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Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Downloads #28

There's a ton of snow outside and a lot of stores are closed. Thankfully, not every store is closed and while picking up some things in Krogers, I snagged a $35 eShop card. So here's the roundup of my first Wii U digital games.

NES Remix

I was a bit reluctant to pick this one up at first. $14.99 does seem like a huge chunk of change to part with but after spending a few minutes with it, I would have given the money up even if this game got a physical release. It feels a bit WarioWarreish with a selection of games from 9-Volt. The games don't last very long so they don't wear out their welcome and you get a nice variety of tasks to complete. I was not expect to have to control two Marios at once to get all the coins in Mario Bros. before time ran out.

Dr. Luigi

Since The Year of Luigi is continuing in 2014, I've decided to do everything I can to support my favorite plumber. I already have Luigi's Mansion: Dark Moon, Mario & Luigi: Dream Team and New Super Luigi U so another game staring the ultimate player 2 certainly isn't going to hurt. True, it's another rendition of Dr. Mario, but this one adds some spiffy new additions like Virus Buster mode, which has you playing on the Wii U Gamepad, and I gotta say, it feels completely natural to do so and this is coming from someone that usually sufferers from eye strain from the device.


After plunking picking up Dr. Luigi and NES Remix, I figured I'd just buy a $4.99 NES game and call it a day but then I heard about Rush and that it was only $1.99. You have to maneuver blocks to a set destination in each area using tools like arrows to guide the blocks in the desired direction. I'm digging the visual and audio presentation of this game based off the video I watched.


This game was originally on mobile devices but now it's on the Wii U with an HD coat of paint. This was also $1.99 and it was made by the same company that made Rush. Though both games use blocks, they are still vastly different puzzle games. Rush has you keeping your eyes on multiple blocks while Rush almost feels like a platformer, but without platform elements. Two puzzle games for $4? And here I thought you couldn't get hardly anything good with pocket change these days.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Favorite Tunes #81: Exploring the Overworld

The world can be a very large place. But you can't be intimidated by the vastness of it all or else you'll never dare to explore and exploration has always been a key part of video games. So we're gonna listen to a few of my favorite overworld video game themes. Enjoy.

Unfinished World - Tales of Destiny (PS)

It's not a perfect game. Random battles occur fare too frequently and plenty of level grinding is definitely required if you want even a fraction of a chance at survival later on. But the translation is not only well done, it's hilarious to boot. That and the music is nothing short of outstanding. If Unfinished World doesn't fill you with a sense of adventure, nothing will.

Main Theme of FFVII - Final Fantasy VII (PS, PC)

The RPG that brought the genre into the mainstream, these days, this game takes a lot of heat, some of it deserved, some of it undeserved. I've stated numerous times that I don't think the soundtrack to Final Fantasy VII is one of Nobou Uematsu's greatest, but I still think it's a good soundtrack with plenty of music that I've come back to listen to again and again. The Main Theme, which is easily the most lengthy world map theme of any Final Fantasy game is a powerful piece of music, taking time to build up to the main course. Unlike other world map themes that would restart whenever you entered a town or finished a random battle, FFVII's main theme picks up right where it left off, ensuring that players can hear the whole thing in it's entirety.

Peach's Castle - Super Mario 64 (N64, 3DS)

Nearly 20 years old and Super Mario 64 is still a shining example of how to create an amazing 3D platformer. Rather than proceed on an overworld map like the 2D Mario games, Peach's royal headquarters served as a hub world for the games levels, many of which were accessed via painting. It's almost impossible for me to think of all the times I spent running through Peach's castle and not have this tune come to mind.

Starting the Journey - Breath of Fire (SNES)

There are certainly better RPGs than this one on the SNES, but that doesn't mean you should pass on Breath of Fire entirely. OK, so the translation can leave a lot to be desired, but there are some cool aspects to the game like fusing characters and of course, the dragon transformations. Then there's the music. Breath of Fire has multiple overworld themes and if it isn't already pathetically obvious by the title, this is the first one you hear.

Overworld - Zelda II: The Adventure of Link (NES, GBA)

Anyone that thinks Zelda games are too easy has probably never played Zelda II. Even with infinite continues, Zelda II will test the mental strength of the most patient gamers. It's different, that's for sure, but I think it's the kind of different that works.The Overworld theme of Zelda II starts out like the original from the first game, but it quickly goes off and does it's own thing.

Windy - Conker's Bad Fur Day (N64, XB)

There's plenty to love about Conker's Bad Fur Day. You've got toilet humor, talking wads of cash to collect, and a soundtrack composed by Robin Beanland. True to other Rare games, the overworld music of Conker's BFD alters depending on the area you're in. If you're around bees, you'll hear them singing the music in their unique bee tone.

Favorite Tunes Database

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Latest Purchases #65

I bought all this stuff within the span of few weeks. I just didn't feel like making multiple posts about all these things, so, here it is, all jumbled up in one.

The NES shirt was an unexpected surprise that I came across in Target when I purchased The Wonderful 101, which was lowered down to a price of $29.99. Said shirt was discounted to $9.95 compared to the original $19.99 price tag. It was also the very last one and in XL size. No way I was gonna pass that up. Back to The Wonderful 101, I've heard that no new copies are being manufactured so whatever copies are on the shelves now are the only physical ones out there. Another title by Platinum Games that sold like dirt. Such a pity. The Wonderful 101 is actually the very first game I picked up in 2014.

Ni no Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch. Man, that is one mouthful of a title. I'm a big fan of anime and Joe Hisashi's music and since this game looks to combine both of those, it seems like it'll be a match made in heaven. I didn't really think about getting this game until I saw under the Greatest Hits label. That's the good thing about jumping into the PS3 late in the game. A lot of the best titles are $20.

I've had my eye on Journey before I picked up my PS3. The box art of a long figured staring off at a mountain in the distance spoke to me, prompting me to do some research on the game. After getting my PS3 and hoping on the PSN, I saw the game was up for grabs digitally, which is fine and dandy, but I really wanted to get Journey The Collector's Edition, which includes Flow, Flower, three unreleased games and some nice bonus content like commentary, art work and soundtracks for all three games. This is one sweet little compilation release. For $20 on Amazon, I feel it was a better deal than picking up all three games on the PSN separately.

I played the 3DS version of Sonic Generations in 2012 and thought it was a nice game, but I'm defintiely digging the console version more. Everywhere I looked in stores I would see this game for $30, which I probably would have paid if I had a 360 but Amazon had the PS3 version for under $15.

The Spider-Man Vault is a book I lightly contemplated buying if I had more change. I may not be reading Spider-Man anymore, but he'll always be my favorite super hero and I welcome the chance to add some memorabilia of his to my collection. Barns & Nobles had a huge price cut on this thing that was originally $30 to $10. It's a lovely hardback binder book filled with all kinds of Spidey goodies like artwork, sketches and replicas of previously unreleased material.

Fun fact: at one point in my life, I wanted to be a cartoonist. To that end, I would look to FoxTrot as inspiration. That and it was a huge source of entertainment for me in my mid teen years. I haven't picked up a FoxTrot book in ages but I really liked the look of this The Best of FoxTrot book. It comes with a sturdy slipcase box for the two volume paperback books. Originally priced at $40, Barns & Nobles was selling it for $10. It's really hard to say no to those kinda bargains.There are comics from the early days as well as strips from the later years, each selected by Bill Amend himself with some commentary for insight.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

15 Years of Super Smash Bros.

Do you know what today is? Well, other than just another Tuesday in 2014, on this very day fifteen years ago in Japan, Super Smash Bros. was released on the Nintendo 64.

I can still remember reading a preview on Super Smash Bros. in the pages of Electronic Gaming Monthly in January 1999. This was back when Nintendo valued their family friendly rep more than anything. So to see images of famous Nintendo stars kicking the crap out of each other, well, strange doesn't even begin to describe it. Then came the TV spot. Nintendo has had a myriad of memorable commercials in the past but the scenes of Mario kicking Yohsi in the kneecap, Donkey Kong tossing Pikachu by the Tail and Yoshi bashing Donkey Kong on the head with a hammer all in the middle of a field of flowers has got to be one of the funniest things I've ever seen as well a huge WTF moment to those that didn't know of Super Smash Bros. coming. This is arguably Nintendo's best ad.

Not only was the advertisement for Super Smash Bros. unlike anything Nintendo had done, so was the gameplay. This was a fighter that played nothing like anything that had come before it. If you came in expecting life bars and the scenery to be nothing but a background, boy, were you in for a surprise. The goal of knocking out your opponent was kept in tact from other fighters, but they way you went about doing so was radically different. Each player has a percentage meter that builds up every time he or she takes damage. The more damage you opponent has taken on, the further they'll fly but thanks to some platforming elements, it's entirely possible for them to return to the ring to keep the battle going. Add in stage hazards like rising acid in Brinstar, Whispy Woods blowing the players away in Dream Land  or items like the Hammer from Donkey Kong and you've got a fighter that's a completely different animal from what so many players were accustomed to. Four player multiplayer only made things all the more entertaining.

Even the single player mode was
vastly different from other fighting
Smashing someone against the camera is
still one of the most satisfying ways to
KO someone to this day.

Super Smash Bros. was an instant hit in Japan, which prompted a North American release. On April 26, 1999, Super Smash Bros released in the west, just six days after the Columbine Shooting incident. At this time, video games were once again in the cross hairs of the media and every politician that could use them as a scapegoat to further their own agendas. I don't think Super Smash Bros. could have come at a better time in retrospect. When the media was on the video-games-teach-kids-to-kill-bandwagon for the umpteenth time, Super Smash Bros. laughed in the face of such nonsense. Sure there was violence in the game, but it was very much of the Tom and Jerry variety. Even the box art had a very cartoonish appeal to it with words like "ZAP and "BIFF" being displayed next to character attacks like a comic book aesthetic.

Peach and the Ice Climbers were but two
of the many new additions to Melee.

Nintendo knew they had hit series on their hands so they did something they rarely do: release a sequel shortly after the original game. Super Smash Bros. Melee was released on the GameCube on December 5, 2001, just two years after the first game. Initially many, including the gaming press, thought Melee was nothing more than a rehash of the first game with a much prettier coat of paint. PlayStation 2 and Xbox fanboys were quick to use this as a means to bash the GCN, but the notion that Melee was more of the same was quickly squashed flat. The Adventure mode which played more like a platform game was an excellent addition as was the Event Mode, which ranged from super easy to brutally hard challenges required mastery of the new Smash Attack. There were trophies to unlock records to set in Homerun Contest, long forgotten Nintendo icons to add to the roster. Melee was packed with so much to content that it took players months before they saw everything the game had to offer.

A battle that had waged since the 16-bit console
wars could finally be settled.

To say that expectations for Super Smash Bros. Brawl were high would be a grave understatement. This game opened up the gates for something that gamers wanted since Melee: third party characters. The April Fool's gag of 2002 for Electronic Gaming Monthly was hidden inclusion of Sonic and Tails in Melee. Gamers efforts to unlock this SEGA duo was all for nothing but in Brawl, Sonic was made a playable character. At long last, gamers could finally pit Mario and Sonic against each other in battle and see who would come out on top. Sonic wasn't the only third party character to join the fisticuffs. Solid Snake, acclaimed hero of the Metal Gear series was added at the request of Hideo Kojima.

Look who finally got invited to the party.

So what makes Super Smash Bros. so interesting? I can honestly say I never gave a thought to slugging it out with other Nintendo characters until Super Smash Bros. came along. For the Pokemon haters, this was the perfect series to punch Jigglypuff in the face. Tired of rescuing Princess Peach? You could finally vent all of his pent up frustrations by clocking her in the head with the Homerun Bat. The Super Smash Bros. games offer so many crazy fighting scenarios that make it an excellent party game and a wealth of things to unlock for those playing solo.

For a franchise that has just turned fifteen years old, there are only a handful of games that comprises it. There are currently three Super Smash Bros. titles out with the fourth entry, simply titled Super Smash Bros, set to release for the Wii U and 3DS sometime this year. Despite such a small number of entries for a series that has been around for nearly two decades, Super Smash Bros. is one of Nintendo's biggest franchises. Here's to another 15 years of Smashing. Now if you'll excuse me, I've got a Jigglypuff that needs to be put into orbit.

Friday, January 17, 2014

My Favorite Video Game Box Art Part 3

Grandia (Japanese ver.)

I've only played through Grandia once but the combat system made it one of the better RPG experiences I've encountered. The Japanese box art shows main character Justin and his lady friend Fenna, looking at what I'm assuming is a map so big it's draped over their heads. This is actually from the 1998 release.

Super Mario World (Japanese ver.)

I've always been a big fan of hand drawn Mario art work so it should come as no surprise that a lot of the earlier 2D Mario games have some of the most  popping artwork in the main Mario series. Called Super Mario Bros. 4: Super Mario World in Japan, in the center you've got Mario with a Cape, riding on dino pal Yoshi. That's showing off two of the game's new features before turning on the game but the world behind them shows off another. Super Mario World was the first game in the series to have one huge world map that was completely connected. 

Super Mario World 2: Yoshi's Island (Japanese ver.)

Often refereed to as just Yoshi's Island and the most popular game in the Yoshi series, you spend most of the game game controlling Yoshi to reunite Baby Mario with his brother, Baby Luigi. You only take control of Mario a handful of times in this adventure. Pictured here are seven of the different Yoshi's that carry Baby Mario and the main green Yoshi on the right of the box art, looking like a boss. I have no clue why Baby Mario isn't screaming up a storm in that bubble because that's always what the little snot does when gets separated from a Yoshi.

Marvel vs. Capcom (Japanese ver.)

Before there was Super Smash Bros. the biggest crossover game in town was Marvel vs. Capcom. I never thought about teaming up Mega Man with Spider-Man until I played this game. The way these characters are looking back at each other, it looks like a serious throw down is about to commence. 

Contra (American ver.)

In an era filled with tons of cartoonish characters on the cover (not a bad thing by any means), Contra was a clear contrast. Sure, there were more realistic looking NES covers, but many of them were so over the top that any seriousness they were trying to achieve was ultimately lost and they ended up being laughable. Contra sports a serious cover that actually works. It's serious business, just like the game itself. 

Sonic CD (Japanese ver.)

For many, the climax of Sonic CD was the face off between Sonic and his robot doppelganger, Metal Sonic. The clash between these two was such a big deal that it became the selling point of the game's box art. The pop art on the sides, which was used for the early Genesis Sonic games in Japan provides a bit more lively coloring to go along the black background in the center.

Part 1
Part 2

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Memories #14: Contra

Disappointment. That feeling of being let down. Also known as not getting what you want. It's something that we have to deal with the whole time we walk this Earth. And yet it's a feeling that we're introduced to very early on in life. When we're infants, our response to being denied what we want is to cry and scream, causing a great deal of pain to the ears of mommy and daddy and anyone else withing hearing range. As we get older, we tend to handle disappointment better, with sighs, sulking and maybe a little brooding. OK, maybe that's not much better than the screaming and crying, but it's a considerable step up in behavior. I say all of this because my entry into the Contra series began with disappointment.

As children and even into our teen years, my friends and I would often hang out at each other's houses once Sunday school was over. We indulged in all kinds of fun filled activities, but video games were easily at the top of the list, at least for me. On a particular Sunday afternoon my friend Justin Moses and I were going to go to the rental store (I can't recall which one) and take out Super Mario Bros. 3. Playing the game wouldn't be anything new to me because I already owned the game. Still, Super Mario Bros. 3 was a game I loved immensely and was dying to show my friend just how good at the game I was. There was just one little problem: the game was already checked out.

These dudes are more than bad enough.

Remember that disappointment I was talking about? That's what I was feeling. Had I known in advance that I was going to be going to Justin's house after Sunday school, I would have brought the game with me because I easily could have spent the whole afternoon blasting through the game. But alas, the wasn't going to happen. At this point in my kid life, I was handling disappointments a lot better than when I was a toddler. But I was still bummed that the store was out of Super Mario Bros. 3. I mean, that would have killed the whole Sunday afternoon. Yes, I said would have, but it didn't. Justin in his infinite wisdom, did what most kids did when the game they were after wasn't in stock: rent something else. I think Justin handled the whole Super-Mario-Bros.-3-not-being-there thing a lot better than I did. If I recall, he really didn't let it deter him. Me, I'm walking behind him as we browse the gaming racks, dying on the inside, trying my best not to let it show. Now, Justin could have went with a game neither one of us played but he thankfully went with one that he was already familiar with, which was Contra.

Contra's box art was unlike anything I'd seen at the time. Two ripped dudes holding guns with an alien behind them. It looked so realistic. No goofy, cartoonish characters were in sight. Judging from the contents of the box art, I was under the impression that it was a game for grown ups and as a kid, I welcomed any chance to visit the world that grown ups lived in. While I was still reeling from not being able to play Mario 3, my interest in Contra was a bit peaked.

The first thing that hit me about Contra was the title screen. Bill Rizer and Lance Bean, the two protagonists stand back-to-back, looking like the most badawesome duo of all-time while the raddest 6 seconds in the history of gaming plays, capping off with some explosive sound effects.

I'm not sure I even stayed alive long enough
to fight this thing.

Once I witnessed that brief moment of amazement, we were dropped into the first stage, a jungle, which is now a staple of the Contra series. This was my first run 'n gun game and having spent some time with Mega Man 2, the concept of shooting a gun to defend yourself in a game wasn't entirely new to me. What was new to me, however, was the method enemies attacked you. Most of the games I played up until this point had enemies that attacked from the right side of the screen. In Contra, I would learn what it means to stay alert because in this game, you were under attack from all sides. Enemies attacked from the right side of the screen, the left, the bottom and the top. I'd never seen anything like it. The only way to keep yourself alive was to have a good trigger finger and eyes that were always wide awake. Needless to say, these aren't skills I picked up right away.

3D levels? On the NES? WHAT SORCERY

I thought I was terrible when I first started playing Mega Man 2. I mean, yeah, I was, but I think I did far worse in Contra. Since you respawned right after dying rather than being taken back to the start of a level or a check point, this meant death could come far more rapidly and for me, it most certainly did. The treat of the Grim Reaper hovering over me felt more threatening in Contra than any other game because unlike Mega Man and Mario, who had a life bar and power ups to grant them extra hits, Bill and Lance only had the skin on their bones, which despite being in a video game, turns out flesh is quite fragile, so fragile that in one hit, the two commandos would die instantly.

For all the deaths I suffered, Justin was a very good sport about the whole thing. He didn't rag on me or talk trash about how much I sucked. My inept presence probably took some of the fire off of him. So while I was basically a meat shield, I still learned a few things by watching him play. He told me about the different guns like the godly Spread. When the bridge in the jungle started to blow up, I panicked and thought for sure I would fall to a watery grave. Justin told me that hitting the water wouldn't kill me, which was a relief since everything in this game wanted me dead. Justin also showed me that even if you used up all your lives, you could still continue by taking the lives of your co-op buddy, which he had no problem with. I couldn't have asked for a better wing man in introducing me to Contra.

Years later, I would find out
how punishing this stage is.

One-hit-kills and enemies that attack you at every turn. That was a lot for my young mind to take in. And yet, Contra still had more surprises for me. I was certain Contra would be a strictly 2D side scrolling game, but the second area threw me a curve ball. All of a sudden, we were running towards the screen and the enemies were shooting AT the screen. I really didn't have time to process it all because once again, every enemy that had a gun was shooting at me. In addition to all the bullets the Red Falcons were shooting all over the place, some of those suckers were chucking explosives. The 3D stage mechanics combined with my scrubtacular playing made this area even more insane than the jungle section.

As good as Justin was at the game, he didn't finish it then. He told me that his brother Matt had already beaten Contra, which blew my mind. Contra only gives you three lives and three continues before it's game over for good. Factor that in with Contra being relentless in difficulty and it just didn't seem possible for anyone to complete this game.  But back then, Matthew Moses was the king of video games in our circle of friends. This is the guy that beat Mike Tyson's Punch-Out!! and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, two notoriously hard NES games. The revelation that he aced Contra really shouldn't have surprised me, but it did.

Contra is a game that beat me up. A lot. But for the many times it kicked me in the junk, I couldn't bring myself to hate the game. There was something strangely compelling about it. The tunes stuck in my head, so there was some new video game music recorded into my memory, which was always a good thing. More so, there was something about Contra that other games didn't give me. The adrenaline rush of being constantly surrounded by enemy fire was something I'd never experienced before and as much as the game handed me my butt time and again, it was a good feeling. I guess it's some strange form of video game masochism. That Sunday afternoon I spent playing Contra wasn't necessarily pleasant, but I wouldn't change anything about it.

Monday, January 13, 2014

Favorite Tunes #80: Turn it Up! Get Down!

I don't have any particular theme of this edition of Favorite Tunes. These are some tracks that have been stuck in my head, so enjoy.

Athletic - Super Mario 3D World (Wii U)

I've spent the past week playing through Super Mario 3D World and have been utterly amazed at how breathtakingly awesome this game is. This isn't just a good Mario game, it's an outstanding one and is well worth owning a Wii U for. Not only is the level design some of the best the Super Mario series has seen, but the music is just as grand. You've got some orchestral music, some happy-go-lucky tunes this series is famous for and now some jazz.

Stardust Speedway JP - Sonic CD (SCD)

By DarkBlur1234

Time travel, robotic rivals and pink hedgehogs that get kidnapped? It's time for me to mention Sonic CD in Favorite Tunes once again. Not even the screwy level design can keep Sonic CD from being one of my favorite Sonic games. Cosmetically speaking, Stardust Speedway is my favorite-looking level. I love the tall buildings, huge city lights in the background and what looks to be one long saxophone that serves as the ground for you to run on.

Light Groove - Ridge Racers (PSP)

The Ridge Racer games have always had exceptional music, usually focusing on techno and electronic beats, but every now and then they'll slip in a jazz beat of some kind and as a big fan of numerous forms of jazz, I never have a problem with that.

Max Man II - Streets of Rage Remake (PC)

The Streets of Rage Remake was a tribute to the classic SEGA Genesis beat 'em series. Sadly, the game was hit with a cease and desist by SEGA shortly after it's 2011 release. Arguably more famous than the beat 'em up gameplay of Streets of Rage are the soundtracks. Yuzo Koshiro and Motohiro Kawashima's compositions pushed the Genesis sound processor to new heights. The arrangements in the Streets or Rage Remake are just as dance and workout worthy as the originals.

Combat 5 - Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows (PC, XBLA, PSN)

It's a well known fact that this game is a buggy, glitch filled disaster. The now defunct GamingFM website had a saying. "When the game sucks, the music is all you got." The rings ever so true in this case because Out of the Shadows soundtrack is amazing.

Lotus Hall - Tekken 3D Prime Edition (3DS)

Namco Bandai easily could have reused tracks from previous Tekken entries for this portable version of Tekken. Instead, they went the extra mile and had new music made. Sure, the selection of songs isn't anywhere near as large as Tekken Tag Tournament 2, but there are some solid tracks to be found. I was genuinely taken aback by just how good Lotus Hall is.

Favorite Tunes Database

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

How Nintendo Can Improve Club Nintendo

About a year ago I became a member of Club Nintendo. The promise of obtaining goodies by registering games intrigued me. Since I had so many products to register I quickly built sizable amount of coins, most of which went towards digital games on my Wii, because, well, most of the other rewards just didn't appeal to me. Over time I had come to the realization that so many others had: Club Nintendo members outside of Japan are getting royally shafted.

When Nintendo released the NES, they not only created legions of gamers, they turned them on to a new form of music: video game music. Unlike Square Enix and a plethora of other companies, Nintendo very rarely releases any of it's music. They don't think there's much profit to be made from it so most soundtrack releases are regulated to Club Nintendo members. In Japan, that is. Club Nintendo members that live in the land of the rising sun have been treated to such wonderful soundtracks like Super Mario Galaxy, Super Mario Galaxy 2, The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker HD and more recently, the beyond excellent Super Mario 3D World.

Every now and then Nintendo will throw us a bone on their soundtracks when it comes to gold and platinum yearly rewards. One of the rewards for obtaining gold/platinum status last year was a two disc re-release of The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask soundtrack, which has been out of print for over a decade. This was a great reward for gold and platinum members as it gave them a chance to get their hands on a Zelda soundtrack, complete with new packaging. The last time Nintendo offered gamers outside of Japan a Zelda soundtrack was when they released Ocarina of Time 3D, which required you to register the game to so you could get that game's soundtrack and The Legend of Zelda Skyward Sword, which contained orchestral arrangements of various Zelda themes.

A few of the soundtracks that were offered
to Club Nintendo members in Japan.

But it isn't just Zelda and Mario soundtracks. Nintendo is sitting on a huge backlog of game soundtracks that have either never been released outside of Japan, did receive a wider release and are out of print, or games that never got a soundtrack release at all. The soundtracks are some of the best rewards a Club Nintendo member could ask for but for reasons I cannot comprehend, these things are denied to members that don't live in Japan. We get bags, pen holders, pouches, but no soundtracks. One of the best ways Club Nintendo could be a whole lot better for members outside of the Land of the Rising Sun is if Nintendo offered their soundtracks to us. Why not re-release the soundtracks to Super Mario 64, Wave Race 64, F-Zero X, F-Zero X Guitar Arrange, Pikmin and Metroid Prime? Why not go even further back and re-release the music from SNES games like Yoshi's Island, Super Mario World, Super Metroid, and The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past? There's a copious amount of Nintendo soundtracks that could be rewards for Club Nintendo members that the company isn't even touching.

The lack of soundtracks isn't the only thing that bugs me. I've got a huge beef with the shipping for rewards, which, to put it bluntly, is atrocious. In this day and age where mail arrives much quicker, there is no excuse in having to wait months before you get what you ordered. I picked up a poster set as my platinum member rewards and I was informed that they would come in the mail before December 31, 2013. I put my order in for those posters back in August. Why on God's green Earth should it take more than three months to get mail delivered to you?! Even taking into account that I moved to a new complex before November ended, I cannot even begin to fathom why it takes eons for Nintendo to ship something to me. If there's an explanation that Nintendo has for this, I don't care how asinine it may be, someone please tell me. I can understand a week or two, but months? That's not just. Not just at all.

One of the better rewards. You
didn't even have to be in Japan to get it.

There are some nice rewards for those that have been saving up their coins. For gamers that had 1500 coins to burn, a Luigi's Mansion figurine statue was made available for 2013 being The Year of Luigi. The Pikmin Tout bag was also quite nice and not bad for 400 coins. Game & Watch Ball was pretty sweet if only to have a replica of a Game & Watch unit to make you the envy of all your friends. I've actually decided to to start saving up my coins for when the really good stuff comes along.

Overall, I certainly don't think Club Nintendo and the rewards are terrible. They just need to be managed a whole lot better. If the shipping were improved and members outside of Japan were given the option to spend coins on some soundtracks, I think we'd be golden. I don't these desires are totally out of the realm of possibilities.

Monday, January 6, 2014

Game Art #65: Open Gallery

No particular theme here. This Game Art Gallery is an open gallery, meaning all types of game related art is featured. Enjoy.

By missyuna
By Blopa1987
By RobDuenas
By MissNeens
By Karakalia
By Karakalia
By ultimatesol
Pixiv ID
By adri-chan1
By Doukamioiramu

Saturday, January 4, 2014

Downloads #27

It's the long awaited return of Downloads. OK, maybe it wasn't long awaited, but after being absent for so many months, I'm happy to have a downloads post once again. Since I just signed up for PlayStation Network, all of my new year's downloads come straight from Sony's digital service.

NiGHTS into dreams...

For the record, I do own a physical copy of NiGHTS into dreams... as well as Christmas NiGHTS and thanks to my Action Replay expansion cart, I can save games on my SEGA Saturn. Having said that, I was thrilled when I heard SEGA was giving the enhanced PS2 version of NiGHTS a digital release on the PSN and Xbox Live Arcade services. I had completely forgotten the game was up for grabs on the PSN until I saw it as I was browsing games to purchase. So in addition to a physical copy of NiGHTs, I now have a digital version with some bonus goods. Huzzah!

Sonic CD 

For years the only way for me to play Sonic CD on a console was to fire up the Sonic Gems Collection on my GameCube. The save feature started acting up, deleting my saved data and this discouraged me from playing the game to go for the good ending. So here I am with a digital version of Sonic CD and after spending some time with it, I firmly believe this is the definitive version of the game. The extras like trophies, Sonic 2 Spindash physics, and being able to play with both the Japanese and American soundtracks. Wacky Workbench, however, is still a highly frustrating zone.

Vagrant Story

Years ago when I worked at Toys 'R Us, I had a chance to pick up Vagrant Story for $20 and looking back, I wish I had. The store only had three copies left but I think I was preoccupied with other purchases. I've yet to see a complete physical copy of this game. I'd be a fool to pass this one up again, especially for $5.99.

Zanac X Zanac

I purchased the NES version of Zanac back in 2005 for a mere $2.99. It was a truly different breed of shooter that had a difficulty that adjusted to the player's rate of fire, skill level and weapon type. Some may call Zanac an acquired taste, but I quite like it.  I downloaded the NES version off the Virtual Console some time ago and I find myself getting into Zanac once more with Zanac X Zanac, a compilation release of the 2001 PlaySataion release. Zanac X Zanac contains two games, the three different version of the NES version of Zanac as well as Zanac Neo, which is an updated version of Zanac. I'd heard of this games years back but I was not expecting to see Zanac X Zanac on the PSN and at low price of $5.99 to boot.

Breath of Fire IV

What is it with me and passing on games? It seems to always come back to bite me later. This is another one of those games I didn't pick up when I had the chance and now it's mighty difficult to come across a complete copy. Capcom has a fair amount of fighting game content on the PSN, so it was really surprising to see the fourth entry in the Breath of Fire series up for digital grabs and at the steal price of $5.99.


Now this is a game that will set you back some change if you can find a complete copy. I can remember years back in Best Buy I would see this game selling for next to nothing at Best Buy. Now? Expect to pay over $100 for this sucker. I'll gladly take a digital version for $5.99, thanks.