Search This Blog

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Game Art #29: Misc Gallery

It's that time again. Time for a Game Art that features art from tons of different franchises. Can you recognize each character and franchise represented here? As well as some popular characters, some lesser known faces are making an appearance. Enjoy.

By Carlos Lerms
By KurkoBoltsi
By Closey
By Louistractions
By Egoraptor
By BezerroBizarro
By purplekecleon
By mikuhoshi
By ericvedder
By beyx
By Robaato
By oh8
By Mchaosg
By lerms
By polarityplus
By Beloved-Creature
By Robaato
By patrickbrown

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Videos I Like #9: Two Best Friends Play DKC Returns

WARNING: The following linked video contains strong language.

Matt and Patt. Two best friends that play video games together. Surely it's full of nothing but good cheer, right? Nah, not really. Sure, Matt and Patt are good friends but that doesn't mean they behave like Batman and Superman did in the Silver Age. In fact, Matt and Patt are the very definition of vitriolic best buds. Add in some co-op on Donkey Kong Country Returns and you've got an 8+ minute video that's easily one if the funniest things I've seen on YouTube. Did you think the mine cart games in the SNES DKC Trilogy were hard? DKCR takes them up to eleven.

Two Best Friends Play began when Matt and Patt posted a video on YouTube of the themselves playing Kirby's Epic Yarn Machinima loved it so much that it has since become a weekly event and one of my favorite net series.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Virtual Console Review: Super Mario Land

System: Game Boy
Genre: Platformer
Developer: Nintendo
Publisher: Nintendo
Virtual Console Release: USA Jun 6, 2011 / EUR Jun 7, 2011, JPN Jun 7, 2011, AUS Jun 7, 2011
Original Release: USA Jul 23, 1989 / EUR Sep 28, 1990, JPN Apr 21, 1989
Players: 1
Cost: $3.99
Rated: E for Everyone

It's strange. When Nintendo was celebrating the 25th anniversary of the Super Mario Bros. series in 2010, Super Mario Land was left out. It didn't even get a passing mention in the booklet that came with the limited edition of Super Mario All-Stars. New Super Mario Bros. on the DS was recognized as part of the Super Mario series. Why wasn't this game? Surely the Big N didn't forget Super Mario Land existed. The fact that it's on the 3DS Virtual Console is proof enough that Nintendo couldn't have forgotten about this game. While it may not be as long as Mario's bigger brothers or his DS outing that would come years later, it's still not a bad way to kill a bit of time or $3.99 burning a hole in your pocket.

Cripes, that is one big spider! Seriously, would
you want to stomp on that thing?

Pauline, Princess Peach; Mario seems to have a thing for women that get kidnapped. We can add Daisy to the list of damsels in distress because Super Mario Land's plot is all about saving Luigi's future girlfriend. Daisy isn't abducted by an monstrous turtle or a rampaging gorilla but an alien named Tatanga, who prefers to duel in a battleship. This guy has his own flying weapon and the best he can do is kidnap chicks? Granted, said battleship is a glorified peashooter, but still.

Super Mario Land plays like a more primitive version of the first Super Mario Bros. Run to the right, collect coins, stomp enemies all in an effort to reach the stage goal. Like the first Super Mario Bros., your range of power-ups are extremely limited, consisting of only the Super Mushroom, Starman, and a Flower, which does not work like the standard Fire Flower from all the other Super Mario Bros. games. Picking up a Flower in Super Mario Land allows Mario to use the Superball, an object that will bounce off the walls for a limited time.

All this sea-life Mario is killing and
not a peep outta PETA.

While Super Mario Land may seem like a condensed version of the original Super Mario Bros., there are many key differences. You'll see some familiar faces, but the selection of enemies is vastly different from the ones seen in console games. What looks to be normal Koopa Troopas are actually Bombshell Koopas. After you stomp on these guys, they explode. The worlds are also very unique. The few water levels in the game are auto-scrolling, placing Mario in an armed submarine and play out like a shoot 'em up. Birabuto Kingdom is probably the most Egyptian any Mario game has ever gotten, loaded with hieroglyphics and killer sphinx enemies.

What is probably Super Mario Land's best feature is it's soundtrack. This may be an early Game Boy title, but Super Mario Land still serves up some insanely catchy tunes. The main Overworld Theme, Underground Theme, Muda Kingdom, Chai Kingdom and Ending Theme are easily some of the greatest pieces of music to come out Mario's long history. Unfortunately, Super Mario Land doesn't look too hot as it is an early Game Boy game. Since the game was design on a handheld platform, some enemies (Goombos) are pretty tiny and the overall backgrounds look plain. Still, you never have a hard time telling what's what so the visuals do a serviceable job.

This foe looks like an arrogant kung fu
guy, but it's really just a Pionpi.

Sections like this actually have you sweating a bit.

It is worth noting that Super Mario Land was not developed by Mario creator and video game legend Shigeru Miyamato. Maybe that's why the game was not include in the 25th anniversary celebration of Super Mario Bros. Yeah, Super Mario Land may play differently from many other games in the Super Mario series, but it really isn't a bad game by any means. The game did sell over 18 million copies, after all. It certainly isn't Mario's best handheld quest, but it isn't one that should be dismissed either. The platforming is solid and the shoot 'em up stages help spice things up. At four worlds each comprising of 3 stages, the game is on the short side, but at $3.99, the price is just right.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Favorite Tunes: Capcom Themes

As you've no doubt guessed by the title, I'll be focusing on a company that is becoming the bane of many gamer's existence. But since this is about video game music, I naturally have something positive to talk about. While the state of Capcom's current method of operations is largely up for debate, that's topic for another time. This is about some of my favorite music that's ever come out from the company.

Dark Forest of Hidon - Gargoyle's Quest II (NES)

Ghost 'n' Goblins is one of the hardest video game series of all-time, sitting right next to Battletoads with it's soul shattering difficulty. What other game has the player go through the game twice and makes things even hard? Even so, the games are still fondly remembered and they went on spawn a wonderful spinoff series staring a Red Arremer known as Firebrand. The second in the trilogy, Gargoyle's Quest II actually takes place before the original Gargoyle's Quest on the Game Boy but it uses much of the same gameplay. Composed by Yuki Iwai, Gargoyle's Quest II made excellent use of the limited NES's audio hardware, treating players to lively, moody, atmospheric music. Gargoyle's Quest  is available on the 3DS Virtual Console. Now if Capcom would just hook us up with Gargoyle's Quest II and Demon's Crest (SNES), we'd be in serious business.

Metro City Subway - Final Fight (SCD)

Final Fight has been ported to just about everything. Pick a console. Any console. Odds are good it's made an appearance on that platform. Released in 1989 in arcade's the first Final Fight remains one of my all-time favorite beat 'em ups. It's soundtrack has been given unique treatment on the various systems it's been on. I love the SNES version for it's abundance of bass guitar use and the arrangement of the Sega CD score by T's Music is nothing short of fantastic.

Armory ~ ROUND 9 - U.N. Squadron (ARC)

Released in Japan under it's original title of Area 88, U.N. Squadron is actually based on a short running anime series. That's really all I can tell you about it because I've yet to actually see it. I can tell you that the game is quite challenge, especially the SNES version where you get limited continues. You've got a better shot of finishing the arcade version since you can continue all you want. The arcade version's score was written by Manami Matsumae (Mega Man) while the SNES version's score was done by Mari Yamaguchi (Mega Man 5, Super Ghouls 'n' Ghosts). Both versions use much oft he same music, but one could argue that it sounds more fleshed out on the SNES hardware. However, the arcade version and the SNES versions do have their own exclusive tracks. Armory ~ ROUND 9 is an arcade-only track.

Wily Marine Fortress - Mega Man III (GB)

Mega Man III was the first game I bought for my Game Boy after reading about it in an issue of Nintendo Power. The first four Game Boy installments are often criticized with being shrunken down, inferior versions of the console games. That's a criticism I've never fully bought into as even the levels were not carbon copies from the console games but more like remixed stages. Mega Man III has one of the very best final level themes from the entire Mega Man series in Wily Marine Fortress. It's an engaging song played through a long and difficult stage and is a perfect set-piece leading up to the game's final showdown with Dr. Wily.

The Road (Theme of Ryu) - Street Fighter Alpha 3 (ARC, PS, DC)

As much as I enjoy hearing remixed version of classic songs, I welcomed Street Fighter Alpha 3's fresh character themes. Ryu is constantly traveling, seeking to better his fighting skills so The Road suits him perfectly and is one of my absolute favorite character themes. It deserves to be remixed and arranged as much as his iconic Street Fighter II theme.

Friday, March 23, 2012

Videos I Like #8: Rage Quit: Mortal Kombat

WARNING: The following linked video contains strong language.

I never could beat Shao Kahn in Mortal Kombat II because, well, he was pretty cheap. The only reason I saw the ending credits to that game was thanks to Game Genie. If the latest Mortal Kombat is any indication, it looks like his cheapness has been cranked to unbelievable levels. Rage Quit: Mortal Kombat shows the frustrations a gamer can go through when facing this boss. The stories you've heard about how insanely hard he is to be? They are all true.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Latest Game Purchases #26

No matter how much time passes, Final Fantasy IV in my mind, will always be regarded as one of the best RPGs of all-time. It has an rich story, memorable characters, and a sweeping musical score. I believe this makes my fourth time purchasing Final Fantasy IV. The only version of it that I don't own is the remake on the DS, which is a remake in the same vein of the Final Fantasy III remake, also on the DS. What makes the PSP version special isn't just the graphical touch ups. Final Fantasy IV The Complete Collection contains Final Fantasy IV and Final Fantasy IV: The After Years, a sequel to Final Fantasy IV that takes place 17 years after the events of the first game. I was going to get The After Years in episode releases on WiiWare but since Square Enix never saw fit to release anything after chapter I on Nintendo's digital platform, Final Fantasy IV The Complete Collection seemed like the best route to go. I was able to pick this baby up last week for $20 at Best Buy. It was the store's last copy.

Have I ever mentioned how much I love the Katamari series? Well I really love the Katamari series. OK, so I've only played the first game, Katamari Damacy on the PS2 and We Love Katamari is still in shrink wrap, but that still doesn't deter my devotion for rolling stuff up with The Prince. I don't even know what numbered game Katamari Forever is in the series but for $17.99, should I really even ask or care? Picked this one up Wednesday at GameStop used and complete. Katamari Forever makes my third PS3 game purchase. There are a ton of budget priced PS3 games on the shelves both new and used. The more I look at the PS3's library, the more I want one.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Hackers Unlock on-Disc DLC Characters in Street Fighter X Tekken

OK, who didn't see this coming? Everyone did? Yeah, that's what I thought.

A Capcom forum user by the name of Razum was playing Street Fighter X Tekken and had an online match against Blanka, a character that's a DLC only character in the console version of the game. Blanka and 11 other additional playable characters are supposed to be locked away on the disc until Capcom releases them at a later date as DLC. DLC as a bundle for $20. Alrighty, let's do some math here. Street Fighter X Tekken = $60. DLC console characters = $20. Street Fighter X Tekken + DLC console characters = $80. Ouch.

I knew it was only a matter of time before hackers found a way to unlock the console version's 12 DLC characters. I'm just surprised it took this long. While most people usually frown upon the actions of hackers, in this case, I think most people are giving them the thumbs up. Let's be real here, Capcom's method of trying to prevent a Super or Ultra edition of the game was, to put it politely, shady. Capcom is essentially forcing you to pay for something that you already own. It's just lucked away until they say you can use it.

Now if you don't understand the logic behind that (if it can even be called logic), here's one of the best analogies that I've read. This was posted by mmidigh in the comment section over at the news article on GameSpot. "I bought a new car last week but the dealer won't give me the windshield for another month until he decides to release it at an additional cost of $500. Seems reasonable to me..."

Capcom is taking steps to ban those that hack the game to unlock the DLC characters. Players that fight DLC characters that aren't out yet feel cheated because hackers can use them and they can't. I sympathize with them. Thing is, if you're OK with forking over an additional $20 for the bundle of characters, you're letting Capcom cheat you. Twelve locked characters is a good chunk of the roster to keep out of the players hands and by giving Capcom more money for them, you're saying that you're perfectly fine with being screwed over because that is exactly what Capcom is doing to you. As long as die hards and those that want the whole game continue to buckle over and cave to greedy companies, the cycle will continue. We can vote with our wallets by not buying these DLC characters or by getting the Vita version of Street Fighter X Tekken which has these characters for free. Like Dr. Tenma said to Astro Boy when he was losing a battle against Atlas. "You have the power. USE IT!"

Source: GameSpot

Game Art #28: Street Fighter Gallery

Later this year will mark the 25th anniversary of the most powerful fighting franchise on the planet, Street Fighter. We can debate til the cows come home how much Capcom has milked the franchise (specifically Street Fighter II), but you cannot deny the series staying power and in depth gameplay mechanics. So this Game Art is a tribute to Capcom's long-standing fighting machine. You may recognize some of these pieces from Udon's Street Fighter Tribute book that was released in 2008. A few of them are from the numerous Street Fighter comics that have appeared over the years. Enjoy.

By ryanbnjmn
By el-grimlock
By JayAxer
By imaginism
By virak
By Shauno
By MattMoylan
By Jiggeh
By ZurdoM