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Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Latest Game Purchases #14

I've been a fan of Nintendo's Picross games ever since I picked up a used copy of the original Mario's Picross for the brick Game Boy. I'm still miffed that Nintendo jipped North American gamers on a Virtual Console release of Mario's Super Picross and I've yet to buy Picross DS. Picross 3D is a game I should have bought earlier this year when I saw it on sale at Best Buy for $9.99. It carried that price tag for weeks and when I finally decided to purchase it, it shot back up to it's regular $19.99 price. Needless to say, I was a bit irked. Walking around in K-Mart the other day, I spotted a single copy of Picross 3D for $9.99. So bought.

Nintendo's practice of selling new DS games for $34.99 has never sat well with me. Even games that are years old, such as New Super Mario Bros., and Mario Kart DS have that price tag attached to them. While not as old as those titles, Mario & Luigi: Bowser's Inside Story, the third game in the Mario & Luigi saga, sells new at every retail chain I've seen for the dreaded $34.99. I didn't want to make the same mistake I made with Mario & Luigi: Partners in Time and not pick up new while I had the chance so I reluctantly forked over the dough. I've heard lots of good things about Bowser's Inside Story, some are even saying it's the best in the series. I'm currently resuming my game of Superstar Saga so I'll get to this one eventually.

I decided that I would buy Bit.Trip Complete with my next pay check after seeing it in the store a few weeks ago when I bought Super Paper Mario. I played he demo of Bit.Trip Void and while very hard, it was still good fun. Bit.Trip Complete collects all six Wii Ware Bit.Trip games for $40. Seems a little steep but ultimately, it's not a bad deal. After playing the demo of Void, I was thinking of downloading the entire Bit.Trip series. But when word reached me of this compilation's release and the new material like adjust difficulty settings, 120 challenges, a 18 track audio CD, I'm glad I saved myself some Wii Points and got this instead. I killed more than an hour on Just Bit.Trip Beat alone. I can only imagine how much time I'll spend on this whole collection. Bit.Trip Complete is already looking to be one of my favorite games that I've bought this year.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Strategy Guides

Photo via forums
It happens to the best of us. You're playing a game and you stumble upon a puzzle that gets a stumped. Or maybe you're having difficulty with a boss fight. Perhaps a stage is on the verge of making you rage quit. Whatever the reason, you're in a situation where something is preventing you from getting to point B. In a nutshell, you're stuck. You can either figure things out on your own, or you can seek aid via a strategy guide or a walk-through.

Strategy guides are nothing new. These things have been around for decades and they've only risen in popularity thanks to sites like GameFaqs, MyCheats, and plenty of YouTube videos. In this day in age, getting unstuck is far easier than it was in the 8 and 16-bit era.

But not everyone wants to rely on outside help. I've heard from some gamers that resorting to a guide is akin to cheating. Hey if someone can make it through a game without any help at all, I say more power to 'em. But I've been getting some kind of help in my games ever since I was a kid. The Nintendo Player's Guide of Super Mario Bros. 3 helped me uncover many of that games secrets and pass stages I would have remained stuck on otherwise. I doubt I ever would have gotten all 120 Power Stars in Super Mario 64 without the Nintendo Player's Guide that I picked up years ago for chump change. While I'm not against thinking to solve some puzzles, I don't like spending all day on a particular spot when I know there are dozens of places I can look to find the solution.

I love Zelda games but no matter which game I'm playing, I always get stuck. When I was playing the first Legend of Zelda on the Wii's Virtual Console last summer, I used ZeldaDungeon YouTube videos to help me finish that game and find a lot of other things that I didn't even know about. I'll be using them again when I go through Zelda II: The Adventure of Link and I've no doubt I'll need some help for Twilight Princess, Majora's Mask and Skyward Sword.

As much as I've used strategy guides over the years, it's been a long time since I've actually spent money on one. What used to cost $10 is now $20 or more, kinda steep for assistance if you ask me. Like I mentioned above, most guides can be found on the net, containing everything you're looking for and won't cost you a dime. That being said, not every online guide provides you with visual aid, but that's where YouTube videos come in.

When I did buy guides, my favorite ones were from Brady Games and Nintendo Power. Most guides from Nintendo Power were spot-on, giving you all the info you needed and then some. Same with Brady, though there were some blunders, such as the Final Fantasy IX Official Strategy guide, which mostly referred you to a website that never got off the ground. Sadly, all guides for games by Nintendo and it's second parties are handled by Prima, a company that has a reputation for putting out less than stellar guides. I outta now, because after purchasing a few years ago, I've steered clear of them ever since.

I still use guides on new and old games. I even break out my old Nintendo Player's Guide books for some of my favorite games from the Big N. With most recent games I consult YouTube videos or just go to MyCheats, the later of which helped greatly in getting 100% completion on Super Mario Galaxy. The way I see it, we all need help at times, and it's nice to know that it's available in so many places.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Galaga Hits 30

There seem to be a lot of anniversaries this year. Sonic turned 20, the Zelda series is turning 25 years old, and Mario is going on 30. Adding to the list is Galaga, one of favorite shooters, which turned 30 a few months ago.

If you've never played Galaga, you haven't truly lived. Aliens appear at the top of the screen and fly down in formation to attack your ship. These invaders will also open fire upon you so in addition to avoiding dive bomb attacks, you've got to avoid their shots while returning fire. It's a simple idea but it's a whole lot of fun. For a 1981 game, Galaga was way ahead of it's time. The only true power up you could get was allowing one of your extra ships to be captured. In each stage, one of the alien ships will use a tractor beam to pull the ship in, ensnaring it. If you shoot down the alien that captured you're ship, you get it back, doubling you fire power. Pretty impressive stuff for an old arcade shoot 'em up.

Galaga is the sequel to the 1979 Galaxian, another popular game that was released in arcades, though the sequel eclipsed it's predecessor. There have been numerous versions and updates of Galaga over the years, but the 1981 arcade original is still my favorite. When I first played it back in 2001, I was overcome with that "Just one more game" bug bite. I kept telling myself that each time I set a new high score that I could do even better if I just kept playing. Not a lot of games from the '80s can do that to me but such was the overwhelming power of Galaga.

These days you can play Galaga on just about anything. Namco has pimped that sucker on dozens of it's Namco's Museum collections, it's on iPhones, PlayStation Network, Xbox Live Arcade, and then there's always MAME. There's no reason for any gamer not to have experienced Galaga. In another 30 years, it will still be hailed as an undisputed classic.