hype. Which means they can cut corners. I reviewed Metroid ZZero Mission a few weeks ago. The game was adequate. Not astounding, not terribly flawed, but adequate. The Zelda Oracle games were adequate. Apparantly, so were the GBA Castlevania games. I have a disturbing feeling that the same is true for New Super Mario Bros. Is this really what we want? To just play half hearted rehashes of games we claimed we love? Wouldn't you rather play a 2D Metroid that can stand up to Super Metroid, rather than the "eh, ok" Metroid Fusion or Zero Mission? Don't you want a 2D Zelda that blows LttP out of the water? Don't you want to feel overwhelmed by a 2D Mario like the first time you played SMB3?

I would dearly love to see Nintendo (or Sony, or Microsoft, but Nintendo's the only one I think would give it half a thought) actually promote a low-tech budget series of games. Oh sure, games occasionally get released at reduced cost, but those tend to be niche games or collections of old games. I mean good, quality, meaty games that just don't require the same budget as the flashy modern games. 2D games. Sell them for $25 bucks. That way they won't have to compete with the big boys. Advertise it. Promote an alternative controller like the Hori GB Player controller. Bring your classic franchises back from the DS; it's not like they sell spectacularly there anyway. Maybe, just maybe, that could desegregate the gaming community. Maybe it would make people understand that you don't necessarily need the biggest budget to make the best game. Maybe some of the classic game design concepts like environmental challenge, replay, twitch, and shortness can merge with some of the modern day concepts. Maybe people who naturally reject the idea of paying money for a handheld gaming machine will try these games, and thus allow a market for them to grow. Maybe it would get people back into gaming to know that there's cheaper yet still high quality games available Maybe it would let more people enjy these games before they disappear off the shelf.

Yeah, maybe. Too bad we'll probably never know. For some reason, Nintendo is too much in love with the handheld concept, and thus feels the need to give it exclusive content. Too bad the content would be better on a console. Sigh...
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Title: Top 10 overrated Nintendo published games
Posted: June 04, 2006 (04:03 PM)
I'd post this at GameFAQs, but don't want to start a brawl. That and I don't feel like writing enough about them. Whatever.

10) Excitebike - yeah, it's fun, but it's also extremely short and extremely simple. Only 5 tracks? And three of those five you can get "first" the first time you race it! Sure, there's a level editor, but the game's just too simple to come up with any ingenious tracks.

9) Link to the Past - Easily the best game on this list, but easily the worst of the 20th century Zeldas. Best Zelda ever? A game with such a dinky overworld? A game with such boring level design and enemies? A GAME WHERE I FOUND EVERY PIECE OF HEART WITHOUT A PROBLEM??? Gyaah, come on people. Talk about a weak link (heehee, I'm so funny!)

8) Super Mario 64 - Perfect controls my patootie. Hey, it may have been the most amazing thing in 1996, but this is 2006 now. All that slipping and sliding and bad camera and awkward jumping just doesn't cut it. Sad thing is, it's still better than Mario Sunshine. But since that game's regularly panned and this one is held up as a shining example, this game makes the list.

7) Star Fox - I don't like playing at 5 frames per second. I find it hard to make out such simplistic 3D. A neat tech demo Nintendo. But Star Fox 64 was pretty much a remake of this game. So why bother playing the inferior version anymore?

6) Yoshi's Island - Too many chefs spoil the broth. Too many weird ideas spoil the platformer. There's a lot to like about this game, such as the LSD-laden enemies and the destructible level design. There's also a lot to hate, like the worthlessness of the fruits or the stupidity of Yoshi's transformations or the massive levels focused on collecting stuff. This is no Mario.

5) Donkey Kong Country - I guess super pretty computer generated graphics is all you need to make a platformer, because this game has nothing else. Take that out and it's generic to the extreme.

4) Metroid - Turn on NES. Enter password. Spend the next HOUR killing stupid enemies for (hopefully) 5 energy apiece to refill your life meter from 30 to 500 units. There's plenty of other things wrong with this game, but that one's a killer right there. Such a wonderful concept, but we had to wait for Super Metroid to actual create a wonderful game around that concept. Yay for Metroid Zero Mission (even if that game has its issues too).

3) Star Tropics - How on Earth can we mess up WALKING?!?!? Jeez Nintendo, all you had to do was rip off Zelda, but you couldn't do that? And perhaps I'm just being a spoilsport, but blindly jumping into the sea in hopes of landing on a tile is not my idea of a well designed puzzle. And yet people claim this is a forgotten gem. All the yoyo-weilding heroes in the world couldn't make this game worth playing.

2) Kid Icarus - Just because Nintendo forgot a franchise for 20 years doesn't mean it's any good. This feels like a first gen game, with even worse programming than Metroid. Have these people clamoring for a sequel actually tried playing the game for more than 5 minutes? It's gut wrenching! I've actually seen people lament the fact that R&D4 (Miyamato's group) gained so much prominence at the expense of R&D1 (the folks behind Icarus and Metroid). Gee, maybe it had something to do with the fact that Mario and Zelda were polished, complete games? Good riddance, I say.

1) Wind Waker - Yeah, I hate this game.

Huh, that's heavily loaded with NES/SNES games. Ah, the rose-colored glasses of nostalgia. What that will do to people's opinions of classic games...
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Title: For I have got another review...
Posted: May 25, 2006 (07:45 PM)
Metroid Zero Mission

When I started writing it, I kinda thought to myself that I should see if I could keep it short. Next thing I know it's 10.5 kb and I still didn't bother to say everything I meant to. Short? Who was I kidding?!? In any case, this review may sound a bit too negative for a 7/10 review, but that's only because I focused on the negative aspects. I could have included some more of the things I liked, but considering practically everything else in the review stems from one common theme, I didn't want anything else to stand out. There's a reason there's 50 odd reviews at GameFAQs, to say nothing of the hordes of "professional" reviews. You want a complete picture of the game? Go read one of those. You want to know why forcing Super Metroid's gameplay on Metroid's levels leaves something to be desired? Read mine.

I also noted that it "only" took me 24 days to finish this one since I said I should start it. That's probably pretty good for me. Now let's see if I can beat that. So I'm officially declaring Super Mario Sunshine to be my next review. Will it appear before June 18? Who knows.

In other news, some schmuck at GameFAQs tried to troll my Chrono Trigger review on the CT Message Board. I feel special! Sadly, the topic was locked by the time I noticed it, and naturally said person couldn't seem to find anything specific to complain about, but oh well (although someone in the topic actually agreed with me! Now I feel really special!). It's still fun to see my views getting attacked. Why? Because it caused a spike in the number of views that review got. Who am I to complain when some schmuck wants to give me free advertising?
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Title: Mega Man back where he belongs too?
Posted: May 16, 2006 (10:00 PM)
Yay for E3 interviews!

Keiji Inafune: PlayStation 3, probably the target audience that's going to purchase the PlayStation 3, uh, it's going to be people with a lot more money, and maybe it would not be the most suitable, uh, platform for the Mega Man series.

Sean: I agree.

Keiji Inafune: However, the Wii definitely has some potential, and it's maybe one where our target audience could embrace the Mega Man series. So while we haven't planned anything specific now at this time, I think probably that the potential is the highest on that piece of hardware.

Wow, imagine that. Putting Mega Man on the console put out by the company that made MM into a hit 20 years ago? Give the series to fans that practically considered MM to be a Nintendo character? Bring the series to the successor of the console that all MM multiplatform games sold best on in America despite having a fraction of the userbase? Bring the series to the same company who's handheld system revitalized the series in Japan? Put it on a console that could potentially have all of the best loved games in the series available for download? Shocking, I say. Shocking!

Seriously, I never understood Capcom's inability to port the MMX games to the GC, considering. Maybe they were only looking at the Japanese market and not the American one, maybe the developers hated the thought, I don't know. But I do know they would have sold decently on the GC, at least in the US, and I do know that Nintendo fans would have made enough of a fuss about it to give Capcom some free advertising. The fact that it never happened is kind of weird. Nice to see them possibly rethinking their decision with the Wii (I wonder if all the Rockman games bombing on the PSP had anything to do with it?).

To me, personally, this is the part of the Wii I like best (besides the Virtual Console stuff) Getting those other franchises. Bringing back the NES/SNES crowd (at least, that's one of Nintendo's three major goals). Obviously, I'm still interested in gaming, but I would put myself into the group of people who became estranged with the shift to 3D. I never quite adjusted to the switch, still preferring my trusty D-Pad in most cases. I tend to shy away from games with complicated controls (I absolutely despise dual analog) or games without an absolutely perfect camera. Heck, just look at my review list to see that I don't play too many newer games. Seeing some of the older concepts coming back to Wii would be a welcome change. Games that don't fall into the typical categories of today. Games that are fun to pick up and play. Games that rely on your skill in playing, and not on your skill at handling the controller. Hopefully that happens.

Of course, we have no idea if the types of MM games that may or may not appear on the Wii will be awesome old-school 2D games or frightening messes like some of the later MMX games. But hey, the return of a classic franchise is not a bad thing, right?

Now, if Capcom was really smart, they'd go beg Sakurai to put MM in Smash Bros. And then try to come up with some brand new MM game that they think can revitalize the franchise again, and time it so that it gets released a few months after Smash Bros. There's no better method of free advertising than your character appearing in one of Nintendo's biggest franchises.

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Title: Mario's back where he belongs (hopefully)
Posted: May 09, 2006 (07:51 PM)
Yeah, my loyalty shall always be to Zelda, no matter how much Nintendo defiles it, but more and more my thoughts turn to the awesomeness of Mario. No, not the character or the universe; I couldn't care less. Heck, despite the gazillions of spinoffs Nintendo's made, the only one I actually own is the original Mario Kart. And it's not the new style of Mario. I've been disappointed twice by 3D Mario games. Not that they aren't fun, but neither 64 nor Sunshine had the right feel to it. And although Galaxy looks better, I don't quite trust it. I'm sure I'll get it eventually, but it's not a priority. It's those classic platforming actions that I love so much. The run and jump gameplay. The brilliant, brilliant level design.

I'm also a sucker for games that openly defy modern gaming conventions. Think Monkey Ball or Uniracers. And, although I may be the only person on the planet who thinks this, I love the GameCube, and am still saddened that its life is cut short.

So needless to say, the announcement of Super Paper Mario brought a smile to my face. According to Nintendo's press site,

What at first glance appears to be a 2-D sidescroller ripped straight from the pages of the Paper Mario universe soon turns into a 3-D action-adventure that defies all video game logic. Fusing 2-D and 3-D perspectives, not to mention RPG and platformer elements, the game slips back and forth between dimensions. The action sprawls across eight worlds filled with traps, puzzles, bizarre mysteries and items that often draw themselves out of thin air.

Defying all videogame logic? You better back that up with some truly psychotic gameplay Nintendo. They've definitely peaked my interest though. The first part of the movie seemed a bit on the slow side, and I hope Mario can run faster than that. But he seemed to speed up later on, or at least move more smoothly. If the platforming elements are up to par with the NES games, I'll be happy. If the platforming elements take up a good portion of the game, I'll be happy. And if Intelligent Systems can live up to their promise of making a game that defies all videogame logic, I'll be very happy. That is the kind of stuff I want to see. No rules, no expectations, no aiming for sales, just making whatever kind of game you want to. And on a console, no less. Words cannot describe how happy I am that this is not on the DS (and, to a lesser extent, the Wii).

If all goes well, there will be one more Gamecube game to add to my collection.

Besides, there's pseudo math equations in the background. How is that NOT cool?
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Title: Monkeys and other assorted nonsense
Posted: April 30, 2006 (02:02 PM)
Hey look, I'm not dead! So much for my streak of actually writing stuff... Oh well. I guess that's what happens when your entire PhD project nearly disintegrates around you, and right before it's supposed to be presented at a conference too. But such is life, and that catastrophe has passed with only minor damage. So now back to writing. Or so I hope. Metroid Zero Mission review, here I come!

In other news, Sega has finally got around to announcing Monkey Ball for the Wii, not that anyone really expected otherwise. Unfortunately, judging from Sega's comments, I'm a bit worried. On the plus side, there's no more story mode (who really cares about a story in friggin Monkey Ball anyways?) On the negative side, they're talking about using the Wiimote in all sorts of different ways. Huh? It's a game where you tilt the level to roll a ball around; why do we need to turn the Wiimote on its side or twirl it around or whatever? Why do we need the nunchuck attachment? I'm hoping beyond hope that he's just referring to the minigames and not the real stuff.

All I want out of it is a challenging, frustrating, and ultimately rewarding old-school action game. That's what the first Monkey Ball was, and it's why that game is one of my three favorite GC games. Surely it can't be that hard to continue that idea, right Sega? In any case, this will be one game I'll be wanting to know everything about during E3. Hopefully one of the game freaks disguised as VG journalists will write up something decent about it.

And since the hooplah about Wii's new name has been insane, here's my one and only take on it. It looks cool on the screen. It sounds really stupid when said out loud. I don't really care. Let's move on to more important matters, shall we? Like Monkey Ball!
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Title: The Megamanization of Zelda continues
Posted: March 27, 2006 (08:32 PM)
1986-1990: Two new Zelda games
1991-1995: Two new Zelda games
1996-2000: Two new Zelda games, one remake
2001-2005: Five new Zelda games, three ports, one port with remixed dungeons, and one collector's edition
2006: Already two new Zelda games

Remember when a new Zelda release was special? Remember when new Zelda releases were brand new games and not rehashes of the old ones? Yeah, those were the days...
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Title: The Revmote
Posted: March 21, 2006 (09:33 PM)
Well, since we're less than two days away from at least the possibility of a tidbit or two regarding the Revolution, I thought I'd say a few words about the last tidbit. Or, more accurately, the last major announcement - the controller. Hey, I'm only half a year late...

First of all, to all of you people talking excitedly about swinging Link's sword around or lightsabres or baseball bats or golf clubs or whatever: shut up and think about that for a second. Yes, it may seem cool when you don't think about it, but when you do, you notice why it's so stupid.

  • Zelda games take hours upon hours to beat the first time around. Baseball seasons are 160-odd games, 9 innings each. Golf is 18 holes of 3-5 swings each. It may be cool the first time, but will it be as cool for the thousandth? I don't think so. All these wild antics people are thinking of are gimmicks. And like gimmicks, they supercede any real design in the game and become boring real quick. Let's leave that to the arcades, ok?

  • You are not a Jedi. You are not a swordsman. You are a nerd, and you wouldn't last 10 seconds in a swordfight. All those cool moves you see in the movies or in Soul Caliber or whatever? You can't pull them off; you'll just look like an idiot. And thus Link or Luke or whoever you're controlling will look like an idiot too. Gee, what fun, clumsily swinging something around. That looks cool, yeah... And as for the sports, well, if you're good enough to have the right coordination for them, why don't you play them for real? Don't you think it's a wee bit pathetic to swing a fake baseball bat when you could be doing the real thing?

  • No feedback. You're swinging your revmote in the air. Link is swinging his sword at enemies. Notice the disconnect there? What happens if Link's sword hits the darknut's shield and bounces off? Now you're all disconnected from the game. Oops.

  • Explain to me how you're going to accurately swing these things around while looking at a third person view on a TV screen. Think about it. That's pretty darn impossible to pull off.

Now then, I'm sure plenty of you already figured out that the whole wild antics with the Revmote idea is dumb. Some of you then probably lept to the conclusion that the whole idea is dumb, and won't be used for anything more than gimmicks. And I say shut up to you as well.

The way I've seen it ever since I got over my initial shock was as one giant analog button. We are now free from the cumbersome and laborious button controls that some developers like to have while not sacrificing any functionality. We have actions that are easily completed all without moving are fingers away from the primary buttons. We have quick, instinctive reflexes that can be used. We can, fundamentally, make controlling games far more intuitive and obvious than they are now.

Flick your wrist. Just a little. Was that all that difficult? Was it tiring? Could you do it several times a minute without any difficulty? Now flick your wrist up. Down. Left. Right. Were those any more difficult? How about 45 degree angles? The Revmote should have no problem recognizing what's going on. It's a sudden, jerky movement that any decent program should hopefully easily recognize. And notice I just described 8 different things the Revmote could see. That's up to 8 different actions, all without any button. Of course, if anyone tried to actually assign 8 unique actions to those, that'd be awful. But still, one action for flicking left/right and one for up/down... Would it work?

When was the last time you played Smash Bros? Think about Samus' smash attack. She basically quickly leans into the opponent, smashing him with her shoulder and quickly returning to her original state. Kinda like a flick of the wrist, right? Mario's and Capt. Falcon's smashes look similar. So why not use the flick as a smash attack? It's not that it's too easy to pull off; SSB was never about difficult controls. The timing issue is still there. The game doesn't suffer one bit. But the action is still intuitive. Much like smashing the analog controller to do a smash attack, this still feels like a panicky, forceful, all-or-nothing move. Your flick feels like a smash attack. You know you've seen novice players yanking their controller around while fighting - it's natural. And this would take a natural reflex and work it into the game. Sound good?

How about F-Zero X? There's a sideswipe maneuver you can do, basically putting an energy barrier around your car while ramming into an opponent, causing them to go flying. I always see it as a forceful move, something that seems to require mashing the buttons. Once again, perfect for the flick maneuver. How about OoT style combat? Jerking the controller left or right feels like a reflexive maneuver, perfect for side hops. Jab the controller a little forward to have Link do a jab, or yank back to do a backflip. It's not tiring and requires no skill with a real sword. And yet it still works.

How often do you see people press down harder on buttons as if it would make Mario jump further? How often do people lean their controllers while going around corners in racing games? These are all natural, instinctive things we do. And they are the sorts of things Nintendo can capitalize on. Take small, easily recognizeable movements of the analog controller and turn them into specific actions. These can be used in conjunction with the A and B buttons or without. They can be strung together or separated. They can be used while still using the real analog part of the revmote (ie, while using it to aim in FPSs). The possibilities are virtually infinite. Rather than losing functionality by eliminating buttons, we are gaining it. And more importantly, the quality of this functionality is improving, as it becomes more natural and streamlined than ever before.

Now it only remains to be seen if Nintendo and all the third parties can capitalize on this opportunity.
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