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Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Nintendo 3DS Quickie Impressions

While looking around in Best Buy, I got a chance to play the handheld that everyone is going ga-ga over, the Nintendo 3DS. As far as outward design goes, the 3DS is based off of the DS Lite mode and having done my DS gaming on the original, bulky model (or the DS Phat is it is often referred to on the Shizz message boards), I wasn't use to playing on a smaller model. The main issue for me was the thumb pad. It isn't bad per-say, but I can already tell it's gonna take me some time to adjust to it. Maybe because I've used analog and control pads for so long the idea of a thumb pad just seems so foreign to me. But if I was able to adjust to analog sticks then I can surely get used to the 3DS thumb pad.

The game I got to play was Pilotwings Resort. I'm sure some gamers would much rather have seen Super Street Fighter IV: 3D Edition on display but I think Pilotwings Resort was a much better choice. Graphically, the game looked gorgeous! Pilotwings Resort is by far one of the most visually stunning games the 3DS has to offer at launch and a great showpiece for anyone looking to see what kinda eye candy the system can dish out. Sadly, I couldn't spend a few hours playing the game, so I choose a speedy round of Free Flight in the plane. Controlling the plane was almost as simple as taking a walk, even though I wasn't used to the thumb pad. I flew around the island checking out the sights and just enjoyed being in the sky. Free Flight was short but fun.

I know Pilotwings Resort may not be getting stellar reviews, but I'd personally buy the game. I've been a Pilotwings fan since playing Pilotwings 64 and was more than happy to pick up a cheap copy of the original Pilotwings on the SNES years ago. One of my favorite things to do in Pilotwings 64 was to fly around and take in the scenery and I could easily see myself doing the same in Pilotwings Resort. Of course, getting a good rating was fun, too, if often times frustrating.

I can't get a 3DS anytime soon but by the time I'm able to, I'm sure there will be a broader selection of games, and probably a newer 3DS model that takes care of whatever problems crop up with the original. When I do buy a 3DS, Pilotwings Resort will be one of the first times I own. Now if you'll excuse me, all this talk about Nintendo's flight simulator has got me itching to play the SNES original.

Monday, March 28, 2011

My Game Collection

After thinking it over for a bit, I decided to take my games out of the boxes they were in and store them on my shelf. Looking at a big mess of games sure is a lot more attractive than a pile of boxes.

The crazy thing? This isn't even all of my games. It's the bulk of my collection but I left out my Dreamcast games, Genesis games and Sega Saturn games. I don't have near as many titles on those consoles as I do my PS2, NES, and SNES, but I'm still proud of my games for those platforms just the same. The only reason they weren't pictured is because there wasn't anymore room. I'm also missing a few games from some friends that I've yet to get back since I moved. Guess it's time to write those death threats and mail 'em out.

I'd like to thank my dad for taking these pics. Not only do I not own a digital camera, I don't even know how to use one.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

The Yellow Devil: DEFEATED!!!

Art by NeterG
Some people call him the Yellow Devil. Some call him the Rock Monster. You could also call him a Cyclops. He goes by many names. But to many, he is one nightmare of a boss, particularly in the original Mega Man game.

It has long been my shame that I've never been able to best the Yellow Devil on the NES Mega Man. When Mega Man Anniversary Collection hit, I could only defeat him by playing on Easy. Even when I tried my hand at facing him again on Normal years later, I still couldn't take him down. When I played Mega Man on an emulator, I had to use save states to defeat him. It seemed like no matter how many times I went up against the Yellow Devil, I could never defeat him on the default difficulty. For all my skill at other games, this one boss just continued to crush me.

I'm playing NES games on a  newly acquired console (you'll find out about it soon, promise) and I decide to do a usual run of the first Mega Man. Now if I'm playing a game of the original Mega Man that isn't on an emulator or Anniversary Collection, I usually just play a certain way. Said way goes like this; beat the six robot masters, make it to the Yellow Devil, get owned, despair and then quit. I actually died twice in the first Wily stage. After those two deaths, I thought "Why keep going? When I reach the Yellow Devil, I'll just end up dying like always." And yet, I kept moving. When I made it the boss chamber, I equipped the Thunder Beam, walked inside and moved out of the way so I could better dodge the income pieces of the Yellow Devil. I already felt like he'd won the fight before it even started but I still kept going. Usually I know when I'm beat at a game (I haven't TOUCHED Battletoads in nearly 10 years), but something wouldn't let me quit this time. When the Yellow Devil came together, I hit him and dodged the next round of pieces and hit him again. And then it dawned on me. I was doing much better at dodging him and hitting him than I ever have in my whole life. Suddenly evading the fast-moving pieces didn't seem all that difficult. Sure, I took a few hits, but this was by far the best fight I'd ever given him. I made sure every single hit count. This particular version of the Yellow Devil has a smaller hit window than his successors. On top of that, you literally only have one second to shoot or else he goes to pieces again. And each time that eye was open, I pumped it full of Thunder Beam. It didn't take long before I had more energy than he did. I could already taste the win. When the final shot rung out, it was the Yellow Devil who disappeared.

I WON!! I DID IT!! After years of humiliating defeats, I'd finally beat the Yellow Devil! And I didn't use save states or a pause glitch! I beat him fair and square. The biggest thing that stood in the way of me conquering the original Mega Man had been removed. After that, finishing the rest of the game was pretty simple. For the first time in my life, I finished the original NES Mega Man cartridge.

I now know that I can take out the Yellow Devil whenever I play the first Mega Man title. He's no longer the unstoppable juggernaut I used to think he was. It may have taken years but I finally accomplished what I thought I'd never be able to do. If you think the Yellow Devil can't be defeated by skill, keep trying. I'm living proof that it can be done.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Latest Game Purchases 2: Video Game Heaven

Today Charles took my to a place called Video Game Heaven, located in Chesapeake. After spending some time in there looking around and making a few purchases, I can honestly say that Video Game Heaven is one of the coolest places on the planet. Also, my brother-in-law is super awesome.

If I were to sum up the store in three words, those words would be "video game museum." Simply put, this store is an olds-school gamer's fantasy. I saw Atari 2600 models that looked brand new, tons of NES, Genesis and SNES games, and the selection of games on current generation platforms went for much less than what you'd pay at GameStop and most mainstream video game retailers that sell used games. For an old-school fanatic like myself, just walking around in there was awesome.

I was finally able to fulfill a dream (pun somewhat intended) by picking up NiGHTS into Dreams. It wasn't complete but it had a case and game cover so I'm pretty content with that. I've always wanted to play this game after all the good things I heard about it after spending a little time with it, I can see why it gets all the praise it does.

Fighting Vipers is one of those games I thought I'd never be able to purchase, let alone play. It's nice to be wrong sometimes. Video Game Heaven had a complete copy for ultra cheap. From what I can tell, it looks they Sega took Virtua Fighter and just went nuts with it.

Fight Vipers was $7.99, NiGHTs was 3.99, Double Dragon II was $5.99 and Stinger was free.
I once had a copy of Double Dragon II: The Revenge on the NES and I foolish traded it in. Thankfully I was able to rectify that mistake by getting another cheap copy. I still find the intro to this game a bit amusing. I mean, at first I thought we had to rescue the girl (AGAIN) but she gets mowed down at the very beginning. Huh. Well that's one way to subvert the whole damsel in distress trope. Oh, spoiler alert, BTW.

Fighting Vipers was actually the last game I picked up but because I bought it, I was able to get Stinger, which was set at $3.99 for free! Sweet!

I did buy one other item that was totally sweet but that's a lengthy post for another day. I'll definitely be coming back to Video Game Heaven when I get another chance.

Latest Game Purchases 1

It's been a dog's age since I bought myself some games with my own money. Well OK, it hasn't been that long but it has been a considerable amount of time since I really bought anything for myself due to still not having a job after the move. I filed my taxes a while ago and got a nice amount back for for only working my previous job for 10 months. Most of the green is set aside for bills but I figured I'd treat myself with at least some of the dough.

Looking through the bargain bin at K-Mart, I saw Elite Beat Agents. My good friend Lucas never passes up a chance to gush all over this game and for the cheap price, it seemed like a no-brainer. That and Lucas would never let me hear the end of it if he knew I passed EBA up. Been a good while since I played a rhythm/music game but I hope to have some impressions on this one posted soon.

fye has a nice selection of movies and anime but I usually avoid that store like the plague because the prices are just insane (they wanted $49.99 for Batman Beyond Season Two). Still, every now and then they give you a reason to do business with them and today as one of those days. I found Klonoa on sale for $13.99 new. I'd been wanting to play this game since finding out it was a visually enhanced port of the original PlayStation game, Klonoa: Door to Phantomile.

I'd seen Zack & Wiki: Quest for Barbaros' Treasure at two different GameStop's since I've been in Virginia Beach. I figured it was a sign that I needed to buy the game whenever I could. I went back to one of the GameStop stores, hoping it would still be there. Not only was it still there, it was even cheaper than before! The game came complete with some sort of puzzle or something.

Castle Shikigami 2 for the PS2 was an enjoyable SHMUP even with it's laughably bad voice acting. Recently, I found out that Castle of Shikigami III was on the Wii and and for chump change. Like Zack & Wiki, GameStop, thankfully still had a copy.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Game Art #2: Mario Showcase

One of the best Mario Games by Orioto
As the title of this piece clearly states, Yoshi's Island is one of the best Mario games, even if Baby Mario is in serious need of a pacifier.

Locked Out by Glenn Brogan 
Fun fact: those creepy Phanto masks actually got their freight-inducing appearance when Doki Doki Panic came to America as our Super Mario Bros. 2. In Japan, the masks weren't scary-looking at all. The look on Mario's face pretty much sums up how all of us felt as children when there was a floating head chasing us upon picking up a key. To this day, I still hate those things!

Mario's Closet by Albino Raven
Ah, decisions, decisions. If I had a wardrobe half as cool as Mario's I'd have a hard time picking out what to wear, too. Though I would easily rule out the Spring Mushroom. Goomba's Shoe easily trumps it.

Mario World by Orioto
My word, the colors on this are breath-taking.

Mario and Luigi by ShandyRp
I like the simplicity of this piece. That and Luigi holding a plumber helps remind me of the duo's occupation. Seriously, outside of Mario & Luigi: Superstar Saga, when was the last time these two ever did any actual plumbing?

Super Duper Mario-World by SeriojaInc
It's nice to see Daisy in this picture. Considering she's only been kidnapped once (Super Mario Land), Luigi has the best girlfriend by default.

Mario vs Sonic by TPollockJR
Mario and Sonic may pretend to be friendly rivals in Brawl and the Olympic games, but deep down, they hate each other.

The Super Mario Brothers by TheBourgyman
Luigi's got his priorities in order here. Yeah, being able to fly is nice but flight + Starman = WIN. Meanwhile Mario seems to be content with chump change. Of Course since Peach doesn't pay him money for saving her, I guess he's gotta find money on the side.

Mario World Boss Overdrive by EffelArt
The Koopalings. Here's to hoping they show up in more 2D and eventually, 3D Mario games. 

A Day With Mario by haung
Any image that mixes Mario with the SNES is good in my book.

Cape Mario by Kevichan
I like how the top part of the cape almost forms a hood. Pretty nice visual, if you ask me. The rest of this piece is also really nice.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Am I too Old-School?

So I've noticed that most of my blog posts here have been about games from days long gone by. Yeah, I'll mention games from the current generation but for the most part, old-school related posts seem to reign supreme here. This got my thinking: am I too old-school for my own good? Depending on whom you ask, some say you can never have too much of a good thing and then some say that too much of a good thing isn't healthy.

The only current generation platform that I own is a Wii, which is the reason I review games for that system along with Virtual Console titles. I'm no stranger to the PS3 and 360, but since I can't afford to go out and buy a new console right now, I've been content with what I have. Even last generation systems like my PS2 have given me hours of gaming fun.

I know a lot of fellow old-school gamers that play tons of current generation games, far more than myself, and they have no problem picking up older games as if they never left. But I feel like I'm more stuck in the past than most and for that, I feel just a little weird. Makes me wonder if people are sick of my old-school gaming posts.

As much as I enjoy playing games of the past, it does irk me whenever I see comments on YouTube saying that games of today suck and that the older stuff was the best. Those kind of remarks really are painting old-school gamers in bad light and is quite frankly, embarrassing.

I wouldn't mind hearing some feedback on this. Give me your honest opinions. Should I look for topics on newer games to write about on this blog or just leave things as they are?

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Review: New Super Mario Bros. Wii

System: Wii
Genre: Platform
Developer: Nintendo
Publisher: Nintendo
Original Release: 2009

SCORE: 8.5/10

Back in 2006, Nintendo took gamers by surprise with the release of New Super Maro Bros. on the DS. This was the first 2D sidescrolling Mario game since Yoshi's Isand on the SNES in 1995. The game was a throwback to the plumber's 2D romping adventures with familiar power ups and a few new ones. New Super Mario Bros. Wii, a sequel to the DS classic is yet another fantastic entry to the series of Mario platformers and proves once again that Mario's sidescrolling days are far from over.

It's Princess Peach's birthday and just as everyone is about to dig into the humongus cake, the Koopa Kids (yes, the ones from Super Mario Bros. 3) and Bowser Jr. pop out of the sweets, grab Peach and book it with Mario, Luigi, and two unamed Toads in hot pursuit. Huh. I guess the cake really is a lie.

If one player is struggling, another player can pick them up and carry them.

Fans that cut their teeth on the previous 2D Mario games will feel right at home with NSMBW. Run to the right, collecting coins, bashing blocks for power-ups, using your trademark jumping skills to stomp enemies and reach that flagpole at the end of the level. Playing this game is like riding a bike. It have have been a while since you've done it but because you've experienced it before, it's easy to jump back on. Despite being a newer entry to the Mario games, NSMBW has a heavy retro feel to it.

Just as NSMB did before it, NSMBW brings back recognizable power-ups. The Super Mushroom, Fire Flower, Starman are here as well as the Ice Flower from Super Mario Galaxy. Yoshi even shows up to lend a hand in just about one level per world. NSMBW only includes two new power ups, but both are extremely useful. Nabing a Propeller Mushroom nets you the ability to take to the air breifly and then slowly glide back down to earth. The Penguin Suit lets you move as if you had normal traction on icey land, makes swimming a breeze, let's you throw balls of ice just like the Ice Flower, and allows you to slide on flat surfaces. Think of the Penguin Suit as an improved version of the Frog Suit from Super Mario Bros. 3: It's useful on land AND water.

The fact that you play with the Wii Remote titled sideways like an NES controller only adds to the game's nostalgic value, though there is some use of motion controls. You wave the controller up to fly with the Propller Hat as well as pick things up. It isn't too cumbersome, but really, the older method of holding the B button to run, or in this case, the 1 button, would have been preferred.

It's actually a lot easier than you think to lose a few lives in the first Castle.

The biggest new addition to NSBMW is having four players on the same screen at once. Playing the game with three other players can be pretty fun, but it can also be insanely chaotic. The help you get from your pals may end up doing you more harm than good. If you're planing on playing seriously, make sure you're not playing with friends that pick you up and toss you into a lava pit. It's also pretty easy to bounce around off each other and into an enemy or hazard. Despite all the madness that occurs during multi-player you should still try the game out with friends if you have some extra Wii Remotes, but if you're friends aren't available, the game is still a blast to play by yourself.

The unnamed blue and yellow Toads are the best Toads in the history of Mario games. They have to be if they're actually out partaking in the quest.  Where were these two the last 20 times Peach was kidnapped?!

Being a Mario game, NSMBW is pretty challenging, some might even say the challenge in this game ramps up considerably early as opposed to past Mario platformers. Most of the bosses don't pose a serious threat, but making it through many of the game's stages will test your platforming abilities to the limit. As helpful as the power-ups in the game are, more often than not, pure skill wins the day and if you are not bringing your A game, many tears will be shed along with broken controllers. Don't despair, though. If you fail to complete a level after eight attempts, the Super Guide becomes available. The Super Guide is a computer controlled Luigi, that if selected, will show the player how to complete the level. What the Super Guide will not show you is all the level's secrets or alternate routes. You can use the Super Guide to complete troublesome levels but the game doesn't acknowledge it as a true victory. Some are sure to criticize the existence of the Super Guide, but it's not a bad feature and using it is entirely optional.

The Penguin Suit is one of the best power-ups in any Mario game. It also makes you look ridiculously huggable. 

Star Coins return, but unlike NSMB they aren't used for unlocking Toad Houses. These coins are used to unlock special hints like finding alternate routes, hidden exits and Warp Zones. Many of the coins are easy to obtain, but some of them are hidden pretty well and can't be accessed without certain power-ups if you're going it alone. With friends, it's manageable. If you're willing to collect all 231 coins, you'll be able to play each stage in World 9. Remember how hard the Special World from Super Mario World was? World 9 has a pretty similar difficulty and should only be approached by those that are curious or seek 100% completion, which includes getting all of the Star Coins in this world as well.

Two players can get around with just one Propeller Mushroom.  

NSMBW looks like a more cleaned up version of it's predecessor, sporting much smoother graphics. The game has the catchy, humable tunes you've come to expect out of a Mario game, using some slightly arranged versions of some the tunes from the first NSMB and a few remixes of classic Mario tracks such as the Underground theme.

New Super Mario Bros. Wii is one of the best titles for the Wii and a fine platform game. The new power-ups are very welcome, the Super Guide allows novice players to experience more of the game, and the platforming and level designs are some of the best the genre has to offer. This is a must-play game.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Game Art #1: Sonic Showcase

MEGA DRIVE by Carlos Plays
Love the nostalgia this image invokes. The black and white is an especially nice touch. Reminds me of all those B&W Genesis instruction manuals.

Unknown Artist
I really don't have a beef with Sonic's newer design (really, can we call it "new" if it's been around for over 10 years?), but I love about Sonic's classic art-style. I think this drawing captures the classic Sonic with absolute perfection.

Green Hill Zone by UpaUpa
Go ahead and try to tell me there's a more memorable zone in all of Sonic history than this one. Man, the colors on this are out of this world awesome.

Sonic 19 by Default-Deviant
This was actually done last year for Sonic's 19th anniversary. It's my current wallpaper.

Sonic and the Black Knight by zak29
Despite the title, this scene actually comes from Sonic 3 & Knuckles. This piece recreates first of many times Knuckles throws a switch to send Sonic and Tails elsewhere. Yeah, Knuckles was a real jerk back in the day.

sonic and tails by chicaramirez
Ah, Tails, Sonic's trusty sidekick. Along with taking your air bubbles and screwing up your chances at getting a Chaos Emerald in Sonic 2, he was the ultimate meat shield.

Sonic CD's FMV intro rocks. This picture rocks. That is all.

Sonic in Lava Reef Zone by nicochi
Lava Reef is one of my favorite Zones in Sonic 3 & Knuckles, though I do like Act 1 more, the crystal designs of Act 2 is still pretty sweet. nichoci has a new deviant art account you can view here.

Sonic the Hedgehog by nicochi
This style reminds me of the Saturday AM version of Sonic the Hedgehog, one of the best animated versions of Sonic, if not the best.

Sonic vs Metal Sonic by StudioZEL
Remember the race against Metal Sonic in Sonic CD? Man, was that annoying but I admit it was still one of the coolest parts to an already awesome game.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

SNES Once Again

I wanted to give my nieces a few more options when it comes to games they can play. So after moving and digging through tons of boxes to find the console and all my games, I hooked up the SNES. Though as much as I connected it for them to play, I've done my fair share of gaming on it as well.

It's been nearly a year since the system was hooked up. I completely forgot that I didn't leave a cartridge in the slot, so the system was probably dirtier than it's ever been. This is also the very same SNES unit I got from my parents on the Christmas of 1991. She even sports that top half fade that most early SNES consoles do.

For the most part, the old girl still works pretty well. Yeah, I have to blow in some of the games since all of them haven't been cleaned in a very long time. I also have to make sure no one even touches the cartridges while they are being played on the system because this immediately makes the game stop working, something I never had issues with before. I suppose this could just be due to the my SNES being so old.

I have considered getting another SNES model, perhaps the SNES Model 2, or maybe even the FC Twin, which plays NES games as well as SNES games. I have legally emulated all of the SNES games I own, but it really is more enjoyable playing my SNES games on a TV screen as opposed to close up on  a PC monitor. There's also the fact that many SNES games have yet to make their way to the Wii's Virtual Console, something I really wish Nintendo would rectify.

Really, though, it's awesome to play games on my SNES again. The system is easily one of my all-time favorite video game systems, if not my all-time favorite. I've amassed a library of over 70 games for it, with a few more I'd still love to pick up. Many of the games still hold up and the sound capabilities still impress me to this day. After I nap, I think I'll fire the old girl up for more Yoshi's Island and Street Fighter II Turbo.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Lakitu and Me

Art by MathieuBeaulieu at

Ask any gamer what the most annoying brand of enemy is. 10/10 of them will tell you it's the flying type. It doesn't help that flying enemy types show up in many genres. Adventure games, platformers, action; you can't escape them. Their sole purpose is to be the biggest annoyance you'll ever encounter so long as you're playing video games. I cannot stand Medusa Heads in Castlevania games and I detest birds in the NES Ninja Gaiden titles, but the single greatest airborne enemy I hate with a passion would have to be Lakitu of the Super Mario Bros. series.

Like most kids in the 1980s, I was playing Super Mario Bros. I had just made it to world 4-1 for the first time and was giddy with delight. That joy was short-lived when I saw Lakitu. Now up to this point, I was not used to seeing an enemy that can stay in the air. Lakitu, however, didn't just hover above me, taunting with his airborne superiority. He dropped these wonderful little pests called Spiny's and this is what makes me want to choke Lakitu each and every time I see him. Lakitu is a mook that drops MORE mooks. I found out the hard way that Spiny's couldn't be stomped on (though it should have been obvious with the spikes on their backs and all.) So I'm thinking "I'll just scroll him off screen. No problem." Imagine my surprise when Lakitu begins stalking me through the entire stage. He made me nervous throughout the whole level. I had to exercise caution with my jumps, lest I suffer the wrath of a hatched or even an unhatched Spiny. Thankfully, a pipe in 4-1 allows you to skip a good chunk of the topside level and to this day, I still take it just to get away from him.

Lakitu has been a thorn in gamer's sides since 1985.

For a while, I had no idea that Lakitu was killable. Unless you had a Fire Flower, you were pretty much defenseless against the onslaught of Spiny enemies he threw at you and even if you did take out the ones he tossed on the ground, he could always make more. One Sunday afternoon, I'd decided that enough was enough. I jumped onto those first four blocks in 4-1, waited for him to get in range and BAM! STOMPED! HE! WAS! OUTTA THERE!! When I saw Lakitu fall off the screen in defeat, it was like I'd won a long and brutal war. I was so happy. Sadly, Lakitu did not stay dead. Twelve seconds later he was back, but it was nice to know I could take him out, provided I could reach him.

Thankfully Lakitu did not show up in Super Mario Bros. 2 (as well as most of the enemy cast from the first game for what are now obvious reasons) but he was back with a vengeance in Super Mario Bros. 3. He was much quicker than before and he'd only stay dead for about 6 seconds and he was back to irk you again. He was also in many more levels, which only made me hate him even more. At least in Super Mario world, I could have Yoshi eat him, jack his cloud and then go joyriding in it. That was always fun.

Lousy camera angles in Super Mario 64? Blame Lakitu!

In 1992, Super Mario Kart hit the SNES and Lakitu showed up as flagman. Given my previous encounters with him, I was mighty suspect of his actions here. For all I knew, he was gonna drop a Spiny right in front of me just before the finish line and cost me a race. Strangely, Lakitu did not do that, nor did he ever try to harm me or any of the other racers. He informed you if you were going the wrong way, what lap you were on and even fished you out if you fell off the track... for a price. If you have some coins, kiss them goodbye. I always hated how he took my coins from me if I fell off course. I'd even try to jump to get them back with the Feather, but to no avail. Yeah, if you have no coins, Lakitu still places you back on course, but I just know he's doing it reluctantly.

If Lakitu pops out of the Assist Trophy in Brawl and I did not pick it up, I am NOT happy.

When Peach goes missing in Super Mario 64, Lakitu shows up as a cameraman. So he's helping you out. That sounds good, right? Think about all those times you got stuck with a less than desirable camera angle. Lakitu was just being a punk for all those times you stepped on him in the past.

I could go on, but I believe I've made my point. Lakitu is one of the most troublesome foes I've ever encountered in all my years of gaming. I make sure to kill him several times in a single level in Super Mario Galaxy 2 just because his death cries sustain me. And because I hate him. I can only count the days until Lakitu shows up to "help" or hinder me in another Mario title.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Game Art #0: Plumber's Dilemma

Art by Michael Mayne.
"This is why only fools are heroes -- because you never know when some lunatic will come along with a sadistic choice." - The Green Goblin, Spider-Man (2002 film)

While browsing Gaming Art, I came across this humorous piece that was just too cool not to repost. It also reminded me of the above quote.

So who do I think Mario should save? Well, Peach is beautiful but I've always felt Pauline was smoking hot! That and Pauline has only been kidnapped a handful of times since she's been around. Peach? She's been abducted WAY too many times. Also, Donkey Kong's traps tend to be a bit easier to get over than Bowser's. But if it comes down to material needs, Mario really should choose Peach. I mean, she's a princess. Princess = kingdom. And Pauline? Well, I'm sure she has a nice house or something.

Review: Mega Man 9 WiiWare

System: WiiWare (Also on PSN, Xbox Live)
Genre: Action/Platformer
Developer: Inti Creates
Publisher: Capcom
Original Release: 2008
Cost: 1000 Wii points

SCORE: 8.5/10

For years Mega Man fans thought that Capcom was finished making classic Mega Man games. It was thought that players would have to just be content playing the titles of the past to get their fix of the blue bomber. So when Capcom made the announcement that Mega Man 9 was in development in the summer of 2008, to say that fans were excited would be an understatement. Not only was Mega Man 9 a revival of the traditional franchise, it also, quite literally, took the series back to it's NES-style roots. Mega Man 9 is without question, one of the most polished games in the series.

Its a typical day for the citizens living in the year 20XX. Typical that is until robots start rioting all over the world. Turns out these aren't just any robots that are causing a ruckus. These robots were constructed by the world's number one robot expert, Dr. Light. Even the good doctor is shocked to see his creations are causing such devastation. There's even video footage of Dr. Light trying to coax Dr. Wily into joining him in his quest for World domination, but he refuses. Now why would Dr. Light, a man who has spent the last dozen games doing good, try to take over the world? Something is screwy (cough cough Wily cough) and it's up to Mega Man to clear his mentor's name.

This reminds me of that really annoying platform segment at the start of Guts Man's stage in the original Mega Man. Except this one here is much harder. Off five robot masters, get Rush Jet and then tackle Tornado's Man's stage if you don't have much faith in your platforming skills.
Mega Man 9 is just like any other game in the beloved classic franchise. The first eight stages can be selected in any order you like. Once you make it to the stage boss and defeat him/her (yes, there's a woman this time around), you'll be able to wield their weapon. Still following the rock-paper-sicciors gameplay, each robot master is weak to another's power and finding out who's weapon defeats who is the key to eliminating your foes quickly. Of course if you prefer a challenge, the game by no means forces you to face the robot masters or the final stage bosses using the weakness. That's the beauty of Mega Man games; no two people will play them the same way.

Behold, one of the most broken Mega Man weapons of all-time.
You can expect the same tight controls the series is known for. Mega Man moves and jumps with ease, but don't expect him to slide and charge his Mega Buster. In an attempt to simplify things, Mega Man functions exactly the way he did in the first two Mega Man games. This forces you to become even more adept at evading enemy attacks in a game that can already be quite challenging at first.

Splash Woman, the series first female robot master is also the only one in the game that takes the most damage with just the Mega Buster. Hmmm...
If this is your first Mega Man game, be warned. The series is known for it's difficulty. Novice players are likely to die a lot and even veterans may take a beating until they get the hang of how certain sections work. Mega Man 9 can be difficulty but by no means is it impossible.

The arsenal Mega Man acquires in Mega Man 9 is extremely useful. 
The shop makes a return and unlike Mega Man 8, screws are not scarce. Screws can be used to purchase items such as extra lives, E-Tanks, the ever-useful spike guard, and the energy balancer.

The game does offer a few odd balls among the bunch of robot masters (Plug Man, Jewel Man), but even taking them into account, you've got a bunch that really is hard to dislike. Even better the the weapons you get from them after they fall. Splash Woman's Lazer Trident is almost the equvilant of the Metal Blade. It can be used in rapid succession and it hardly uses any energy. Hornet Man's Hornet Chaser homes in on enemies and picks up screws and other power ups for you. Jewel Man's Jewel Sattelite is the best shield weapon. Ever. It can deflect bullets from Mettols and Machine Gun Joes and it will only go away if you leave the screen, or it hits a super strong opponent. Mega Man 9 has one of the best arsenals of weapons of any Mega Man game.

One would think that Capcom would take the game in a new visual direction. Instead, it looks exactly like the first six NES games. It may look like an NES title, but it seems to brim with more detail (in the game's intro especially) and there's not an ounce of slow down, though flicker can be turned on if you desire to further emulate this being an NES game. What's more, even the game's musical score sounds like it could have been done on the NES, though this along with the graphics, really aren't a negative. One of the many reasons Mega Man games have been so popular is thanks in large part to the music and Mega Man 9 does not disappoint. The music is catchy, energetic, and very andrenalyn driven. If there's one fault with the audio, it comes from some reused music. Six jingles were lifted straight out of Mega Man 2. As great as Mega Man 2's music is, some new jingle themes would have been nice. That said, you'll be humming Mega Man 9's original tracks for days.

Mega Man 9 does offer something no other Mega Man game has before: downloadable content. Proto Man becomes playable after you fork over 200 points and he can slide and charge his shots. However, those nifty abilities can be seen as both a blessing and a curse. Proto Man not only takes double damage when hit, but he gets knocked back even further as well. To add insult to injury Proto Man can't even access the shop nor does he have any story. It sort of feels like he was a tacked on extra. The Endless Attack mode is more worthy of you spare points. You get one life to last as long as you can in a randomized endless stage, complete with the robot master battles from time to time. There's also the rather challenging special stage that pits you against Fake Man, one of the robot cops that arrests Dr. Light. There's also Time Attack mode for those of you feeling speedy and looking to compete with other players across the globe, or if you wish to compete with yourself and best your own times. You've also got a sizable list of achivements if you're looking for bragging rights. These range from simple tasks like finishing the game, to more gruling stunts like completing the game without taking any damage. Along with the Time Attack and Endless Attack modes, Mega Man 9 has some good replay value to what was already an outstanding game.

Proto Man is playable but only pick him up if you want more of a challenge.
It was a long time coming and many thought they'd never see it, but Mega Man 9 was worth waiting for. The old-school visuals should please long-time fans along with the retro-style music. Mega Man fans should get this bargain game without hesitation. If you're playing a Mega Man game for the first time, this certainly isn't a bad place to start, just be prepared for a rough start. You really can't go wrong with this one.