Thursday, December 22, 2016

My Favorites of 2016: 3-1

I wouldn't be a video game site without a proper top 10 list at the end of the year. Unfortunately, I
don't have games sent to me, or a full work week to dive into longer or stranger game, or even every current console, so there are some large gaps in this list.

There were some AAA games I still haven't touched this year that likely could've made the list. I didn't have time to dedicate to Overwatch and despite the want to play, I haven't touched Gears of War 4.

It was a tough list to put together. I started with 22 games I really liked and knocked it down to 15 hard decisions. Ultimately, I like my list. There's a lot of diversity on it. Lot's of great memories attached to the list.

So, without wasting further words, my top 3 of 2016.

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

My Favorites of 2016: 7-4

I wouldn't be a video game site without a proper top 10 list at the end of the year. Unfortunately, I don't have games sent to me, or a full work week to dive into longer or stranger game, or even every current console, so there are some large gaps in this list.

There were some AAA games I still haven't touched this year that likely could've made the list. I'm waiting for that Hitman full season to be pressed to a disk and I didn't have enough friends concentrated on one console to tip me over the edge to get Titanfall 2.

So, without wasting further words, here's game 7-4 of 2016.

Friday, December 16, 2016

My Favorites of 2016: 10-8

I wouldn't be a video game site without a proper top 10 list at the end of the year. Unfortunately, I don't have games sent to me, or a full work week to dive into longer or stranger game, or even every current console, so there are some large gaps in this list.

There were some AAA games I still haven't touched this year that likely could've made the list. Final Fantasy XV is something I anticipate, hoping that Santa comes through for me. Call of Duty campaign looks interesting this year compared to last years. And Xcom 2 and Dishonored 2 didn't make my must play list because of lackluster first outings. 

So, without wasting further words, here's game 10-8 of 2016.

Monday, November 28, 2016

Arcade Hits: Super Punch Out

A few weeks ago Retronauts discussed a relatively rare arcade cabinet running Nintendo's Punch-Out. They discussed how Nintendo had a huge warehouse full of monitors because they over ordered Donkey Kong pieces thinking they would sell through.

Genyo Takeda and Shigeru Miyamoto were tasked with coming up with ways to burn through this inventory.

They attempted to figure out ways to make racing games using two monitors, but short comings in technology prevented them from rotating images in the way they wanted.

Instead they came up with the concept of a boxing game where the top monitor would display images of the fighters, the time left in the fight, and several meters used in the game.

I was intrigued by this story, not really knowing where to find this thing, I put it on my list of must plays if I ever came across it. And then I happened to stumble upon it at one of my favorite breweries in town.

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Zelda: Wind Waker HD

Release Date: December 13, 2002 / September 20, 2013
Played On: Wii-U

The 3D Zelda games only recently clicked with me. I always tried to start with Zelda 64, trying to understand the magic so many people experienced only to find the game really hard to stick with. It's one of those games that didn't age particularly well and runs on the fuel of nostalgia.

It wasn't until Twilight Princess that I truly enjoyed a 3D Zelda game.

I've made it my mission to go back and play some of the other 3D Zeldas to fill in this gaping black hole in my video game life.

I knew very little about Wind Waker other than the relatively young internet losing their shit over toon link. I vaguely remember my brother sitting feet from his SD TV, the hum of the tubes only drowned out by the uplifting adventuring music, sailing across the great sea. I remember briefly trying to track down a used copy for the GameCube around 2007 and finding that the price was above the original $60 for a used copy. But other than that, I knew nothing about Wind Waker before going in.

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Battlefield 1

Release Date: October 21, 2016
Played on: PS4

Battlefield 4 was my first real foray into Battlefield multiplayer. I played Bad Company, but not online. It seemed like an overwhelming community to jump into.

Battlefield 4 seemed like the perfect early PS4 game to show off the new hardware.

For the most part, I had a great time playing online. I was impressed by the all out war and chaos involved in Battlefield. And even though some players had a decade of Battlefield experience, I was able to hold my own and figure out the game modes and class system pretty quickly.

However, I was concerned with Battlefield 1 because the dynamic map changes that happened in BF4 often caused server crashes. With EA showing off very destructible environments, I was concerned that backing this over COD or Titanfall might bite me in the butt.

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Deus Ex: Mankind Divided

Release Date: August 23, 2016
Played on: PC

Deus Ex: Human Revolution was one of my favorite games of last generation. I've played through it three times, done my no-kill run, even played the sub-par DLC. I even thought about playing through it again before Mankind Divided came out.

I loved the freedom and exploration. How many side things there were to find. You could probably plow through a game in 12 hours, but it begs you to break into every office and read every email.

My excitement for Mankind Divided was too much for me to wait for the Steam sale a few months after release. I needed to be in that future world again.

Monday, October 31, 2016

Spoopy Games: The Early Capcom Horror Games

Capcom went to the survival horror cash cow as often as they could after their success with Resident Evil 1. They were known for their beautiful pre-rendered backgrounds, stiff controls, 3-6 hour games, and campy voice acting.

There was a time where you could argue they were better at horror than fighting, something inconceivable in recent years.

And this, this is where my obsession started. The games weren't enough. I started buying Resident Evil comics (they are all terrible), Resident Evil action figures (really awesome), and even jackets with the Umbrella logo on them.

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Spoopy Games: Random One Offs

As I've said, I was addicted to Resident Evil. I'd always flip through my Official PlayStation magazine looking for the words Resident Evil clone, I would write down the name of the game, and keep the list in my wallet for anytime I went to Babbages with some extra cash.

I ended up getting a lot of random horror games for the PlayStation 1 and 2. This learned behavior has followed me through to today.

Even though horror games have become more popular thanks to the rise of indie games and hot demos like PT, I still have fun hunting down the lesser known games.

So this list is essentially a mix of things that I didn't know were going to be important at the time and things that are still little known or played that have a special place in my heart. 

Thursday, October 13, 2016

Spoopy Games: Silent Hill

With Halloween quickly approaching, I figured I'll do what every other gaming blog and site does. It's time to cram lists of spooooookkky games down your throats.

Today, I'm focusing on the Silent Hill series.

A series that got in early on the survival horror game and one that Konami seemed to keep it's hands off of through the first several.

Silent Hill's foggy town was often used to sell the PlayStation 2. It's demonic scenes and story line kept large portions of the mainstream away from it. It's influence has spread to both games and film, becoming more than a Resident Evil clone. Silent Hill is a survival horror pillar that will forever be talked about in video game history.

Friday, September 9, 2016

Ape Escape

Release Date: May 31, 1999
Played on: Vita

I started making real $5.15 an hour sort of money right at the end of the PS1's life and because of that, I made some questionable purchases with my newfound paychecks such as the four player dongle for the PS1.

This also meant that anytime OPM told me there was a must have game, I knew I must, and I would buy it.

One of those games was this game I had heard nothing about called Ape Escape. It was a revolutionary game that required you had a dual shock controller because all of the weapons were controlled by the sticks.

Until Ape Escape, I pretty regularly stuck with the d-pad for all control as I was used to it. (To this day, I can't play the classic Resident Evils or Tomb Raiders on the analog sticks)

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Editorial: No Man's Sky

Release Date: August 9th, 2016
Played on: PlayStation 4

I didn't buy into the hype as much as most people. No Man's Sky always seemed like a survival game first, exploration game second, sci-fi adventure third. I thought it was a cool concept, but not the type of game I want to play.

I don't have time to figure out the survival parts of games like Don't Starve. In the limited gaming time I do have, I like to be able to hit the ground running with a clear objective and clean instructions.

My buddy put a solid 15-20 hours into No Man's Sky and generally he liked it, but there were times where he would call and say, "I just don't know what's motivating me. I'm doing the same things over and over again, but I keep coming back."

So he let me borrow his copy just so he had someone to talk to about it.

I did get a little excited as I booted the game up and saw the loading screen where it was generating my opening planet. I got a sense that this was my planet and no one else would see it.

What generated was a mostly green and rocky gas planet. I saw my downed ship and had some vague goals flashing on my screen that I need to collect some matter to get my ship going.

First things first, I knew I could name my planet and make my mark on this game. So, because I'm an adult, I named the system "PooPoo" and my planet, "PooPoo Junction."

So I start walking around, firing my mining laser at rocks, some plants, even a mini-brontosaurus looking animal. I was just getting a feel for the game.

And then I got a warning that my environment protection was running out and I needed to find a second material to stave off gas asphyxiation.

I didn't know where to get this material so I continued mining a bunch of things and seeing some numbers under requirements count up.

I wandered through some small, empty habitats that looked incredibly like the empty, soulless habitats in Mass Effect. And these little hyena bastards kept nipping at my heels.

Then only thing propelling me forward is that deep human need to check things off my list. I saw another question mark on the horizon, and I had to head toward it to see what it was.

Then I got a warning that my mining laser was out of ammo. I didn't know this could happen. It looked like an overheat sort of system. I was just firing at everything. But there I was, staring at a warning that I'm out of ammo and need to recharge it.

I still hadn't found the first two materials I needed, now I needed a third. I took a look at my inventory and I didn't have any of the three materials, but I had picked up the materials to upgrade something on my suit, so sure, I'll do that.

Since I'm out of ammo in my mining gun, the thing that gets me resources, I was now told to start hitting rocks and animals with my mining gun to collect materials. So I run up to a rock, hit it, see that the health of this rock only goes down about 1/20th of it's life and I sort of flip out at the game.

I was done, officially, 20 minutes in, I was done.

I didn't expect No Man's Sky to change my life like other people. I didn't even expect to like it. What I found was a completely competent, great looking game, that wasn't meant for people like me. And maybe later when they add updates and DLC to it and put in more of their sci-fi stuff, maybe then it'll speak to me. But right now, the No Man's Sky vanilla version is not a game I want to interact with.

And people, that's OK. Games don't have to change your life. Games can be just a surface level building block which what to build with. Look at how Minecraft started out. It was a game that was like, "I don't know, here's a couple tools, figure this shit out." Now it's the top selling game of all time.

No Man's Sky might not ever get near that level. In fact, it probably won't. But the backlash the dev team are getting from this is sickening. It's yet another poisonous well that is going to probably cause a few great minds in gaming to leave forever.

Monday, August 29, 2016

My Favorite Hockey Games

I was left behind with hockey games early in the PS1 life. I liked my simple 2-3 button hockey. I couldn't understand how to flip pass, precision shoot, or play zone defense in the 3D world.

Things got too complicated for me and instead of doubling down and learning it, I just didn't play a single hockey game from NHL '97 (John Vanbiesbrouck cover) until NHL '13 (Claude Giroux).

I found I could run the net in NHL '13 and score sometimes. It was more fun with couch co-op with someone that knew what they were doing. With a friend, I could put together a pretty solid season.

Then I skipped a few years. Despite the cringiness of having to look at rival Jonathan Toews on my PlayStation home page lifting the cup, I bought NHL '16 and to my surprise the game clicked.

So, in honor of my boy Tarasenko being on the cover of NHL '17, I thought I'd dig out my favorite hockey video games of the past.

Monday, August 15, 2016

Those Xtreme NES Games

Walking past a skate park had my thinking about extreme sports video games this weekend. It's the first time in a long time I've thought of these games. The last time I considered them was SSX for the PS3.

The X-games inspired sports games really hit their stride and peaked during the PS1 era. You had the ESPN Xtreme trilogy (that wasn't super great), Tony Hawk (and all of its Razor Scooter and Dave Mira clones), and Cool Boarders.

But there was a generation of games before that on the NES. They were games that promised the action of these extreme sports, but you sort of had to squint a little and pretend that it felt super extreme.

Skate or Die - 1988

Skate or Die was one of those NES games that just sort of showed up in your best friend's collection. He doesn't remember buying it. His parents don't know how it showed up. If you asked around, no one but everyone somehow had it. It was like this invisible game in your collection that only friends could pull out and play.

Despite the ever extreme conundrum of skating or die, the game never clicked with me. It felt sluggish and unresponsive. The music felt more suited for a beat-em-up like Ninja Turtles. And I always had a hard time figuring out what the hell the game wanted me to do.

The one thing I did like was the art. For a Nintendo / ZX Spectrum game, Skate or Die looks great. Lot's of clean lines, large distinguished sprites, and a sense of a large city.

California Games - 1987

Unlike Skate or Die, everyone owned California Games. This was the ultimate package of 6 very distinct events that could be played with multiple people.

California Games had a nice rhythm to the events that once it clicked, you would be able to win the event for the rest of your life. I'm serious, haven't played in 15 years, go ahead and try foot bag, bet you can still score a ridiculously high score. I bet you can still knock that bird out of the sky.

The half pipe was one of those events where people either didn't know how to do it and would just beat their knees up with the skate board until out of lives, or they could go forever.

Roller skating had you zooming down the beachfront on your best quad skates, but this was also the most littered beach front in the world. You had to dodge everything from puddles to ice cream cones, while doing tricks, and try to get to the end.

Like skating, the BMX course was a treacherous affair where after dodging a whole mess of holes in the ground, barrels, and puddles, you were expected to stop on a platform at the end, despite for the entire 5 minute course, never using your brakes. This usually ended with me pressing every button desperately trying to stop as I fell off the other side of the peer.

And inevitably, one of your friends would realize that you got points for ever jump you did, so they would just bounce down the track until they crashed away all their lives.

And then there was surfing, which arguably was actually a better half pipe game than half pipe, and featured a shark that would menacingly eat your character randomly.

Then the least extreme games, foot bag (hacky sack) and disk throw rounded out the package. (I guess the possibility of bear attacks in disk throw was pretty extreme)

T&C Surf Design - 1988

T&C Surf Design was fast and responsive, challenging but not impossible, and so colorful. 

It featured characters from the actual T&C Surf Design shop like tiki man, some cool surfing gorilla who I believe was named Joe Cool, and a fucking terrifying humanoid cat in tights. Actually, I don't know what the hell was going on, but I liked it. 

The skate boarding felt great and was by and far the best on the NES. You could gather tons of speed, get so much air, and actually perform simple tricks like Ollies to dodge obstacles.

There were things to jump over and ramps to go off of. There are still a few ramps over holes that I've never managed to land and to this day believe it was a sick way to take health on an impossible jump.

The surfing took a lot more to figure out. It was some balance of gaining speed going down the wave, but then turning around and ramping up to score points. You had to dodge birds and some dude on a raft, and if you did right, the wave wouldn't crash down on you and you would end in the pier and get scored. 

I remember sitting there listening to the waves crashing on the title screen for long periods of time. Sometimes starting the game while I ate a snack, just so I could listen. 

There isn't a ton of money in these sort of games anymore. Tony Hawk poisoned the well with too many lack-luster outings. The X-games in general have lost some steam. 

I'll admit, I was burned out on these games for a while. I almost picked up the ever so broken Tony Hawk 5 just to get a taste, but my senses screamed otherwise. I'm putting a ton of stock into Ubisoft's Steep. It looks incredible. A nice combination of actual mountain ranges mixed with team Red Bull like sensibilities. 

Monday, August 8, 2016

Wild Arms

I used to see Wild Arms hanging on the wall at my local Grandpa Pigeons. The cover art was just colorful enough for me to notice it existed, but just generic enough to where I passed up the game for other such gems as Bio F.R.E.A.K.S.

This was another Retronauts recommendation I picked up specifically to play on my handheld.

Wild Arms may be the perfect PS1 classic for the Vita. It's easy to pick up and play for 15 minutes or 2 hours. There are save points all over the place and it has this just sort of perfect flow where you don't really get tired of it. I've spent various long spats playing. Having just come back from a trip and playing a solid 5 hours, I have to say, this is one of the best PS1 RPGs.

Thursday, July 28, 2016

Hitting the Arcade

A new barcade called Start Bar opened in town in this re-purposed warehouse down by the ballpark.

It's a gorgeous building and the owners did a great job of capturing pop-culture ideas of arcade culture. The restrooms have Space Invaders built into the tiles. There's a huge Andy Worhole inspired collage of Billy Mitchell on one wall. There's neon lights and a price counter hearkening to your favorite roller skating rink.

Even their pint glasses have the Start Bar logo on one side and the Konami code on the other.

They really nailed the right feel

Friday, July 22, 2016


Played on: PS1 emulation on Vita
Released On: October 26, 1999

I didn't understand the appeal of turned based RPGs until I was in my mid-20s.

I was a Sega kid. I wanted fast paced action, flashing lights, killer guitar riffs playing up the attitude. I wanted my Surge cold and thrown at me in a junk yard. I wanted to snowboard down an avalanche. From age 7-12, I was fully invested in the 90s marketing of extreme.

So RPGs didn't really fit that marketing persona I was trying to live up to.

Even though the PlayStation 1 is my all time favorite console, I didn't understand it's greatest strength until I shed my spiked hair, the JRPG.

There's the obvious RPGs like Final Fantasy, Chrono Cross, Legend of Dragoon that I've circled back around to, but there were so many RPGs in the decade of PS1 that I missed, it's nearly impossible to get my head around what is worth my time and what isn't. I mostly rely on reading blogs or hearing about them on podcasts.

Monday, July 11, 2016

Doom (2016)

Doom was the game I coveted the most for the PC in the early 90s. I didn't get it until a few years after it had come out when my father got a hold of a CD with something like 40 games on there. I'm sure it wasn't legit, but we finally had Doom and Doom 2.

I played through both games several times, on various difficulty levels, with various cheat codes. I combed every inch of every map, discovered John Romero's severed head behind the end boss, attempted to kill every demon in the final room of Doom only to find that the room itself would kill you. I loved Doom.

Doom 3 didn't grab me the same way. I remember really liking it, but I also remember being incredibly lost. I'd wander hallways trying to figure out what I had to trigger for hours, not making any progress.

But Doom 2016... there's something special about Doom 2016.

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Valkyria Chronicles

Played On: Steam
Release Date: April 24, 2008

I like that PlayStation consoles tend to have really weird games come out for them. I would assume it's their greater relationship with Japanese studios who are slightly more willing to take risks on games and embrace Japanese culture in general. They have a legacy though, all the way back to LSD, Vib Ribbon, and Mr. Mosquito for the PS1.

Some of my favorite games of the PS3 generation were ones that had little hype but then landed in a great way. Demon's Souls, Ni No Kuni, and Valkyria Chronicles.

I bought Valkyria Chronicles on a whim and besides Demon's Souls, I don't think another game won me over as much as Valkyria Chronicles. 

Monday, June 27, 2016

Ridge Racer Type 4

Like a lot of people, the original Ridge Racer was one of the first games I played on the PlayStation 1. It was accessible enough, showed off the fantastic CD player capabilities of the system, and looked fantastic compared to other early 3D games.

... buuuuuutttttt, that came with the caveat of there only being one track (two if you count the reverse track, three if you count the little bit extra track added in expert) so it didn't hold much interest once you got first place. It mostly because the centerpiece of showing off why your PlayStation was better than a Nintendo 64.

I moved onto Need for Speed III: Hot Pursuit, Cruis'n World, and Test Drive 5, (also known as 1996-1998 my racing formative years), and even had a short flirtation with NASCAR 98 and it's paintball mode.

But nothing gripped me the way that Ridge Racer Type 4 did in 1999. In fact, I'll be bold enough to say, Ridge Racer Type 4 is my favorite racing game of all time.

Sunday, June 19, 2016

Resident Evil VII Teaser

I usually stray away from demos and teasers. This is partially because of the very limited hard drive space I have on my PS4 and Sony's complete mismanagement of their download list.

The only other teaser I've downloaded this generation was PT.

I obviously have a soft spot for horror games, so it makes sense, but this is also because unlike a demo, teasers tend to be very different than the end product. It's a part of game history that in 10 years, someone is going to make an off hand comment about Resident Evil VII Remastered and I will tell them about this strange little teaser.

Thursday, June 16, 2016

E3 2016

Another E3 hype train has left the station and after catching up on all the videos, I've got some things I'm excited about.

Nintendo did the thing they said they were going to do, they came to the show with just Zelda and Pokemon. I know I wasn't the only one that thought this was a bait and switch and we were going to see the NX.

Microsoft, Sony, EA, Ubisoft, and Bethesda all had OK showings, but there wasn't as much to blow your mind as there was last year.

Sunday, June 12, 2016

Mario Kart 64

Original Release Date: 1997
Played On: Nintendo 64

I did that thing this weekend that you should never do. I bragged that I was good at a game that I hadn't played in 15 years and the results were as expected.

After a long day of beers, a friend of mine dangled his hooked up Nintendo 64 in front of my wide eyes and said Mario Kart was already in the system.

We poured another sip of bourbon and sat cross legged in front of the TV, straining our eyes to see through the blurry attempt for the TV to up-res a system built for squarish low def TVs.

And after checking the sticks on all the controllers to make sure I wasn't about to get screwed with broken hardware, we booted up Mario Kart 64.

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Wacky Wheels

In late 1997 I had conquered Duke Nukem 3D. I wouldn't say I was tired of the game, but I could definitely use a break.

Also at this time, I started editing files that installed with games.

Personal favorite edits were replacing all the sounds in a German Monopoly ripoff with Simpsons and Beavis and Butthead sounds and replacing the taunts in Scorched Earth with very personal taunts aimed at my brothers.

So I started poking around my copy of Duke Nukem 3D. Most the files didn't mean anything to me, random DLL and map files. And then... then I found the holy grail.

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Uncharted 4: A Thief's End

Played On: PS4
Release Date: May 10, 2016

I have a weird relationship with Uncharted.

I love that I get to play a pulp adventurer, charming and gravity defying, Nathan Drake allows me to escape mowing the lawn for a few hours and explore hidden cities and temples.

On the other hand, the fire fights wear me down. Tedious and long, the bodies pile up and all I want is to get to the next cut-scene or quiet tomb.

But I've been on a journey with Nathan Drake, one that spans four games between the PS3 and Vita, and dammit, I needed to see it through.

Sunday, May 22, 2016

Star Wars: Galactic Battlegrounds Saga

Age of Empires II is probably the height that the RTS genre will ever reach. I know there's an argument in there for Blizzard's RTS games and there's probably a couple people that would fight for Command and Conquer, but they are wrong, it's Age of Empires II.

I spent hours setting up LAN parties between my brothers and I, and we would have epic three hour long battles against the A.I. I'd hold the line with Teutonic knights, keeping their annoying small groups away from our early civilizations, while my brothers constructed siege equipment before laying waste to our enemies one by one.

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Quick Vita Hits

The Vita is my darling. Even though the world didn't accept her, I love her.

She gave me access to dozens of PS1 games that I earn to play on the go, some of my favorite PSP games digitally, and introduced me to missed gems like Persona 4. Despite what most message boards say, the Vita also has a quality library of exclusives.

I'm locked in a hotel room for the next two months. I'll admit, the Wii-U took a lot of my couch playing time away from the Vita, but bringing the Wii-U with me wasn't an option. So I'm back to my old girlfriend.

Here's some of the more recent games I've been playing.

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Editorial: The Fans of a Dying Platform

Nintendo recently announced that the Zelda Wii-U game that they kept promising would be Wii-U exclusive that was still coming... is now going to be cross platform. This essentially means we're going to get a Twilight Princess situation where the NX version isn't as good as it could be and the Wii-U version is going to be missing whatever gimmick the NX version has.

I have a Wii-U and a Vita. Both are probably the most depressed of fan bases in the mid-2010s. It's interesting to see how each handles it. 


The Vita fanbase started getting really salty the first E3 that Sony didn't mention the Vita. I can't remember the exact year, but I think it was 2014. 

I think Sony's marketing has long been the issue with the fans of the Vita. 

The PSP fans were generally people that liked weird or Japanese games, were into home brewed systems, or wanted console experiences on a handheld. All three of these groups were very happy with what they got. 

Well, Sony said the Vita would be almost as powerful as the PS3 and promised AAA console games on the run. Their first big marketing campaign backed Call of Duty: Black Ops: Declassified. The commercial had a bunch of teenager / 20 somethings dudes jumping around and fighting. 

Generally the more sub-titles in a game title, the larger the dumpster fire it will be. And it was. This game was critically and commercially panned. 

Another AAA third party title came in Assassin's Creed, but it was an incredibly boring adventure. They took the worst parts of Assassin's Creed, slowed the combat down a ton, and soon people weren't sure they ever wanted these games in the first place.

Well, it was too late to pull the plug. Killzone and Uncharted were already coming, so Sony doubled down on the "this is a console in your hands." 

And a significant percentage of Vita owners bought the handheld on the promise that we would be seeing Drake's adventures, Helghast being assassinated, perhaps even a new Infamous or Grand Turismo. 

Well, things went from bad to worse. We learned that Bioshock Vita was never going to happen. There wouldn't be a new Infamous. Hell, there wouldn't even be a second Call of Duty or Assassin's Creed.

Soon indie developers were put to the forefront of the Vita marketing. Some Japanese games like Freedom Wars filled AAA gaps. But the one thing we weren't getting was the AAA console games we dreamed of. 

It was impossible to go to the internet forums and not see people throwing so much hate toward Sony. They felt abandoned, ripped off, swindled. 

These are the same people however that spoke of how they put 100 hours into Persona 4, played through Uncharted 2-3 times, loved Gravity Rush, could not wait for Tearaway to be another bullet point on why the Vita is so great. 

But they hated Sony. 

I feel like an outlier. Maybe I'm just part of the silent and happy. Until I got my Wii-U, I sat on the couch almost nightly embraced by the warm glow of my Vita. I'd play through PS1 JRPGS while watching TV. I spent several hospital stays with Uncharted, Killzone, and Persona 4. I was happy with what I got out of my Vita. 

I wish the handheld wasn't dying because it truly is one of the greatest devices I've ever used, but sometimes you have to let things go. 

Sony made several missteps. The marketing being the obvious one, but they created what was supposed to be a "console" experience with two touch screens but no bottom triggers. This has recently filled the Vita releases with phone ports. And don't even get me started on the memory cards. 


The Wii-U crowd reacted a little differently. 

I think because they were one of the "three major consoles" this generation, they've been beat down by every non-Wii-U user for years telling them how much their console is inferior and how it's sales are the worst. 

People that bought a Wii-U after launch knew that they would have to stay out of general gaming forums because it would just be punishment. 

But the other thing Wii-U owners felt was that Nintendo would never abandon them. Until the news of Zelda being ported to the NX, the forums were still filled with people saying, "Nintendo promised us that if we just waited this would be a Wii-U only Zelda." Fans took the countless delays with grace.

And now they feel hurt. It's much less anger. Much more depression. It's like when dad goes out on a cigarette run and never comes home.

If you look at the Wii-U library, there are some insanely good games. New Mario Wii-U, Super Mario Maker, Splatoon, Zombie-U, Donkey Kong Country Tropical Freeze... but half the library is filled with ports of Nintendo's Gamecube games.

I've killed the battery on the gamepad a dozen times playing Twilight Princess, Mario World, and Mario Maker on the couch.

I do wish the console had another year of life. I felt like I was just hitting a great stride, but at the same time, I've gotten many hours out of the Wii-U and I haven't touched large portions of the library like Pikmin 3, Donkey Kong Country Tropical Freeze, New Mario Wii-U, Wonderful 101, and Smash Brothers.

There's a part of me that wishes the internet was more widely used in the 90s. I'd love to see how the Sega Saturn and Dreamcast fans dealt with the quick death of their consoles. Or the couple hundred people that bought into the Virtual Boy learning that they would never see more than the 30 or so games they got.

It's a weird situation we have nowadays. We're more than happy to shell out more than a console for a new phone every two years, a tablet, a TV. But we have this expectation that our game consoles should be around for 7-8 years. Do we need to shift expectations or is the list of traditional consoles so close to be over that we just complain for the next couple years and get on with our lives?

Thursday, April 28, 2016

The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess

Played on: Wii-U
Release date: March 4, 2016 (Original November 19, 2006)

Many people don't like Twilight Princess because it's very vanilla. It rehashes a lot of stuff from Ocarina of Time. And they changed Link's sword hand. But we got this because everyone complained about Toon Link when Wind Waker came out.

All of those things mean nothing to me because:

  1. I never had a Nintendo 64, so I never played Ocarina of Time.
  2. I'm not a man baby when it comes to Toon Link, sword hands, or all the other things Zelda fans complain about.
I actually really enjoyed my time with Twilight Princess on the Wii in 2006. I have a Wii-U, so when the HD version of Twilight Princess was announced, it was a no-brainer, I was going to pad my Wii-U collection with this. 

Friday, April 22, 2016

The Division

Played on: PlayStation 4
Release date: March 8, 2016

When Ubisoft showed The Division at E3 the first time, it was when I realized, "Wow, the new consoles really are coming." It was the first game I wanted for my PlayStation 4.

Ubisoft has my number. If they slap Tom Clancy's name on a box, I'm probably going to buy it because dammit, I love my shooters to be based in a more realistic world. The Division is probably the most non-Clancy game Ubisoft has released under the name. Honestly, I think the game suffers from trying to shoe-horn some Clacy-ness into it.

I've been putting off writing this review as like most MMO type games, this one is constantly evolving and unlocking additional content. I've gotten to a point where I feel comfortable in knowing what the current version of The Division is.

Sunday, April 17, 2016

Editorial: Fear Effect

With the Kickstarter launching for a new Fear Effect, I decided it was time to dust off the double jewel case and see if I still enjoyed the original, almost 20 years later.

It was a weird time in gaming. Japanese games still largely ruled and anime was incredibly popular on Cartoon Network. At the same time, to appeal to American's, a lot of games sort of had this injection of "attitude." It's something you can see in the top walk through on GameFaqs. The author really told that mom off. Many games felt like a Mountain Dew commercial with samurai.

I remember drooling over the advertisements in previews in the Official PlayStation Magazine as far back as when it was still called "Fear Factor." (Before the metal band, Fear Factory, threatened a lawsuit)

Thursday, April 7, 2016

Day of the Tentacle

Played on: Windows
Release Date: March 22, 2016 (June 25, 1993 original)

Warning: There are a couple of puzzle spoilers throughout.

In 1995, I spent most of my time in our dark, partially finished basement playing first person shooters like Doom and Wolfenstein.

I was also a giant Star Wars fan, so naturally I coveted Dark Forces. I wanted it so badly, but I was 11 and my paltry $2.50 a week allowance wasn't enough to cover the Dark Forces price tag.

Then one fateful day, I was taking in the giant wall of Sam's Club computer software, and I saw The LucasArts Archives Vol. 1. Ignoring most the games in the package, I saw Dark Forces included. My parents granted me a loan. I covered $30 of the package and forfeited my allowance over the next several weeks/months.

Dark Forces ended up being a three mission demo that came on it's own disk, but I couldn't see the text that said, "Demo" through the clear plastic window on the packaging.  I was taken like a chump. I can forgive the prequels, but this is the real reason I dislike George Lucas. (Just kidding, George seems like a really nice and cool guy)

It took me so long to figure out how to beat that terrible maze of a sewer level on Dark Forces, that the refund policy expired and I couldn't return this box of games.

Not wanting to feel like I lost money on the deal, I went ahead and installed Maniac Mansion: Day of the Tentacle and what happened was magic.

I was immediately pulled into one of the toughest, funniest, and most rewarding adventure games I've ever played.

Friday, April 1, 2016

Editorial: The 3D Beat 'Em Up

Beat 'em up games were incredibly popular on 8 and 16 bit systems. They usually took the framework of an arcade like game and let you and your friends team up. There was a hesitation when the 3D platforms were coming out. What do we do with the Beat 'em up?

Some games just boosted the graphics and stuck with 2D like Iron Man and X-O Manowar in Heavy Metal. But some took the challenge of 3D on.

There was a period in 1996-1998 where 50% of Playstation demo disks had a demo for the first level of a 3D beat 'em up called Fighting Force.

Thursday, March 24, 2016

Super Mario 3D World

Played on: Nintendo Wii-U
Release Date: November 21, 2013

I never owned a Nintendo 64.

The brief moments I got with it were spent with Mario 64 and MarioKart 64. It was a world of wonder. There was something so much more impressive about Mario 64 than all of the 3D platformers found on the PS1 like Gex and Spyro.

I didn't play more than a level or two until I got a DS a decade later. I bought Mario 64 DS, playing about 6 hours of it, and hated that the magic wasn't there. It's one of those situations where you wish you didn't meet your hero because they turned out to be terrible.

I've tried to recapture that magic on the DS, 3DS, and now the Wii-U, and I'm realizing that magic may be gone, but that doesn't mean there's not a good game there.

Friday, March 18, 2016

The Order: 1886

Release Date: February 20, 2015
Played on: PlayStation 4

The Order: 1886 is notorious in that it was one of the games pushed the hardest for the PS4 launch and it probably had the most hype behind it. This was one of the games I pointed to when people asked why I picked PS4 over an Xbox One. 

The release however, earned very middling reviews and the game quickly disappeared from the collective conscious. 

I held off on buying it, assuming at some point Sony would give it away as part of the monthly offerings of PlayStation + games. 

Before that happened though, the price came down enough to where a buddy of mine just bought the disk. 

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Army of Two: Devil's Cartel

Release Date: March 26, 2013
Played On: PlayStation 3

I have this weird obsession with the Army of Two series. I literally have an Army of Two with one of my buddies, where we play through each of these games, leveling up our weapons like a job.

By the time the Devil's Cartel came out, we were both busy and looking forward at the Playstation 4. Devil's Cartel fell off our radar pretty soon after it's announcement.

But one night filled with drinks and reminiscing, we found ourselves picking up copies from GameStop, with full intentions of playing through.

I turned my PS3 for the first time in almost 8 weeks, and after downloading a brigade of updates, we were ready to take on the cartel.

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Gone Home

Release Date: August 15, 2013
Played on: Windows

I've gone back and forth whether to write about Gone Home. It's a hard game to write about because the magic of Gone Home is going into it without knowing anything about it.

But the game affected me in such a way that I want to give it some mention.

Gone Home is the story of Kaitlin, a college student coming home from being abroad in 1995.

With it recently releasing on consoles, I figured it's as good a time as any to talk about the game in the most general of terms.

I'm going to try my hardest not to spoil any real plot points. I may refer to plot points, but I won't give any details.

Thursday, February 25, 2016

Emily is Away

Release Date: November 20, 2015
Played on: Windows

Emily is Away is an interactive story told though an AOL Instant Messanger avatar. It's about growing up and dealing with the awkward relationships that transition from high-school to college through technology. 

The entire play-through only takes about 30 minutes, but it's enticing to play-through a few times just to see where different dialogue options would go.

Friday, February 19, 2016

Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare

Played on: Playstation 4
Release Date: November 4, 2014

I've had a storied history with the Call of Duty franchise.

Call of Duty 3 was the first time I really thought console first person shooters could be a thing. I was amazed at how great the controls felt compared to other console FPSs like the PS1 Doom port or Halo.

Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare was the first time online multiplayer got it's hooks into me. I had 8 clocked days in the multiplayer. I bought every DLC map and generally played for a couple hours each night. This was also the first game I played in high definition.

Call of Duty World at War was the first time I was utterly impressed with how many glitches there were in both the campaign and multiplayer.

I thought the first Black Ops was a boring story wrapped around favorite movie scenes from Apocalypse Now and Hamburger Hill. And Modern Warfare 3 fell short of the expectations coming from MW 1 and 2. I took a few years off of Call of Duty.

Advanced Warfare was bought only because I wanted a couch co-op game to play with a buddy and it was half off that weekend. What I received was a surprisingly fun game.

Friday, February 12, 2016

Resident Evil 0

Played on: Playstation 4
Release Date: January 19, 2016 (November 12, 2002 original)

Resident Evil 0 was always this weird outlyer for me. Resident Evil games sold me on gaming platforms, but as someone going off to college in 2003, I couldn't really afford to have both a Playstation 2 and Gamecube. I chose Playstation.

Much like Code Veronica, I stared at the box art and thumbed through the strategy guides, trying to complete the Resident Evil story in my mind. It wasn't until 2006 when a used game store started selling Gamecubes for $35 a piece that I finally got to play Resident Evil 0.

Most times when I booted up RE 0, I would inevitably stop after 30 minutes and go back to RE-make.

It's been exciting playing, almost like getting a throwback Resident Evil game in 2014.

Friday, February 5, 2016

Tomb Raider Anniversary

Played on: PC
Release Date: June 1, 2007

I had a dream last week where I was exploring an Mayan temple and it gave me a craving for some old style Tomb Raider.

Luckily, during one of the Steam sales a few years ago, I picked up every Tomb Raider game up to the 2013 reboot for roughly $15.

Unluckily, the PS1 ports of those games don't support controllers and are basically unplayable with a keyboard. So I have four PS1 Tomb Raider games in my Steam library that I may never touch.

The original Tomb Raider has a special place in my heart. It was one of the first times I thought, "Videogames will never look more realistic than this."

In 2007 (during the second reboot of the franchise) we got Tomb Raider Anniversary which was a remake of the very first game with some of the additions from Tomb Raider Legends.

Thursday, January 28, 2016

Editorial: The Death of Game Hunting

I was unexpectedly given a WiiU for Christmas this year and my mind immediately started making the checklist of games and accessories I would want.

One of the games toward the top of my list was a puzzle game I thoroughly enjoyed on the Gamecube, Pikmin.

I added Pikmin 3 to my Amazon wishlist, and I was astounded to find a game that was only two years old was going for $120 on Amazon. I know Nintendo first party games have a reputation for holding their value, but I had never witnessed a game double in price while it's system was still on sale.

So I started digging around and I found if retailers had copies of Pikmin 3 in brick and mortar stores, it would only cost me the normal $60.

Friday, January 22, 2016

Wolfenstein: The New Order and The Old Blood

Played on: Playstation 4
Release Date: 

  • Wolfenstein: The New Order: May 20, 2014
  • The Old Blood: May 5, 2015
It's hard to talk about one of these games without talking about both at the same time. 

The current Wolfenstein reboot borrows elements from so many games.

The sneaking ability is that of Thief and Dishonored where you have to trust the AI to your periphery won't see you because you're stalking a soldier, crouched, and hoping you can land a melee blow without anyone noticing.

The combat is ultra-violent like something ID Games, Quake and Doom, would make.

The level design feels oddly like Resident Evil 4 and Metal Gear Solid in these Gothic castles with branching paths.

I don't think many people had this on their radar, but something about the reviews I read spoke to me and I had to get them both.

Thursday, January 14, 2016

Super Mario Maker

Played on: Wii-U
Release date: September 10, 2015

I've not had this dumb, childlike grin on my face in nearly 20 years.

In a way, I've been chasing the feeling of playing Mario, Sonic, Metal Gear Solid, and Resident Evil for the first time. These moments in gaming that are forever burned into my memory, causing me to buy every single entry in the series against my better judgement. (I'm looking at you Resident Evil 6.)

Super Mario Maker is the first time I've felt like a game has changed what I think about games since probably the original Gears of War.

There have been level editor platforming games before like Little Big Planet, but none of them quite nail the addictiveness and fun of Super Mario Maker.

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Dragon Age Inquisition

Played on: Playstation 4
Release Date: November 18, 2014

I was late to the party on this one. Like a lot of people, I was incredibly bored with Dragon Age 2 and wasn't quite ready to come back to Ferelden until summer of 2015.

I was pulled in almost immediately. All the role playing systems and great Bioware writing was in tact.

There was a rich varied world that I wanted to explore, NPCs and party members that I wanted to learn more about, and so many codex's expertly written.

Monday, January 4, 2016

And We're Back...

It's been a long hiatus and I have hated it.

I'm staring at my huge untouched Steam library, a dozen Playstation 1 games still in their shrink wrap, and about 300 SNES and Genesis games that I haven't touched. I'm getting gamer guilt. To the point where I can't concentrate on games I'm playing currently because there are too many other games that I haven't touched.

First world problems to the extreme.

So here's my plan, every week this year I'm going to put at least an hour into a game.

If I like it, I'm going to continue on. If I don't, I'm relieved of the guilt because the game sucked anyway.

Then I'm going to come here and write up a few paragraphs of my impressions. I just need to get playing and writing again.

So here we go, week one is coming in a few days.

It's been a while, time to blow the dust off this musty old blog.