Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Top Five Games I played with my Dad (Father's Day Special)

I know it's a little late for Father's Day, but today is my Dad's birthday. Therefore, I am going to post the top five games my Dad and I would spend time playing together when I was younger. My Dad wasn't a huge video game fan, but once in a while, a game would come along that he really enjoyed playing. The list is below:

5. Desert Strike

Dad couldn't get enough of this classic Super Nintendo game. I remember him spending a lot of time trying to rescue the green little guys, while trying to destroy the targets. I tried playing the game a few years later on my own, and it just wasn't the same without him.

4. Super Mario World

Super Mario World was one of those games that the whole family enjoyed playing together, and my family was no exception. I was very young when it first came out, so I would have to ask for help from my family. In time, however, I far surpassed them in skill, and it was I who finally completed the star map and defeated the extra difficult levels.

3. Tomb Raider

My Dad would play Tomb Raider a lot, and I would mostly offer helpful little suggestions. Later, when I got complete control of the game I realized that the controls completely sucked, and that I preferred giving him helpful hints to actually playing the game. I'm not sure if he ever beat Tomb Raider, but I know that he played it a lot and really seemed to enjoy the title a lot more than I did. Still, I remember having fun watching him play.

2. Wii Bowling

The whole family plays Wii bowling whenever I come home for an extended period of time, and it's usually Dad who convinces us to play (though it's Mom who usually gets the high score). One night he got my sister's boyfriend, a friend of mine, and myself completely plastered by making it into a drinking game. I still don't really understand the rules of the game we were playing, but I do remember that it forced my friend to do some serious praying to the porcelain God.

1. Super Mario Kart

Dad was good at Super Mario Kart. Scary Good. He knew how to lead you with green shells so that you'd run right into them. He knew how to take you out with banana peels. He knew how to trick you into trapping yourself. He knew how to laugh at you when you did something stupid. This was quintessential bonding time for Dad and I, him embarrassing me one a best of 3 match of Battle Mode in Super Mario Kart, and it was one of the most fun things we ever did together.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

5 Suggested Titles: Part 3

1. Super Mario Kart (SNES)

The classic Mario Kart was one of the most fun games to play on the Super Nintendo. That's saying something because there were tons of brilliant games on the system. Nothing since or before has ever been more satisfying than pelting your little sister with a green shell in Super Mario Kart's battle mode.

2. Legend of Zelda: The Windwaker (Nintendo Gamecube)

I often think that this is the most underrated Zelda game in the whole series. A lot of people were disappointed in its cartoonishness, but once you got past that you had an excellent game that was deep, complex, and extremely fun. Also, the world is incredibly huge and a lot of fun to explore. If you were foolish enough to avoid this one because of its cartoon graphics, do yourself a favor and go out and find a copy today.

3. Halo 3 (Xbox 360)

I don't actually own this game. It's one of those games, that if I owned, I would accomplish nothing. But I play it over X-Box Live with my friends. A lot. And though all I really do is run around and get killed by other players, it never ceases to be anything but amazingly fun. This is one that everyone should play on X-Box Live, whether they suck or not.

4. Tiny Toon Adventures: Buster Busts Loose (SNES)

This is one of those gems that does not get on a lot of lists of really great games, but is still really worth checking out. Buster's adventure was fun in a lot of ways, but it really shined in certain mini-games. The football section, for instance, was really a lot of fun. So too were many of the mini games that you would get to play. This was an excellent game that I spent a lot of time with as a kid.

5. Resident Evil IV (Nintendo Wii)

Resident Evil IV has existed on the Gamecube, the PS2, and the Wii, but in my opinion, it's best installment was the Wii version. Something about the point, click, and shoot technology really made the game feel tighter without losing any of the challenge of trying to shoot the bad guys before they chainsawed your head off. If you haven't played this game on the Wii, you are really missing something, and you should try to play it as soon as possible.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Top Ten Monday: Most Underrated Video Game Characters

10. Raiden (Mortal Kombat Series)

The characters who get the most love in the Mortal Kombat series are Sub-zero, Liu Kang, and Scorpion. Where's the love for Raiden. Certainly, he is equally bad ass to the other counterparts. He can throw lightning, which is awesome. When you add in the staff, and his sense of responsibility for the welfare of earth realm, Raiden is easily one of the most interesting characters to come out of the Mortal Kombat series.

9. Nightcrawler (X-Men)

Nightcrawler is one of those characters who simply needs his own game. In the X-men Legends series he is one of the most fun characters to play. Add to that his deep religious conviction, his heartbreak of being born looking like a demon, and you have a character who is deep and extremely interesting. The video game industry just hasn't given this guy enough love.

8. Barett Wallace (Final Fantasy VII)

Cloud Strife was the face of Final Fantasy VII, but Barett Wallace was the heart, the comedy, and the tragedy of the title. He's often forgotten, but the story just would not have worked without him. Not only that, but after Cloud, he was also one of the most badass fighters the game had to offer. And who wouldn't want to hang out with a guy who had a gun for a prosthetic arm?

7. Little Mac (Punch-Out Series)

Little Mac rarely gets much love on lists of top video game characters probably because of the very few games that he has headlined. But, Little Mac headlines really excellent games, and his personality shines through in all of them. Currently, Little Mac is back and headlining the new Wii title Punch-Out Wii! You should check him out.

6. Tails (Sonic series)

I, like the rest of the video game fan community, have been down on Sonic for quite some time. However, I am not down on one character from the Sonic universe, the very versatile and just plain cute Tails. Tails is often left in Sonic's shadow, but he is one of the most interesting characters brought forth by the game. Innocent, and not as fast as Sonic, you can actually spend some time enjoying the game if you play as tails. Plus, he's just so damn cute that you won't be able to avoid falling in love with him.

5. Hunter the Cheetah (Spyro series)

I spent some time with Spyro on the Nintendo Gamecube and was roundly dissapointed (after thoroughly enjoying him on the Playstation 1). However, there was light in a dark tunnel in the form of Hunter the Cheetah. His sections in Spyro: A Hero's Tail was the only thing that kept the game from being a total waste. And, I for one, couldn't play through his sections and think anything other than that I wanted Hunter to get a game of his own. Plus, there's just something about a dim witted protaganist that sits well with me, especially for video games.

4. Saddler (Resident Evil IV)

Saddler was an impressive villain. Bent on world domination, he let out the Los Plagas, a deadly mind controlling parasite, and began his plans for taking over the world. He even managed to kidnap the president's daughter. Add onto that, his ability to absorb and then spit back out bullets, and you have one impressive baddie. It's too bad he is left behind in Wesker's shadow. But Leon Kennedy certainly had enough of a hard time with him, that in my opinion he should be placed in the list of the ten greatest video game villains of all the time. Yet, he is noticeably absent from these lists, which is why he's extremely underrated.

3. Kamek the Wizard (Mario Games)

Bowser is little more than a big, overgrown toddler. But Kamek has got brains. Not only has he got brains, but he has magic, and can turn blocks into all sorts of evil things. Mario really has his hands full when he comes up against this magical koopa, though people tend to forget just how dangerous Kamek can be. He was the main villain in Yoshi's Island, and was a lot scarier than Baby Bowser could ever have been.

2. The Sprite (Secret of Mana)

Secret of Mana is one of my favorite video games of all time,and the Sprite character in this story really helped to set it apart. Its willingness to sacrifice for the good of the world, the way it talked about how it would exist in another reality once Mana had left the world they were currently in, and its sense of humor all set it apart from other video game characters. Add onto that some badass magical skills and you have a video game character who just isn't getting the love it deserves.

1. Chrono (Chrono Trigger)

Chrono gets the nod for the single most underrated video game character of all time for the valor he showed in Chrono Trigger. Not only did he save the world, but he saved the world 10,000 years into the future. What would you do if I told you that you could save the world from being destroyed 10,000 years from now? Yawn and go to bed? Me too. But that's what makes Chrono such a ridiculously interesting hero. He was willing to save the world even though its destruction would not have directly influenced his life. Add onto that, his willingness to die for the cause, and you have one serious video game hero who just doesn't get enough props.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Where Have All the Reviews Gone?

You may have noticed that over the last couple of weeks I ceased doing reviews. Why, you might ask.

Simple, I don't have no money. I just graduated college and haven't found a gig yet. On top of that I'm pretty sure my car's alternator just blew.

So, for the next couple of weeks maybe even into a month, gameium, a video game blog, is going to be reviewless.

Sorry, it's just out of my control.

As soon as the cash comes back in, the reviews will go back out.

Friday, June 12, 2009

5 Suggested Titles: Part 2

1. Super Mario World (SNES)

If somehow you missed Super Mario World, then you must have been sleeping under a rock. This game is, in my humble opinion, easily the best of the Mario Adventures. Huge for its time, it incorporated the idea of secret exits as well as trying to find all of the paths in the game. So hugely addicting that I've can't even count how many times I've played through it.

2. NBA Live '04 (Gamecube)

Something about the feel of NBA Live '04 just fit better than most other NBA games. Namely, it managed to allow you to play defense in a way that seemed to work close to how a real NBA game would be played. Featuring Season mode as well as dynasty mode, this game was really just a joy to play. Add onto that a whole host of characters from the past (which even included Michael Jordan) that you could add to your team and you have a real winner.

3. X-Men: Children of the Atom (Arcade)

I used to play this game at an arcade, and to this day it stands as one of my favorite fighting game of all time. I especially loved getting to play as Iceman, as he is my favorite X-man of all time. The controls in this game were as tight as the controls in Street Fighter IV, and as an added bonus the characters were actually somewhat interesting. This game is worth a good hard look; it's a whole lot of fun.

4. Mortal Kombat II (SNES)

While most were applauding Street Fighter II for its superior graphics, and its tighter fighting style I was hard at work on Mortal Kombat II. Why, you ask? One word: Fatality. Sure, beating up someone is fun in any game, but it's just never quite the same as deep freezing them and shattering them into a bunch of tiny little pieces. I'd spend hours just trying to learn how to do the fatalities, and loved every single minute of it.

5. Medieval (Playstation)

Medieval was pretty clearly Sony's response to not having the awesomeness that was the Zelda franchise on its console. Medieval was no Zelda, certainly, but it was a pretty damn good sword game in its own right, with many, if not all, of the elements that made Zelda work. Medieval was a frighteningly good game with a great deal of humor mixed in with its horror. Again, this one is really worth checking out if you haven't played it yet.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Five Suggested Titles

Well, things haven't got less hectic yet, but since I find myself with a little time, I'm going to start a new topic that I will probably do bi-weekly. I got the idea from the Dread Pirate Guy, whose site you can go check out on my blogroll. Basically, it's just 5 suggested titles to check out from all time, especially in case you missed anything. Alright, here goes my 5 suggested titles #1

5 Suggested Titles: List 1

1. Spyro the Dragon (Playstation 1)

If you missed Spyro's original adventure on the Playstation 1 do yourself a favor and go back and find a copy, or download it if it's available. Spyro's original adventure was his funniest, most entertaining adventure of all. It's worth it just for the responses that the freed dragons give to Spyro, and if that's not enough the gameplay is fun, exciting, and extensive as well.

2. Age of Empires: Age of Kings (Nintendo DS)

Easily one of my favorite DS games, this title sometimes gets overlooked because it foolishly overlooked online play, and as you get good the computer is no longer able to beat you. However, this is a really fun and addicting strategy game that gets better for a very long time, especially as you play through the campaign mode. Lack of internet capabilities certainly hampered its replayability score, but if you have a friend with a DS it's not a problem. Also, you will spend many hours with it before you can complete all of the campaign modes, and beating the computer never ceases to be fun.

3. Ogre Battle: March of the Black Queen (SNES)

This is definitely an overlooked, but brilliant title, from the Super Nintendo era. Similar to an RPG, but with less controls, Ogre Battle was a very addicting, face paced, and sometimes thoroughly frustrating strategy game. Anyone who hasn't given this title a chance, go do so now, it's definitely worth looking into.

4. Duck Hunt (NES)

Before there was the wii, there was duck hunt. And really, I'm not sure the formula ever got any better than it was here. Duck hunt was extremely addicting, especially for how simple the game was. The graphics were nothing impressive, but the difficulty of getting as many ducks as you could before they flew away was more than enough to make up for it. This one's a classic that everyone should play more than once.

5. X-Men Legends (Nintendo Gamecube)

X-Men Legends was one of the best adventure-story games that came out on the gamcube. All of the characters were fun to play from Iceman to Magma to Wolverine. The story was deep and interesting, the boss characters were a lot of fun, and the familiarity of the characters made you feel like you were coming home to something in a weird sence. Add to that addictive, challenging, and quick-paced fighting gameplay and you've got yourself a real winner.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Understanding the Chrono Trigger Trademark Fiasco

A little over a week ago, Joystiq, along with every other major blog concerned with video games, reported that Square Enix sent a cease and desist order to the creators of the fan hack project Chrono Trigger: Crimson Echoes. The fans had been working on the rom for a total of five years before the cease and desist order was issued, but they felt that they had no choice, but to comply with the order. So, the site that originally was making Crimson echoes not only shut down this project, but all other fan projects in order to avoid the costs and hassle of litigation.

But was that the right decision? This blog entry is going to use the copyright and trademark law to analyze rather this was an act of solid, foundational logic, or cowardice on the part of the fans who were creating the game. Also, we are going to talk about why the publisher of the original Chrono Trigger, Square-Enix, may have thought it had no choice but to protect its beloved character, even from the fans who love him most.

First, we need to get a pretty good understanding of trademark law if we are going to try to analyze who was right, or wrong, in this particular situation. First, having a trademark is NOT the same as owning a copyright. Copyrights are only for a specific work of art, fiction, or music. To put it simply, you can own the copyright to Harry Potter and the Sorcer's Stone. However, you cannot own the copyright to Harry Potter. If you wanted to protect the boy wizard as your character, you would have to register him as a trademark. Disney owns the trademark for Mickey Mouse, and Marvel owns the trademark for Wolverine. This keeps people from making money off the characters that Disney and Marvel created.

Second, and this distinction is very important, in a copyright case the owner of the copyright can only sue for any profits made from that infringement. So, if I made $100.00 selling Harry Potter and the Sorcer's Stone, Scholastic could only reasonable expect to sue me for $100.00. With trademarks it does not work like this. Scholastic might expect to get my profits from selling the book, the damages sustainedby them as I was selling the book, and the costs of bringing the lawsuit to court.

The fans who were creating this Chrono Trigger rom were not planning to make any money off of it. Indeed, it was going to be, as far as I know, a free service. If this had been a copyright issue, they would not need to have worried. However, this was a trademark issue, which means that potentially they could have been forced to pay for the millions of dollars it may have cost Square Enix to take the case to court, as well as any damages Square could convince the courts that the rom had done to the franchise. This is the reason that when most small groups get a cease and desist order, they comply almost immediately. Of course, this also lets the trademark holder abuse its power. Its reported, for instance, that Disney sends out a cease and desist order everytime they see a black mouse in any form of media.

It is understandable that the creators of this rom were not going to let this go to court, but if they had, they could have fought it in one of two ways. First, they could have claimed that it was "fair use", which basically means that it was used in reference. For instance, this blog entry has the fair use of Chrono Trigger all over it. Everytime I say the name I am using it fairly, as well as when I used the picture, because I am talking about Chrono Trigger in a fair manner. I am not using Chrono Trigger, or any of the characters in a story, or in a game. Obviously, this is not what the makers of this rom were doing, which is why they would have had a very tough time winning in this way. The other way they could have fought it was by saying that Crimson Echoes was a parody of the original game. The Supreme Court has ruled that parodies of trademarks are allowable because if there were not substantial similarities between the original and the parody, no one would get it. This is why Mickey Mouse can show up on Comedy Central's Drawn Together and nobody gets sued. Judging by the reverence that the fans showed towards the original Chrono Trigger, I doubt that Crimson Echoes would have fit into the parody category. The makers of the Crimson Echoes rom were right to avoid going to court; it would have been very difficult for them to win the case.

The next question is whether or not Square Enix should have issued the Cease and Desist Order. The general buzz around the internet when this story first broke was that this was a dreadful thing, and that Square should be boycotted (at least until the next Final Fantasy comes out). The problem is that Square Enix may not have had much of a choice about the matter. Sometimes, it is necessary to protect your trademark assets even from those who love that asset most. Think about it. If Crimson Echoes was a very extensive project, and if it had done as well as some think it might have, it would have put a serious damper on Square's ability to match it. Imagine, if you will, one very good writer and one mediocre writer with a wonderful idea. For shits and giggles let's call the good writer Stephen King. Let's call the mediocre writer J.K. Rowling. For shits and giggles. Now, imagine, that after the third book of the series Stephen King had stepped in and written the next book for her. Let's assume it was better than anything J.K. Rowling could write on her own, even though he used her characters. Trademarks serve to make sure that something like this cannot happen. The credit goes to the person who had the original idea for a reason, and in this case that's Squaresoft. Perhaps the fans would have made a better game than Squaresoft could make. Perhaps the fans would have accidentally pirated the series by outdoing anything Squaresoft could do themselves. Squaresoft couldn't let that happen, which is exactly why trademark laws exist.