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Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Hurt Me More

I've been seeing this A LOT lately.
Lately I've been playing some games that haven't been on the easy side. Being an old-school gamer, I'm very familiar with Nintendo Hard games so I'm no stranger to frustration, but I usually know when to call it quits. However, the last few weeks I've been a glutton for punishment.

The first Mega Man game is considered one of the hardest in the series. Most people point to the first Dr. Wily stage boss, the Yellow Devil as the reason for the game being so hard, but he's far from the only culprit. Guts Man and Ice Man's stages has some of the most aggravating platform segments of any video game. I NEVER go through Ice Man's stage without the Magnet Beam adapter. Placing your faith in those Foot Holders is akin to trusting the Joker not to kill you when you know full well he's a murderous psychopath. That I and I really cannot be bothered with the disappearing blog segments in Ice Man's level. If you can get past those tricky moving platforms on wire's in Guts Man's level, you're home fry. I actually got a game over in that stages. A game over. In Guts' Man's stage. That has not happened to me in years. Maybe I was off my game or something but that wasn't the only place I had trouble. I lost most of my energy before battling Cut Man so I got another game over on his stage. And Elec Man made short work of me because I didn't have much energy left when I reached him, but then, Elec Man can kill you in three hits if you have full energy so, yeah. Yellow Devil returned to giving me a hard time here like he always does, which is strange considering I owned him a while back. 

Contra III is my favorite Contra game but the challenge on higher difficulties nearly crosses over to insanity. Beating the game on Easy is no problem but Normal takes some work. It's always fun to have a buddy watching your back in 2 player mode, but I don't have the luxury so I gotta lover over my own shoulder. It's been some years since I've really played Contra III as of late, but I do know that I could never beat the game on Hard. I often wonder, did Konmai's American branch even play Contra III on Hard before they decided to take out the Konami Code and infinite continues that was left in the Japanese version? I mean, I like a challenge, but that stuff is no cake walk and I'm not a masochist.

And the thing about being humbled time and again with continuing after my defeats in Mega Man and Contra III? I kept on going. Infinite continues in Mega Man helps a lot, but I've gotten multiple game overs on Contra III because my continues are limited. A day or so late, and I'm back at it again, shooting up aliens and whatnot.

I recently bought Bangai-O on the Dreamcast. It's one of the few Treasure games that does not have an adjustable difficulty setting. The first two levels were pretty easy but as of level 3, the difficulty has jumped up. There are far more enemies and the boss has even more health to deplete before he goes down. In spite of this, I keep on going because Bangai-O is a lot of fun and I want to see more of what the game is like. Usually I don't retry too often because I have no shortage of other games to play, but I must have been bitten by the never-give-up bug. Well, I'm off to go die again. And again. And again...

Monday, May 30, 2011

Virtual Console Purchases 3

Ogre Battle: March of the Black Queen (SNES)
I actually owned the PlayStation version of Ogre Battle but it's another one of those trade-ins that I wish I never did. It's quite the rare game these days as is the original SNES cart. Both command some pretty high prices just about everywhere. Thankfully, digital copies are much easier on your wallet. Did I mention that, despite owning this game, I never played much of it? Often hailed as a strategy/RPG masterpiece, the first Ogre Battle is rich in visuals, story, gameplay and music. Revolt is without a doubt, one of the greatest audio blessings on this or any other universe.

Ogre Battle 64: Person of Lordly Caliber (N64)
Since I picked up the first Ogre Battle, it only seemed
natural to pick up the N64's Peron of Lordly Caliber. Besides, the second SNES offering Let Us Cling Together hasn't shown up on the Virtual Console yet and since there's a spiffy PSP enhanced version of it, I wonder if it ever well. Years ago, I passed up a chance to buy a loose copy of this game for only $25.
That was a steal because on my side of the pond, Person of Lordly Caliber is a pretty uncommon game to come by. Another one of those things I beat myself up over, but hey, once again, digital copies win the day. I never played this one at all, but have heard nothing but good things about it. Also, I'm not a huge strategy buff but the Ogre Battle games have always appealed to me and I like all types of games so I figured this and the original Ogre Battle earned a spot in my VC library.

Chrono Trigger (SNES)
I really can't say anything about this brilliant, wonderful game that has not already been said. I own multiple copies of it, it's one of the best SNES games ever made, one of the greatest RPGs of all-time and one of the finest things gaming has to offer. So yeah, I love this game the same amount of fanboy fanaticism as the next guy/gal. When I heard it was getting the VC treatment, I was thrilled. My SNES version hasn't been played in ages, and I've yet to pick up the now $20 DS version. Chrono Trigger not only holds meaning to me because it's an awesome game on every level, but also because I bought it for myself with money I had received for my 16th birthday. Can you believe I was able to get that game for $35 at one point on the SNES, instructions included (for some dumb reason they wouldn't let me have the box, but considering what I did with most of my game boxes, yeah...)? These days, a physical cart version isn't so cheap.

Shinobi (Arcade)
There's not a single person on this Earth that doesn't think ninjas are freaking awesome. While many of us lack the skill, speed and technique it requires to slices up fools in such a stylish manner that only ninjas can, we can at least take solace in the fact that our dreams can be lived out through video games. I've played just about every console version of Sega's Shinobi series, but never touched the coin-op original, though I did see it's Master System port in action. I didn't even know the arcade version of Shinobi was on the Virtual Console until recently. Picking this one up, marks my first ever VC arcade purchase. This game sounds difficult from what I've read, so I think I'm really going to enjoy the options that VC arcade games give you. And hooray for infinite continues because it will probably be some time before I can finish this game with a handful of credits, if at all.

New Adventure Island (TG-16)
Trying to keep in line with games I either don't own or haven't played, I picked up an Adventure Island game that received high marks over at Despite the series not gaining the same acclaim as an Italian plumber or a speed blue hedgehog, I do enjoy the Adventure Island games. Now if only Master Higgins would keep his girlfriend on a short leash, he wouldn't have to run around saving her and would be able to do what you're supposed to do on an island: nothing.

Games Bought: 5
Time Spent on Wii Shop Channel: 2 hours & 3 minutes

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Latest Game Purchases 5

Video Game Heaven has quickly become one of my favorite places in Virginia Beach and one of my favorite places on planet Earth. Going in is always treat because they have so much cool retro stuff to look at as well as good prices on both old and new games. With just my second trip to the store, I came out with a nice selection of goodies.

The first time I went into Video Game Heaven, I was shocked to see that they had a single copy of Bangai-O for the Dreamcast. Of all the used Dreamcast games I've seen over the years, this marked only the second time I'd ever seen it in stores and the first time I saw one, the store wanted $50 for a complete copy. At Video Game Heaven, it only cost $20 and it had a case and instructions. Works for me. I was afraid I'd have to pick up another Dreamcast because the power button was sticking for some time now. But after taking the cap of the power button off, it turns on and off just fine now. Some cleaning to get whatever chemical caused it to get stuck removed and I should be able to have the power cap back on.

ROOOOLLLLLLLING STAAAAAAARRRT! Who remembers Daytona USA? Yeah, you couldn't get those cheesy lyrics out of your head even if you tried. While Daytona's music may be of an acquired taste (I'm quite fond of it myself), I think most would agree that the series arcade style take on stock car racing is top notch. Sure the original may be pretty dated compared to the Dreamcast version, but Daytona USA on the Saturn was super cheap. How could I pass that up? Plus it's Daytona! DAYTOOOOONAAAAAAA!!!

Never thought I'd own a copy of Christmas NiGHTS but I do now. I know for certain that the game wasn't there when I went back in March when I picked up the original NiGHTS. For those not in the know, Christmas NiGHTS is a 2 level demo of sorts with some nice bonus features, including the ability to play as Sonic in Spring Valley. I'm not sure how easy this game is to come by these days, but I it didn't cost much so I was more than happy to have it. It makes my NiGHTS collection complete.

I bought another copy of Virtua Cop, forgetting that I already had one that I purchased about 5 years ago, but the cover for it was pretty messed up so I'm fine with having one that doesn't hurt my eyes when I look at it.

Bomberman 64 had one of the best single player experiences out of any Bomberman game. I was listening to the music lately and as usual, having one of my regretful trade moments. I was hoping the store would have a copy in, and sure enough, they had one copy left for chump change. I would have gotten Bomberman 64: The Second Attack, but that sucker was not cheap. Maybe another time.

I let one of my buddies borrow Contra: Shattered Soldier along with some other PS2 games a year ago but he moved and, well you know how that stuff usually goes. I still keep in touch with him, I just never got around to asking for my games back and maybe he forgot about them. Whatever, the case, he can hang onto Shattered Solider because I got a complete copy again on the cheap. Now all I gotta do is pick up Contra 4 and I'll have all the Contra games I care about (those crappy PS1 games do not count).

Milestone moment for me today. I picked up my very first Saturn import title. Even though I didn't own a Saturn at the time, I remember X-Men vs. Street Fighter being all the rage in 1998. I've got it on MAME but I never thought about owning a physical copy. It's complete and even the box is in superb condition. Only problem is the 4MB cartridge. I was told by the guy that rung me up that the 4MB carts are notorious for not working. That and it could be the Saturn's pin connectors are worse than that of the American designed NES pin connectors. I kid you not, I've had better luck screwing around with NES games and getting them to work than I have the 4MB Saturn cart. I must have messed with it for an hour before giving up. I've still got my receipt and was told to check to make sure the 4MB cart works. I'm not sure what they'll tell me when I take it back. I may just have to buy another 4MB cart or one of those Action Replays carts. I really want to get my import game on and no fickle cart slot is gonna stop me.

I've been thinking of getting back into the Animal Crossing groove but after having collection everything on the GameCube version, I wasn't sure if I should just play that game all over again. Then I spotted Animal Crossing: City Folk and at a bargain price on Nintendo Selects. I'd been wondering what happened to Nintendo's Player Choice line over the last few years and it looks like they finally decided to bring it back. I'm hoping this extends to third party games and DS games. There's no reason Super Mario Galaxy should be selling new for $50 nearly 3 years after it's release and ditto for Mario Kart DS selling for $34.99 when the game is nearly six years old.

Oh and in case you're wondering why I didn't take a picture of all the games together like I usually do, well, the reason for that is, the camera decided to be a jerk and not even acknowledge that I took pictures of the games numerous times.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Just What is "Retro"?

So I'm thumbing through the latest issue of Retro Gamer when I come to the letter section. A reader was disappointed with the N64 collector's guide segment from a few issues back. That didn't really come as too much of a surprise to me. Not saying it was bad or anything, but what really stuck out to me was his opinion of the N64 being thought of as a retro platform. He said the the N64 was bout "as retro as the Xbox 360."

I'm a huge old-school gamer but by no means do I claim to be an expert on the subject. Is there some sort of expatriation date on a console's life that officially makes it part of the retro club? Are retro systems only retro because they use blocky visuals, sprites and not polygons? The N64 is hardly a new system. It hit the streets in 1996. The system will be turning 15 years old this year (in June for Japan, September for the USA, and March of 1997 in Europe). Old girl is pushing two decades old. She hasn't been a spring chicken for quite some time now. What about the PlayStation? It's just a year or two older than it's 64-bit rival. Is it also not retro because it didn't debut in the days of the Commodore 64 or NES?

Maybe I'm reading far too much into someone's thoughts of mid-nineties systems being thought of as retro but I think it's safe to say that not everyone's opinions of retro are the same. This isn't the first time this topic has crossed my mind, but it's the first time I've given it as much though.

In the late 1990s and early 2000s, the SNES and Genesis were retro in my eyes. These systems could have been shinny and new to others. I picked up my Sega Saturn in 2006 but it originally came out in 1995. It was already a piece of gaming history in my mind. I view the N64 and PlaySation the same way, of course, that's just me. I honestly can't name all of the specifics of what I think makes games and game consoles old, but personally, I wouldn't say game consoles that are nearly 20 years old are new. What's your take?

Friday, May 20, 2011

Virtual Console Purchases 2

Pay day has come and gone and so have more Wii points. I didn't buy all these games in the span of one day/night and I'm too lazy to go back and see how much time I spent browsing on the Wii Shop Channel, so we're doing without the time statistics for this entry. This time it's just the games.

The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask (N64)
Ocarina of Time was one of my favorite Zelda titles and one of my favorite video games. The fact that a follow up appeared and on the same system, no less, is pretty amazing. Though from what I've heard, Majora's Mask is similar to Ocarina of Time, it's also vastly different in many respects, with Links' numerous forms and that nightmare fuel incarnate moon always hanging over your head when you're outside. I never really played much of this game, but I'd always meant to. A good friend of mine actually gave me his copy, free of charge. No joke. I still have the N64 cartridge to this day. I even have the Nintendo Power Strategy Guide. Yeah, I'm one of those guys that always plays Zelda with a guide. Sue me.

Bomberman '93 (TG-16)
I've had Bomberman on the brain for some time now. My favorite Bomberman game of all-time is Super Bomberman 2 for the SNES but sadly, it has yet to see a Virtual Console release. Desperate to get a Bomberman fix and wanting to check out a Bomberman title I've never owned or played, I plucked down 600 Wii points for Bomberman '93. Never played a 5-player multi-player Bomberman game before. Should be interesting if I ever get around to it. Still got pick up two more Wii Remotes. Ah, I can already see the comical faces of different Bombermen being blown to pieces.

Bomberman '94 (TG-16)
Last time I picked up some VC games, there was at least one import title in the mix in Alien Soldier. This time, it's Bomberman '94. An interesting thing about this game is that it received a port on the Sega Genesis under the title Mega Bomberman in the same year in North America, Europe and South Korea. The TG-16 version remained a Japanese exclusive title until it's Virtual Console release. I bought and played Mega Bomberman to death in 1996. Sadly, I traded it in years ago. Most people say Bomberman '94 is superior to Mega Bomberman but if I found a copy of Mega Bomberman for cheap, I'd probably pick it up again. I've always been rather fond of the game's title theme. I prefer it over the TG-16 version but that's probably due to having played Mega Bomberman first. I certainly wouldn't call Bomberman '94's title music bad by any means. Both versions would make an excellent ring tone.

Contra III: The Alien Wars (SNES)
There have been numerous Contra games over the years, but in my eyes, the cream of the crop would have to be Contra III: The Alien Wars. It's got everything you could want from a quality Contra title. Loads of action, a sweet arsenal (which includes old favorites like the Spread Gun) and a plethora of bosses for you to mow down. A few members of Treasure, the small but powerhouse developer composed of former Konami employees worked on Contra III and after playing through it again recently, the Treasure-influences are now much more noticeable, especially during a few boss fights. I just wish the American and PAL versions had infinite continues and the Konami Code like the Japanese version did. Seriously, playing Contra III on Hard is like some form of cruel and unusual punishment.

F-Zero (SNES)
As a kid and in my early teens, I was never really big on racing games. I passed on the numerous Top Gear games and I didn't start playing Gran Turismo until my late teen years. Nintendo's arcade racing efforts were different, though. I loved me some Super Mario Kart and if I recall correctly, F-Zero was the first futuristic racer that I ever played. Despite the added content in the sequels, the original still holds a special place in my heart. I do wonder though. Will we EVER see those hover cars in real life?

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Jenga with DK

One of my favorite games to play as a child that was not a video game was Jenga, the famous tower stack and builder. As much as I loved that game, you'd think I'd have my very own but alas, it was never the case. Until now, that is.

I cannot believe I was completely oblivious to the Jenga Donkey Kong Collector's Edition. Seriously, I had no idea such a version of Jenga was in this world until I was walking around Barns and Nobles and spotted it a few months back. I've had my eye on it for a while now but never had the cash to pick it up until I started working. Well now I'm the proud owner of DK Jenga and since it has the likes of Mario (or is it Jumpman here?), Pauline (or should we call her The Lady?) and DK himself in it, it's automatically better than plain old Jenga.

I was expecting the DK Collector's Edition of Jenga to play like ordinary Jenga but it seems that there are some new rules involved. There's even a spinner for using hammers, and springboards and ladders just like you would in the classic DK game. Of course you can probably opt to play it like normal Jenga, too, whioch is fine and dandy but I'm always up for Jenga with a twist. Since this is a special version of Jenga, I'll be taking extra care not to lose any of the blocks or pieces to the game. I haven't had time to sit down and play it yet but I probably will when I get a day off work.

Naturally, I can't wait.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Latest Game Purchases 4

I wanted to go to Cool Stuff and Video Game Heaven again but since I'm not 100% sure hot to get o those stores and I don't fully know my way around my new home area, I decided to stick to the places that I do know. Rest assured, I will be heading back to Cool Stuff and Video game Heaven sometime in the near future and brick back a sweet retro haul, but for now, I'm content what I found, especially for the price.

fye is one of those stores I don't make a habit of walking into on a constant basis due to their steep prices, but as I've said before, every now and then you'll find some good deals and three of the four games I picked up today came from fye.

Hot Shots Tennis was cheap even before it was hit with a sale price, but the sale price made it super cheap and it was new to boot. I've been a big fan of Camelot's sports titles bot of the Hot Shots line and Mario Golf and Mario Tennis series. The company really knows how to make sports games enjoyable. I'll probably head back and pick up Hot Shots Golf 3 and Hot Shots Fore! If I have any extra cash burning a hole in my pocket.

I was a huge fan of the original Ape Escape so adding the the sequels to my collection was a no brainer. I still picked up Ape Escape 2 about three years back and now I've got Ape Escape 3, which also cost me less than a manga graphic novel. It was also complete.

I'm not the biggest snowboarding fan and despite owning an original cartridge of 1080 Snowboarding on the N64, I was pretty terrible at the game. I'm also aware that the sequel, 1080 Avalanche wasn't received as well as the original, but for $6.25, the game was sorta hard to pass up. Plus I was curious to check the game out on my own.

The only game I picked up at Best Buy and wouldn't you know it, it's a DS game. I almost bought Wario Ware: D.I.Y at GameStop and other retail stores for the original $34.99 asking price when it first came out last year. Man, am I glad I waited. They had that bad boy on clearance for $20.99. Sold! I'm stoked to get into this one. Not only for the new mini games but the game and music maker options.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Virtual Console Review: Mega Man X

System: SNES
Genre: Action/Platformer
Developer: Capcom
Publisher: Capcom
Virtual Console Release: April 5, 2011 (JPN) / April 18, 2011 (USA)
Original Release: January, 1994 (USA) / May, 1994 (EU) / December 17, 1993 (JPN)
Cost: 800 points

Ever since the SNES graced the gaming scene, Mega Man fans wondered when Capcom would give the Blue Bomber a game on Nintendo's 16-bit machine. Yet Capcom continued to be content with keeping Mega Man firmly grounded on the aging NES hardware. Mega Man was one of the few franchises to see six games all released on the same console. When Capcom finally give fans a SNES Mega Man, it was a shocker on multiple levels. It wasn't the seventh installment in the classic Mega Man series (which actually did get released on the SNES in 1995), but an entirely new series that still felt familiar. Mega Man X was a darker and edgier game in stark contrast to the classic series more light-hearted feel, but that really wasn't a bad thing as it served as a much-need jolt to a series some had felt was growing stale.

From the introduction stage, one can
already tell that Mega Man X is
not their father's Mega Man game.
Many years into the future, the field of robotics has made numerous advancements. Androids are now so complex to the point where they can think and behave in a manner very similar to human beings, no longer bound by the restrictions of preset programming. This was all made possible by Dr. Light's final creation and legacy, Mega Man X, often referred to as simply X. X was used as the foundation to create other human-like robots that have free will. Other robots based off of X are called reploids and they co-exist with the humans. At least, that was the plan. Maybe it was due to a virus or the fact that all of the reploids didn't receive the 30 years of testing that X did before he was awakened, but whatever the reason, many of the reploids go berserk, or maverick as they've been dubbed. The mavericks are so bent on making the world their own that their leader, Sigma wants to cleanse the world of all it's human inhabitants and create a utopia for reploids. Unable to let Sigma and the other mavericks exterminate all human life, X chooses to stand against the irregular reploids, striking them down one by one, taking the fight directly to Sigma.

In his very first appearance, Zero save X's metallic bacon
by blowing the arm of Vile's Armored Carrier
clean off. Talk about a character establishing moment.
Mega Man had Rush but X has a slew of cool toys to play
with, despite the fact that Dr. Light is long gone. The
good doctor must have somehow knew the future
would be pretty bad because he left an insane amount
of hidden capsules with power-ups for X in all the Mega
Man X games combined. Seriously, Batman doesn't
have jack on Dr. Light when it comes to prep-time.
The formula from the classic Mega Man series applies to Mega Man X. If you've played any of those games, you'll be on familiar footing here. You have eight bosses to fight and can fight them in any order you choose to obtain their weapon but the famous rock/paper/scissors gameplay from the original Mega Man series still works here and if you're new to the world of Mega Man X, it might be in your best interest to find out which boss is weak to another bosses weapon.

DID YOU KNOW?: The original Mega Man, which started
the whole Mega Man series was released in Japan on
December 17, 1987. Mega Man X has a number of
homages to the original series and the first Mega Man
game, but the most striking one may be it's release date.
Mega Man X's Japanese release date was December 17, 1993,
the exact date the original Mega Man was released overseas.
Whether this was intentional or not is unknown.
While Mega Man X is very similar to classic Mega Man, there are a number of differences that make Mega Man X a whole different beast of a game. There's a huge emphasis placed on finding hidden items. You don't have to unearth these hidden treasures. If you're into self imposed challenges, Mega Man X can be a game that can be quite difficult, but finding the hidden items will make the path to victory a bit easier. X can find capsules that the late Dr. Light hid away to upgrade his abilities. Such enhancements include a dash ability, armor that lessens the amount of damage dealt by enemies, and an incredibly powerful, elusive item that pays homage to another Capcom franchise. The X-Buster upgrade not only allows X to charge his default X-Buster up to a jaw-dropping third level, but all of the weapons obtained from defeated bosses can also be charged up. In fact some of the the special weapons work best when fully charged such as Chameleon Sting, which, when fully charged, leaves X impervious to enemies and hazards, including those aggravating instant-kill spikes.

The term "Fight for your life" takes on a literal meaning in this game. When you start, you'll more than likely notice that X's life bar is quite small for someone so potential powerful. Hidden in each maverick's stage are Heart Tanks. Heart Tanks add two units of health to your life energy. Most of these are tucked away pretty well and unless you're familiar with the game, you'll probably have to resort to a guide to find them all. The same applies with Sub Tanks, Mega Man X's version of Energy Tanks. Sub-Tanks, once found, always remain in your inventory but they require energy in order to be used. Sub-Tanks can be filled up with the same energy X uses to restore his life. Like the Game Boy Mega Man titles, you can only collect four Sub Tanks, not nine like the NES titles. This may cause you to be a bit more cautious and try to better yourself at the game to the point of taking less hits.

Fun times are ahead.
The mavericks, the X series equivalent to the classic series robot masters, are pretty unique in both name and design. A few of the robot masters from the classic series were based off of creatures and the like, but here, all of the mavericks are mainly animal-based with no "Man" in their titles, unless of course you count Spark Mandrill and he's based off a baboon. It remains a mystery if ditching the "Man" names was another attempt to make the series different than the classic games, but whatever the case, it works. Storm Eagle, Sting Chameleon, Armored Armadillo, Boomer Kuwanger, Launch Octopus, Spark Mandrill, Flame Mamoth and Chill Penguin are some of the coolest bosses to come out of a Mega Man title and still remain fan favorites.

Flame Mammoth along with Storm Eagle have battle
chambers that are twice the size of the screen, something
that eventually crossed over to the classic Mega Man series.
Get all the weapons and items in the game and take a trip back to
Armored Armadillo's stage and you can find a fifth hidden capsule that
houses Ryu and Ken's signature move, the Hadoken. It may not look
like much compared to the other weapons in X's arsenal, but from the hands
of X, the Hadoken is more powerful than anyone that's ever used it or any
other fireball in the Street Fighter universe. X's Hadoken is so absurdly broken
that it can dismantle any regular enemy and boss (save the final boss) in a
single hit. In order to provide some balance, X must have full health
for the Hadoken to be usable. 

DID YOU KNOW?: When Mega Man X was originally released,
some people thought the "X" stood for the roman numeral 10, which
caused some confusion because up until that point, there were no
spin-off series and the most recent game in the classic series was
Mega Man 6 on the NES. When Capcom finally released Mega Man 10
in 2010, they came up with a retro commercial for the game. The
commercial showed footage from Nitro Man's stage, which takes
place on a high way, like the intro stage to Mega Man X. On top of
that, the music used for the commercial is a vocal rendition of Mega
Man X's opening stage tune. Fans that actually caught the joke were
laughing hysterically.  Bravo, Capcom, bravo.
For the first game in a spin-off series, Mega Man X showcases some very appealing level designs. Storm Eagle's stage takes place at an airport with huge bottomless pits while Armored Armadillo's level features some of the craziest mine cart riding this side of the Donkey Kong Country games. Depending on who you have or haven't defeated, some levels will change drastically. Beating Chill Penguin stops the lava flow in Flame Mammoth's stage. Taking out Storm Eagle will send the very air craft you were fighting him on crashing into a portion of Spark Mandrill's stage, which takes out some of the power but also eliminates an electrical hazard in the first part of the stage. It's a very cool feature that was sadly, never used in any of the sequels.

After all these years, Mega Man X is still a superb-looking SNES game, boasting impressive sprites of large and small sizes. The maverick bosses even recoil in pain when hit with their weakness, which is a very nice visual touch. Background scenes are also easy on the eyes whether you're looking at the destroyed high way of the intro stage or marveling at the undersea atmosphere of Launch Octopus' level.

You can check out Dr. Cain's journal entries via The journal of Dr. Cain tells just how
he found X and his thoughts on the maverick revolt. Short but
sweet reading material, stuff that should have been in the game itself.
ROCKMAN X ALPH-LYLA with Toshiaki Otsubo
Released in Japan on March 9, 1994, this album
consists of sexy jazz/fusion arrangements spread
across 10 tracks. Due to the album being very old
and out of print, finding a copy is not easy. Thanks
to TheOSTation, the album can be heard in it's entirety on YouTube.
The classic series usually gets the most praise for it's memorable music, but the X series also hit the ground running with an outstanding score. The opening stage music is one of the greatest first level songs in a video game. Spark Mandrill's theme has some awesome drum solo work, and there's probably not a gamer alive that doesn't love Armored Armadillo's theme in all it's electric guitar glory. Zero's theme was so good that it showed up again in the first Mega Man Zero game. One of the most upbeat pieces of music comes in the form of the password theme, which wouldn't feel out of place in the classic Mega Man series. It's a bright, hopeful tune in a pretty dark game and is a very welcome song. Really, the entire soundtrack is exceptional and deserves a spot on your iPod/MP3 player.

Capcom didn't mess with the tried and true gameplay of the established classic series too much when they made Mega Man X, but the changes they did make paid off. Sixteen years after it's release, Mega Man X ranks among the finest action games on the SNES and it's emulated perfectly on the Virtual Console. Mega Man fanatics can go through the game in their sleep but still come back to it because it's that awesome a game. Mega Man X is a masterful addition to the Virtual Console library and is an excellent buy if you've got 800 points burning in your pocket.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Mario & Toad Join Luigi & Yoshi

Months ago, I picked up my first gaming plush toys in the form of Luigi and Yoshi during a trip to Barns & Nobles. The last few times I went in there, they had restocked the Super Mario line of plush dolls with the plump plumber himself present among the bunch. I guess timing really is everything because they were having a buy one get one free on these babies. With that in mind, I picked up Mario along with Toad. I would have picked Koopa Troopa over Toad because outside of being awesome in Super Mario Bros. 2, Super Mario Kart and Mario Kart 64, the little fungus is pretty much worthless. Don't even get me started on how much he sucks as a guard. Koopa Troopa's on the same level of cute as Yoshi in this plush line. Still, Toad is part of the set so I figured I'd pick him up now and save Koopa Troopa for last.

Buying gaming toys and figurines is as fun as buying games. There are some other game related merchandise I've got my eye on, including a VERY cool Mario-themed version of one of my favorite non-video games (No, it is not Monopoly) and when I pick it up, you'll hear all about it.

The buy one get one free was still in effect when I went back on Saturday so I got Mario & Luigi for my two nieces. Gotta live up to my uncle status and spoil them every now and then.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Virtual Console Purchases 1

I LOVE going shopping on the Virtual Console. Being a huge old-school gamer, hopping on the Wii's Shop Channel and heading for the Virtual Console is an experience on the same level as walking into a shop full of retro video games.

Whenever I shop for VC games, whether I have 2000 points or more, it always takes me forever to decided. I'm not kidding when I say I've spent more than an hour and a half shopping for games. Since I picked up my Wii late in the game, and I don't mind owing a digital copy of a game I own a physical copy of, the VC has a lot to offer me. Also, the Wii Shop Channel music is just so catchy! If every store had that tune, no one would ever leave. Ever. Anyway, here's what I bought.


I've been on a huge Treasure kick lately, listening to Treasure music on my MP3 player, going so far as to make a playlist of 34 songs from Treasure games. I've also had Gunstar Heroes on the brain a lot (I'll probably write a review for it in the near future) and I figured it was time to add another Treasure game to my library. Alien Soldier is one of those games that was exclusive to Japanese Mega Drive owners but now everyone can see what the fuss is about thanks to the VC. From what I've read, the game is more or less one big boss rush mode and a pretty hard one at that.


I was as giddy as a school girl when I heard Mega Man X, my all-time favorite X game was hitting the VC in America. I own the SNES original cartridge, the Mega Man X Collection on PS2 and now a digital version of the game. You can expect a review of this game very soon and let's hop X2 and X3 aren't far off.


What would you say if I told you that Ocarina of Time was only the third N64 game I bought on the VC? No big deal. There are only 21 N64 games on the VC total. Well what would you say if I told you I had not played Ocarina of Time since I finished in 1998? Yes, Virgina, I have not played one of the greatest games ever created in over 10 years. With Ocarina of Time hitting the 3DS next month and this year making the 25th Anniversary of the Zelda series, this is the perfect time to get reacquainted with this masterpiece. This reminds me, I still need to finish Wind Waker.


River City Ransom is on of the few beat 'em ups with RPG elements. When you kick the crap out of jobbers, they drop money. That money can be used to go into town and buy food, martial arts skills and comic books. Now that stuff is pretty righteous in and of itself but how many brawlers let you pound on evil doers and get "BARF!" as a response out of them? RCR alone is worth buying for that. I got this on VC just so I wouldn't have to deal with those aggravatingly long passwords on the NES cartridge. Fun fact: I paid $15 for a used copy of this years go.


Widely touted as one of the best games on the NES, the original Blaster Master is often hailed as the definitive version. I never got around to completing this game when I bought it for $10 back in 1999, but I hope I'll be able to fix that now.


I already picked up Mega Man 2-4 on the VC so it was only a matter of time before I bought the game that started it all for the Blue bomber. Despite the bugs, this is still a fine action/platform game and in many people's eyes, one of the most difficult titles in the whole series.

Total Virtual Console Games Bought: 6
Time Spent on Wii Shop Channel: 2 hours and 2 minutes.