Thursday, March 27, 2008

The State of Gaming (The Hardcore Gamer)

Hey guys it's Gene here, and today i am going to start my own little mini-series called, The State of Gaming. In this mini-series, I am going to focus on different sections of the gaming community which i believe need to be looked at, fixed, changed, or down right destroyed. Today I am going to answer the age old question "Who and what, is the Hardcore Gamer?" To get to the answer, we are going to have to go back to the roots of gaming, the arcades.

In the early 70's and mid 80's arcade gaming erupted. Everyone from young children to grown men had played games like Pac-Man and Pong. In the beginning these arcade machines were bringing people together. Kids would go to their favorite arcade and challenge others and a college student would take his girl out for a movie and afterwards, would get his arse beat in some Pong. Gaming went from some nerd coding hobby, to a social phenomenon. It was during this time the first seed of "hardcore gamer" was planted. Now like any seed it must have a name, and the name that gave birth to the "Hardcore Gamer" is called the "High Score".

The rise of the "Hardcore Gamer" began as competition. The "Hardcore Gamer" was the kid on the block that couldn't be beaten. He was the guy that had a score so high you thought it was impossible to obtain. Before the word "Hardcore Gamer" existed, these men and women were local legends. But the gaming world did not stay so social after all, gaming hit a brick wall hard. After Pac-Man fever ran its course it took gaming along with it. Gaming was considered a fad, and like all fads people distaste them once they are past their prime. Arcades started to close down all over the country games became rehashes of games that were already out, and the American public that embraced it so much had turned a deaf ear to the gaming cries. So what happened to the high score seed? Was the local legend just a "weed"?

Those local legends did not die, they continued to support their new hobby. Unfortunately for them, the world flipped its view of the gaming world and that changed the local legend to the local loser. People who still thought video games were cool became nerds yet again. Even when The Nintendo Entertainment System came out in the US and saved the gaming as we know it today, the gaming image was tarnished. As time progressed fewer people went to arcades, the NES was the answer to Pac-Man fever ten years earlier. The Super Mario Bros game broke open the gaming world yet again. People of all ages started to fall in love with video games again but this time it was more at a distance. Gaming was not cool anymore. Super Mario Brothers was a cool game but video games were for children, and nerds. Why was Nintendo, Sega, and Sony so influential? What was the role of video games in the early 90's? Where did the term hardcore gamer come from? All will be answered in the next State of Gaming.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Hello?Is anybody theeeere?

If you are one of the 5 people that regularly visit this blog you'll notice that there hasn't been an entry for awhile now.There is one major reason for that.

Super Smash Bros. Brawl.

Super Smash Bros:Breakin'

For the unfamiliar Super Smash Bros. Brawl(or SSBB) is the 3rd entry in the popular Super Smash Bros. Series.Picking up where Melee left off,Brawl takes the craziness to new heights introducing all kinds of new modes including a revamped Adventure mode and most notably Online Play.Since 2006 this game has been keeping us waiting,seeming to move at a glacial pace Until it got a release date....then it was delayed....THEN ANOTHER SOONER RELEASE DATE.....then delayed again.I can personally tell you though the wait was worth it.The amount of content and goodies is more than enough.


The biggest change is easily the Adventure mode dubbed The Subspace Emissary.This tells the story of Mario and company.They are enjoying a friendly match when the action is suddenly interrupted and the way of life of many of the Nintendo characters is threatened.This mode is probably the easiest way to get a majority of the hidden cast unlocked but the time to finish this is certainly a step up from the humble adventure mode of Melee,clocking in at 8+ plus hours.Considering that's not the meat of the game,that's REALLY good.

So then you ask,"What's the meat of the game?It's Smash Bros." The sheer amount of unlockable content.There are 41 stages in the game total,35 different characters to play,and all sorts of easter eggs and hidden assist trophies to get.On top of that there are 400 + stickers to collect 200+ trophies,unlockable music tracks,and with the return of events along with new co-op two player events, there is a ton to do.

Where'd he go?

On top of THAT there is a stage creation option.

Yes,you can make your own levels.

The options aren't exactly brimming but the option to have your very own stage to fight on is awesome.You can use any available music you have as the background with tracks ranging from Sonic the Hedgehog to ExciteTruck to Tetris. The stages you make can be shared with your friends as well as you can either bring them to a friends house on an SD card or send it online to your Wii and brawl friends.Along with stages you can get funny Snapshots(like the ones i took here from my play time)and replays of break the target/matches whatever through the online service.

Kid Icarus?!

Customizable Controls are here as well.Making this the 1st time you could change the controls.While it doesn't sound like a huge deal having your configuration and stats saved onto your Wii remote IS.So no waiting to set the controls up,get your remote,connect it and go!It's very convenient,and having the option there is nice if you are tired of playing on the Gamcube controller or abhor it in general.I personally play on the classic controller for the Wii and the game feels great.It gives you the option of using the classic controller,Wii remote and nunchuk,and Wii remote alone along with the original Gamecube controller if you see fit.All customizable,all able to be saved on a remote.

"I'm taking a break..."

Oh right,I know i was forgetting something.The Online modes.Online play is done through Nintendo WFC and when playing with friends it moves like they were right next to you.....If you can connect.The servers seem to be getting slammed as it's so popular so sometimes there may be connection issues but when you do (which is the case 80% of the time) it is bliss.You can go for the traditional Brawl or even do Multiman Melee or the Homerun contest with a friend.If you don't feel like playing with a friend you can play with complete strangers in the 'With anyone' section or even side bet on past fought online matches to get more coins to unlock more trophies and stickers.

"Which one is Mario again?"

Long story short,this game is a blast to play,and if you have a Wii available and enjoy Nintendo games...well you are probably already playing this.For some reason if you aren't playing this and you fit the criteria however,please do so.

You won't be disappointed.

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

New (But Not So Better) Windows

Greetings and salutations! I figured I’d post this now because between Lost Odyssey and Smash Bros. coming out next week, I will be pretty much non-existent to the world. Now I know this is a gaming blog but I wanted to talk about something near and dear to my heart: Software Piracy.

You know, a little known fact about me is I’ve never pirated any software in my life. I swear! No, really! OK, OK, you caught me! I can’t keep a straight face anymore. Ever since I was a kid I can remember copying games and software. (Remember floppy disks? Boy, I feel old!) Usually, you’re trying to get something you want. But how often does something you got for free, not even worth it?

While deployed in Iraq last year I discovered piracy is abundant in military life. My buddy acquired a copy of Windows Vista and was determined to crack it. Once he figured it out and showed me how I had it running on my laptop. For a while, Vista was so cool. It looked new and fresh. But after a while I realized it doesn’t do anything new that’s too noticeable or that you can’t do with Windows XP. Unless you count “new” features as slowing down my system and requiring frequent reboots, not letting me use my internal speakers and not being compatible with many common hardware and software. Many of its other features can be replicated. You can install software to emulate the new Start Menu, moving desktops and Aero theme. So what’s new AND useful? Probably features that run in the background that you never see. Now I’m pretty shallow when it comes to software. If it does something, I want to see it.

So, I few days ago I wiped my system and reinstalled XP. I had to install over 100 updates (including Service Pack 2). Which, at first, was pretty frustrating but then I realized that’s a good thing. Windows Vista has been out for over a year and there hasn’t been any major updates. Microsoft hasn’t even announced when SP1 will be released. The way I figure it, I could have an operating system that is stable, compatible, familiar, and fairly universal with most of the bugs worked out. Or one with a few new bells and whistles but not too much better than the older one.

Now, I’ll admit my laptop is a few years old. I know Vista runs better on newer systems. But why should I need a better computer just to run an operating system? I used to be a PC gamer but keeping up with system requirements is ridiculous. Looking at the box for Crysis almost made me crap my pants. That’s why game consoles are they way to go. The only requirement is the console itself. But that’s a completely different rant.

So here I am typing this article on my Windows XP enhanced laptop. And yes, this is the legal version that came pre-installed with my system. What do you take me for, a crook? Only Microsoft Office is pirated now! Anyways, I haven’t missed anything that Vista had to offer. All the programs I use are fully compatible with XP. My laptop is running faster. And I just like using my computer better overall now.

Does this mean Windows has reached it peak? I wouldn’t call it perfection yet. But there’s not much more it can do to impress me that I can think of. Especially with the amount of customization utilities available, there’s no need to upgrade. If you got Vista pre-installed with your system, you can always downgrade. If you were thinking of upgrading, use the money for a new video game or two! There just *might* be a video game coming out next week worth buying!


Monday, March 3, 2008

Top 5 Most Bad-Arse Video Game Villains of All Time

Its Josh again. Yeah, you really can't spend too much
time on the negatives you know? With the anticipation of Super Smash Bros. Brawl in the air and the colossal blunders at Sony Inc, I think we can take a minute and forget about all of the negative and tense things in gaming life, and give praise to the very folks who cause our 'heroes' their great trifles. Introducing to you are the top 5 most bad-arse Video Game Villains of All Time. (According to me, of course.)

#5 Sigma: Mega Man X series
The guy you're looking at on the left? Complete jerk. But why does he make the cut for number 5 of the most bad-arse villain? Well, lets look at the facts. He somehow contracts a super virus from then Maverick Zero and turns it into the Sigma Virus, turns hundreds of noble and cause worthy Reploids into Mavericks and has X exterminate them. Then, he hires Vile to kill Zero, X's mentor and best friend. Returns in Mega Man X2 and sends these "X Hunters" to challenge X to a death match where the winner keeps Zero's broken parts. Eventually makes a fake Zero to traumatize and fight X. Returns in X3 to manipulate Doctor Doppler to get a new body to kill X. Returns in X4 to turn the ENTIRE Repliforce on the humans and have them tricked into being called Mavericks. Lets a giant Space Colony plummet and destroy a good portion of the Earth just to get Zero to unleash his true potential against X, manipulates some dude in X7, and well. You get the rest. The point being this, Sigma went above and beyond just to make Mega Man X and his chum Zero lives a living heck. And to some extent, he succeeded. The worst part is, this dude never seems to stay dead. Dedication man! That's what makes Sigma a real bad mother.

#4 Godot: Phoenix Wright
Sometimes a great villain doesn't need superhuman strength or immortality. Sometimes, all a great villain needs is an ungodly cool visor and hot steaming cup of joe. For those of you who are unfamiliar with the smiling guy on the left, that's Ace Prosecutor Godot from Phoenix Wright fame. As you play as Phoenix Wright, a Defense Attorney, your job is to prove your client innocent while you face the relentless prosecution, and I mean the best in the biz! Through the trilogy of games, Phoenix has faced the likes of Miles Edgeworth, Manfred and Franziska von Karma, none measure up to the sheer awesome might of Godot. Why's that? All the prosecutors before Godot have used some sort of forgery to get their verdict. Godot on the other hand has just been so darn good in court he doesn't have to. The smooth talking, coffee jugging ultimately cool prosecutor makes number 4. Just for this quote alone. " The weak get washed away by the tides of fate...the strong drink it up!" Yes they do Godot. Yes they do.

#3 Meta Knight: Kirby Series
Now look at that little guy over there and tell me that's not 5 different levels of epic right there. Straight out of the cutesy happy go lucky world of Kirby comes this dark knight. Meta Knight is truly an awesome character. While he's not necessarily evil like Dracula, Jenova and the like, he's more or less like an anti-hero. And since I really didn't play Final Fantasy VII myself (as I watched my brother beat the game) I can't comment on a character that I wasn't engaged with. At any rate, Meta Knight would constantly attack you with his minions in Kirby's Adventure until you dueled with him yourself. Once you find out he was trying to save Dreamland, you think "Hey! Things are cool with him and Kirbs, right?" Wrong! Revenge of Meta Knight rolls around as a game on Kirby Superstar where he vows to conquer Dreamland with his uber bad butt war machine, dubbed Halberd. Revenge of Meta Knight was one of the darker games found on the ole Kirby Superstar, and probably one of the most memorable scenes in that game is where the Halberd is completely wrecked, Meta Knight's crew evacuates and Kirby makes his escape of the sinking ship...only to be chased by the Knight in blue himself to the very demise of the Halberd. It just oozes bad arsey! I mean, his best quote is "DIE Kirby. DIE!" Just too awesome!

#2 Ridley: The Metroid Series

It seems as though tenacity is our reoccurring theme today, as Ridley makes number 2 on my list. You know your inner child can't disagree with me! What's cooler than a fire breathing dragon that hunts you till the end of time? Now I ask, what's cooler than a fire breathing dragon equipped with laser beams and rocket launchers? I'm sorry, but Ridley is just far to awesome to be not included into this list. First for a little backstory, its basic common knowledge that Ridley, although mindless beast looking, is actually the high ranking commander of the Space Pirates. Okay, that's pretty cool. Oh but wait, did I mention that he totally ravaged every human on K-2L and murdered Samus's parents? They way I see it is a bad-arse villain is only as awesome as their antagonist, and we all know how defiantly awesome Samus is. Like most of the guys on this list, Ridley doesn't seem to quit at life either. He's come back twice in regular form. Once as an android equipped with a Darkseid-esque Omega Beam and super fun happy rockets. Returned again to fight you down an elevator shaft in one of the most coolest boss sequences ever. And well, there's the future. Good lord knows the next time good old Ridley will show up, but when he does, you can bet your abs it'll be a crazy party!

#1 Most Bad-Arse Villain of All Time...
Ganondorf: The Legend of Zelda Series

Tell me you didn't know that was coming. Seriously. The award for the most bad-arse villain of all time goes to this man on the far left. I don't know who else could fit this category, but I know only one man deserving of this tittle. One of the most impressive developments of Ganon is the amount of changes this character undergoes, yet somehow remains the same man. But first, a little history before ye all judge. Legend has it that Ganondorf, king of Thieves searched with his army to find the home of the Triforce; the golden land. Well, when he reached the gate, he slaughtered not one, not two, but ALL of his faithful followers and held the Triforce of power for himself. If that's not hardcore, I don't know what is. Ganon has appeared as a power hungry tyrant, to an evil king, something as a twisted father figure in Wind Waker, and even as an omnipotent being in Twilight Princess. And in true villain fashion, he has a serious death deficiency, but it should be noted that there really hasn't been a Link strong enough to kill him. Yep, that's right. The man has managed to be so strong that the best they could come up with was seal him away. And the fun thing about the Zelda series is that they take place over a long amount of time. Our pal here vows to hunt down every Link in the natural time line of history until they are all exterminated. I mean, there is not one rendition of Ganon that's NOT worthy of being inducting. For example, I could have inducted Ganon based solely on his Wind Waker appearance, dueling young Link with two swords while the Kingdom of Hyrule was plunged into an eternal ocean water. Or I could have inducted Ganon's efforts in A Link to the Past, where he already rules the Dark World. The list goes on, and writing is on wall. Ganon just may be the coolest villain in video game history.

Well, that does it. Maybe I'll do a top something next time, but as for now, I've got to patiently pretend that Brawl is never coming out. Till next time!

Sunday, March 2, 2008

SONY: two steps ahead, yet two steps behind

Hey Fellas, its Snappy! I figured I'd put my two cents in about Sony America. First off, let me say this "What the (expletive delete) Phil, If you don't want the job, I'll take it!"

Anyways, lets get started. The PS3 is an outstanding system, with unbelievable hardware capabilities, but where is it all, and why does Japan get the goods as we weep waiting to get our share? Is Sony America just not doing their job? Or do they just not care? So many questions yet so little answers.

For such a big advancement from the PS2, Sony has showed little effort to attract new consumers. How do you go from having the best selling console last gen. to the least selling console this gen.? Your attracting the wrong crowd! What Sony didn't do is attract an overall crowd. They mainly marketed the console to older people with deeper pockets. I think that Sony is forgetting that the video game industry runs on children. How many people out there started gaming after the age of 16? Not many. Most people who game start when they are kids. Thus being, for most events such as birthdays and Christmas you'd possibly receive a game or two. Now that game or two is going to the pockets of rivals Nintendo and Microsoft, for making a family based console. Your gonna have to do a little more to build off the loyal based customers than that.

And why does Japan get everything months before us? I can understand a few weeks, but MONTHS!?! I just recently bought myself a nice Ceramic White Dual Shock 3 Sixaxis controller (could the name get any longer?) from Japan and boy its nice. Not only does it give you the rumble experience back, but its nice to have the standard weight back too. I've only tried it with a few games such as DMC4 and Uncharted, but it works great! I just want to know why did we get patches to utilize Duel Shock compatibility if we STILL haven't got the controllers in America? Why haven't we if were ready? And where is the "Home" update? Last I heard we were getting it in October, and I believe its MARCH! Not only does that follow hardware, but also software. Much anticipated game like Gran Turismo 5 have been out for months in Japan, but we still don't have a date! Do I see Sega all over again? I hope someone can answer these questions for me because I'm left dumbfounded, and this is most definitely leaving Sony two steps behind.

I hope you all didn't think I was gonna dog Sony the whole articles. Despite its setbacks, Sony in my opinion is the true Next-Gen console. With 7.1 Tru-Surround and 120(hz) 1080p. duel layered cell processor with motion censor controls, its very hard to argue the fact. Visuals are phenomenal and sound is amazing! Put aside that, hardware is impeccable. I can wirelessly access my PS3 from any wi-fi connection, turn it on, and play any PS1 game on my PSP! Not to mention any PS1 download from the marketplace can be transferred to a PRO-DUO Stick fro PSP play. Sit on that Microsoft!

Region-Free is for me. Sony has been more than grateful to allow the first region free based console without mods or boot disks. This is a GREAT advantage for gamers who import games. You don't have to worry about voiding warranties or buying two consoles! One console does it all. Also despite being region free, you can access region based servers from other countries. For example, I can access the Japanese marketplace on my American console in the U.S. region! Reasons like this are what is bringing Sony two steps ahead.

All put aside though, I think that if Sony stepped up to the plate and worked harder on a better online community and worked out hardware differences they could top Microsoft due to there ungodly hardware failure. But as far as racing with Nintendo, maybe next generation. Its hard to beat an all around console for $250 that has changed the way (Wii) play games. Till next time, this has been a Snappy comment.