Thursday, July 23, 2009

Zelda awesomeness!!! part 4




















Malon Mart, everything is not only super cheap but all of the customers are dancing! It doesnt seem anyone goes there to actually shop, they are just there to dance.

Verdict: Awesome

Zelda awesomeness!!! part 3





















Agitha is definitely awesome. I loved collecting bugs for her, plus she is totally lolilicious.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Mega Man nostalgia

Back when I was a kid I had the first of the Mega Man games for GameBoy. It was a mix of levels of bosses from Mega Man 1 and 2 as well as some original content. I remember it being impossibly hard. I only managed to beat one of bosses once, I think it was the cleverly named Elec man. Which ever of the bosses it was I was amazed when I found out I got to take over his power after I defeated him. All of my firends of cource also had Mega Man games for their GameBoys but I dont think any of them had been able to beat any of the Robot Masters so I had no idea this was a possibility.

Today with the help of the wonderful lameboy emulator for DS I went back to the game for the first time in I dont know how many years. Either my reflexes or my video game skills must have improved because I found I was now able to beat the game. Something which would have been inconceivable back in my early years of gaming.

What I found chocking was that when I got to the classic part before Wily when you have to defeat all of the previus bosses in a row you no longer fight the same old robots you beat earlier in the game. In thier place there were instead five brand new bosses.

This was cool in a way but it also messes up the Mega Man formula. The reason why you are able to beat a bunch of powerful bosses in a row without the ability to save is that you have beaten them before and know their weaknesses. With new bosses this doesnt work and it seems almost unfair. Luckily the GameBoys limited capabilities puts some limits on complexity of their patterns so they arent that hard to figure out.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

My mom has some seriously nerdy keys


A new geeky keychain now graces my mothers keys. It should give her some serious nerd cred since its a preorder bonus for a fan made walkthrough for an import only Japanese rpg.

The keychain itself is modeled after the Courage Badge from Mother 3 which is famously is used to reflect the last attack from the final boss in the game. She has no idea what she is carrying around but it should (knowing the Earthbound fanbase) be enough to impress the hell out of a small minority of people

Zelda un-awesomeness!!! part 1











The bleeping sound when you are close to death. This tormenting sound has become a hallmark of the Zelda series even if it makes the player want to stick something sharp in his or her ears just to escape madness.

If absolute awesomeness is in one end of the spectrum then the bleeping sound from Zelda is as far as possible in the opposite end.

Zelda awesomeness!!! part 2
















Link carrying around a cute dog. Awesome? Yes very much so!

Zelda awesomeness!!! part 1
























Link wearing a belly warmer (haramaki). Definitely awesome!

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Ocarina 2+














After desperately trying to 1cc Castle of Shikigami 3 for the twentyeleventh time I decided to go back and replay Twilight Princess instead. I think both me and my sore thumbs have gotten enough of shooters for a while.

Returning to Twilight Princess a few years after its release allowed me to see the game in another light. When I played it for the first time it was supposed to be the latest and greatest big game that was supposed to show off Nintendos new hardware and thats how I saw it.

Now on the other hand I see that its really nothing other then an updated N64 game. Dont get me wrong here thats not a bad thing. Its really just Ocarina of time expanded and improved. The visuals are improved, the story is presented in a more modern way, the world is larger and there is an array of new gimmicks added but at its core its still very much the same game.

Most N64 games were based around the intriguing new possibility of exploring 3D worlds made possible by the new hardware. Even if Twilight Princess is running on a much more powerful system the game is still designed the same way as these early 3D games and its gameplay is the same as in its older siblings. Giving it a distinct reto feel which is covered up by its new graphics and added motion control. Something which comes through much stronger on my second playthrough.

Friday, July 17, 2009

NO.16 IN THE WORLD! BITCHES!!!!



















So I have the world record on easy. On normal I just reached 16th place on the Gradius ReBirth leaderboard, which is pretty fucking good too if I get to say so myself.

I got that record at the same time as I 1cc'ed the game on normal for the first time, which was my one goal in this game.

That is a 1cc of the first loop. For anyone who isnt used to the Gradius series once you beat the game once you get to keep playing it from the beginning on a higher difficulty ie the second loop. This game has 3 loops in total.

So anyway I feel like I have gotten what I wanted out of this game now, I definitely got $10 worth out of it. Beating the game on one continue is always the big goal in this type of game. A goal I rarely manage to reach.

NO.1 IN THE WORLD!!!



















Thats right! Im first place on the Gradius ReBirth leaderboard. Now the game has diffrent leaderboards for the different diffuculty settings, its the easy setting Im number one at. But still being the best in the world at something is pretty fucking good.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Gradius refined

The guys over at Konami must have taken noticed of the success of Mega Man 9 and decided to give the formula a try with one of their own classic series. Gradius ReBirth is a new entry in the series for Wii Ware with a graphical style taken straight from the late 80s.

Mega Man 9 might have been my favorite game of last year so Im definitely happy about the new trend in gaming. Gradius ReBirth doesnt disappoint either, it actually my new favorite Gradius game.

It still has the very basic gameplay of Gradius one which is probably why I like it so much. Yet it feels a bit more refined then the original. They have clearly learned a thing or two about game design over the past 20 years over at Konami.

For one thing they have gotten a lot better at placing the check points so now when you die you dont automatically reach for the reset button. Losing all your power ups as the result of death puts you in an extremely challenging position but not a completely impossible one, which was often the case in the original.

Without this change and the games unlimited continues I doubt I would have been able to beat it since the game is still very very difficult.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

I am looking for a Mr. Gitaroo?

I just beat Gitaroo Man, the credits are actually rolling on the TV as Im writing this. My thumbs and my neck hurt from the last boss. My whole body was tense the whole time as I was focusing 100% on the screen to pull off some of those near impossible riffs.

It took me two days to beat that game and I played a lot. But its an old school sort of game in the way that if I went back to it now I could probably beat it in less then an hour. The length of the game is completely dependent on its difficulty. Which might have been one of the reasons it was made to be so ridiculously hard.

Now I paid almost nothing for this game but I can imagine someone who paid full price for it being pretty pissed if he beat it in 40 minutes. With this level of difficulty tho I doubt anyone will be able to beat it on his first try.

Now of course the difficulty didnt only give the game some lasting appeal it made it in to one of the most satisfying rhythm games I have played. Pulling off some of those crazy combos really felt good.

Sexy voice

The most awesome thing about Gitaroo Man might be the silky sweet female voice that goes “Ohh Gutaroo Man” and “You win”. In that tone that leads you to believe that there is a reward of a sexual nature waiting for you.

I wonder who they got to record that, who ever it was Im sure she could make a fortune in the phone sex business.

I am the Gitaroo Man

For 79skr, a little under $10 I picked up Gitaroo Man for the PS2. I have had this game recommended to me countless times so I dont know what took me so long. Never the less, now its a part of my collection. Its has also become part of my daily gaming routine.

The game is truly balls hard so when I beat a song it gives me that special satisfaction of mastering something which I have written about before. That feeling that makes me wanna scream out Fuck yeah I am the Gitaroo Man!

Turtles

My first video game was a SEGA ripp off of Game & Watch starring Sonic. I bought that against the advice of my ever so wise mother who thought I should buy a GameBoy instead. Her reasoning was that I could switch out the games on the GameBoy so that one was better. The second time I listened to my mother and my second game and first real video game if you will was for the GameBoy. Along with the grey brick I picked up Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Fall of the Foot Clan or just Turtles game as we called it back then.

That game was awesome, you could play as all of the Turtles, fight all the baddies from the TV show and even visit the Technodrome. And thanks to the LameBoy emulator for the DS I was able to do that all over again last night.

After finally finding a working GameBoy emulator for its two screened cousin I just had to replay Turtles. It took me about half an hour to beat it and I didnt die once until the last boss. A bit easy one might say but it was the perfect difficulty for a five year old, which was when I played that game for the first time

Persistence

I spent the better part of the day today playing Cho Aniki. I figured out that the thing with pattern based games like shooters is that you just have to keep playing and you will slowly get better. I went from not being able to beat the first level this morning to beating the game on easy, then on normal and finally 5 minutes ago, beating it on hard.

Mastering something very challenging brings with it a certain kind of satisfaction. When I play Mega Man 9 and kick ass at it I feel good. Same thing with Cho Aniki only Cho Aniki isnt as well designed as Mega Man and has a degree of randomness to it. The wonderful thing about Mega Man is that when you die its always your fault, you cant blame anyone else. With Cho Aniki you often die without even seeing the bullet because there is simply so much crap on the screen. This is whats stopping me from going for a 1cc in this game. That is beating it on one continue, which I did on Mega Man 9 hell I even beat that game on one life. But I feel that I cant do that with Cho Aniki without throwing my controller at the wall repeatedly.

Still beating the game on hard isnt too bad either. Its a shooter after all, a genre where the easy difficulty would be the hard mode in other games.

Homo erotic awesomeness

Do you feel that the only thing missing from the Shooter genre is options in the form of buff naked men and power ups in the form of protein? Then Cho Aniki translating to something like Super Brother (sometimes my minimal Japanese Skills even impress myself) might be the game for you.

I woudnt have answered Yes before I played Cho Aniki, those two things; buff naked men and protein isnt usually my cup of tea. After playing it I might be a convert, the weird muscle worshiping and homo erotic nature of the art in combination with the games space setting gives it a very different and surreal feel. Somehow that pulled me in.

Michelangelo meets Dante's Inferno


Three in the morning at Visby boat terminal waiting for the boat over to the mainland I finished up Final Fantasy VI. That is to say I kicked Kefka in the nuts which I promised I would in a previous blog entry.

In the end you get to fight Kefakas mutated form, a very impressive experience. You go through several stages, fighting different parts of the God like being he has transformed in to. For every stage you beat the camera zooms upwards revealing another even more deformed part. At the top floats Kefka in an Angelic form, underlining his God like nature.

The whole thing somehow reminds me of Michelangelos painting in the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel. This would be a darker 16bit version of it.

Comfort food

I failed my drivers license test today so after that I was feeling kinda down. Luckily I had brought with me my DS so I could sit down in the shade under a tree and indulge in some Super Mario World. Somehow that game always manges to cheer me up.

A trip to the familiar world of Nintendo filled with happiness and rainbows was just what I needed, that and a few beers.

Huh?

Im exploring Mt. Zozo in Final Fantasy VI and I keep encountering this grisly bear that steals all my gil. Whats up with that? Such a greedy bear.

Epic in my pants!



If you played Final Fantasy VI do you remember the part where you get your second airship, the Falcon. The scene where its rises out of the water is just about the most epic thing I have ever experienced in a game. The mode 7 semi 3d graphics that show the falcon cruise around in the air might not be as impressive now days but the music that accompanies it still is. Oh God the music there is sooo good. It really grabs you and makes you go 'Fuck yeah here I come!'

Iit one of those songs I could put on my ipod and just walk around town feeling like the king of the world.

Deserted Island

There are sometimes distinct moments in games that are so excellent that they bring the whole game up from simple greatness to excellency. The chapter with Celes on the deserted island in Final Fantasy VI is one of those. Its so superbly well made.

How you are made to collect fish for your sick father figure who as far as you know is the only other human who survived the apocalypse. And how after his death you get to control Celes as she climbs the northern peek of the island and throws herself down from the height intending to take her own life.

Its such an emotional scene, especially for a 16bit video game and it uses the intractability of the medium to really involve the player.

Mother 3 has en equally emotional and well put together scene but there it came in the beginning of the game setting the bar so high that it never could reach that same level of perfection again, making the rest of the game somewhat of a let down. In Final Fantasy VI it comes in the middle of the game instead, rewarding the player for sticking with it.

Sleepwalking

I was dead tired last night but felt a strong need to play Final Fantasy VI . I got to the part at the Magitek research facility. Something happened there where Celes left my party but I cant for the life of me remember what.

I must have been so tired that I forgot all about it. Its really annoying, now it feels like a missed a crucial part of the game.

Truly fantastic music



Oh my fucking God - the music in FFVI is so freaking great. Especially the over world theme, when it first plays in the beginning of the game it truly blew my mind. I have been told that the gba version has worse sound, which might be true but it doesnt stop the music from being amazing.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

The ghost train

There is this awesome moment early on in final fantasy VI where you are trying to stop a train filled with ghosts. As our heroes make their way to the front we expect them to face of against whatever creature is driving the train. Instead (so awesome!) they jump out in front of the train and the boss turns out to be the very train itself. The traditional turn based battle that follows takes place while your party is running like crazy ahead of the train while fighting it. Sweet or what?

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

16bit beauty

Playing Chrono Trigger and Final Fantasy VI has reminded me of how stunningly beautiful some of the late Super Nintendo games were. That part of gaming history had some of the finest 2D graphics ever.

That console allowed for just the right amount of detail to give the artist the ability to create something really impressive and beautiful. While the hardware still limited them in such a way that it forced the art to be so simplistic that every pixel still mattered.

























Super deformed fantasy

The gba port of final fantasy 6 has some cool new additions. One of those is the character portraits that now accompany the dialog. Other then making the dialog easier to follow it has the added benefit of showing you how the Terra and the others look in more detail.

This depiction of them sometimes stand in sharp contrast to how the characters are depicted as sprites. Maybe its just a side effect of having less pixels to work with but the character sprites in game look a lot less realistic. The sprite version of the characters also express their emotions in a very exadurated way, again probably a necessity when working with so few pixels but it makes them seem more cartoon like. I would say that they are almost super deformed, especially in contrast to the character portraits.

I really like this combination of two art styles, it lets you view the games heroes and villains from two different perspectives. You get to see them as cute and playful sprites but also as depicted in a more mature and realistic fashion. It reminds me of another FF game, Final Fantasy 7. Where you had almost super deformed 3D characters in combination with their very realistic depiction in cut scenes.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Quick save

One thing I love about GameBoy games is that they often have a quick save future. In short a save file that erases itself after it has been loaded once, very useful if you lets say have to get off the buss while at the same time not making the game easier by allowing the player to save right before the tricky parts.

Sadly this is a feature most DS games lack, Castlevania being the exception. They arent needed in the same way since you can simply close the lid, but that drains the battery. Having you DS in you backpack all day in sleep mode will leave you with very little battery for the train ride home.

When I think about it maybe it would be a useful feature in all games, portable as well as console games. I dont know how many nights I have stayed up far too long, or almost missed an appointment trying to reach the next save point.

Again Im not proposing every game should use save states or some other form of save anywhere feature since that would mess up the difficulty. What I would like to see is a quick save future like the one we see in gba games or the similar functionality the virtual console games offer.

Imagine if you could just push the Home/Playstation/Xbox button on your console of choice returning to the menu and then turn the power off. The next day when you have a few minutes of free time you could simply boot up the console and return to the same place in the game where you left off.

This type of functionality saved my life this morning on the buss when I was playing Final Fantasy VI . If I could do the same with my consoles at home I would probably be more likely to sneak in half an hour of gaming even on my busy days.

Walking in to bed


Something that always freaked me out about old rpgs is the way you can walk right in to the beds. Its kinda hard to explain but everyone who has played an old school rpg should know what Im talking about. It looks like a normal bed but its somehow it must be magically standing up with the covers floating in front of it.

Thats the only “logical” explanation for how you can walk in under the sheets and come out on the other side without stopping , and please note the apostrophes around logical since the whole thing is certainly completely impossible and therefore highly illogical. Not only illogical but really freaky.

Moogle awesomeness

Everyone who has played Final Fantasy 6 remembers the beginning of the game when Terra falls through the floor of the cave and is saved by the Moogles. I just replayed that part and even tho I remembered the moogles I had forgotten about the most awesome thing about them. These small fluffy cuties are armed to the teeth. They can pull out a wast arsenal of weapons some of which are literally twice the size of a moogle. Everything from long spears and maces to shields and boomerangs. Where do they keep them? I have no idea but that just makes it even more awesome.

Snes rpg orgy

If the Snes or the psx is the number 1 home of great rpgs is worth debating. Right now however Im focusing in on the snes era role playing games. Mostly because now many of the real gems are available in a portable format. After I finished up Chrono Trigger on the DS I moved on to Final Fantasy VI on the gba, the other heavy hitter from time the Super Nintendo reigned supreme in the world of rpgs.

Both of those games are once that I started back in the day but never finished, now its time for me to correct that mistake. I played Chrono Trigger until I knew that world better then my own backyard and Im gearing up for giving FF6 the same treatment.

Watch out Kefka. Im coming for you, you clown faced faggot!

Book me on the next plane

I think I have a new favorite place in a video game, the city in Enhasa in Chrono Triggers magic Kindom of Zeal. Listen to this, the whole city is dedicated to sleeping and dreaming. The Enhasans believe that reality is nothing but our are perception of it and that reality in itself is an individual concept. So what we see in our dreams is no less real that what we see in our waken state.

As an NPC in the city puts it "The world you see with your eyes may well differ completely from the one I see with mine. There are as many different worlds as there are observers. Never assume that only those things which you can see or touch are real."

So they just lie around in bed all day enjoying their own reality. I can only assume that the city itself stays functioning thanks to the magic nature of it.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Good and evil in Chrono Trigger












Fantasy stories are usually about the struggle between good and evil. The same is true for most RPG stories, your characters are unquestionably good and your enemies unquestionably evil. This seems to be true in Chrono Trigger as well but as you keep playing you quickly find out that not everything is as it seems.

It turns out the games first villain Magus is summoning the apocalypse bringer that is Lavos, not to eliminate the human race but to kill the beast. Even if he happens to wear a cape and his base of operation is a scary looking castle filled with bats. He even ends up joining your party towards the end of the game in a Dragon Ball like fashion.

As you travel back in time even the highly intelligent reptile species that is locked in a mortal struggle with the early humans arent really evil. As the game sets it up its more of an ecological struggle in a Darwinist sense, one has to perish for the other to prosper, as the cave woman Ayla explains it "Win and live. Lose and Die. Rule of life. No change rule". It turns out you are the one who exterminates the intelligent and civilized reptile people, a somewhat morally questionable action for a group of “heroes”.

Then its the games main villain and final boss Lavos. Even he isnt a traditional portrait of evil. He is simply a gigantic parasite who drains the life out of whole worlds in order to reproduce. When you think about it he isnt really any more evil then a tick that drains your blood to feed its children. This doesnt mean its wrong to kill him, just as its not really wrong to squish the tick thats sucked itself on to your leg. But it means that he cant really be considered an intelligent being whos actions are based on choice so they dont have a moral dimension, so he cant really seen as evil.

Crack – give me more!

I wasnt playing much games until about a week ago. The little gaming I did consisted of Solitaire on my ipod, over 500 games rounds played (beat that!). Now I have gotten in to a gaming mood again, maybe because of school if over or maybe the pure greatness of Chrono Trigger let the fire in me again. Whatever the reason I got the itch back.

Here I was thinking Square games were all about the story

If you read my previous post you know about my border line obsessive playing of Chrono Trigger. Now me getting all 15 endings does say something about my social life. But more relevant to the niche of this blog, it says something about the other game I stopped playing to go back and beat Chrono Trigger again and again. Final Fantasy Tactics A2 just isnt that great of a game.

Now the battles arent bad, they are even kinda fun which is a generous thing for me to say about a strategy RPG. Its the story thats lacking, its not bad either there just is too little of it. It doesnt really provide a motivation to keep on playing. In short the story in A2 is basically about a boy doing cool stuff so he can write about it in his journal. I need a bit more of a reason to go on with such mediocre gameplay, even a generic rpg story about some kids saving the world and some feminine super villain would be fine.

ENDING GET!

Summer vacation is a beautiful thing. It gives you the opportunity to do such things as getting all the 15 different endings to Chrono Trigger. Which is what I just did, yes all 15 (!) of them.

Now before you get too impressed let me clearafy, this doesnt mean I played through the game beginning to end 15 times. The different endings are obtained by defeating the final boss at different points in the game. Normally you wouldnt be nearly strong enough to beat him until the very end but thanks to the New Game + function you can replay the game with all the experience and equipment you collected during your first play though. So now its possible to do such things as teleport to the last boss 10 minutes in to the game and kick his ass. Still beating that thing 15 times, or 21 as I did for some reason still takes a considerable amount of time and an additional play through even at a high level takes time in a story heavy RPG.

Some of the endings were definitely worth it, especially the hardest one after which you get to meet and talk to all the developers, hear their complaints about working 24h days etc. Other endings were little more then the ending credits with some new animations, but even those satisfied the completionist streak in me. Its a gotta catch em all kind of thing, even if its a Magikarp.

Chrono synergy

The DS version of Chrono Trigger has some added content. Its a little more then the mandatory new super hard dungeon most of the Squinix ports comes with. This time we get some more story. It helps tie together Trigger with its semi sequel Chrono Cross. Something thats badly needed since the plot threads connecting the two games are less then clear.

Since Chrono Cross is next on my to play list Im happy with this addition.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Ivalice – The land of pedo

Final Fantasy Tactics Advance 2, (yeah thats a sequel to a spin off of a spinoff) certainly has an interesting art style. The magical land of Ivalice is a colorful and happy place in this game, the world has been given a very different look and feel from when we visited it in Final Fantasy XII.

But thats not the most notable change in art style. Everyone in this game, even those who are married with children look like they arent a day older then 12. Its somewhat entraining to have powerful knight who looks like he is still in middle school.

Strategy RPGs - I really want to like them

Im training myself. There are so many cool looking strategy rpgs out there. Especially for the DS, Atlus has brought over a ton of quirky and interesting looking strategy rpgs from Japan. I really want to like them. In the past I have been turned off by how long the battles take and how complicated and hard the games have been. I hate to spend half an hour in one battle only to die and have to start over. I have been burned bad especially by fire emblem where when a character dies, HE IS LOST FOR EVER. No phoenix downs to save the day in those games. That evil fucking game even auto saves after every turn to make sure they stay dead.

As I said Im training myself, Im going to make myself like this type of game. Im thinking that if I just get good enough at them and used playing them I wont be as frustrated and be able to enjoy them.

I decided to ease myself in to the genre with Final Fantasy Tactics Advance 2. Its a spin off to a series I love and I should be familiar with all the spell names etc. Plus the best thing about it is that if a character dies, you can bring them back as many times as you like. And get this, they even return to life after every battle. SCREW YOU FIRE EMBLEM.

Is Chrono Jesus?

As Im finishing up Chrono Trigger I started thinking, an unfortunate side effect of repeatative rpg battles. As I was pushing A repeatedly while once in a while glancing down checking characters health I started entertaining the idea that the games main character Chrono is a metaphor for Christ. Even if it is one based on a narrow Japanese view of Christianity. If you have ever seen an episode of Evengelion you know how the Japanese loved to use Christian symbolism and biblical references in the 90s to create some mysterious epic feel in their fiction. Chrono Trigger might not be as obvious about it but its still there, or at least I have manged to convince myself that it is after a lot of not so eventful turn based grinding.

The most obvious reference is the death and resurrection of Chrono. The antic civilization has doomed itself by their use of the magic energy drained from Lavos and all is about to end when Chrono selflessly sacrifices his life to save everyone, you could say he dies for their sins. But since he is essential to the salvation of humankind from their bleak and terrible future he is allowed to come back to life, he is resurrected.

Then there is Chronos family. Chronos mother is a reoccurring figure in the story but there is no father in the story, there isnt even any mention of a father. Maybe a case of virgin birth? It certainly doesnt hurt the Christ metaphor. Now when I have it written down the arguments seem a bit weak, but its an entertaining thought at least.