Search This Blog

Thursday, July 28, 2011

The NEW Online Pass

Yet another game that kills the option
of deleting/overwriting game data.
Idiocy can be quite contagious. Take Namco Bandai Games, for example. After Capcom's colossal screw up with Resident Evil Mercenaries 3D, Namco has decided to follow suit with Pac-Man & Galaga Dimensions, meaning that players cannot delete or overwrite their saved game data once they start playing the game. Capcom's weak sauce excuse was that they intended REM3D to be like an arcade game. Pardon my grammar but LYING LIES IS LIES!!! Like an arcade game? Pffft. Don't. Make. Me. Laugh! No matter how Capcom tries to word it, it's just a stupid way to block used game sales, plain and simple. If you honestly believe Capcom isn't talking out of their anus, I've got some mud I'd like to sell you.

Look, if we want to delete our save files or start over, that's our God-given right. Some may ask "Why would you even want to delete data?" I've done it numerous times with second hand games. Heck, I've played through games I've beaten more than a few times, including some RPGs. The option to delete old saves or overwrite date is pretty handy. When I started playing the DS version of Sonic & Sega All-Stars Racing, the first thing I did was clear out all the old game data and start up my own file. I picked up some used PS2 memory cards last year. What did I do before saving on them? Delete the existing data that was there. Strange as it may sound, there are plethora of gamers out there that like having the option to clear data and records.

The online pass caused a ruckus among the gaming community when Mortal Kombat was released. If you picked up MK used and wanted to play online, it would cost you $10 to obtain the pass. This would make potential buyers think twice about buying the game used. Buying a game new means the money goes to the company. Picking up a title used means the company that published the game doesn't seen a dime on that purchase.

We're still in a global recession (no, it isn't just limited to the United States). Like deleting data, buying used games is our right. Money is tight for a lot of people and not everyone can afford to buy a game brand new. Lots of gamers shop on a budget, so picking up a game used means money towards other things.

As irksome as the online pass is, not being able to delete or overwrite game data is arguably even worse. It's a stupid move and since word travels insanely fast in this day and age, Capcom and Namco Bandai run the risk of decreasing their game sales. I'd go so far as to say that this IS the new online pass. If I were Namco Bandai, Capcom would be the last company I'd be taking notes from. I mean, Capcom is close to being the most hated publisher in the industry right now.

EDIT: According to reports you can delete the data, you just need to press "ABXYLR" when you start the game. Special thanks to dste for clearing this up.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Memories #1: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles

If you were a child of the 1980s, chances are good that you loved the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. I was a huge fan of the 1987 cartoon series. It helped me get out of bed on weekday mornings as well as Saturday mornings. My first Turtles action figure was a Leonardo from the very first series of Ninja Turtles action figures, which were actually based on artwork from the comics.

Being a kid who lived and breathed Turtle Power, I was as giddy as a school girl when I saw that there was a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles game on the NES that went by that exact name. I was with my dad, sister and a friend when I saw it at the rental store. We rented it out along with DuckTales and some other NES game that I can't remember. I really liked the cover art for the game, even though it looked nothing like what I had seen on the show. This was because it was based off of the art from the comic, just like the rest of the art for the close up portraits of the Turtles in the game. Originally released in June of 1989, TMNT was published under Konami's Ultra Games label. This was Konami's way of getting past that pesky 6 games per year restriction that Nintendo issued to third parties that wished to develop and publish games on the NES.

Placing the game in the NES and turning on the power, we were greeted with what I still think is one of the coolest intros to an NES game. It shows all four of the turtles quickly mutating and showing off their weapons. After that, the turtles and Splinter look on to see April doing what she does best: getting captured and by the Turtle's arch nemesis Shredder, no less. With that, we started up the game and began our quest to save April! Sadly, it didn't go so well. I think Leo was the first Turtle that we lost and if I recall, I don't even think we made it to Rocksteady on our first try.

Even this game likes to show off how busty April is.
Plugging away at the game in the three days we had it, we learned quite a bit. For starters, we found out that Leo and Don were the best Turtles and that Mike and Raph sucked. I mean, I loved all four members of the green machine, but Mike and Raph were designed for close combat, which made them cannon fodder for just about any boss fight. They were great for taking out Mousers, though. If we knew we'd lose a Turtle, it was time to send in the pawns!

By the second or third day playing it, we made it to Rocksteady and if I remember right, we found out for ourselves the trick that pretty much everyone knows today. Select Don, stand on top of the crates and whale away at Rocksteady while he charges away like the moron he is in his vain attempts to reach you. Being the naive child I was, I thought rescuing April would be the end of the game. Unlike Super Mario Bros. you saved April early on and there was much more to do after she was rescued, like say, keep a dam from blowing up.

I'm pretty sure most gamers said more than "OK!"
after finishing this level.
The game's second mission was much more difficult than the first. I'm positive that we never passed it no matter how hard we tried. Controlling the turtles in the water wasn't easy and there was so much electric seaweed that all four turtles dropped like bricks.

I might be wrong, but I don't think this will
be good news.
The Technodrome is MUCH bigger on the inside than
this picture would have you believe.
As much as I enjoyed the NES TMNT as a kid, I never owned it. At least not until I was eighteen. I went in Funcoland (before all of them became GameStops) and picked up a used copy for twenty six cents. I'm not kidding. The game was that cheap and I've never acquired an NES game for so little money. By now, I was far more experienced at games than when I was a child. I made it pass the underwater stage! As tough as that was, the game only got harder after Shredder had Splinter kidnapped. Oy!

These days, TMNT on the NES is a game that gets a lot of criticism and it isn't hard to see why. It has a nightmarish difficulty that could make the Mega Man series cringe, it incorporated so few characters from the show and the jump physics are just plain awkward. Be that as it may, I think way too many bashers focus on all the negative points that they never see it's good one, the soundtrack. TMNT for the NES has some of the finest video game music you will ever hear. The intro tune is a great way to sell players on the game's music. OCR even remixed it for the Heros vs. Villains album. The first Overworld theme will instantly get stuck in your head. And that boss theme? I don't care how short it is, it's KILLER! We all hated the second stage where we had to disarm those bombs underwater, but at least the music to that stage was just sooooo gooood! By far, the Underwater Bombs theme is one of the best aquatic level pieces ever constructed.

TMNT#4 was the basis for the NES game's cover art.
While I'm fully aware that TMNT on the NES is far from what many would consider a good game, I still have a soft spot for it. I'll never sell my physical copy and I may someday download it on the Wii's Virtual Console.  Heck, I may even try to finish it one day, as crazy as that sounds. And of course, I LOVE the game's music, which is all kinds of awesome and considering the TMNT theme is nowhere in the game, that's very impressive.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

More Sonic Toys

The date of Sonic's 20th anniversary has passed but I'm still celebrating. I've been playing through numerous Sonic games (Sonic & Sega All-Stars Racing on the DS and Sonic Colors on the Wii), listening to the Sonic Playlist on my MP3 player for weeks, and adding hedgehog toys to my collection. Here's what I've picked up over the last few weeks.

The Wacky Wobbler Sonic the Hedgehog Bobble Head is something I first saw in fye and at first, I wasn't very fond it, but the more I looked at it, the more it grew on me. It didn't hurt that the asking price was really low. Even the box this thing came in is very nice, so nice that I won't be throwing it away. Sonic is one again pointing his finger and has that classic smirk on his face. There are actually Wacky Wobbler Bobble Heads of Tails and Knuckles but fye only had the one of Sonic so I'll be ordering the rest of Team Sonic in due time. Really, I don't know how I could have not liked this bobble head before.

Next up is Jazwares 3" Sonic figures that sport a whopping 12 points of articulation. I picked up Sonic, Knuckles and Shadow. I won't be getting the whole lot of this set. There are 15 figures in all and there's no way I'll be buying the likes of Werehog, Amy, or Silver. However, I will pick up Metal Sonic, Tails, Super Sonic and maybe Espio and Victor (the last two are members of Team Chaotix).

Friday, July 22, 2011

Seriously, Capcom...

If there's one video game company that has earned the wrath of gamers across the globe, it's Capcom. Since this is the internet age, most people already know what I'm talking about, but in case you've just arrived on planet Earth, let me bring you up to speed.

In just 2011, Capcom has 86'd two, yes, TWO Mega Man games. The first was Mega Man Universe, a game that would have been as close a sequel to Mega Man Powered Up as we could get with online play. The second was the fan demanded sequel, Mega Man Legends 3. Fans have been wanting to see this game for over a decade. When it was finally announced that Mega Man Legends 3 would be a reality, the fandom rejoiced. It was also one of the few games to see so much input from the fans, so much input that it was really starting to feel like a title that was by the fans, for the fans. And then Capcom slammed the ax down on Legends 3 faster than it takes Metal Man to die by his own weapon. You could say that the fans were angry but that would be a huge understatement. The reason Mega Man Legends 3 was canceled? Well according to Capcom it was because it didn't meet "the required criteria." Yeah, I think it's bogus answer as well. For crying out loud, they had a prototype version ready to go. The game has been in development for almost a year. And then Capcom decides to cut the cord? Not cool.

Want to play this version of Legends 3? Well, tough rocks, chump!
I originally thought the Mega Man franchise would be fine even though Keiji Inafune was no longer with Capcom but now, I'm starting to wonder. Sure, we got the excellent Mega Man 9 and 10, but did those games only happen because Inafune was with the company? I'm not the biggest fan of IGN, but there is a pretty interesting article on the site on Capcom and whether or not they are trying to get rid of one of the companies biggest cash cows. With two Mega Man games getting canned in the same year, it doesn't sound too unlikely that Capcom may have something against the Blue Bomber, which would be ludicrous.

As I mentioned above, Mega Man equals money and  the last time I checked, Capcom LOVES them some money, otherwise they wouldn't keep releasing so many updated versions of your favorite fighting game, making the current ones you own obsolete, which brings me to my next gripe with Capcom.

How many freaking versions of SFIV do we need?
I'm guessing Capcom caught '90s fever all over again because they've once again resorted to releasing tweaked sequels to their fighting games. As of right now, there are a total of four different version of Street Figher IV, two of which game out in 2011. But wait, there's more! It's not just limited to Street Fighter, oh no. Marvel vs. Capcom 3 is getting in on the act. If you haven't picked it up yet, I highly suggest you wait until November to pick up Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3, which includes 12 new characters that should have been in the first MvC3. Oh and guess what? Mega Man isn't one of them. There's another low blow to fans. No, Zero does not count. I'm getting sick of his overexposure and he needs to go the eff away for a while.

The inclusion of Firebrand is nice but Mega Man is
still MIA from the Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3 roster.
Capcom needs to realize that this isn't the '90s. Many gamers have grown up and are no longer the mindless sheep that will buy every update sequel they release. At least that's what I want to believe. The fighting game community has to stay on top of the current fighters and that means shelling out cash for an updated game that was released less than a year after the original. However, since Capcom has done so much to infuriate the very people that keep them afloat as of late, maybe they'll send a message that they are fed up with all the updated sequels. Maybe.

Since I found out the single save file in Mercenaries 3D can
never be overwritten or deleted, I'm wondering how
this game will do in sales.
Lastly, there's Resident Evil Mercenaries 3D. Did you buy it yet? You may want to hold off. The word is already spreading fast on this one, but in case you are unaware, here's the deal. There's only one save file and once you start up that file on Mercenaries 3D, you can never delete it. Ever. This is the worse case of trying to block used video game sales I've ever seen. Capcom may try to deny it, but really, that's what it is.

So, Capcom, what will you do next to upset your fans?

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Latest Game Purchases #9

I needed to pick up a new stylus for my DSi since it didn't come with one and the only stylus I had was an original DS stylus. I thought K-Mart might have some in stock so I made a trip there since there was one in the area. When I reached the game section, I was surprised to see some of the games that were on a clearance sale. I never expected to see Punch-Out!! brand new for $20. They only had a few copies left so I grabbed it the second I saw it. Every other place I've seen Punch-Out!! has been selling it for $30-$40 new so being able to get it for $20 was quite the bargain.

Looking through the clearance titles further unearthed another Wii game that received much praise: Sin & Punishment: Star Successor, which was also going for $20. Talk about a lucky break! That game is still going for $50 at Best Buy. Much like Punch-Out!!, there were only a handful of copies left so, yoink!

It's funny, I really didn't plan on buying any Wii games today and yet I ended up getting two titles I've been wanting the most. On top of that, I got them at K-Mart, of all places. It really does pay to shop around.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Mario & Luigi are on My Bag

I'm one of those types that carries a bag around with him everywhere he goes. In it contains paper for drawing, video game magazines I'm currently reading, my DSi and other stuff. There's a lot on the inside but the outside is pretty bland. It didn't dawn on me until recently that my bag was missing color, lacking personality. That's where the Super Mario Keychains come in.

Thanks to Mario & Luigi, my bag is no longer gloomy on the outside. It has more omph, more pizzazz, more awesomeness. There are a total of six keychains in the Super Mario Keychain collection and starting the set off with the plumbing duo just felt right. I'll pick up the rest in due time but I'm not sure if I'll clip those on my bag or even my keys. Perhaps I'll hang those on a wall somewhere.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Monday, July 18, 2011

Having Issues

Want information on a game? It's instantly accessible, via a few clicks on the internet. Much as I love visiting my favorite gaming sites, I still have a fondness for a few video game magazines. A lot of people say print media is dying, but I don't think it will ever fully go the way of the Dodo bird. There's really nothing like holding a good game magazine in your hands, flipping through the pages, reading reviews, editorials, special features and so on.

I can still remember the very first game mag I picked up. It was Nintendo Power Vol. 13, which was a detailed strategy guide for Super Mario Bros. 3, the entire issue. That particular Nintendo Power issue helped me become as adept as I am at that game today. Many of the tricks and tips I learned are still firmly implanted in my brain. I know the quickest path to get to Bowser once I enter his castle, I became aware that I could rack up extra lives real fast in World 1-2 via Goombas coming out of the pipe, and I knew where each and every warp whistle was. Any secret you want to know about Super Mario Bros. 3 can be unearthed with ease on YouTube and plenty of other places on the web, but in 1990, if you were one of the few people who knew this stuff, you were the coolest kid on the block.

My very first issue of Nintendo Power. I
still have it in my possession.
A few years later I would start picking up Nintendo Power on a regular basis. As I looked through the review section it became increasingly clear that the magazine had a bias towards Nintendo-developed and published games. Back when the magazine used the 5 point rating system, Super Mario World was the only game to achieve near perfect sores in every category until Donkey Kong Country was released. I love me some Super Mario World but visually and audibly, that came had been outclassed by a ton of other SNES games. The magazine would give plenty of praise to third party games but when it came to first party stuff, Nintendo's games walked away with the highest ratings. This was a time when the magazine was owned by Nintendo itself so I suppose such bias was to be expected but it still rubbed me the wrong way.

The Last Nintendo-published issue of Nintendo Power that I bought was the April 1999 issue. I wouldn't buy another issue of Nintendo Power until December of 2007 and boy was I surprised to see that a lot had changed since then. These days the magazine is published by Future US and it's has content much like every other gaming magazine. Walkthroughs and strategy guides from Nintendo Power are now a thing of the past. In fact, Prima puts out strategy guides on big first party Nintendo games. There's a greater focus on previews, reviews and special features on upcoming games. The community section that shows off lots of stuff from readers like hand crafted clothing and figurines is one of the best things about the magazine. Along with this has come a change in writing style. The Nintendo Power of old would never say that Big the Cat should "Die in a fire," (something I wholeheartedly agree with) or use swearing. This kinda stuff was a shock to the system and was a big indicator how much the magazine had changed over the years.

Nintendo Power has changed a lot over the years. I personally
think it has changed for the better.
As much as I enjoyed the old Nintendo Power (despite the bias), I love what it has evolved into. It's becoming one of my favorite magazines to buy each month and I've considered getting a subscription just so I can get it sooner. I've always been a Nintendo fan. Yes, I have beefs with the company about how they do certain things, but I still love them. I'll be a Nintendo fan til the day I die so in that sense, it only seems natural to me to read Nintendo Power.

The second video game magazine that I ever picked up was GamePro. If I remember right, it was the December 1993 issue. I had never seen a video game magazine so think. There were a lot of ads but there was also a lot of content. In this particular issue I got my first look at Sonic CD. I didn't have a Sega CD at the time, but being a huge fan of Sonic, I was still interested in the game, nonetheless. This issue also had reviews for all three versions (SNES, NES and Genesis) of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Tournament Fighters. It was just such a joy to read and thumb through. The staff went by oddball names like Scary Larry, which always made me chuckle. I pretty much liked everything about GamePro and  had no major problems with the mag for years. It was the first magazine I ever got a subscription to. Which made getting the mail with a GamePro issue even more fun.

Ah, the memories.
GamePro now.
They say that change is good and I like to think I was there for some of GamePro's evolution, though I honestly can't remember it. In the current GamePro, articles are a major focus and I do think that's one of the new GamePro's best points. The March 2011 issue I read had a very interesting article called Sonic's Dilemma, which was focused on the ferocity and seething hatred of the Sonic fanbase. The reviews section, however, I didn't really care for. While it is nice to know what other game critics think of a game, I'd rather have more of the review be about what the prime reviewer thought. As of now, my opinion on the current GamePro is a bit of a mixed bag. I like that there's a greater focus on articles but find the reviews to be a step backwards. I'm a little saddened by that because I used to love GamePro's reviews.

The first issue of EGM I ever bought.
Electronic Gaming Monthly was the other game mag I was familiar with. The first issue I picked up was one of the summer issues from 1994 that had a special feature on Mortal Kombat II. Starting with the April 1998 issue I would be a regular reader of the magazine for years to come. The four person review system took some time to get used to but it grew on me as it was nice to have more than one opinion on games. EGM was also my exposure to seeing a game get ripped to shreds when it was awful. Games that really stunk up the place were given scores of 4s, 2s and 3s by the mother load and it was a treat to read the review crew's negative feedback on such disastrous products, something that only seemed to get better when Sean Baby got his own regular section in the magazine in the early 2000s.

I wish I could say something about the current EGM, but in truth I haven't kept up with the magazine in years. For a long time, it was my favorite thing to read but in the early 2000s, there was a radical redesign in the layout. Reviews were cut back to three reviewers per game and ads began to take up even more space. I flip through it every now and then and I can say that I the current magazine layout doesn't bother me. Maybe I'll pick up an issue sometime and hop back on board. Oh and fun fact, Major Mike used to work for EGM.

Game Informer, circa 1998.
Another magazine I read for a while was Game Informer. I started picking this one up in 1998. It had the standard reviews, previews and special cover stories but one thing that set it apart from other magazines at the time was a four page section called Classic GI. The focus on this section was for games from the previous generations. Thanks to Classic GI I became ware of Cobra Triangle, Blaster Master and other retro classics that I added to my collection. Game Informer also happens to be the very first magazine that I got a letter published in. It was July 1998 issue, which I still have. Like most gaming mags, Game Informer also underwent change, and sadly the Classic GI section is pretty much gone. I haven't read Game Informer in years but it's certainly something I'd pick up again, even though I don't always agree with the staff.

The current Game Informer.
The latest game magazine I've picked up is Retro Gamer. I had been aware of this magazine almost a year before picking up my first issue. Living in Ohio, Retro Gamer was not sold on newsstands, or at least it wasn't in the city I lived in. When I made the move to Virginia Beach, it was a pleasant surprise to see Retro Gamer in book stores. Being a huge fan of old-school gaming, Retro Gamer and I go together like peanut butter and jelly. Since a lot of old-school games are coming out on downloadable services like PlayStation Network, Xbox Live Arcade and Virtual console, there is a review section but it's not quite as robust as other gaming mags. There's also reviews for homebrew games and newer games that have an old-school feel to them like Donkey Kong Country Returns.

One of the best magazines being published.
Content found in Retro Gamer makes it unlike any other gaming magazine or website. Future Classic is a two page feature that highlights a game that isn't all that old and tells why we'll be playing it years later. A few games that made the Future Classic section are Astro Boy: Omega Factor and Luigi's Mansion, I'm happy to say. Readers can regularly see their words in the magazine each month and I'm not just talking about the letter's section. I, myself am an example. Then you have the occasional collector's guide which highlights the obvious and not-so-obvious games you should own for the featured console along with how easy or hard a game is to find. Along with all the magazines wonderful features, it's just a joy to read. It may be a mag for old-school gamers, but I recommend Retro Gamer to anyone that enjoys a good magazine to read. I plan to stick with this magazine now matter what.

I thew a lot of my old gaming magazines out some time after I moved into my first apartment. Looking back, I kinda wish I hadn't. It would have been fun to go back and reminisce, read some of those old reviews. Now that I'm actively reading game magazines once more, I won't repeat that mistake.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Proud Owner of a White DSi

For a while now, I was debating whether to get a DSi or a 3DS. A co-worker obtained a White DSi that he was willing to sell to me for just $60. Compared to the $150 that a new DSi goes for, buying one for $60 was a no brainer. Not only that, he even threw in two games Sonic & Sega All-Stars Racing and Guitar Hero on Tour, free of charge.

The DSi is a huge step up from the original DS model. It's super compact, the screen is so much brighter, and more importantly, the touch screen looks brand spanking new in contrast to my original DS. I plan to do everything I can to take care of the touch screen for my DSi so I'll look into some accessories to buy and do some research on those.

Camera functions on the DSi are pretty neat as well. Sure, it may not be of the same quality as that of a high tech digital camera, but like a standard camera, depending on the lighting and other such things, the pictures you take can been viewed with ease. Even without an SD card, the DSi can hold a TON of photos as evidenced by the number of pictures left on the thing from the last kid who owned the thing. At first I wasn't really sure if I'd use the camera, but after doing some looking around, there are tons of things I could snap. I do wish there was an option to delete all photos because it took me a while to clear out the albums of the previous owner.

Unfortunately I did run into a snag, one I really should have anticipated. Since the DSi unit I have is used, originally belonged to a child, it was set with parental controls in mind, which killed internet access for me. Fortunately some searching on the net led me to some info that let me terminate the parental control settings. So now I can start checking out DSi games. Well, once I get some DSi points I can start checking out those games.

Since the DSi has no Game Boy Advance slot, playing GBA games are out of the question. This does make me wonder if GBA games will become available on the 3DS eShop. Of course I could just get a GBA SP and get access to GBA games and all my old Game Boy and Game Boy Color games. But then, I have no qualms about owning digital copies of GB, Game Boy Color games or GBA games if Nintendo decides to allow GBA games to be part oft he eShop. Despite my gripes with the 3DS' battery life, I'll be buying one eventually (probably the model that ups the battery life).

Now that I finally have a DSi, it's time I laid my original DS model to rest. The old girl has served me well over the last 5 and a half years. I'm not gonna sell it or trade it in because I know I won't get much for it. She'll just sit on my shelf as a constant reminder of all the fun times I had when I played games on her.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Super Mario Chess Collector's Edition

I've never been very good at it, but seeing the Super Mario Chess Collector's Edition has made me think about playing chess again. The rules of the game have long since escaped me but I do remember it being a lot more strategic than checkers. Of course this particular chess set is so cool, I think I'd be perfectly happy just displaying it without ever bothering to play the thing.

The Super Mario Chess Collector's Edition is something I've had my eye on for a while now. I first saw it when I was browsing in Barns & Nobles. As much stuff as I've bought from Barns & Nobles, I actually got the Super Mario Chess set from fye. Barns & Nobles actually wanted $50 for this thing while fye was only asking for $40. I was originally going to buy this online but the included shipping would have probably cost me what I'd pay at fye, so I figured this would be one of those times I'd shop the old fashioned way.

I must say, this is one very nice set. I love the care that went into painting the pieces and the posses that they stand in. Each chess piece is even labeled with a name, which also brings me to my gripes.

While Mario and Bowser are obviously the Kings of their respective teams, Luigi is for some screwed up reason, the Queen. I'm not making that up. I didn't even have to look at his chess piece to see his Queen label, it's on the back of the case. You thought the Luigi bashing was limited to the games? Oh, no. Peach is on Mario's team so why isn't she the Queen? I mean, that does make more sense, right? Luigi should have been the Knight, but Yoshi fills that role. At least Bowser Jr. is the Queen on his team. I never did like him. He's just a snot-nosed punk that got to be head of the Koopalings (which is a crime in and of itself) simply because he has the name Bowser Jr. and he's a subpar version of his old man. But I digress. Luigi being Queen isn't the only thing that bothers me. Toad is the Rook while the Coin pieces are the Pawns. Coins hold more value than Toad. Coins help us get much needed extra lives. What has Toad done? Besides suck at being a guard, not much. Meanwhile on Bowser's team, the Goomba is a Rook and the Koopa Shells are the Pawns. Last time I checked, Goombas were pretty worthless and after being stomped just once, they were done for. Koopa Shells on the other hand, can be used to earn 1-ups and you have to stomp a Koopa Troopa and kick his shell to be rid of him. In short, while not that much of a bigger threat, Koopa Troopas are higher on the mook chain than Goombas ever will be.

But really, this is all just me inserting my own personal views on the roles that the pieces were given. It really doesn't affect my overall opinion on this set, which I think is one of the best games Usaoply has put out. I would love to have taken my own pictures, but my current room is still tight on space so there's a lot of stuff that I can't display. When I'm able to, I'll take some nice pictures.

Friday, July 8, 2011

I've Been Printed in Retro Gamer!

Retro Gamer is an award-winning UK-based magazine that I've been buying for four months now and is one of my favorite things to read. What's it about? Pretty obvious, don't you think? Anyway, in Load 90 (what they call issue numbers), there's a ten page article on some game. Perhaps you've heard of it. It's called The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time. On the Retro Gamer forums, they asked readers what were their favorite moments of said game. On the forums I go by the name Reglan and when I saw the spot where reader comments would be posted, I immediately looked for mine. Sure enough, there it was, complete with my 9-Volt avatar. Since I don't have a scanner, I took a picture of it with a digital camera so pardon my amateur theatrics.

This certainly isn't the first time I've been printed in game mag. I've had letters printed in Game Informer, Electronic Gaming Monthly and Official US PlayStation Magazine. Still, it's always a joy to see your words printed in a magazine, knowing that something your wrote truly stood out. I've seen a number of my fellow forumites on the Retro Gamer forums get their stuff printed in the magazine numerous times, so maybe I can make the magazine more than once.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Latest Game Purchases #8

I wanted to pick up a new Wii game for my birthday and I had my mind set on Sonic Colors. Sonic's latest 3D adventure has received much critical acclaim, being touted as the best modern Sonic title. Each time I saw it at Best Buy it was priced at $30. Been wanting to check this game out and since I still have a mad case of hedgehog fever, I finally bought it.

Metroid: Other M was an unexpected buy. That game is always priced at $50 but it was marked down for $20. I'm not sure if it was on sale or that's Best Buy's new price on that game or what. Regardless, the price was too good to pass up.

It would have been nice to get some retro titles this week. I was originally gonna buy some more Saturn imports but money was a bit tight with this week's check. So, the imports and retro titles will have to wait another time.

I did, however, pick up my first ever Mario shirt! For as many years that I've been a fan of Mario, I cannot believe I've never owned a Mario-themed shirt until now. I picked up this large sized Mario shirt with tons of 1up Mushrooms for less than $7 at fye. The also have a green Luigi shirt. Green isn't really my color, but I've always been a Luigi fan and that guy needs all the love he can get. I'll probably pick that one up next time I get paid. They actually have a nice selection of gaming shirts at fye and the prices aren't bad either, considering it's fye. By the way, this thing is NEVER being put in a dry because I don't want it to shrink.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Jail Time for Video Game Streaming?

Not only do I love to play video games, I love to watch others play video games. I'm a huge fan of the Let's Play community, both those that are big name players and those that aren't so well-known. Well, if Congress gets their way, Let's Play videos on YouTube could be a thing of the past. Congress wants to enforce a law that could not only make those that post Let's Play videos be put in jail, but anyone that posts any game related footage on YouTube. This means you could get sent to the big house for simply posting a video of you and your pals rocking hard in Guitar Hero.

I know companies want to protect their stuff, but the whip cracking has got to stop somewhere. This bill is absurd on so many levels. When gamers aren't allowed to post video walkthroughs or Let's Play videos out of fear of being thrown in jail, then we've got a serious problem. Not only would it mean the end of many Let's Play videos, it would kill the popularity some games may ever have the chance to get. Some people don't take an interest in certain games until they come across a video or a Let's Play series on YouTube. If this law gets passed, all that would get taken away. But Let's Players wouldn't be the only ones who would suffer. Simply posting a video of your best time beating Super Mario World could get you tossed in prison.

Then there's also the enormous breach of freedom that this bill poses. It puts a huge limit on video game content. Want to post a video of you and buddies having a good time with Crazy Taxi? Not on Congresses watch! Got some cool Blazblue combo videos to share? Sorry, can't post them! The cops will get you! Heck, even linking to any possible video game footage posted by YouTube users could send you to jail. You can check out the whole text of the bill here.

Times like these that Congress really gets under my skin. It makes me feel that it's run by tired old suits that have no understanding of gaming and wish to strike down the medium any way it can. The fact that this bill was even proposed is beyond stupid.

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Virtual Console Review: Sonic the Hedgehog 2

System: Genesis
Genre: Platformer
Developer: Sonic Team
Publisher: Sega
Virtual Console Release: Jun 11, 2007 (USA) / Jul 6 2007 (EUR) / Jun 19, 2007 (JPN)
Original Release: Nov 24, 1992 (USA & EUR) / Nov 21, 1992 (JPN)
Cost: 800 points
Players: 1-2
Rated: E (Everyone)

With the first Sonic the Hedgehog, Sega not only gained a mascot, they proved themselves as the first heavy weight contender against Nintendo when at the time, no one else could touch them. A sequel to one of the best games on the Genesis only seemed natural. Sonic the Hedgehog 2 plays a lot like the first game and while it doesn't stray very far from the original, in this case, more of the same isn't really a bad thing.

Dr. Robotnik is at it again, enslaving helpless animals inside of robots and trying to conquer the world and with the aid of his latest super weapon, the Death Egg, that mad dream could become a reality. Unless, of course, a speedy blue hedgehog and a two tailed fox stop him. Sonic and Tails must travel through 11 zones, collect rings, smashing robots and running on insanely large loops if they want to bring peace to their world.

Sonic & Tails.
While Sonic 2 does stay close to the original formula. It does spice things up a bit. For starters, the number of acts per zone has been reduced to two. That doesn't make Sonic 2 a shorter game, though. On the Contrary. Sonic 2 is the second largest game of the Genesis Sonic titles. The zones in Sonic 2 are massive with even more alternate routes than the first game. If there's a downside to Sonic 2's huge levels, it's that they aren't as well crafted as the original game. These are still good levels to run and jump through, but there are some hiccups here and there like an inescapable spike pit in Mystic Cave Zone that's pretty easy to get stuck in. A few other zones have half ramps and springs that can launch you right into spikes. These don't appear very often but the fact that these few bad choices in level designs even exists is irritating. At the end of each second act Robotnik shows up to give Sonic and Tails a hard time in variations of his Eggmobile, a machine that for some reason or another, can't stand up to eight hits from animals that walk on two legs.

Chaos Emeralds return but the number has been bumped up from six to seven. Passing Star Posts (check points) with 50 rings or more allows you to enter a special stage, which plays out on a half pipe. The Goal here is to make it through each segment of the stage with enough rings to move onward and collect the Chaos Emerald. Should you manage to obtain all seven Chaos Emeralds you can transform Sonic into Super Sonic, a buffed up, even faster version of his hedgehog self. You must have 50 rings and jump to make the transformation and with each passing second, your ring counter depletes. So if you want to keep your super form, grab those rings. Be warned that precision jumps become that much more difficult as Super Sonic.

Chemical Plant Zone, one of the coolest-looking levels in the game
complete with a killer theme tune.
The main single player mode can actually be played with two players. The AI controls Tails, who mimics Sonic's movements, but a second player can take control of Tails' actions at any time, and since the little guy is nigh invincible, he can make some boss fights a breeze. Unless you have a buddy around, you may want to go into the options menu and disable Tails so Sonic can play solo because although the fox means well, he can really throw off your game in the special stages since he reacts 1 second after Sonic does. As much as he can be helpful for boss fights, he can also mess up your rhythm while you're trying to land a hit and end up getting you killed. Bottom line: exercise extreme caution when the AI controls Tails.

Mystic Cave Zone can be pretty devious if you aren't careful.
One of the easiest, most peaceful levels in the game, Sky Chase Zone.
If you're feeling competitive, there is a 2 player versus mode, which pits Sonic and Tails against one another in a race. Crosses the sign post first and you'll be the victor but there are all sorts of items to make things hectic, one particularly nasty item actually causes the players to switch places. Extremely aggravating if you were in the lead. The rules of the single player apply. So long as you have one ring, you'e safe from enemy attack. It's a nice feature being able to play three of the game's zones in a versus setting but it squishes the graphics and the speed isn't on par with the single player mode. The fourth stage is a simply a versus mode of a half-pipe special stage. You may visit the 2 player mode from time to time, but ultimately, the single player game is the main draw.

As visually impressive as the first Sonic game on the Genesis was, Sonic 2 is even more so. Chemical Plant Zone is set against a night cityscape background that blends well with the foreground graphics. The character sprites are gorgeous, with Sonic and Tails in particular teeming with life. Sonic, impatience rodent that he is will look at the player and tap his foot if left idle, but that's not the end of it. He'll look at his watch while he continues to tap his foot. Leave him there a little longer and he lays down, staring back at the player as if he were bored out of his skull. Tails will simply look at the screen and yawn, possibly expressing his desire (though not as blatantly as Sonic) for the player to hurry up. Nearly 20 years later, seeing those sprite animations is just as amusing as ever. The Genesis hardware does an a very admirable job of keeping the action fast paced with backgrounds that feature no blur effects just like the first game.

Get all the Chaos Emeralds...
...And you can become Super Sonic. He's as fast as he is awesome.
Masato Nakamura, who composed the outstanding soundtrack to the first game returned to write the music for Sonic 2. Emerald Hill Zone may not grab you as well as Green Hill Zone, but it's still a fine starter tune and  a fan favorite. Chemical Plant Zone reflects the night life in the city background perfectly and still fits when you've gone running down the large hills and can no longer view the tall buildings. All three of the side scrolling 2 player versus stages received new music. I still firmly believe that the 2 player music to Casino Night Zone is miles ahead of the single player version.

Sonic the Hedgehog 2, to many fans is a bigger, better game than the first so it's not hard to see why this is their favorite Sonic game. It's one of the best platformers of the 16-bit era and an exceptional Sonic game. The level design may not match the first game, but in the grand scheme of things, that's a minor issue. Sonic 2 is well worth your Wii points.

The Most Hated Zone
Ask any Sonic fan which zone is their least favorite in Sonic 2 and most of them will say without any hesitation, Metropolis Zone. One of the later stages, Metropolis Zone has some of the best music in the series and the most annoying selection of Badniks in any Sonic game. You've got the Asterons, floating starfish that explode into five pieces and sometimes come in pairs. Then there's the Slicers, praying mantis robots that throw their claws at you. Finally there's Shellcracker, which looks like an updated version of Crabmeat from the first Sonic game, but with retractable claw and an insanely tiny hit box if you're trying to defeat him by stomping on him. To make matters worse, many of the Badnik's placement throughout this zone is downright EVIL. You'll often encounter these guys in narrow passageways, making them highly difficult to avoid. All that sounds pretty ruthless, right? It gets worse. Metropolis Zone is the only standard zone in the game to have three, yes, three acts! Turns out act 3 of Metropolis Zone was originally going to be another zone entirely but one of the scrapped zones led to this third act taking it's place. The map to this act was already finished and Yuji Naka said "It would have been a shame to waste it...". No, it wouldn't have, Naka-san, no it wouldn't have.

The Homages of Sonic 2
Most of us probably didn't pick up on them as kids, but there are two rather distinct homages in Sonic the Hedgehog 2 that pay tribute to two other famous franchises. These are pretty well known today but for the five of you that are still in the dark, read on.

That's no moon. That's a weapon of mass destruction, the Death Star, er, Death Egg. The Death Egg is the final area in Sonic 2 but players never really got a good look at it from the outside until Sonic 3 & Knuckles. Spoiler alert! At the end of Sonic 2, the Death Egg crashes down on the Floating Island, which sets up the events for Sonic 3 & Knuckles. In Launch Base Zone, you can see the Death Egg being rebuilt. By the time you make it to Sky Sanctuary Zone, the Death Egg is fully operational. Planets, beware.

Freeza probably would have killed Goku and his friends on Namek and ruled the Galaxy but he made one critical error. He killed Krillin, Goku's best friend, right before Goku's eyes. Goku got so angry that his hair changed color, stoop straight up and Freeza got a long overdue thrashing. OK, so Sonic turning into Super Sonic in Sonic 2 isn't anywhere near as dramatic as Goku's Super Saiyan transformation, but both forms on the heroes still look pretty cool. Like Goku, Sonic's abilities are amplified in his super form. To further mirror the Super Saiyan state, Sonic's eyes turn an emerald green color in Sonic 3 & Knuckles. Kids in America and Europe didn't have the slightest idea what Dragon Ball Z was at the time but now, practically everyone on the planet is familiar with Akira Toriyama's most well-known manga.

Chemical Plant Zone Blues

Act 1 of Chemical Plant Zone can be passed with relative ease but Act 2 presents a problem for many players. Near the end of Act 2 is a purple chemical that has the same effect as water, meaning if you stay in it too long, you'll drown. There are no air bubbles in Chemical Plant Zone so the only way to avoid drowning is to get yourself to dry land. With the oxygen bell sounding and the drowning timer counting down, it's easy to panic and lose a life while jumping back and forth on the rotating blocks to reach topside. Don't feel too bad about your hardships. Back when Sonic Gems Collection was being developed, the people at Sonic Team were playing the game and got stuck on the exact same spot that a lot of players do in Act 2. The staff members lost lives by drowning and falling into bottomless pits.