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.

Sunday, May 31, 2009

Quick Apology

I wanted to quickly apologize to the few fans I have out there for my lack of material lately.

I am in the process of moving and looking for a new job, which is sapping my time. I have tried to stay consistent with my top ten Mondays, but all other things have fallen to the wayside for a short period of time due to time and financial constraints.

Once things are a little more solid, I will be back with a vengeance, I promise.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Top Ten Monday: Most Overrated Video Game Characters

10. Master Chief

Let’s be honest, you don’t really think about the character you’re controlling in the Halo series. You’re too worried about finding the right kind of gun so that you can take out your opponent, and then tea bag his poor, innocent corpse. Halo is an awesome game, but Master Chief doesn’t do the franchise any favors. This is an incredible shooting, action game that didn’t need a mascot, and Master Chief is easily the single most forgettable part of an unforgettable series.

9. Pacman/ Ms. Pacman

The Pacmans' major talent is swallowing. Good quality in a girlfriend; not so much in a video game character. Beyond that, they have little personality, and really haven’t accomplished anything better than there first outings in the arcades.

8. Pikachu

This little guy might be cute and deadly, but recently he made his way to number seven on one up’s list of the top ten video game characters of all time! Seven! You can play through an entire Pokemon game without ever using Pikachu as a character! Plus, he isn’t really all that great as a selectable Pokemon. He’s not a bad choice, but there are a lot of equally powerful Pokemon to take his spot. Pikachu is the most recognizable face of the Pokemon phenomenon, but removing him from the game wouldn’t change the gameplay very much for many, and wouldn’t affect it at all for others.

7. Donkey Kong

Clearly, this big ape doesn’t have a very good agent. First, he was left out of both of the the Snes sequels that used his name. Then, things got a little better for him with Donkey Kong 64, which by all accounts was an adequate game, but no one seems to be begging to see it released on the virtual console. After that, Donkey Kong fell to bit roll parts in the Mario Party and Mario Brawl games, as well as the headliner for the gimmicky Donkey Konga Games. His agent better get him a show that’s all his own from Nintendo soon, or DK just isn’t going to be a recognizable hero in his own right anymore.

6. Chun Li

Chun Li was often the character I used in Street Fighter II. All the same, she makes the list for one simple reason. She was the only Street Fighter character who would cry after she was defeated in a match. I don’t care if you’re a woman or a man, if you’re going to try to be considered one of the toughest fighters in the world, you don’t cry after you have lost a match. Period. Just can’t happen. Add onto that, the damage that the Street Fighter movie that focused on Chun Li caused and you have one seriously overrated character on your hands.

5. Sonic the Hedgehog

I doubt anyone’s surprised to see Sonic being placed in my list of the most overrated video game characters of all time. Sonic hasn’t performed well in a video game in over ten years. Even before then, Sonic, as one of my friends described his games, was “a lot of running around on auto-pilot”. Speed was a poor choice to make Sonic’s “thing” from the very beginning. You couldn’t slow down and enjoy the gameplay, or the style, of the games because you were always expected to be zooming through each level at 100 mph. Now that 2-D platforms are out of style, this doesn’t work at all, but in my personal opinion it never worked all that well to begin with, which is why Sonic is one of the most overrated video game characters of all time.

4. Bowser

Bowser is the kind of monster children dream about having over for a cup of tea, but Mom’s worry will throw a toddler-like hissy fit. That’s right this villain is just a big, ugly toddler. Nothing Super Nanny and her time out corner couldn’t take care of. Luckily for us, he has a host of other smarter and deadlier creatures surrounding him that make Mario’s quests challenging and exciting.

3. Chris Redfield

Dude’s ripped, but other than that he’s not all that impressive. First, he’s got a partner who he drags through all kinds of stupidity, rather than falling back as he was ordered too. Second, he has someone who can give him orders, and his mission seems to be his own. He must find his old partner. Never mind that he’s putting his new partner’s life at stake; never mind that the military might need him in other ways. Let’s compare him to Leon Kennedy for a moment, shall we? Leon follows orders to a tee, sometimes too well. He has no help, except for Hunnigan, and the only person he has to talk to is a snotty seventeen year old kid who is not only incapable of shooting a gun, but often steps in between Leon and his enemies, so that he has to worry about shooting her. Long story short: Leon equals badass. Chris equals jacked up moron.

2. Lara Croft

If tits were what made a video game heroine, then Lara Croft would be the greatest video game heroine of all time. But if you’re talking about what a character has to do to complete the game, or how she informs the story, then Lara Croft is easily one of the most overrated video game characters of all time. Although some of her first video game antics were acceptable, even enjoyable, since Lara has become more and more like a stripper, and less like a heroine. Fun to look at, but in the long run more frustrating than enjoyable.

1. Luigi

Once upon a time Luigi was the second warrior in the hard road that Mario had to follow. He could do it all. Sure he was a little taller, and sometimes his jumps were slightly more awkward, but they each had a shot to save the princess, the first go around. Now, look what Luigi has been reduced to. Now, he spends most of his time being saved by his brother in Super Mario Galaxy, and when he’s not being saved by Mario he spends his time vacuuming up ghosts. That’s right. The one time hero that could walk in Mario’s footsteps has been reduced to the damsel in distress/cleaning lady. Yeah, Nintendo, you should be proud.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Embarassing Death #2 The Shaq 3-Pointer NBA Live ʼ08

This embarrassing death is inspired by this yearʼs NBA playoffs, even though Iʼm bummed that the Celtics have been eliminated from the playoffs.

Imagine this: youʼre playing as the Celtics against the Heat with Shaq as their center. You make a comeback from ten down, to tie the game. You manage to keep the ball out of D-Wadeʼs hands, and itʼs inbounded to Shaq.Thereʼs only three seconds left on the clock, so Shaq steps to the three pointline, jacks up a three-point prayer, and swoosh! It goes in. Shaq has just taken the victory from you with a three pointer as the time winds down.

Yes, this is the same Shaq who hasnʼt made a free throw since 1993. The Shaq who has made a total of one three pointer in his entire NBA career. This is the guy whotook the victory from you. Somehow heʼs managed to learn how to shoot the three, just in time to make sure that you cannot win.

But then again, maybe it was your lack of defensive intensity that caused you to win. I mean, we all know how easy defense is to play on the Wii version of NBA Liveʼ08. And whatever you do, donʼt admit this embarrassing defeat to anybody. Not only will it irreparably damage your reputation, youʼll give extra props to the Big Diesel, and the only thing bigger than Shaquille OʼNeal is this imposing centerʼs ego.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Best of the Bad: Awesomely Bad Game #2

Spyro the Dragon, the other purple dinosaurʼs very first video game adventure, gets my nod for awesomely bad game for extremely poor adult responsibility. If it takes a village to raise a child, then dragon children are seriously stunted. I guess that explains why Spyro hasnʼt gotten any bigger over the last ten years.

In Spyro the Dragon, all of the adult dragons are crystalized. Spyro, the youngest and smallest of the dragons, escaped the ray that crystallized the dragon, and set out to rescue all of the other dragons encased in stone.

The problem? Spyro began saving dragons from the beginning. But instead of these older, bigger, stronger dragons deciding to take on the adventure of their own, they only give Spyro advice, and some witty banter, and run off to drink beer or smoke cigarettes. Deal with the bad guys? Nah, little baby dragon, I think you can handle it. Iʼm stronger, older, and tougher than you? I could beat the bad guy with one swing of my massive arms, but I think you should give it a go.I got better things to do. Itʼs Poker Night back at the lodge.

What the dragons in Spyro the Dragon ask Spyro to do is like asking an eight year old to go to war. Not that that ever happens in our world....

Ok, maybe the dragons arenʼt any less responsible than human beings, but still, they should set a better example than that to their youngsters. And maybe one or two of them should grow a pair of balls while theyʼre at it.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Top Ten Things That Should Be Added to the Next Elder Scrolls

10. Lycanthropy

Vampirism was one of the most polarizing elements added to the Elder Scrolls IV. Some have called it the biggest mistake in the game, while others have gotten bit as quickly as possible and completed the entire game as a vampire. Werewolves would be a good way to keep everybody happy. You could have a strength bonus, but only suffer the negative effects of being a werewolf once a month, rather than everyday.

9. Pets

There were a few dogs scattered around the world of Oblivion, but you couldnʼt own a dog or cat of your own. It would have been so much better if, after you bought a home, you could buy a cat or dog to come home too. The more breeds of dog the game could add, the better. Fuck cats.

8. Vampire Mastery

Vampirism was one of the classic aspects of Oblivion, but you could only choose to stay as a vampire, or to complete the vampire cure quest. The next older scrolls should add the ability to become the leader of all the vampires in the world, as well as add the ability to convert NPCs to vampirism, adding a new element to the vampirism in the game.

7. Online Arena Play

Online play across the world in the Elder Scrolls would be extremely difficult, but risking your possessions, and your pride, against other players across the world in arena challenges would be a really easy and satisfying addition to the next Elder Scrolls.

6. Slaves

Liberal political correctness be damned! In this type of medieval world, there would be slaves, and collecting slaves could be a lot of fun. If defeated bandits or arena warriors could become slaves that you could use in a variety of interesting, useful, or humorous ways it would add an extra level of depth to an already very deep game.

5. Hunting

In Oblivion, you could, if you had such a mind, hunt deer. But that was pretty much it. Hunting wolves and bears didnʼt make any sense, because as soon as they saw you, they would turn and attack. Making these kinds of animals a little more shy, as well as adding a little more reward for killing them, could add another fun pastime in the world of the next Elder Scrolls.

4. Complete NPC Annihilation

Of this weekʼs top ten, this is the suggestion that you can find talked about most often on the internet. A lot of Oblivion fans wish that they could kill all the people in the world (those evil bastards), but find that certain persons, like Bandits and guards, respawn after a time. In this instance, I couldnʼt agree more. Nothing would be more satisfying than being able to take out ever single NPC in the next Elder Scrolls installment.

3. Marriages/Dating

In Oblivion, you can buy a ton of houses, and become the richest man in the world. And yet, there isnʼt a single bitch all over your grill. No one tries to get you to marry them; and you canʼt try to convince them to be taken as your wife/husband either. Finding a good marriage (or many good marriages) should be another layer of success that can be achieved in the next Elder Scrolls.

2. Toilets

This oneʼs nasty. Iʼve played through Oblivion, and been to every city. I canʼt promise Iʼve seen everything, but Iʼve yet to see a single toilet. I donʼt know if everyone is in diapers, but if not then everyoneʼs walking around with a growing load of crap in their pants. Iʼm not saying that we should see our main character take a shit, but just seeing a toilet or two would make me feel a little better about the hygiene of all the NPCs around me.

1. Sex

You know you thought about it. Some of those peasants girls were asking for it. And if itʼs your thing, an Argonian or two might be just your style. You could gauge just how well you were doing in the game, by who you could get to have sex with you, and how long they were willing to do it. Admit it, if this were suddenly added to Oblivion, youʼd get the game out right now, and never put it down.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Embarassing Death Number One: Death By Goomba

Death by Goomba is just one of the most embarrassing things that can happen to a video game addict; far more embarrassing than the time my little sister's girlfriend was able to open a can I couldn't. Goombas aren't only slow and stupid; they don't seem to have any tools to take out everyone's favorite plumber. Take a look:

What's he going to do to take you out? He hasn't got any teeth (yet), and when he does get them, they seem pretty easy to avoid. He;s got no arms, so he can't punch you. He's got two tiny little feet that definitely can't reach out to kick Mario. So, how does this guy take you down?

But watch out, if he does get you, you're going to lose a life, or a power-up. More importantly, you will lose any respect you might have earned amongst your gaming friends. So, if one of these ugly little critters does take you out, hope that no one is there to see, and then deny, deny, deny (just like during a police interrogation). If you don't, you might lose all your respect amongst your friends, and never be able to show your face in public again.

Saturday, May 9, 2009

New School Review: Mortal Kombat Vs. DC Universe

Mortal Kombat decided to pull a page out of Street Fighterʼs book in this game, and pit its recognizable fighters against even more recognizable comic book heroes. Street Fighter has already used Marvel Universe, so the obvious twice for the Mortal Kombat franchise was DC Universe, the home of both Superman and Batman.

The game features all of your favorite Mortal Kombat characters (even the ones that I thought were deceased after Deadly Alliance) as well as many of the most popular characters from the DC comic books. But is it a worthwhile game? Does it stand up to all of the other games in the Mortal Kombat franchise? In some ways. In others, Mortal Kombat Vs. DC Universe seems to have made some incredibly poor choices that seriously hampered its gameplay.

The Good:


The graphics arenʼt the best youʼll find for todayʼs fighters, but they are perfectly competent, and fit really well into the style of the Mortal Kombat Universe.

Parts of the Gameplay

The rage counter bars were a really well thought out part of this game, and added a level of strategy. You could either save up until you were able to go into Rage mode, which made you a lot more difficult to block, or you could use a single full bar in order to counter an enemyʼs attack. You have to pick right, because if you choose wrong you could find yourself flat on your back, or worse yet, on the receiving end of a Fatality. Secondly, close fighting worked really well for me because that is the way sometimes fighting would work. Getting in close to punish your enemy. The ability to change who was getting hit by pressing the right button gave you just enough control to be able to turn this part of the fight around to your advantage.


For those of us desperately waiting for the release of Batman Arkham Asylum (and I assume thatʼs all of us), Mortal Kombat Vs, DC Universe gives us the chance to take control of the Big Bat, and take out not only the Joker, but Catwoman, Scorpion, and Sub-Zero.

Story Mode:

The Story Mode did a pretty good job of explaining how these two universes met each other, and how each side handled the collision of the world. Further, it did a great job of explaining how it made sense that Batman could be taking on Superman, or how Joker could possibly beat Green Lantern of the Flash in the best of three rounds. Unfortunately, this mode got a little repetitive because it was always just a matter of beating your next opponent. There were never other more interesting types of challenges, nor could you ever choose which character you would use for any of those challenges.


Fatalities have always been what sets Mortal Kombat apart from other games, and like previous games this give Mortal Kombat a bit of an edge over other fighters. Yeah, itʼs fun to knock out your opponent, but itʼs a lot more fun to deep freeze your opponent and then shatter his or her body into a bunch of fragmented little pieces.

The Bad:

Limited Number of Unlockables:

Unlike Deadly Alliance, which was my favorite Mortal Kombat game of all time, there were only two characters that you could unlock in the game. Further, you could only unlock endings for each of the characters in the game. I wanted to be able to unlock so much more: like different suits, styles, extra endings, more characters. The way it worked in Deadly Alliance was really well thought out, and I wish that Mortal Kombat Vs. DC Universe had done the something similar.


Something just doesnʼt sit right with me about being able to play Superman, and getting beaten by Catwoman or the Joker. The Story Mode helped to explain this a little, but still I didnʼt buy it. Superman would have been better served as a character at the end, whom you had to try and beat, rather than as a playable character, but I suppose fans would have rebelled if Midway had tried to pull that off.

Some of the Gameplay

Parts of the gameplay in this game just didnʼt work. One of the prime examples of this was in the air fighting. You could pummel your enemy, and then he could flip you at the last minute, and you would receive all of the damage! This is like saying that those hits you landed didnʼt even hurt. Midway could have fixed this very easily by splitting the damages depending on who got flipped, and when, but they didnʼt, I assume because they got a little lazy. Test your might was also just boring, but it doesnʼt happen as often, and the damage is usually considerably less so I wasnʼt as annoyed by this add on to the game.

Heroic Brutalities:

I understand DC, that you donʼt want to let Midway take your heroes, and make them killers. But, who cares? Itʼs not as if Batman actually does the killing, or Superman for that matter. We would be the killers, and we understand that. We donʼt want to attack with bats, or drive a guy into the ground with these characters. When we win with Superman, we want to rip someoneʼs arms off and beat them to death with them. Thatʼsthe formula that has always worked for Mortal Kombat, and its the formula that should remain, no matter who is on the roster.

No Weapons:

Weapons added a new level of strategy to the Mortal Kombat games, and the lack of them was sorely missed in this game. Again, their absence from the game felt like laziness on Midwayʼs part. Adding weapons would have added a desperately needed extra layer to the gameplay in this game.

Bottom Line:

Mortal Kombat Vs. DC Universe will be fun on your own for a few days, especially as you play through the story mode, but once you defeat the game with all the characters and both story modes youʼve run out of things to do. Online play, or having a friend or two to join you, will help with this problem, but wonʼt completely solve it, especially if youʼre like me, and youʼre internet connection isnʼt stellar.

Graphics 8/10
Sound 8/10
Gameplay 7/10
Lasting Appeal 6/10
Overall: 7.5

Final Say: Definitely rent this game, but donʼt buy unless youʼre a huge fan of the Mortal Kombat series.

Monday, May 4, 2009

Top Ten Super Nintendo Games

First, to make this list the game must be a game made for the Super Nintendo System; not a rerelease of older games like Super Mario All stars. Also, the game must have been released in North America during the SNES’ run (Sorry Mother and Seiken Densetsu 3).

10. ActRaiser

ActRaiser was brilliant because it was a two part game that managed to make both parts of the game fun and addicting. Neither part felt like an interruption from the other part. Playing as the God with a sword who had to defeat all the enemies in a given level was almost as fun as the overworld part of ActRaiser in which you had to help cities grow and prosper as their God. The gameplay was never slow, never dull, and there was a pretty big power rush about getting to play God for the little people on your television screen. Also, the music was brilliant in this game. This is definitely an under-appreciated classic of the Super Nintendo Era.

9. Donkey Kong Country

Although all of the Donkey Kong Country’s were great during the series’ run on the SNES, the greatest, by far, was the original. Donkey and Diddy worked extremely well together. The gameplay was fun and intuitive. The characters were extremely likable and a lot of fun to interact with (especially Kranky Kong who is always good for a laugh). The bad guys were challenging, and the four animal friends you could find were a lot of fun to ride. Also, in this game you could actually play Donkey Kong, which is enough to earn it a spot as a better overall game than Donkey Kong Country 2 (though I really suggest that you play both games to come to a decision for yourself as both are really excellent games).

8. Super Mario World 2 Yoshi’s Island

Nintendo didn’t throw any punches with this release despite the fact that it came near to the end of the SNES' run. Yoshi’s Island is just straight fun. And even after the first run through of the game you will find yourself entertained for hours trying to get a 100% score on all the levels in the game. Yoshi’s Island failed to seem as deep as Super Mario World for a couple of reasons. The first, is that the worlds you travelled through did not feel like worlds, but rather more like levels lined up one next to the other. Second, was the linear progression of the game. There were no shortcuts in Yoshi’s Island; no way to skip over some of the levels, which made this game feel less extensive than Super Mario World. However, the graphics were considerably better in Yoshi’s Island; there was a great deal more dialogue, and the boss fights throughout the game were far more complicated than jumping on someone’s head three times. These few improvements to the classical Mario formula put Super Mario World 2: Yoshi’s Island firmly on the list of the greatest Super Nintendo games.

7. Super Mario Kart

The Super Nintendo’s Super Mario Kart was Mario’s first venture into racing, and the rest is history. The racing style of Super Mario Kart would have been enough to keep me hooked for hours, but Nintendo gave us so much more than that. Nintendo also gave us time trials, and vs play. Most importantly, though, Nintendo added the Battle Mode to the Vs. section of Super Mario Kart, and gamers like me were hooked. Sure, it was fun to beat your friend (or your sister) in a race, but not half so much fun as pelting her with a red or green shell.

6. EarthBound

A game about a kid who is destined to save the world from a hostile alien with a baseball bat doesn’t seem like it would make sense, does it? Earthbound may be one of the strangest games on the SNES, but that didn’t keep it from being one of the most fun titles available for the Super Nintendo. EarthBound was odd from beginning to end; you got attacked by police officers and town bullies as much, if not more, than you got attacked by monsters. And every time you defeated those bullies or cops you’re Dad would add more money into your bank account. That’s right, you would get paid for fighting. Despite its oddity, or maybe because of it, EarthBound’s story remains interesting while the gameplay keeps you challenged and entertained. If you missed this one the first time around, you really missed out. Good luck trying to find a copy now, though.They can run upwards of $100 on Ebay, and so far, Nintendo has not released the title for Virtual Console download.

5. Super Mario RPG, Legend of the Seven Stars

Mario’s first RPG has never really been outdone by any Mario RPG game since. The characters really serve the story well. But Seven Stars shines best in its gameplay element. Certainly, not a mario game, but an RPG, Seven Stars manages to maintain the Mario charm during elements of the gameplay. You can jump throughout the game, as well as jump as one of Mario’s special attacks. This made the feel of Seven Stars stay consistent with the feel of Mario; but with many of the same rules as the RPG genre. The result was a video game experience that played like no other, and a welcome edition to the SNES library.

4. The Legend of Zelda, A Link to the Past

Link to the Past took the story of Zelda back to its roots. The side-scrolling days of Zelda II were over, and Link returned to his past roots from the original Legend of Zelda. The result was one of the most critically acclaimed, and well known, game of the SNES era; The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past. Of course, the excellence of this game cannot simply be attributed to its return to the form that The Legend of Zelda took. Instead, Link to the Past really improved upon the formula in a variety of ways. It added an alternate, scarier dimension known as the dark world. This allowed Hyrulian adventurers to really feel as if they were taking on the darkness themselves. Second, they added the concept of pieces of heart (rather than whole heart containers). This made it a lot more fun to explore the world of Zelda because it became an extra challenge to find and collect all the heart pieces in order to get the maximum health possible. A Link to the Past also boasts a great amount of replay value because you could always make the game more difficult on yourself in the next run through by neglecting to find optional things that made the game easier. For instance, I have beaten the game without getting any pieces of heart or glass jars. This would make the game a lot more difficult, and a lot of fun to play through one more time.

3. Super Mario World

Super Mario World has really stood the test of time for me. Not only do I rank it as one of the best the SNES has to offer, but also as the greatest mario adventure of all time. For more of my reasoning behind that see: http://gameium.blogspot.com/2009/04/top-ten-mario-games.html Super Mario World was straight fun, and incredibly addicting. There was a lot to do in this title including finding all 96 exits, completing the special world, and finding all of the Yoshi coins. The fact that a game as awesome as Super Mario World comes in as number 3 is a real testament to how great the games were during the Super Nintendo’s run.

2. Chrono Trigger

Generally speaking, I hate games about time travel. Always, it seems, the hero goes back and time to stop some terrible evil. Of course, if he succeeds he would never have been able to go back in time, and therefore he would fail and the whole space time continuum would collapse! Okay, maybe I went a touch too far there, but I’m just saying, the whole scenario has been played out, and had been even at the time of Chrono Trigger’s release. But Chrono changed the formula on me. He didn’t want to stop something from happening in the past; he wanted to stop an apocalypse that occurred in the future. First, what a guy. If I knew about an apocalypse in the future, I would probably just shrug my shoulders and say that it’s the future people’s problem. Not Chrono; he grabbed his Kitana and went to business, and even paid the ultimate sacrifice in one part of the story. The gameplay in Chrono Trigger took the classic RPG formula, and added enough of its own elements to seem fresh. It further added a cast of colorful characters with their own strengths, weaknesses, and history (a trend that was not yet popular in video games) and a twisty-turny plot that would keep any fan interested for the duration of the game, if not longer.

1. Secret of Mana

Way To Go! Perhaps, I’m a nerd, but whenever I accomplish, well anything, this is the first thought that pops into my head... still. Secret of Mana’s congratulations for beating its latest boss. If that isn’t a sign of a game that has stuck with you, I don’t know what is. Secret of Mana was more than just a great game; it was one of those defining games that really showed what its console could do.

The hardest thing I’ve had to do thus far on gameium.blogspot.com is decide whether Chrono Trigger or Secret of Mana deserved the top spot in this list. It was a very close contest. So close, in fact, that it was Secret of Mana’s Sound that managed to give it the edge it needed to take the top spot on the list. If there is one thing that Secret of Mana should be famous for, it’s the game’s musical score. I have never played a game with such beautiful music, which seemed crafted specifically for the game, and I doubt I ever will again. It seems like such a small thing, but this element really helped Secret of Mana stand out.

Secret of Mana was awesome for a variety of reasons. 1. You got to use a lot of different weapons, as well as a lot of different magics. 2. The story was incredible, the tragedy still sticks with me. When the Sprite tells his friends that he’s not going to kick the bucket, I couldn’t help but to feel for all the characters I had controlled during the course of the game. 3. You could ride a dragon. 4. You could play with two friends if you wanted. My sister even played this game with me a little. 5. The power-up ability of the weapons really made the game one of strategy as well as one of fighting. 6. There was a lot of replay value to the game: once you beat it you could always try to beat it without using magic. 7. The World was huge for its time.

There are so many things to like about Secret of Mana that it would take more than a single blog post to talk about them all. The gameplay, the visuals, the audio were all spot on in this game. Unfortunately, unlike the Zelda series which would continue to improve, Secret of Mana would prove to be the best the Mana series has yet had to offer.

Notable Exemptions:

Super Metroid

Not going to lie to you: I’m not a fan of shooters; especially Sci-fi shooters. This was a good game, but not one of my favorites. In fact, it’s probably not on my top twenty all time favorite SNES games. I know that’s going to make a lot of fanboys mad at me, but I can take it.

Final Fantasy IV

This game was excellent too. I loved it. It’s failure to be included in the list says more about how good the Super Nintendo was as a system, than it says about Final Fantasy IV.

Star Fox

This would have been number eleven on the list, and was just barely edged out by ActRaiser. The gameplay in Starfox was fast and addicting, and it’s a great add to any collection of SNES games.

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Upcoming Awesomeness: Batman: Arkham Asylum

First, sorry I'm two days behind schedule. A lot had to get done over the past couple of days; getting a puppy, signing a lease, but that's over and gameium is back in business.

Over the past few weeks it seems that every blogger in the blogosphere has been drooling over the upcoming release of Batman: Arkham Asylum. Nor am I an exception to the rule. The Dark Knight is set to be released in June 2009 and there's no other game that has me so excited. See below:

Everyone's talking about how good this game is going to be; so I'm not going to hop on that bandwagon. Mostly because I don't like doing what everyone else is doing.

Instead, I'm going to tell you the five villains I most want to see, and the five I would least like to see.

Top 5

1.The Riddler
2.The Scarecrow
4. Mr. Freeze
5. Two Face

Bottom 3

1. Catwoman (I want straight murderers here; not Jewel Thieves)
2. Poison Ivy (Something unmanly about being undone by a kiss)
3. Tweedledee and Tweedledum. (If the name isn't enough to make them less than frightening, then the shape is)
4. The Ventriloquist (Don't feel I need to explain this one)
5. Penguin (Fat, ugly, and not real scary without henchman)

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

WTF Wednesday: Heroic Brutalities

This week's WTF Wednesday goes to Mortal Kombat vs. DC Universe, for its use of "Heroic Brutalities". These are basically what the DC heroes do instead of committing fatalities. Check this out:

First of all, that’s going to kill you. You can’t get hit with such force on the head that you get driven into the ground up to your waist, without suffering, at least, a concussion. Baraka only felt the first blow or two. After that, the internal bleeding finished him off, no questions asked.

Second, no one wants heroic brutalities, DC. It’s a snoozer. We want to be able to rip someone’s head off with superman. Or to rip an arm off and beat someone to death with it. Next time, let Midway use your characters to kill some bad guys. But neither Superman or Batman will kill? No problem; I’ll do it for them.

Third, this is just unfair. Neither Sub-Zero or Raiden are going to hesitate to decapitate batman. Batman is capable of finishing people off just as well as any of the Mortal Kombat players, if Midway had only let him. This heroic brutality thing puts Batman, Superman, Green Lantern, and the Flash at a real disadvantage to the other characters when it comes to the spectacular finish.

My WTF Wednesday goes to Heroic Brutalities in the Mortal Kombat vs DC game for the XBox 360. No one wants Superman, or Batman, to be a pussy. We want them to take care of business in Mortal Kombat the same way all the other characters do. And that means blood; that means death.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Top Ten Mario Games

UPDATE: I missed something. Apparently, it is possible to play Luigi in New Super Mario Bros. The game will show you how after you beat it the first time.

I want to thank PsychoDuck for catching my mistake.

Top Ten Mario Games

10. Paper Mario and the Thousand Year Door

Super Paper Mario and the Thousand Year Door is just straight up fun, and quirky. Although, in this case, I can’t really say I speak from so much experience. My girlfriend liked this game so much that she wouldn’t let me play. Actually, I did get to play, but it was a few weeks after we originally bought the game. The thousand year door worked really well because of the colorful and interesting story, and the extensive cast of characters that Mario got to keep as sidekicks.

9. Super Mario Land

Super Mario Land is on the list because it was the first time that the classic mario formula went mobile. Now, you could play Mario in the car! I’m a little ashamed to admit that due to restrictive parents (My Mom thought my super nintendo was already rotting my mind) I did not get the chance to play this game until very recently. In fact, when I told my girlfriend I was going to write this blog. Her response, “You simply have to add Super Mario Land.” I’ve been checking out the game since, and she’s not wrong. It’s got the same addicting mario feel that made so many of his other games classic.

8. Super Mario Bros.

This is the classic. Not the original mario game, but the one that set the lovable plumber on his journey to international stardom long before American Idol ever aired. This game was so good that every nintendo fan of its day not only had it, but played it extensively. Add in that it came paired with the second most addictive Nintendo game of its day, Duck Hunt, and you simply couldn’t go wrong. In this game, the Mario formula was created, but it would not be perfected for some years later.

7. Super Mario Kart.

When I started this list I meant to include all games that primarily starred Mario, but ended up making a list mostly of his greatest platformers. Sports games are notably absent because Mario’s athleticism, though impressive, has failed to truly excite the gaming crowd the way his classic games have. The exception, of course, is Super Mario Kart. Super Mario Kart was fun in a couple of ways. First, there was the classic Grand Prix in two speeds, and four separate cups. Second, there was racing against a partner. Third, there was the ability to race against your own best times. And fifth, and everyone’s favorite was Super Mario Kart’s Battle Mode. My ass still hurts from all the green shells my father pelted me with.

6.Super Mario 64

I know, I know. This is at least five spots to high up in the list. Not that this wasn’t a great game. It really was. I liked a lot of it, but somehow Mario in 3-d did not seem a realization of Mario’s potential in the same way that Hyrule in 3-D was. I was happy to play this game, and excited about the idea of 3-D video gaming, but something about Mario had me still in love with the 2-D platform star he had always been. On the other hand, this is better than what I thought was going to happen to Mario. If you could have heard me talk in the late nineties you might have heard me say that 3-D was going to be the death of Mario as the top video game star. I couldn’t have been more wrong. Super Mario 64 offered a lot of expansive worlds to explore as well as a lot of extra things to find. The difficulty was amped down a little bit, but the challenge of finding all the stars in the game more than made up for it. This was a great game, and definitely one of the better releases the N64 had to offer, but it still isn’t good enough to break into Mario’s top five games of all time. Still, this is one worth checking out more than once; just don’t let the Monkey steal your hat!

5. Mario Kart DS

Until the very recent release of Grand Theft Auto ChinaTown Wars, Mario Kart DS held the esteemed position of highest ranked Nintendo DS Game on Gamespot with the ranking of 9.2. It received the same ranking, but was bested by a few other games on IGN. Mario Kart DS more than deserved such high praise. This was Mario Kart brought to a perfection even greater than the original Super Mario Kart. The graphics were impeccable, easily one of the most visually pleasing games on the DS. The sound was just as impressive, it’s one of those games that is more fun to play the higher you put the volume. The three grand prix modes were a lot of fun, and the redone classical courses were some of the most fun, and easily the most nostalgic, parts of the game. And if that weren’t enough, add on wifi capability so you could play with a friend. Fans of mario kart are hoping that Nintendo will release another Mario Kart for the DS or DSi. One that will include new race tracks, even more nostalgic courses, and a more extensive mission mode. But for now, we’re not only satisfied with this DS game; we’re so addicted we cannot put it down.

4. Super Mario RPG Legend of the Seven Stars

It pains me that a game as good as Super Mario RPG Legend of the Seven Stars comes on any list as number four, but such has been the greatness of the Mario series. Seven Stars was the second greatest RPG of the Super Nintendo Era, barely cutting out EarthBound for the number 2 spot, but falling to Chrono Trigger. Seven Stars had an interesting story, with challenging baddies, and enough puzzles to keep everyone entertained. And if that weren’t enough, add more than a couple interesting characters and you have a formula for Mario’s success in RPG form. But Mario RPG stayed consistently Mario, not a straight RPG. The timed attacks, especially with Mario’s long jumps definitely made it seem like a Mario game, as well as his ability to jump while away from the battle screen. And as if that weren’t enough Seven Stars was one of the first video games to introduce the concept of an UltraBoss, the boss more difficult to beat than the main boss. In Seven Stars this boss is known as Culex, and if he doesn’t waste your party in a couple of turns, then you are a much more impressive Seven Stars player than me. This type of boss worked really well to keep players interested and entertained long after the main quest had ended. Super Mario RPG is easily one of the best Super Mario games of all time, and is a real steal for eight dollars for anyone with the Wii and access to the internet.

3. Super Mario Galaxy

As I’ve said, Super Mario 64 was a great game, but it was Galaxy that really proved Mario in 3-D for me. First, there were the worlds, seemingly huge expansive. Second, there were the controls. The shake to do your punch was awesome, and jumping again became a matter of precision (after the F.l.u.d.d. of Sunshine made it more about button mashing.) The Overworld was huge and a lot of fun, and the challenge of finding all 120 stars still has me entertained. At first, I thought finding stars in Mario Galaxy was going to be a little bit too easy until the comets came into effect. The daredevil comets made things particularly difficult in really fun, addicting ways. Also, the power ups Mario had were both interesting and incredibly varied. However, Mario Galaxy failed to take the top spot because of a couple of major flaws. First of these, was that one or two of the power-ups felt like a power-down. A bee costume in which you can’t even touch the water, no thanks. Second, the lack of a Yoshi world. This would have been really easy to put into this game, and would have elevated it to the level needed to potentially steal the number 2 spot on this list. As it is, however, number two belongs firmly to...

2. Super Mario Bros. 3

This was easily the best game on the Nintendo Entertainment System, bar none. Its graphics were best. Its audio was one of the best. Its game play was the best. So good, in fact, that it still translates into one of the most fun games today, without any remodeling of its graphics or its gameplay. The worlds were impressively large, with many levels to get through. But Super Mario Bros 3 really shined in the power up suits. It wasn’t just Big Mario and fire Mario this time. There was froggy mario, and stone mario, and Raccoon Mario. The power ups made Mario so much more interesting than he had been previously and allowed him to take on challenges in new ways. This game is also available on the Wii’s virtual console, and it really is a steal at a mere $5.

1. Super Mario World

This is Super Mario done right! This game is near perfection right down to the tiniest details. First, their is the main quest. Seven incredibly fun worlds, each with their own terrifying dungeon controlled by one of Bowser’s seven children. One incredibly cute, super fun dinosaur named Yoshi as an ally. The Fireflower and the Super Cape as power-ups. The powerful Bowser to defeat at the end of the game. As if that weren’t enough, finding and completing the star world and the special section as well as finding all 96 exits in the game and every single Yoshi Coin. There’s simply so much to do in Super Mario World, which is incredibly impressive seeing as it came out in 1992. Super Mario World also adds a lot of brilliant little details such as the ability to throw shells, the challenge of stringing together enough jumps to get a one up, and an extensive variety of enemies and you have a game that is a class all its own. Super Mario World not only ranks as Mario’s ultimate adventure; it is easily one of the best video games of all time!

Notable Exceptions:

1. Super Mario Sunshine-Parts of this game were good, but it did not get the top ten as the Fludd device made missing jumps no big deal in this game. Mario is a jumping protagonist, when he misses jumps bad things are supposed to happen. Besides, the idea that Mario needs a little jetpack for assistance seems contradictory to his previous video game heroics.

2. Yoshi’s Island- The only issue I had with Super Mario World is that the bosses were too easy. Yoshi’s Island would fix this by making bosses much more complicated, and much more varied. Unfortunately, it failed to string together worlds like Super Mario World, and was not as deep a game. But it would have been included on this list, except that to most, myself included, this is more a Yoshi game than a Mario Game.

3 .New Super Mario Bros.-This game was too much like just a newer version of Super Mario Bros, which is what it professed to be. But some of the power ups were ridiculous powerful, to the point of being no fun to have. Further, in the main player mode one could only play Mario, making its title frustrating (differentiating the two characters and letting us choose would have been better.) Finally, the notable lack of Yoshi are really any kind of ally characters kept this Mario off the list.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Review: Street Fighter IV

New School Review: Street Fighter IV

In a way, I almost feel sorry for Capcom when it comes to Street Fighter IV. That is, until I think of all the money they are going to make off this game. They are in a very difficult position because of how well previous Street Fighter games have worked. Change the Street Fighter formula too much and fans are going to shout and cry about how Capcom failed to make another Street Fighter Game. Don’t change it enough and critics are going to call this game just a better looking Street Fighter II. Street Fighter IV managed to avoid either of these two problems, but it did it with the cost of a few new minor problems that together seriously hampered the effectiveness of this game.

That’s not to say, however, that Street Fighter IV is a bad game. Indeed, there are many parts of it that are very good. Unfortunately, this is one of those games that was a victim to its own hype. No matter how good Street Fighter IV was it couldn’t live up to what fans thought it could be. Further, a lot of smaller mistakes, and a lack of interesting modes keeps this fighter from entering the conversation about the greatest fighters of all time, and it certainly doesn’t occupy that position itself.

The Good:

A lot of fighters. We start with sixteen selectable fighters, and nine unlockable characters there are obviously a lot of players to choose from. Not only that, but all of the classical characters that we have grown to love including Chun Li, Guille, Ken, Ryu, Bison, and Zangief are back.

A tight tier list.

For those who don’t know, a tier list is a list of the strongest fighter down to the weakest fighter in a fighting game. Unlike Super Smash Bros. Brawl and other fighters from this year Street Fighter IV boasts a really tight tier list. That is, there is no one on the list of fighters who is unbelievably better than everyone else (like MetaKnight in Brawl) nor is there anyone who is so much weaker than others that they can’t compete. There is still a tier list, like all fighters, but you can tell that the makers of this game really worked to make it tighter than other contemporary fighting games; an effort greatly appreciated both by fans and tournament goers.

Excellent Gameplay

The six button formula has worked well for Street Fighter series since Street Fighter II. Street Fighter IV is no exception. Most of the gameplay is really excellent. The controls are tight and responsive, and it’s never been so much fun to kick the shit out of your friends when not playing against the computer.

Unlike previous games you can really see how these are the premiere fighters in the world. From Zangief’s chest to Chun-Li’s calves, these fighters don’t look like the kind of people you would want to mess with on the streets.

The Bad:

The Super Combos: These, I hated. You could be winning a fight and all the other person would have to do is a super combo to take you out of the game. Or you could be losing badly, but pull one of these off to come back. And they didn’t feel like a strategy to use either. Like, in Soulcalibur you have to strategize about how to knock someone off the ledge if you are losing miserably. Super Combos were just a matter of luck whether or not they landed well, or at least, they felt that way. The game would have been improved considerably if these had been left out.

A General Lack of Modes

Seriously, Capcom? You’re going to release a fighting game in 2009 with only arcade, “challenge”, survival, and time attack modes? No story mode? No team battle mode? This is more than surprising. It’s downright disappointing. Add unto that a simply terrible challenge mode, and this game is a lot shallower than a fighting game in 2009 should be. The challenge mode was just a function of using all your special moves against a stationary opponent. Great for learning how to do the more difficult things in the game, but a challenge? Hardly.

The Story:

Just garbled and bad. Unlike Mortal Kombat which actually found an interesting way to explain why grown men were trying to kill each other, and how they could throw fireballs, the street fighter story continues to make no sense to me. Some fighters who want to prove they are the strongest, and others who are launching an investigation, and then still others who are trying to do magical things. It was so muddled that halfway through the game all I could think is “Why does this game need a story line anyway?”

Bottom Line:

Capcom’s Street Fighter IV is an excellent game. It’s fun, especially when you have a friend. The gameplay is almost as tight as Street Fighter II, and the graphics are stellar. Unfortunately, a few gameplay issues and limited ways to play keep this game from standing out as one of the greatest of all time as some others have contested.

Graphics 10/10
Sound 7/10 (What was up with some of the wimpy song choices for this game?)
Gameplay 7/10 (Needed more Modes)
Lasting Appeal 9/10
Overall: 8

Final Say: Great Game, but not even in the top ten fighters of all time.

Awesomely Bad Game #1: Pokemon

The Best of the Bad:
Awesomely Bad Game #1


What makes Pokemon so bad? Nothing except of level of cruelty so bad it should make members of Peta shit their pants. Not only do you pit creatures against each other in horrible battles that look extremely painful (I’d like to see you take a lightning bolt to the forehead and see how much you like it) when you’re done, you put the gigantic monster into a little ball that can fit into the size of a poorly dubbed cartoon character’s hand.

And if you think after putting any kind of animal, or monster, in one of those terrible little prisons they’re going to come out and fight for you; you’re dead wrong. Especially when they’re so powerful. When I play I’m just waiting for Charizard to come out and fry my ass. It’s no less than what I deserve.

As if that weren’t enough let’s add how slow the game is. We can read Pokemon; and those kids who can’t are just skipping over the text anyway. Get a move on with it, would you? I want to hit my enemies Pokemon with another lightning bolt, and I don’t have time to sort through all of your words.

Finally, what makes Pokemon really bad is that when a monster loses a battle he “faints”. I just hit that motherfucker with three lightning bolts and fireball. He’s dead. No, he’s more than dead. He’s a fucking pile of ashes right now. He’s fried like an egg. He didn’t faint; don’t pretend like he did, let’s just call it a fatality and be done with it.

Pokemon gets my nod for awesomely bad game of the week for its cruelty to the creatures involved, the painfully slow and boring text, and the fact that monster’s faint rather than die after they’ve taken enough abuse to be killed ten times over.

But I know you’ve gotta catch ‘em all anyway. So, go ahead you sick, sadistic bastards. I hope you get what’s coming to you.