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Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Super Mario All-Stars Limited Edition Get!

Against what I thought would be impossible odds (I never did preorder), I was able to secure a copy of Super Mario All-Stars Limited Edition, and at Wal-Mart of all places. This was a game I originally intended to get at GameStop but I figured I'd try my luck elsewhere first.

I absolutely LOVE the packaging of this collection. The red box with the 8-bit Mario at the top just looks so cool to me. Simple but very effective. The Super Mario History Booklet comes with art (some unpublished) and notes from Shigeru Miyamato, Koji Kondo and Takashi Tezuka. You'll breeze through it in a couple of minutes, but it's still nice to look through, nonetheless. The Super Mario History Sound Track CD unfortunately isn't really anything to get excited about. There are only 20 tracks and half of those tracks are jingles and sound effects. Compared to the soundtrack that was released for the 20th Anniversary of Super Mario Bros. five years ago, this is a huge let down.

Some fans are viewing this collection as a total rip off. I mean, one could easily download the NES versions on the Virtual Console for a combined total of $21, where as this limited edition compilation costs $30. Of course you do get some decent extras and these are updated versions of classic platformers. Yeah, I already own them on the SNES cart, but the collector in me just couldn't pass this up. This is hardly the first time I've dropped down money for games I already own on a different system and it won't be the last. All told, I'm very satisfied with my purchase.

Screen from IGN and Super Mario Wiki.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Review: Pikmin

Developer: Nintendo
Publisher: Nintendo
Genre: Real Time Strategy
System: GameCube (Also available on Wii)

Fun fact: Shigeru Miyamato (creator of Mario for the three of you that didn't know) likes to garden in his spare time. So it doesn't come as much of a surprise that his idea of a real time strategy games has no human soldiers to speak off (well, maybe one if you include the central protagonist). There are no tanks, bazookas or the usual types of weapons you find in a game like Command & Conquer or Advance Wars. In Pikmin, you wage war with small vegetable-like creatures. What they lack in size and artillery, they more than make up for in numbers and a well-crafted game.

While flying through space, Captain Olimar's ship, the Dolphin takes a hit from a meteor, which sends it spiraling out of control. When he comes to, the captain finds that his ship is a mere shell of it's former self, missing a grand total of 30 parts. The ship is capable of flying but without all of the proper pieces, it cannot maintain flight in space. To make matters worse, the planet that Olimar has crash landed on contains toxic air and his space suit's ability to keep out the poisonous oxygen will only last for 30 days. Fortunately for Olimar, the planet is teeming with friendly alien plant-like creatures known as Pikmin and they are more than willing to aid him in his quest for the missing ship pieces.

Pikmin come in three different types. Red Pikmin are the strongest fighters and are immune to fire. Yellow Pikmin can be thrown the highest and can carry bomb rocks, useful for breaking down walls that cannot be destroyed by the usual means. Blue Pikmin are the only type that won't drown in water. You can make as many of each type as you want, though you'll probably have the least yellows since they aren't required to use nearly as often as the blues and reds. Though there will be times where you'll have to use all three types of Pikmin effectively to get a ship part. Each Pikmin starts out with a leaf atop it's head. If left in the ground, over the time, the Pikmin will bloom into flowers, the best type of Pikmin. You can also feed leaf and bud Pikmin nectar to turn them into flower Pikmin. Flower Pikmin tend to be more focused than the leaf and bud times, so you should convert the Pikmin to flower types whenever you have a good opportunity.

The game takes place over the span of 30 game days, with the exception of the first day, which is more a less an tutorial, the rest of the 29 days are comprised of 13 minutes each. You'll want to accomplish as much as you can in each day but you shouldn't let the time limit scare you too much. Only 25 of the Dolphin's parts are mandatory to make the ship take off. The remaining five parts have no overall function to the ship. Getting all 30 parts does allow you to see the game's best ending and it is entirely possible to secure all 30 parts before you reach day 30, so in completing the game in a speedy fashion lies a bit of replay value.

Most of the ship's pieces are can be found while exploring the 5 different areas, but a few of the parts are held by hostile creatures, some that fall pretty easy, others, not so much. The general tactic to defeating enemies is throwing your Pikmin at it, but it isn't always that simple. At times you'll have to throw the Pikmin in harm's way before you expose an enemies' weak point and only then can he be slain. Red Pikmin may be the best fighters, but they aren't always the best choice to take in battle. In fact some areas, force you to rely on your other Pikmin types to obtain ship pieces. The fourth area in the game, the Distant Spring, houses a lot of water so you'll want to have lots of blue Pikmin for navigating the area and fighting.

It doesn't matter if you're moving a small group of Pikmin or an army of the cute little critters, the controls remain amazingly simple. With the touch of the A button you pluck the Pikmin from the ground, order them to swarm a foe, or carry a ship part back to base. It really is a easy as it sounds. You can control up to 100 Pikmin at once and easily dismiss them into groups. The B button whistles the Pikmin to your side and can be used on a single Pikmin, a small group, or a large group. If there's one hiccup to speak of, it would be controlling yellow Pikmin with bomb rocks. It's very easy to accidentally throw a much needed bomb rock at the wrong time and make you just one bomb short of destroying a blocked passage.

The Pikmin themselves are in a few words, absolutely adorable. Sure their entire purpose is that of a soldier, but I guarantee that you'll come to care for them more than any other trooper of a military based RTS game. Pikmin takes measures to make sure you care for the cute little guys as if they were your own children. Maybe it's the awww-inducing way they say "Hi!" when you pick them from the ground, or when they jump up and down triumphantly when they successfully get a ship part back to base, but I found myself showing more compassion for Pikmin than many other video game characters. And when a Pikmin falls in battle? The cries they give when the die always made me cringe. I felt even worse at the end of the day when Olimar took off at night and a stray Pikmin I forgot to collect was slaughtered by the vicious alien lifeforms that come to base at nightfall. So much so that I started checking the map for stray Pikmin. At one point I only had one stray and I went off to collect him because I didn't want anymore of my babies to die. Pikmin is video game caring potential incarnate.

For being a first generation GameCube title, Pikmin looks very impressive. Whether being viewed up close or from afar with the game's three different camera angels, the game's five different environments shine with enough detail to make you feel like you really are a small creature in a gigantic world. The water visuals in the Distant Spring are especially stunning. The game's musical score, composed my Haijime Wakai is outstanding and strikes a nice balance of upbeat and serene tracks.

Pikmin is a game that should be played by those that love RTS games and even those that don't really get into the genre. It is on the short side (10-12 hours at the most), but this is one of those fun, charming games that just about anyone can pick up and play. I so want to play Pikmin 2 now.


Screenshots from

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Review: Super Mario Bros. Virtual Console

System: NES
Genre: Platform
Devleoper: Nintendo
Publisher: Nintendo
Cost: 500 Points

The years was 1985. Nearly three years had passed since the North American video game market had crashed. If video games were going to have a future in America, something would have to be done to restore retailer and consumer faith. Nintendo already had a proven console hit on their hands with the Famicom in Japan but the American market was still highly skeptical. Long story short, the company changed the system's name from the Famicom to the Nintendo Entertainment System and to further make sure the console flew off the shelves, packaged it with a wonderful game called Super Mario Bros., a decision which could arguably be considered one of the smartest moves Nintendo has ever made. Not only did Super Mario Bros. revive gaming in the USA, it changed the face of gaming as a whole. It was also the first in a long line of platformers in a series that is still alive to this day.

Super Mario Bros. uses a very basic story. The princess of the Mushroom Kingdom is being held captive by the evil Koopa King, Bowser, and she awaits rescuing from Mario (and Luigi if you're playing a 2 player game). The excuse plot is not the reason people play Super Mario Bros. It's the gameplay. Spanning 8 worlds comprised of 32 levels, you scroll to the right stomping on Goombas, collecting power-ups, coins and bashing bricks to complete a level before time runs out. Sounds like pretty standard platform gaming fare, and it is today, but it's the marvelous level design and execution that helped to propel the game above anything that had previously come before it.

This is a game that is as fun as it is balanced. The first few worlds are easy but about mid-way through, the challenge ramps up, reaching it's peak with world 8, with fewer power ups, stricter time limits, trickier jumps and more annoying enemy placement. No matter what the game throws at you, it still remains fair.

Get used to hearing this line.
Secrets played just as large roll in the game as the general platform elements. You may jump up to find a hidden one-up block, or go down a pipe to skip a chunk of the level, or find a warp zone to skip a few worlds, bringing you a bit closer to the final levels. Warp Zones are good if you feel like beating the game quickly or if there are some worlds you don't want to bother with (I'm looking at you, World 7.)

The fastest way to earn lives if you
can pull it off.
Equally as important as Super Mario Bros'. gameplay is the music. Koji Kondo composed a musical score that is catchy and memorable to gamers and non-gamers alike. It really is interesting that the very first song you hear in the game is the most well-known and easily the most recognized song in gaming. It's gone by various names. "The Super Mario Bros. Theme", "Ground Theme," but this is a tune that is instantly familiar to anyone, even by merely playing the first 7 notes. Of course the rest of the game's music is just as memorable. The "Underground" theme, "Invincible" theme, "Underwater" music (despite the fact that I'm not overly fond of SMB's water levels) and even the "Game Over" jingle have always been personal favorites of mine. Actually, my love for video game music largely stems from Super Mario Bros. It was the first time video game music ever stayed in my head when I wasn't playing the game.

Super Mario Bros. has stood the test of time remarkably well. I've beaten it countless times, but I've yet to master it. I still can't complete the game without dying (even when I use warps) and I've yet to get the hang of the famous Koopa Troopa one-up trick. Even so, this is a game that I gladly come back to and always puts a smile on my face no matter how many times I play it. This game did spawn superior sequels, but it still remains of the finest games to carry the Mario name.


Screenshots taken from and Super Mario Wiki.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Keiji Inafune Leaves Capcom

So one of the big stories over the weekend was the announcement that Keiji Inafune has decided to call it quits with Capcom after working with the company for 23 years. While this may come as a surprise to many, not everyone was stunned by the news. Inafune has made known his frustration for working with Capcom, something I was not aware of until recently.

Personally, I was really shocked by the news. I feared for what would happen with Mega Man, but then I realized that Mega Man X8 turned out to be an awesome game and Inafune really wasn't even involved with it, so I'm certain that Mega Man will be fine and so will Capcom.

Wherever he goes from here, I wish Inafune nothing but the best.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Super Mario All-Stars for Wii Comes to USA

Well, Nintendo sure kept us waiting, but they finally announced that a Limited Edition of Super Mario All-Stars is coming to the good old USA. Not only that, but it will have all the content of the Japanese and European release! American Mario fanatics will be able to get their hands on this platform collection come December 12th. Bear in mind that it is a limited edition set so if you're planning on getting one, you may wanna put in a pre-order. I own the NES versions of Super Mario Bros. 1-3. I also have Super Mario All-Stars for my SNES. And I own all four of the NES versions on my Wii's Virtual Console. Even so, I'll still be picking this one up.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Samus Wins a Prize

A picture I came across when I was looking for Metroid images. No doubt it was done by the same artist who did the Mario piece. The Metroid stuffed doll reminds me of the hatchling from Super Metroid. It's just so cuuuuuuuute!

Friday, October 22, 2010

Nintendo! It's For Breakfast Now!

Remember back in the day when the NES was all the rage? There was so much Nintendo merchandise (still is today, actually), but one that I really remember was the Nintendo Cereal System and this was mostly thanks to the commercial, which is all kinds of cheesy by today's standards but I always get a chuckle out of it. For those that can remember, was the cereal any good? I can't for the life of me recall how it tasted.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

25 Years of NES

1983 was an interesting year for video games. This year saw the release of Nintendo's Family Computer, often called the Famicom in Japan. In the years that followed, the system became massively popular, allowing Nintendo a 90% claim of the Japanese gaming market. Eventually, the company decided to place the Famicom in American retail outlets. There was just one huge problem that prevented this from happening. You see, the same year that the Famicom launched in Japan, the North American video game market was going through a rough spot, one that would later be known as The Great Video Game Crash of 1983.

During the crash, consumers were highly skeptical of purchasing a new gaming system, and retailers wanted absolutely nothing to do with video games anymore due to the plethora of unsold stock. Gaming in American was seen as a fad and in the minds of many, the fad was over.

Nintendo, still persistent in wanting to break into the American gaming market, made a few attempts to clear the air. The first was partnering with Atari before the crash had started but the deal ultimately went south due to Atari's financial woes. Nintendo's next move was to go solo, unveiling the console at both of the 1984 the Consumer Electronics Show (CES). The system was tailor-made to be a home computer, taking the name Nintendo Advanced Video System (NAVS), but ultimately failed to catch the eyes of consumers and retailers.

The Big N returned to the 1985 summer CES, ditching the home computer approach, instead opting to sell the system as a toy. To this end, the a light gun Zapper was showcased along with the Robotic Operating Buddy (R.O.B.) peripheral. This caught the attention of both consumers and retailers and on October 18th, 1985, the NES test launched in New York City with the Zapper, R.O.B, Gyromite and Duck Hunt (known as the NES Deluxe Set). The following year, the NES was launched nation wide with the help of Worlds of Wonder (makers of Lazer Tag and Teddy Ruxpin ) to get more toy stores to carry the console. The nation wide launched had two different bundles. The Deluxe Set and the Action Set, which came with the Zapper and a copy of Super Mario Bros. Not only did Super Mario Bros. help sell the system, it revived the North American video game market and Nintendo had really made a name for itself.

Hard to believe it has been 25 years since the NES graced American shores. My parents got my sister and I an NES for Christmas sometime in the late '80s. We spent the whole day playing Super Mario Bros./Duck Hunt. Super Mario Bros. made me a slave to Mario games and a platform addict. To this day, the NES is still one of my favorite systems, with a few of my all-time favorites being 8-bit NES games.

Over the last few months I've been getting my NES fix through the Wii's Virtual Console, which offers spot on emulation for NES games. With nearly 20 NES titles, I own more NES VC games than anything else.

The NES is also what made me realize video game music as a genre. Super Mario Bros. Overworld and Underground themes have been stored in my brain from day one. Mega Man, the DuckTales Moon theme and Castlevania music soon followed. Sure it may sound like mere noise to others but to me, the NES put out simple and complex pieces of music.

I sometimes wonder, just how many gamers did the NES create in America when it was released? For many, this was the first gaming system they ever played. I can't remember if my first game system was the Atari 2600 or the NES, but I have far more memories of the NES than I do of the Atari. Happy 25th Anniversary, NES. Here's to another 25 more!

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Super Mario All-Stars for Wii... In Europe

To the right is the box art for the European version of Super Mario All-Stars for the Wii. While checking for a release date of this game for the USA, I came across this on Super Mario Wiki. It looks like the European version will also include all of the extras that the Japanese version is getting. The Japanese version, Super Mario Collection will release on October 21st, while the European version is set to release on December 3rd.

Seeing a European version of Super Mario All-Stars for the Wii brightens my hopes for a USA release with all the extras included. Keep your fingers crossed!

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Pulseman Virtual Console Review

System: Genesis
Genre: Platformer
Developer: Game Freak
Publisher: Sega
Cost: 900 Points

Originally released for the Genesis' Japanese counter part, the Mega Drive in 1994, and available in 1996 in America for those who had the ill-fated Sega Channel, Pulseman is one of those games that unfortunately never saw a full-on release in the states. That's pretty sad because Pulseman would have been right at home in the platformer genre with the likes of Sonic the Hedgehog, Donkey Kong Country and the Super Mario Bros. games. Whatever made Sega of America pass up the idea to fully localize Pulseman is anyone's guess. More than ten years later, that mistake is thankfully corrected.

The plot behind Pulseman is that of father against son. Doctor Yoshiyama created an artificial being known as C-Life and she's so advanced she's almost human. The doc falls in love with her but since she's a digital being and he exists in the real world, there's no way the two of them can ever be together. No way, that is, until the doc finds a way to transport himself into the digital world! Yoshiyama and C-Life even produce a half human, half digital offspring (the less you think of how they managed this, the better) named Pulseman. Since Pulseman is half human, he can exist in the human world. Yoshiyama, having lived in the the cyber world for far too long, has a lapse in sanity, changes his name to Waruyama and somehow escapes to the real world, where like any good doctor gone bad, sets his sights on world domination. OK, so the story may sound a bit hokey, but I've heard worse and the plot presented is as good a reason as any to thrash a mad scientist.
Instead of stomping on foes to defend himself, Pulseman uses kicks, punches, and the Voltteccer, an electric-based attack that has to be charged before it can be executed. Charging the Voltteccer is a simple matter of double tapping forward to dash or running for a short distance. It's useful for killing enemies in groups and at long range. Even better, you can use it to turn Pulseman into a ball of energy that can bounce off walls and even travel on electrical lines. Voltteccer is a move that gets used frequently but it's a pretty cool technique that never overstays it's welcome like a lot of other gimmicks in other video games (sorry FLUDD).

With seven levels to play through and a boss in each one, you might think that Pulseman is a short romp and you'd be half right. Sure, the game may not be long, but each of the game's seven stages are huge. Some rather simple, some quite taxing. Pulseman isn't exactly a hard game, (the bosses are pretty easy once you figure out how to defeat them) but it does have it's tricky spots.

When you first start out, only the first three levels are available to you and you can play them in any order you choose. After beating the first three stages, levels 4-6 open up. The seventh and final stage (arguably the longest and most complex) is always saved for last and packs multiple bosses. Your continues are limited and should you make it to the boss and have to use one, rather than do the whole stage over, you begin right at the boss area or whatever check point you crossed before you expired. This may make the game a bit easier, but after some stages, you'll be thankful for the game being so merciful.

Pulseman is very easy on the eyes, coming off as one of the most visually stunning games on the Genesis. The game makes uses of lots of colors and amazing scrolling and pseudo 3D effects. Equally impressive is the sound. The game's music has a track for every mood. It's lively when you're in a city, and low key when you're trying to navigate the correct path through a maze. Jun'ichi Masuda knocked one out of the park when he composed the music for this game. If that name sounds familiar to Pokemon fans, it should. Some portions of the music went on to be reused as the Rival themes in the Pokemon games. Simply put, Pulseman offers some of the best audio you'll ever hear on the Genesis. Period.

Really, Pulseman should have gotten a world wide release on the Genesis back in 1994. Having played through this gem, I honestly can't believe Sega of America denied us such a great experience years ago. It looks great, sounds spectacular, and it's so much fun to play. If you're into platformers or quality titles, Pulseman is a no-brainer.


Screen shots from

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Mario's Wardrobe

While browsing for Mario pictures, I came across this and just had to post it here. Just look at all those clothes Mario has to choose from! None of my outfits come close to being as cool as those. And kudos to the artist for representing the actual colors of Mario's overalls from Super Mario Bros. and Super Mario Bros. 3. I always liked the black & red.

Thursday, September 16, 2010


Super Mario All-Stars, one of the greatest compilation games ever created hasn't seen a re-release since the mid '90s when it was repackaged with Super Mario World. For those not in the know, this collection originally contained Super Mario Bros. 1-3 and The Lost Levels, the Japanese version of Super Mario Bros. 2. I often wondered if Nintendo had any plans to release the collection Virtual Console. Turns out the company is going to do this baby one better.

This year marks the 25th anniversary of Super Mario Bros. Now unless you've spent the last 25 years in a coma, I don't need to tell you that Super Mario Bros. launched what is easily considered the greatest platforming game series of all-time. To commemorate the occasion, Nintendo is once again releasing the Super Mario Collection (the Japanese name of Super Mario All-Stars) as the Super Mario Collection Pack on October 21st in Japan.

Sounds cool, right? It gets better. Along with the collection, comes some very nice 25th anniversary packaging, a booklet detailing Mario's history, and a CD that sports select music from Super Mario Bros. to Super Mario Galaxy 2. All this at the price of 2000 yen, which is roughly around $24 US dollars.

There's no word on an American release and if it does end up coming to the states, how much you wanna bet all we end up getting is the game and none of the extras? As much as I love them, Nintendo of America practically makes a habit of screwing us over time and again. I mean, if they release the game, great, but I want that extra stuff! I just may end up importing this one and I'll gladly pay the shipping cost.

Interestingly, next year will mark Mario's 30th anniversary (Donkey Kong was Mario's first game, released in 1981) so I wonder if Nintendo has any plans for that.

Special thanks to Super Mario wiki for the heads up on this one!

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Gradius NES Virtual Console Review

Birthed in the arcades, Konami's Gradius was ported to a number of home consoles, among them being the NES. While the visuals and sound obviously aren't on the same level of the arcade original, the NES version of Gradius is still a fine shooter.

The thing that sets Gradius apart from other games in the genre is the unique method of powering up your ship. On it's own, the Vic Viper isn't much to speak of, but by collecting red power capsules from fallen enemies you can increase your ships speed, use missiles, lasers, a protective force field, and options, which replicate your ships fire power. You can opt to nab these in any order you choose, so long as you've collected enough power capsules. Will you get your options first or max out your speed? No two people will play this game the same way.

Even with the cool power ups, Gradius is not an easy game and this can prove especially humbling to new players. The game's seven levels force you to stay alert at all times. The main struggle is often surviving the stages because the bosses (which is always the Big Core until the final level) are very anti-climatic. Danger is literally all around you in every stage and dying means losing all of your weapons, leaving you contend with just your standard peashooter. Take it from someone who knows, navigating the trickier areas in Gradius with zero power ups is not fun, even for those who wish for a challenge.

Like the arcade game, the NES version has no continues so when you use up all your lives, you're treated to a nice 8-bit rendition of the Gradius Game Over music, which plays on screen where you died just to rub salt into the wound. Would at least a few continues for a home port of Gradius have been asking too much? The lack of continues make an already hard game even more difficult. Thankfully, one of the programmers responsible for this particular version realized players needed some kind of edge. By pausing the game and entering Up, Up, Down, Down, Left, Right, Left, Right, B, A, Start, your ship is almost fully powered up (everything except lasers) and can be used a maximum of three times. That code would go on to be known as the Konami Code and it just may be your best friend in a pinch.

Despite the difficulty, Gradius still manages to be fun. It's challenging but far from being unplayable. Some of the sounds come out a bit flat on the NES, but there's still some catchy tunes here such as Challenger 1985 (the first level) and Final Attack (seventh level). It isn't the most visually appealing of Konami shooters on this system (Life Force is far more impressive), but it still looks adequate. There are better shooters on the Virtual Console but NES Gradius is still solid and not a bad investment of 500 points. As the announcer would say, "Destroy them all!"


Friday, June 4, 2010

GASP! I Actually Bought Some GBA Games!

It can be very difficult making a purchase when it comes to video games. I must have paced the shelves of GameStop for over 20 minutes try to come to a decision. There's still lots of games I need to add to my PS2 library. I also need a few more titles to complete my GameCube set. For all the DS games I own, at times it feels like I haven't really scratched the surface. In the end, I walked out with two Game Boy Advance titles, Kirby: Nightmare in Dreamland and Mario vs. Donkey Kong, two titles I'd been meaning to pick up for some time now.

Nightmare in Dreamland is a pretty good remake of the NES classic Kirby's Adventure, one of my favorite games for said system. While I still prefer the original, I can't find much fault in this remake. The updated visuals are smooth and the music is just as catch. As of this writing, I'm already on the third world.

Mario vs. Donkey Kong has been called a remake of the 1994 Donkey Kong on the Game Boy, which for my money is not only the best DK game ever, but one of the best Mario games. Having played through the first world, I honestly can't see why the word "remake" would even be applied to this title. Sure, Mario flips switches, performs hand stands and pays lots of gameplay tributes to DK '94 but this is very much a brand new game, and a highly enjoyable one at that. It looks and sounds great and the returned gameplay from DK '94 is very welcome. I'll have to pick up March of the Mini-Mes sometime.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Mega Man Fan Film is Out

So last week, the Mega Man fan film was finally made available for viewing. Last year when I'd seen the trailer for it, I was pretty skeptical. I mean, the Blue Bomber in a live action flick? The whole concept just made me cringe. But I still knew I'd watch it when it came out and watch it I did. And I have to say, I came away pretty impressed. 

Most of the plot centers around the very first Mega Man game and it uses elements from both the American and Japanese versions of the series and even add some original elements to make things more interesting. The film even makes use of Proto Man (going by his original Japanese name Blues) for good measure and without giving too much away, I think Keiji Inafune would be proud with what was done with the character. 

The music was on par with a professional movie using entirely new compositions and beautiful arrangements based off the game. Anyone that's a fan of Proto Man's trademark whistle or Dr. Wily Stage 1 from Mega Man 2 (read: everybody) will swoon. The soundtrack is also available as a free download. Just enter 0 as your price. 

If you dig Mega Man and company, check it out. Just bear in mind that it is a fan film and you should have a good time. There are far worse ways you could kill 93 minutes. 

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

That New System Smell

About a month ago I bought something that had been on my wish list for years: a Wii. Some folks may think "You got a Wii? But it doesn't have the biggest selection of games! You should have gotten a PS3/360!" As great as those systems are, I honestly wanted a Wii more than either of those. At $200, the Wii is more in my price range, I can get a lot of the systems best games at bargain prices and the Virtual Console (I've got a whole second blog entry for that) is an old-school gamer's best friend. Really, even if some of my best friends were present when I went shopping for a Wii, they would not have been able to talk me out of it. My mind was made up.

Thus far, I have six Wii games for the system. The bundled Wii Sports, Super Smash Bros. Brawl (which was actually my very first stand alone purchase), Super Mario Galaxy, House of the Dead: OVERKILL, NiGHTS: Journey of Dreams, and MadWorld. The only game I picked up new was Brawl, the rest were used and dirt cheap. I pretty much like all that I've played. The only games I haven't gotten around to yet are NiGHTS and MadWorld. If I can stop playing Virtual Console games, I should be able to start those up.

Having spent more time with the Wii Remote than I ever have before, I can say without hesitation that it's one of the most comfortable game controllers ever created. Stood upright, it looks liked a stripped down TV remote. Turned horizontal, it resembles the classic NES controller. Even when using the Wii Remote with the Nunchuk, things still feel very natural. When I read that I'd have to play Super Mario Galaxy using the two components, I was a bit put off. Not even 3 minutes into starting up the game were my worries put to rest. The thing is also great with WiiWare and Virtual Console games (Though I did have to pick up a Classic Controller for some VC games, more on that later.)

It feels great to finally be a part of the seventh generation of video games. I haven't been blogging as much because the sleek white box is hard to pull myself away from but I'll try to remedy that.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Mega Man & Mega Man X Art Books

In 2008 in Japan, R20: Rockman & Rockman X Official Complete Works was released. This 330 + page book contained 20 years worth of art work from the classic Rockman and Rockman X series. Fast forward to 2009 and the book sees a translated release in America by Udon, split into two books, Mega Man Official Complete Works and Mega Man X Official Complete Works. While other Mega Man fans coped these as soon as they came out, I had to wait until I got some extra cash to nab them. Well my wait has ended and I'm pleased to say that I bought the last two copies of each book that my Borders had.

As stated above, each book contains decades of art work from each respective series. This includes, character art, enemy designs, robot master/maverick art, manga art, box art, concept art, the whole nine yards. I've always loved the art from the Mega Man/Mega Man X games and I never realized just how much art went into each one until I looked through these. As both a Mega Man fan and an art lover, this is truly amazing stuff.
The books also contain commentary by series lead producer Keiji Inafune and the various artists that have worked on the series through the years. It's fun to read their thoughts on things they liked and didn't like. For instance, did you know that if he had the chance, Inafune would love to redo all the Mega Man games he's worked on? Or that Mega Man 2 was done in three months time? Lots of interesting tidbits to go along with the glossy art.

I really can't say enough good things about these art books. At $39.99 each, they set me back nearly $100, but they were worth every penny. My only nitpick would be that despite each booked being hailed as "Complete Works," it isn't quite complete. There's some missing pieces of American box art and commentary tells that some other pieces of art were omitted as well. Still, it really is hard to find fault here. If you're a Mega Man nut, your collection is incomplete without these books.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Metal Gear Solid 2 Revisited

I've spent numerous play throughs getting reacquainted with Metal Gear Solid 2 (the Substance version) and I must say, it's so good to be back! It's been nearly 10 year since I played the game but it feels like I never left. MGS2 was my favorite MG game when I first played it and it's still remains my favorite MG game.

When MGS was originally released, players were treated to a very unexpected surprise upon entering the game's second chapter: Solid Snake was not the star of the show. Instead, the spotlight was cast on Raiden, a rookie who became more and more unsure of himself as each situation presented to him became more and more demanding. Still, for a newbie, Raiden was highly skilled, going toe-to-toe with members of the terrorist group Dead Cell, fighting off a Harrier, showing off a a great degree of skill with a blade.

For many players, Raiden stuck out like a sore thumb. He was hated because he didn't have the same attitude that Snake had and he was hated because he wasn't Snake. I admit, I was surprised to and Raiden being the star of MGS2 has got to be one of the best kept secrets in the video game industry. That said, I really liked the character that Hideo Kojima gave us in Raiden. A lot of people like to think that they'd behave just like Snake if they were in the same shoes that Raiden were. The harsh reality is, none of us really know how we'll act in certain situations unless we've actually been there. Place some of these so-called tough guys in Raiden's place for the first time and we'll see what kinda man they really are.

Of course Raiden wasn't the only thing that maid MGS2 the black sheep of the series. The story had everyone that played it scratching their head, leaving us with more mysteries than answers. MGS4 cleared all of this up, but even when I didn't know what was going on, one thing was certain: MGS2 was one of the most enjoyable games I'd ever played and it still is. 

Now if you'll exsuse me, I'm off to have some fun with infinite ammo and stealth. 

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Mega Man 10: A Look from Outside

Mega Man 10 released for the Wii on WiiWare yesterday. I thought I could be strong and avoid coverage on the game until I got my Wii (waiting to get my tax returns done) to play the game, but I just couldn't help myself.
I've already heard all the music and seen a playthrough of the game from start to finish via YouTube so I thought I'd go ahead and post my thoughts on the game clearly on a viewing standpoint.
Music: Let's get one of the numero uno things outta the way first, the music. It's a Mega Man game and when you play a game from this series, you come in expecting some good tunage and MM10 does not disappoint. MM9 had an overall great score, but some themes left something to be desired, the intro themes in particular. I feel MM10 has far and away superior intro themes.
The robot master themes ain't too shabby either, thoubh MM9's robot master themes may trump MM10's, the ones presented in this game are nothing to scoff at and I'm even tempted to lean more towards MM10 simply because the songs are more than just catchy. That isn't to say MM10 doesn't have it's share of catchy tracks, but more often than not, it felt like MM9's score were trying to be nothing more than catchy. MM10's score is much more diverse.
I'm not sure if it's intentional or not, but for some reason, I got reminded of music from the Kirby series when I heard Sheep Man's theme. And that certainly isn't a bad thing. In fact, it's one of my favorite themes in the game. Another memorable tune belongs to Chill Man, and I must say, that if classic MM games are to continue, the series is in dire need of more tracks like his. Chill Man's theme manages to be melancholy and relaxing at the same time. It's one of my favorite ice-themed tracks in the MM series and now one of my favorite MM tracks ever.
What I'm trying to say is, MM music should hit all levels and MM10's score hits the mark better than MM9 did. I guess it helps that MM10's music was composed by nearly every person that had a hand in creating Mega Man music over the years, including one of my all-time favorites, Bunbun, who did the music for MM3.
Level Design: Like MM9 before it, MM10's levels tend to lend more towards MM2s, but it looks like they decided to take pages from the other games as well. Thankfully, there aren't spikes all over the place. Oh spikes are still around, but they aren't the sole death trap in the game. It's as if the developers read my mind. That or they heard the massive outcries from the fans that all the spikes in MM9 was overkill.
The levels still retain somewhat of a puzzle-feel to them. Sheep Man's stage has some color coated floors and touching the same colored floor as a pair of spikes will make them disappear. In Chill Man's stage, you can shoot blocks of ice with your default weapon, or jump on them several times to make them vanish. People are saying MM10 is harder than MM9 but based off what I've seen, MM9 still looks like the harder game.
Plot: SPOILERS!!! Stop reading right now if you don't want the story of MM10 spoiled for you. Alright, I'm sure all of you figured out Wily was the behind the misfortune of everyone in MM10... again. 99.9% of us already new knew it was Wily before the achievements were revealed (the first one being called "Whomp Wily!"). Seriously, if the man is gonna take of the world, I wish he'd stop hiding behind facades. Its older than dirt already! And the people of 20XX or whatever year it is! Agggghhhh!! This includes Mega Man and company. With the exception of Proto Man, they are all too dumb to live. I love the Blue Bomber, but I'm sorry. How many times are they gonna trust a whack job that tried to take over the world over ten times? And it's not like he kidnapped Dr. Light. Or framed him. Realistically, Mega Man should have blasted Wily at the end of MM7 like he was going to. He'd have saved the world a mess of trouble. But I digress.
The idiocy of the people in the year 20XX aside, I actually liked the idea of robots falling into to a virus. For all we know, it could have been the predecessor to the Zero virus. And Roll giving a sick Mega Man the cure was a crowing moment of heartwarming if I ever saw one. Though Wily leaving a truckload of cure behind for everyone makes me scratch my head.
Robot Masters: Sheep Man was the very first robot master to be revealed and even though he was... strange, to say the least, many MM fans embraced him. Toad Man wishes he got that much love. But as more and more robot masters came out, it was hard to ignore that a majority of them are on the silly side. Strike Man? Pump Man? Really? I wonder if it's just me that thinks most of these guys belong among the oddballs. MM5-6 may not be the most memorable among the MM games, but they still had some nice looking, cool looking robots to fight. (Well except Plant Man. He sucks.) Even MM2 has it's share of weirdos. Bubble Man, Wood Man, I'm looking at you two. But I still love 'em. Maybe MM10's robot masters will grow on me.
So there you have it, my outside look on MM10. I'll have a more in depth review when I get the game and play it.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

All Geared Up!

My Metal Gear addiction shows no signs of slowing down. After making numerous calls to game shops last week, I was finally able to score an original two disc version of Metal Gear Solid 3: Subsistence for $24. Why did I want the two disc version so badly? This is the only way I'm able to play the original 1987 MSX Metal Gear and it's 1990 MSX sequel Metal Gear 2: Solid Snake, on a console system. Of course Metal Gear Solid 3: Subsistence all by itself is still all kinds of awesome and the 3D camera rocks, but the addition of those two classics games just makes the old-school gamer in me drool. Also, I more or less had to get this version because for some lame reason, Metal Gear and Metal Gear 2 are not included in the Metal Gear Solid Essential Collection of Metal Gear Solid 3: Subsistence.

Including just MGS3 and MGS3: Subsistence, I've lost track of how many times I've played through the game. I managed to beat the game with no alerts (I rest the game every time I got spotted) and was rewarded with stealth camouflage, which makes an already epic game even more fun. I never knew how much fun it was to knife people until I did it countless times when to enemy soldiers who couldn't see me. Unfortunately, the first disc of MGS3: Subsistence locked up during the cut scene where Snake meets EVA for the first time and I couldn't return the game without giving back the second disc, which holds the MSX MG titles. Thankfully the place I got the game at was selling the MGS Essential Collection games separately so a single copy of MGS3: Subsistence only set me back $10, so I picked that up along with Metal Gear Solid 2: Substance for $8.

When I went to get MGS3: Sub, I didn't plan on walking out with Metal Gear Solid: The Twin Snakes, a remake of the PlayStaiton Metal Gear Solid for the GameCube. It's basically MGS with MGS2 gameplay. That means first person shooting (YES!), hanging from ledges and what could possibly be my favorite gun in the MG series, the tranquilizer (Pretty sure it's called the M-9 here) I played the game a bit and it feels a bit odd playing a MG game on the GameCube controller, but man, it looks sooooooo smooth and feels that much more tighter than the PlayStation game, though I'm sure many fans still prefer the PS version over the remake. As a huge MG fan, Twin Snakes was tough to pass up. Besides it was only $24 and it was the store's last copy.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Metal Gear?!

Over the past few weeks, I've been stricken with Metal Gear fever. It all started when I finally sat down and played through Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater. Would you believe that I've already played through it twice? The game is just that good. It may even be my favorite Metal Gear game, but I'll need to replay past games and those I've yet to play to make the final call on that one.

MGS3 was released in 2004, so I'm super, ultra late to the party as usual. I was kinda taken aback when I'd first seen screen shots of the game and the first thing that hit me was the new jungle setting. After MGS and MGS2, I thought the series was dead set on facilities and warehouse areas. Shows what I know. After a short while, I learned to adjust to the jungle setting. In fact, I probably know MGS3 better than any other MG. Par the course for a MG game, MGS3 was ripe with lots of twists and turn, including one tear jerker of an ending. Those of you that have finished the game know what I mean. For those that haven't, well, I won't spoil it for you.

Upon playing through MGS3, I've been listening to various Metal Gear soundtracks, looking at MG art work and reading up on the series history. Since I don't own a PS3 and I couldn't wait to play MGS4, I hit up YouTube to view most of the game's cut scenes. It was then that I discovered that MGS4 has the most cut scenes of any MG. Seriously, it was like watching a movie. A very good movie. I'll have to get a PS3 and play the actual game some day. 

I'd like to find a copy of MGS3: Subsistence so I can play the MSX versions of MG and MG2: Solid Snake. I was thought there was a copy at my mall in GameStop, but it was just the original MGS3. I may have to shop for it online. Then there's the PSP games. So much MG so little time.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

You're Playing on Easy? NOOB!

When word got out that Mega Man 10 would have an easy mode, well, you can probably guess what ensued over the internet.

"Easy mode? How lame!"
"Only noobs play on easy!"

And so on. At times, I think it escapes many that not everyone is of the same skill level. I was pretty scrappy at Mega Man games when I first started out some 20 years ago, but I managed to improve. That being said, for all my adeptness at previous Mega Man games, Mega Man 9 was pretty hard, much to the point that I feel that Capcom/Inticrates focused on the difficulty above all else.

I wasn't the only MM fan that found the game's difficulty to be frustrating. I've said it before and I'll say it again, I don't mind a challenge but there's a difference between challenging and just stupidly hard. They probably realized that MM9 was too difficult for some players, thus the reason for easy mode. Why should other players be denied a good time with a MM game just because they don't have 20 something years of MM experience under their belt? These same people that mock easy mode are probably the same ones that will get their junk handed to them in other games.

It's nice to have choices and I wouldn't be surprised if more than a few players actually play the game on easy mode.

Friday, January 8, 2010

Street Fighter 2010: Final Fight Arranged Album

Well, the year 2010 is finally upon us and you know what that means! Yes, it's time to reflect on Street Fighter 2010: The Final Fight! "Wait, what?" you say, flabbergasted. Before Capcom actually put a "II" behind Street Fighter, there was an NES game by the name of Street Fighter 2010. What did said game have to do with Street Fighter? Not much, really. There was some guy named Ken who ran around in some acid trip-like future jumping on platforms. And the Ken in the game had no relation to Ken Masters. I could probably go on all day about this game, but if you want the 411 on this one, just check out the AVGN's review. He's a bit more merciful on it than other games.

You should also check out Washudoll's Street Fighter 2010: Final Fight Arranged Album. No matter what you thought of the game, this arranged album is nothing short of magnificent. Heck, you don't even need to be familiar with the NES music to appreciate it. It's only composed of five tracks, dare I say, those five tracks are easily some of the most astounding audio I've ever heard. The album is also free so you've got no excuse not to have it.

I'm no stranger to Washudoll's works. She did an arrangement of Concrete Man's theme and I honestly thought it was far superior to the arranged theme on the Rockman 9 Arrange Soundtrack.