Saturday, November 8, 2008

Always, Always Wait on the Floating Continent

Damn, it's been a while. I had originally planned on making as many posts on this blog as I could, but that broke down, and then I didn't have much to write about, then I forgot about it, etc. etc. Regardless, I still like the format of this site and I enjoy reading what I've written, so I will try to continue to do it when I can.

So I've played a few games since my last post. I never beat Shiren, as I got to a point where my weapons were so awesome that if I lost them, I would literally break my DS - that, and I got bored with it. Shadowrun remains uncompleted as well, since I got to a point where I had to grind levels to keep going, and it wasn't fun anymore.

Since my last post, I've played quite a few games. I downloaded and beat Mega Man 9 and Shining Force 2 on my Wii, both of which are some of my favorite games of all time (Mega Man 9 is without a doubt my favorite Mega Man game ever). I've picked up Smash Bros Brawl again because I've met a bunch of guys who play the crap out of it, and I can hang with them for the most part. I just picked up Wario Land: Shake It! as well, and I am enjoying that so far. I also own Guitar Hero 1, 2, and 3 for the PS2 and I can beat them all (save for a few songs on 3) on Hard and can do okay on Expert. I picked up Dragon Quest 4 and got to the third chapter and I stopped playing because I just can't get into it yet. And I also picked up Final Fantasy VI for my SNES (as I'm sure you're aware, it's called 3 on the cartridge itself).

I've been dying to play this game again for a couple years now. The first time I played through it, I let Shadow die, missed three characters (I never ONCE had Mog!), and missed a ton of espers (how I made it to Kefka and beat him without Ultima/Meteor/etc. I will never know). I'm going to try to complete it as best I can, and I am well on my way. I am in the World of Ruin, have all the characters - including Shadow! - and am now level grinding and teaching all the spells in the game to all the characters before I go take on Kefka. I've had a blast so far, and it's reminded me why VI is my favorite Final Fantasy.

It's just so damned refined. Everything works smoothly, from the battle load times to the snappy action contained within; if I want to summon an esper, it doesn't take a minute and a half to load the animation - it's quick! And while random battles can be tedious, they aren't so bad that they make the game unplayable. The story remains great, and I am definitely enjoying the World of Ruin quite a bit more now that I know where I should go to get characters, items, etc. And of course, the music remains fantastic.

Anyway, that's enough for now - hopefully I'll post again soon about Wario Land or FFVI. Here's hoping I don't let the blog be idle again for 4 months.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Roguelikes are Effing Awesome Part 2

So I have continued to play Shiren the Wanderer, and have discovered some interesting things. First, I reached floor 27, which had an enemy that could do something I hadn't experienced - it could knock off my equipped weapons and once knocked off, they couldn't be picked back up and used. This enemy is the worst enemy ever created. Thank god I wasn't using my newly upgraded Master Sword +60 (which is incapable of getting rusty, does extra damage to ghost enemies, and each attack is three squares wide) or Armor Ward +39 (which is incapable of getting rusty, slows my hunger down and prevents items and money from being stolen). Although, I'm wondering if that Armor Ward wouldn't protect against that particular enemy... if so, that would be great. (After looking up the enemy, I found out that it was because there was water to my back that I lost my items. Still, though - what a bastard.)

I should explain how my prized items came to be so enchanted. You see, after completing some side missions, a shop became available in Mountaintop Town (located between floors 7 and 8) that sold Jars. Once in a while, a Melding Jar becomes available there. The interesting thing about Melding Jars is that when you put a weapon inside, followed by another weapon, all of the attributes (good or bad) of the second weapon are melded onto the first. So, for example, to get my Master Sword to attack three squares wide, I placed my Master Sword and a Razor Wind in the Jar, so the Master Sword took on the Razor Wind's qualities. So I really enjoy that. It also will add any modifiers on as well, so that's how I upgraded both of those items so fast too.

With as much work as I've done to my weapons, they still aren't complete. I have yet to find a Pickaxe of any kind (even breakable ones) so I can't make my weapons dig yet. I would also like to add a few more enchantments to them, like the one that upgrades my evasion rate and lowers damage from explosions, etc. so I still have plenty of work to do, mostly to find the items I need to do that.

So, I've played for about 15 hours I believe, and that's actually quite a bit longer than I thought this game would take, seeing as how there's only 30 floors in the main dungeon. It's probably because I'm being as careful as I possibly can be, though. Either way, I'm having a blast so far.

I would also like to brag that I got a copy of Dragon Warrior II for the NES for 9 bucks with shipping two days ago on eBay. From what I gather, I got it for a steal. I am also seriously considering buying an FC Twin to play my NES games more reliably as well (Ironically enough, Dragon Warrior II is one of like 7 games that aren't playable on it - irony! No biggie though - I really just want to play Crytalis and some of the other games I've gotten at the resale shop on the cheap.)

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Crystal Chronicles and Mario Tennis

(Note: This post was typed in a text file on my laptop while the power was out last night, so it is incomplete in places, because I couldn't look up information on the Net to supplement it, but I've decided to post it here as is anyway.)

Final Fantasy Fables: Chocobo's Dungeon looks to be another fantastic mystery dungeon game, of which I will probably purchase when I get the cash. I played it with a friend today, who I also played Final Fantasy: Crystal Chronicles for the first time with.

It is Crystal Chronicles that I'd like to take a look at today. It is an odd game, one which we probably may not see the likes of again – as you may be aware, to actually play this game multiplayer (really the only way to play it), you must have a Gamecube (or a Wii), a Game Boy Advance for every player, and a Gamecube to Game Boy Advance adapter for every player as well. That's quite expensive, really.

But it's worth it. It's an experience I've not quite been able to think of a comparison for. Phantasy Star Online was similar, but not quite as fun as Crystal Chronicles. Having your own menu for item management and whatnot is pretty fantastic. My character is a Black Mage, and while he is weird looking, he is fun as hell to play. We only played for maybe two hours or so (we have completed the first year and a mission from the second year) and since my power has been out since about ten minutes after we shut the game off, I have some questions about it that haven't been able to look up the answers to online.

For example: is there a way to keep a spell after a mission? My buddy's character can keep his weapons, but I can't keep my Fire/Blizzard/Thunder? I may just be misunderstanding how the game works, though.

Same thing with items: I have quite a few that I have no idea what to do with. Iron shards, Iron, etc. all seem to go towards making custom items at the Blacksmith in the town, but apparently I don't need the iron shards yet? I guess I don't have any items that require it yet.

Regardless, I had a blast playing it today. Hopefully I'll be able to play more of it soon. In the meantime, there's always Shiren, and another game I've had laying around for a couple weeks – Mario Tennis for the Game Boy Color.

I forgot how good Mario Tennis was. I know I liked it quite a bit in like ninth grade (eight years ago – damn!), but I had somehow forgotten how deep the gameplay really goes. What you do in this game is actually create your own character and try to play your way through a tennis academy to become the top tennis player there, to eventually challenge the champions of the world (Mario and friends, of course). You do this by playing tennis matches against other players and leveling up your character (by choosing, at each level up, whether to upgrade Spin, Speed, Power, or Control). Since the power went out, I've been playing it for three hours now, and I'm halfway through the senior class, at like level 19 or so.

I also have Mario Golf for the Game Boy Color. And I'm having trouble putting. I can drive and chip fantastically, but I just can't read the goddamn greens in this game for shit, which of course kills my game. I haven't even made it through a course yet (mostly because I get six or seven holes into it before my shitty putting skills get me a double or triple bogey and I get pissed and shut the game off). If I could learn how to putt, I bet this game would be just as good as Mario Tennis.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Roguelikes Are Effing Awesome

Holy shit, it's been a month since I last posted here. I guess that's what I get for working a lot and not playing too many games.

I beat Pokemon Mystery Dungeon: Explorers of Darkness, and for my birthday last week I got Mystery Dungeon: Shiren the Wanderer for the DS. Since I didn't post anything about either game yet, I will compare and contrast them both.

I will start by saying this: I'm glad I played the Pokemon version first. I enjoyed it, quite a bit in fact, and will probably get Blue Rescue Team soon, but Shiren is better.

Anyway, so Pokemon Mystery Dungeon and Shiren the Wanderer are both RPGs based on the ancient computer based game called Rogue (which makes them roguelikes). When your character moves, your allies and everything else on the floor of the dungeon your on moves as well. In other words, its not necessarily real time because nothing else will act until you do. Basically, each time you move, attack, use an item, or cast a spell or whatever, you spend your turn, and then the enemies will all do the same: either they will move towards you, run away from you, attack, cast a spell, etc. and so on. And from what I gather on the ol' Internets, roguelikes aren't very popular here in America.

I can sort of see why not, because they are balls hard and sometimes can seem unfair. Shiren in particular is brutal, because when you die (which will happen, quite a bit), you lose all of your items, money, and (here's the kicker) experience points. That's right. All of them. Back to level 1 for you. However, you can store items and (in Pokemons case) money in warehouses in between dungeon runs.

I guess now is a good time to point out the differences between the two games, since I've already begun to. In Pokemon, when you die, you lose all your items and money, but retain your experience. In Shiren, you lose everything. In Pokemon, you can save money in between missions, but when you die in Shiren, you lose all of it, because you can't store it anywhere. In Pokemon, you can store hundreds of items (eventually) in your warehouse, but in Shiren, you can store probably no more than 15 items in each warehouse (they vary in size). In Pokemon, there are like 40 different dungeons with various numbers of floors in them (usually between 10 and 25), whereas Shiren's entire game is a single, 30ish floor dungeon. Did I mention that when you die in Shiren, you go all the way back to the town before the first floor? In Pokemon, when you die, you only need to restart the particular dungeon you were on over. Also, in Pokemon, you can keep earning extra carrying space for items (I had six pages worth of storage when I stopped playing, and I think you can get more), whereas in Shiren, you get two pages max. (Although the game has Jars, which let you pack more items inside them, so you aren't completely fucked). Also, in Shiren, you don't always know what item you pick up, because it could be anything from a Katana +5 to a cursed (which means you can't unequip it) Cudgel -7. Pokemon doesn't do that, however.

You are probably thinking that Shiren sounds extremely restrictive and difficult, while Pokemon is more balanced and easy, and you are partially correct. As you may recall from the beginning of this post, I said that Shiren is the better game. (Again, though, they are both fun as hell.) The main reason why is that when I finally do beat Shiren, I will feel like I accomplished something a hell of a lot more impressive then when I beat Pokemon, since Shiren is so much harder. I've read reviews of both games, and in a post on Jeremy Parish's website GameSpite, he put it perfectly: " never once feel like you've been screwed over by the game. When you die in Shiren, it's your own fault: you didn't play it right, you could have avoided failure. But no. You blew it." This is probably the truest statement about the game: every time I have ever died has been the result of me being too greedy, too ambitious, or just plain stupid. (The only possible exception to this rule is Monster Houses, which are basically rooms packed full of viciously powerful monsters, but really, you should be prepared for those with a Scroll of Sleep or Scroll of Confusion, anyway.)

In Pokemon, you get stronger by leveling your characters up, but you always have to worry about type advantages (like any good Pokemon game does). For example, my starting character was Torchic, a fire Pokemon. So anytime I saw a water Pokemon, I would let my partner, Bulbasaur (a grass type), take care of it, since he had type advantage over them. Conversely, when I saw grass type, bug type, or steel type Pokemon, I would send a quick Flamethrower their way, and watch as they died (usually) instantly.

In Shiren, you can level up by gaining experience, but since you can always lose that, you should level up your weapons. Right now, I am leveling up a Master Sword (no relation to Zelda, of course) and a Armor Ward. I found them both with no bonus attributes, and now, they are Master Sword +36 and Armor Ward +23, and also both cannot be rusted by enemies or traps (when a monster or trap tries to rust a weapon, it takes a couple of bonus attribute points off, and those are fucking precious, so I used a Plating Scroll on these weapons ASAP). They aren't complete yet, but boy, are they precious. If I died with these weapons, I would probably be pissed off for days.

...Thank god for a feature present in both games: the ability to rescue other Pokemon/Wanderers. Since Chunsoft made both games, they share the ability to let people go out and save other people who have died in dungeons who don't want to lose their precious items. I never used the feature in Pokemon, but I've used it once in Shiren, and although I had to wait a day and a half before someone finally rescued me, it was worth it: I was able to save my Happy Armband, which gives you experience points while simply walking (as you could guess, this is a pretty goddamn awesome item). So you better believe that if I die while toting my precious Master Sword +36 and Armor Ward +23, that I will be sending out a request and waiting as long as it takes to get those items back.

Shit. I should explain how you level up your weapons in Shiren. You can either pay a blacksmith 1000 gitans (the money in Shiren) to level up your weapon, or use items called Air Bless Scrolls and Earth Bless Scrolls, which level up weapons and shields, respectively. For my two items, I've used both. Both of my weapons are sitting in a warehouse in Mountaintop Town, though, so I don't risk losing them because I'm not paying attention or something.

Jesus, I'll have to cut this post off. I haven't even discussed half of the things I want to talk about yet, and it's already like ten pages long. More to come.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

If you've been wondering where I've been...

Pokemon Mystery Dungeon: Explorers of Time/Darkness for DS. Go get it. Now. I have to go, I'm wasting precious playing time.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Sonic the Hedgehog: Part 2

I really don't know whether to call Sonic the Hedgehog 2 my favorite in the series or not. If Sonic 3 and Knuckles together are considered one game, than THAT is the best, but separate, they are too short. Plus, Sonic 2 has some great levels, and some great music...

Sonic 2 is the first game in the series to do away with 3 act Zones - it's a blessing and a curse, in my opinion. There are far more zones in this game than in the first, but you only get two levels of each (besides Metropolis Zone and the later levels), which is good for zones that suck (such as Labyrinth Zone from the first Sonic, or Oil Ocean Zone from this one) but bad for zones that are amazing (Casino Night Zone could be ten levels long and I wouldn't get enough of it).

Anyway, the game starts out with Emerald Hill Zone, which, like in all Genesis Sonic games, is grassy, green, and easy. There are a lot of loops, hills, and jumps, which make for good Sonic levels, in my opinion. Probably the only complaint I have about this zone is the annoying monkeys who always throw coconuts at the exact height you always are hitting them at. But, you get used to it and know when to attack, so they quickly stop being a problem.

The easy, rolling hills of emerald are gone for the second area, Chemical Plant Zone. I have mixed feelings about this zone - the first act is great, with plenty of loops and not a ton of those annoying tunnel things that take too long. The second act has a ton of those annoying tunnels, and a section near the end that consists of climbing up these rotating blocks - while underwater, with no air bubbles in sight. Immediately after this is a section where you must make a tricky jump, and if you miss, you have to do the underwater block climb again, but you're more likely to drown at this point because the water is higher.

Allow me to break it down for anyone who hasn't caught on to my point yet: UNDERWATER AREAS IN SONIC GAMES SUCK BALLS.

And if you are already sick of water? Too bad: next up, Aquatic Ruin Zone! Half of the zone is underwater, and half is not - the first act isn't bad because other than one short part, the underwater section is entirely optional. The second act has a tricky jump at the beginning, which, if you miss, means you must spend pretty much the rest of the level underwater, grabbing air bubbles along the way and dodging underwater arrows. You can get through the level while staying above water for most of the time, though, which makes this zone one of the better Sonic water levels.

After a decent boss fight, you get to enter what may very well be my favorite Sonic zone of all time: Casino Night Zone. There are pinball flippers, bumpers, neon lights, springs, springs that you have to hold the jump button down to send Sonic flying really high, and slot machines that can give Sonic a ton of rings. Both acts in this zone are fantastic - they are great to navigate and allow for some amusing distractions. It's really too bad you are limited to 9:59, because I have spent more than that in both of those zones, just playing slots and bouncing around before. God, what a great zone. I finished the first act with 237 rings, and the second one with 247. And that was just playing the slots a few times - I could've kept playing, but knew I was going to beat the game, so I moved on. (As an aside, it's too bad the Sonic pinball game they made, Sonic Spinball, controlled like shit - if it controlled like in Sonic 2, that game would've been infinitely more playable.)

After the Casino Night, we return to the great outdoors for the Hill Top Zone. I'm not quite sure why, but this zone has always seemed weird to me - it's too easy to be this late in the game. I think it and Aquatic Ruin could be switched, and it would make more sense. Oh well. It isn't a bad zone, not at all. There are some areas where there are earthquakes, and they could prove challenging to some people, I guess.

Next we enter the Mystic Cave Zone. I would just like to say that the music for this level may be some of my favorite in the game - although Metropolis Zone is awesome as well. This level has these little firefly bastards who are probably the most annoying enemy in the game - they become invulnerable just when Sonic is about to reach them, causing the player to lose all his rings. There is also a glitchy spike pit near the end of Act 2 that I've died in many times. What happens is that you pull this switch so a bridge comes down, but when you jump off the switch, Sonic just drops straight down sometimes, right into the goddamn inescapable pit. Also, if you die on the boss, you get to fight him with no rings until you beat him - they put the continue pole at the bottom of a jump where theres no rings - fun!

Next we enter the most bland, boring zone in the game - Oil Ocean Zone. The level is like a huge, boring ass maze. Sonic barely builds up speed in this zone - except for when he is shot about by the cannons, but the player doesn't control those anyway so they are pointless to me, and holy shit are there plenty of cannons. There are also these annoying floating sea horses that shoot bullets sometimes rapidly at you, which annoy the piss out of me as well.

Next up, the three act long Metropolis Zone. I would just like to say that I appreciate the reference to Fritz Lang's 1927 silent movie, Metropolis. After having seen the movie in a recent class, parts of Metropolis Zone remind me of the worker's section of the city from the movie. The Sonic zone, though, isn't quite perfect - the exploding star fish are annoying as fucking hell, and the parts where you have to run up and down these goofy screw things take forever. The boss of this zone is difficult as well, and you will get hit plenty of times trying to defeat him. Overall, though, the 3 acts don't disappoint.

I guess at this point Tails remembers he has a plane, so he and Sonic take to the skies to chase down Robotnik in the Sky Chase Zone. Why they didn't just fly over the previous levels to chase Robotnik, I don't know, but whatever. This zone is only one act long (although I consider the next zone to be an extension of it), but that is good because the plane gimmick gets annoying about halfway through the level. It is slow paced and boring, so I guess the programmers decided to just move on and make a regular Sonic level.

Which is a good thing too, because Wing Fortress Zone is fantastic. You are climbing the outside of this huge airship to get to the cockpit to fight Robotnik, and there is this huge sense of height to the level since there are plenty of parts where you can fall to an instant death. Once you beat Robotnik, Sonic chases him to his space station, the Death Egg (a reference to the Death Star, which it even looks like in later games).

I would just like to point out that Sonic can drown while underwater, but he can ride on the outside of a ship all the way into a space station without choking - what the fuck is up with that? I should at least get the drowning 5 second counter right before he docks, just to keep accurate.

Anyway, you have to fight two bosses, Metal Sonic, and a giant robot that looks like Robotnik to beat the game. Like in the last Sonic game, you get no rings to do it, which is quite difficult given the task.

Regardless, I would say that Sonic the Hedgehog 2 is a solid improvement on the first Sonic game, which was already pretty good to begin with. Hopefully within the next couple of days, I'll play through Sonic 3, so I'll see you then.

Sonic the Hedgehog: Part 1

I decided since I haven't gotten my goddamn Kirby 2 yet that I'd play another game I've had for a while. I'm going to be playing through the four main Genesis Sonic games (Sonic 1, 2, 3, and Knuckles) and writing about them here.

Sonic the Hedgehog caused me to forgo getting a SNES when I was a kid. I wanted his games, because he was really fast and cool, and Mario seemed fat and slow in comparison (since then, I've realized that the Mario games are really the better games, and they are just as fun to try to run through as fast as Mario's fat ass can). I sold my NES and all my games and got myself a Genesis.

And holy shit was the difference amazing. I went from basic 8-bit, limited palette NES games to the lush, awesome looking world of 16 bits, with Sonic blazing by. The trees, man - they looked 3-D! At least in the first level, anyway.

Green Hill Zone is a pretty good set of levels. I may as well say now that Sonic 1 is the only game in the four games I'll be playing that have 3 levels in each zone - something I missed in all the others. Anyway, Green Hill Zone fits the description of what I would call a good Sonic level - it is fast, there are few breakups in the speed, and there are rings aplenty. Obviously, being the first level makes it easy as hell, but that's OK.

The level design takes a bit of a dive in the second area, Marble Zone, though. The level begins pretty good, you are running fast and jumping over small pools of lava, thinking to yourself that you're on board so far, and then, all of a sudden, WHAM. You hit a wall. And you have to descend into this annoying, slow-paced crawl through this goofy dungeon that looks somewhat like a lava-filled slaughterhouse. Sounds cool? It certainly does, but it doesn't belong in a Sonic game. What the fuck the designers were thinking here, I don't know. It's like they decided to make a really fast paced game, but figured that the game should be more like Mario, who was obviously who Sonic was designed to compete against. Only it's not fun. In fact, it sucks, especially after the fast paced first zone. Although the fourth zone is the worst, but we'll get to that later. This is also the first level you are introduced to the exploding robotic worms, who, once exploded, bounce all over the fucking place and will CHASE YOU ACROSS PLATFORMS until they go off screen. Say goodbye to your rings.

The third zone, Spring Yard Zone, begins what I believe to be a "tradition" in the first three Sonic Genesis games: a casino level (Sonic and Knuckles doesn't have one). This zone gets back to what I believe to be a good Sonic zone - fast paced and fun. That is, except for the annoying elevator parts. You have to jump between these stupid, slow moving elevators to get through the levels, and they take for fucking ever to move. I also noticed there are a series of odd words in the background - "UP ON CPU" in some areas. I don't know what this actually means, but I would think it'd be pretty cool if it was a jab at Nintendo, with Sega having released the Genesis while the NES was still Nintendo's main console.

And then, theres Labyrinth Zone. There are some bad levels in the first four Sonic games, but this zone is the absolute worst. Take everything you know and love about Sonic games and just flush it down the shitter when you get here. You have to go underwater, where Sonic becomes slow as hell (even Mario's fat ass moves faster underwater in HIS games!) and get this - you can even drown. In the NES and SNES Mario games, Mario couldn't drown. Sonic can fucking drown. And he continues to drown throughout all four Genesis games. I'm no game designer, but that's fucking stupid. "Let's make a game all about speed; then, more than halfway through the game, let's include a level explicitly designed to cause players to move through it exceptionally slowly - but if they don't move fast enough, they will FUCKING DIE! ...Unless they reach some bubbles. But let's not make the bubbles just be there when you reach them - no fucking way. Let's make the players wait, sometimes awhile while watching a fucking countdown to their DEATH, before a bubble comes." And they put in these gargoyle heads that shoot out deadly red spit bullets at random goddamn intervals - sometimes a split second after one another! Jesus, give me more of that! And the boss for this zone is a good idea, but because of all the things I just listed about this zone, he sucks. Also, if you die on the boss, you have to fight him with no rings, no air bubbles (if the water catches up to you) and have to dodge spears and gargoyle spit! Fuck Labyrinth Zone to the depths of hell.

After that miserable pile of shit zone, you get Star Light Zone, which in my opinion is the best zone in the game. Sonic gets his speed back here, and there's loops and spins and all that good shit. It's funny, I have very few complaints about this zone - it's really well done and is pretty much exactly how a Sonic level should be. Even the boss is pretty fun - you have to shoot either Sonic or these little spiky balls up at Robotnik by flinging them with see-saws. Pretty good shit.

Then there is the last zone, Scrap Brain Zone. It's a tough level, and I've lost many lives here whenever I play through Sonic 1, but I stand by the design. You can get lost, and you can get killed pretty easy, but if you know what you're doing, you'll be fine. The third act is pretty short because of a cool shortcut - if you miss it, it's more delicious Labyrinth Zone shit for you. Hell, even if you make it, you have some Labyrinth Zone shit.

Then there's the final boss, and it is here that the tradition is born where you don't get any fucking rings to fight him with. He shoots electricity at you when he is offscreen, then when he tries to crush you, you can dodge him then hit him as well. It can be tough, but once you beat him, you complete the game. Sonic is running back through Green Hill Zone (which now has purple flowers rather than yellow and green, for some reason) with some animal buddies, and you get a short screen if you either did get all the chaos emeralds or didn't (Robotnik is holding the remaining ones and laughing at you if you didn't).

Sonic the Hedgehog is a great game. There are swings and misses, but overall it is a fun playthrough. It's too bad you don't get to use the Spin Dash in this game, but oh well - it would be weird here anyway. (Although I hear that in the GBA remake, they put in spin dashing - too bad that version was ported so shitty.)

Stay tuned for a Sonic the Hedgehog 2 post.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Another lucky find, but still no Kirby, dammit

My goddamn Kirby's Dreamland 2 still hasn't come yet. I emailed the seller yesterday, but I haven't heard from him since. I really want to play that damned game.

But, unfortunately, I can't. I did, however, pick up a copy of Super Mario All Stars + Super Mario World for the SNES today, for five bucks. Apparently, somebody thought it was some sort of chicken wing, because it was dipped in barbecue sauce. No kidding - I reeked of barbecue sauce by the time I had finished cleaning it, and I had to shower because I had no idea where the barbecue sauce came from or how long it had been on, in, and all over the cartridge. Miraculously, though, none of the sauce had gotten on the sticker, so now it looks like I have a damn clean, fine cartridge which as of right now, is selling for 16 bucks minimum with a day left to go on eBay.

I swear, one of these days I'm going to go in there and find a 1990 Nintendo World Championship cartridge and I will shit myself on the spot. It'll probably be dipped in Honey Mustard sauce and have teeth marks in it, but oh well.

Anyway, I played through and beat Mario 2, which I haven't done in a couple years. I had no problem this time - I believe I died a few times in World 6, but that was from carelessness on my part. I had a pretty good time playing it. When I was a kid, the game seemed so ridiculously hard to me, that I would basically make it to the warp to World 4 and then lose all my lives. Even Wart wasn't a problem for me - I believe I died on him maybe twice, which for me is good because I could never beat the fucker as a kid.

There are some elements of Mario 2 I'd love to see make a comeback, though. The little Ninja guys (who I would love to link you to, but I can't remember their name nor have the patience to try to really search Google to find them) would be awesome enemies to chase Mario around in his next 3d game. Or perhaps New Super Mario Bros. 2 (god damn, I still hate that name) will have them in it. Killing Birdo like 20 times throughout a game is never a negative thing, either. I don't want to be able to pick up enemies by standing on their heads, but I do like being able to pick up vegetables out of nowhere and throw them at enemies. Also, some of the bosses would be sweet to fight again, perhaps in 3d as well (Fryguy comes to mind).

Anyway, its a good game, but I have little else to say about it. I want my fucking Kirby's Dreamland 2.


Maybe tomorrow.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Wario Land II: The Final Post

Hooray, I have the internet again! I can now update my freaking blog.

Anyway, so I finally beat Wario Land II 100%. I wasn't sure if I was going to do it, since at first I didn't really like the game. My biggest complaint remains: on your first playthrough, you are limited to whatever "story" path you chose. If you could pick the level (like every other Wario Land besides the Virtual Boy one), this game might be better than the original Wario Land (but still not quite as good as 3).

There were some very, very annoying bosses in this game, however. For me, the only tough one in Wario Land 3 was the soccer bunny. Wario Land 1 had some stupid boss fights as well, though. In general, it seems like I don't really like most of the boss fights in the Wario series - its too easy to fuck up and have to restart the battle. Perhaps that could be avoided if any hits you land on a boss are kept even if you leave the room, but that kinda goes against the nature of Wario Land II (if you get hit, you don't die). Perhaps the game would be too easy, then.

Well, it'd be a lot less annoying.

The minigames still suck, and I don't like how the amount of coins you have when you beat the game doesn't affect the ending at all. In fact, the only thing coins are used for is for paying for the minigames, like in Wario Land 3. Somewhat disappointing, I guess. I played some Wario Land 1 last night, and I think it's version of getting treasure (or Wario Land 3) is still the best - you play a level, find a key, and bring the key to the chest. You don't have to play any stupid minigames to get the treasure.

Overall, I think my list from this post remains intact: Wario Land II isn't quite as good as 1 or 3, but it's damn close - meaning it's a great game. Playing through all these Wario Land games makes me somewhat sad, though. The DS Wario was terrible, and I doubt they'll attempt to make a traditional Wario Land game again. I mean, I like Warioware (somewhat), but there really isn't much out there like the first three Wario Land games. C'mon, Nintendo, make another one. Please?

(Click here for my first Wario Land 2 post) (Post 2) (Post 3) (Post 4)

Friday, May 23, 2008

Wario Land 2: "Endgame" Part I

So I picked up Wario Land II again, and the "endgame" continues to be amazing. Now that I can pick and choose levels, I can avoid levels I hate and only play fun ones. I've also noticed, since playing these new levels, that I seem to have chosen the path with the most annoying levels possible. Granted, if I want to get all the treasures (which, at this point, I would like to), I'll have to replay many of them. Oh well. The only levels that I really dislike are the ones in which there are invisible blocks and I have to either hit a light switch to see them (which usually makes other blocks invisible) or the ones with extremely annoying boss fights.

The path I am playing through now involves Wario needing to retake his castle after it had been invaded since the alarm clock (thrown in his castle by Captain Syrup at the beginning of the game) didn't wake him up. I think this is an awesome path, probably because it completely ignores the "story" of the rest of the game and imparts its own little "tale." I have but two more levels of it to go, and I am really enjoying it thus far.

I've seen a couple of the other "story branches," and they are somewhat interesting, but since I hadn't played the level previous to it in the "story" I don't remember how dramatic of a change is involved. The levels I've played so far are pretty good, though.

(I keep putting words like "story" and "tale" and "story branches" in quotes because the "story" to Wario Land II is pretty damn ridiculous and I feel stupid calling it a "story.")

Oh! And I've discovered how to deal with the annoying slug fuckers. Rather than continue to fight them, you wait until they are done freaking the fuck out, and then you can just walk up to them and charge into them, with no problem. What I kept doing was trying to keep attacking them, and if you keep doing it without pause, they keep freaking the fuck out, which means you can't kill them and you lose a fuckton of coins.

So it appears as though I will be attempting to beat Wario Land II as I play through Shadowrun. When Kirby's Dreamland 2 comes in the mail (probably any day now), that will probably be added to my "now playing" queue. Shadowrun is my top priority right now, though, so I will be finishing that eventually, but if I need a break I'll probably play something else. And when Kirby does come, I'll probably be fascinated with that for a day. Good ol' A.D.D.

(Click here for my first Wario Land 2 post) (Post 2) (Post 3)

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Shadowrun: There's Always Something to Do in Seattle

Shadowrun is not perfect, but it is quickly becoming one of my favorite games ever. Here is a laundry list of only some of the things I've done so far in this game:
  • Woken up in a drawer in a morgue
  • Have both talked to and killed Orcs (with a gun!)
  • Slept in an apartment, a motel, and outside between a kitchen sink and a broken car
  • Stood in one place and got shot repeatedly with a machine gun, and won the fight
  • Connected my head to a computer and wandered around inside
  • Stolen money by hacking into said computer
  • Killed a shapeshifting octopus
  • Carry a strobe light around, and flash it at people
  • Drove a stake through a vampires heart, three times
And probably the cruelest thing I've done in a videogame, maybe ever:
  • Shot and killed a lonely, innocent woman dancing by herself in a club for no reason other than my entertainment
I really am enjoying this game. There are some parts where I have no idea what to do or who to talk to (or how to kill these annoying piles of slime on the fucking boat!), but man, it's great when I figure it out and move on. Hell, just wandering around the levels and killing whoever shoots at me (and boy, there are a lot of people that want to kill me) is fun.

I have no idea how far I am through the game (Mario RPG was easy to separate into sections because of the stars), so I guess I'll just continue to post until I beat it. Which I hope is a while away, because the game is a blast so far.

I can't believe I just killed a vampire in the same game that I can hack into a computer and steal money. This game is so cool.

(Click here for my first Shadowrun post) (Second Post)

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Shadowrun: Committing Identity Theft Since 1993

Holy shit Shadowrun is amazing. I've gotten quite a bit farther than my last post - fitting, as its really all I've done all day. I got the tickets, got in to the Cage, and did a whole bunch of other shit and I can now access a whole bunch more. I basically just deactivated the bomb in my head that I just found out about, by going Downtown and talking to Dr. Maplethorpe.

The fighting in the game, from what I've done so far, is fantastic. As you level up your Firearms skill, you become more and more accurate and the fights don't last so ridiculously long as they used to. I am now equipped with a T-250 Shotgun and some sort of level 2 armor. The next place I have to go to is Matrix Systems, apparently down by the docks.

Speaking of the Matrix, I've jacked in. It's very odd; the graphics aren't isometric in the Matrix, they are completely overhead, and simplified immensely. It appears as though the goal of the Matrix in this game is simple puzzles designed to hide data; if you stroll through a maze incorrectly, you take damage, which translates over to the real world. The nice part is that you can "jack out" whenever you want by pressing X. I've only entered the Matrix twice so far, and I've managed to transfer funds from some other guys account to my own! I basically just hacked some Glutman guys bank account and took money from him, because he is a bastard and I want his money. I think I love this game. It's really sweet that back in 1993, some videogame programmers had the idea to allow identity theft in their game.

Anyway, the music isn't as repetitive as I mentioned in my last post. It changes basically whenever you enter a new area. The part about missing items hasn't happened to me since I missed the scalpel in the first room of the game, so long ago, so that doesn't seem to be much of a problem either. I have yet to see magic; apparently I could buy some earlier, near the Caryards, but I didn't because I spent my money on my Shotgun and armor, plus I didn't know what each Talisman did, so I wasn't going to waste my money. I still haven't hired a Shadowrunner; I haven't seen the need, yet, and they are somewhat expensive as well.

But this game is good. I'm surprised I had never really heard of it. I don't know if it just had a limited print run, or if it was advertised crappily, or what, but I wish more people would have played it. Unless the game gets really retarded soon, it is a fantastic RPG hybrid that I think will go down in my books as one of the better SNES games.

(Click here for my first Shadowrun post)

Monday, May 19, 2008

Shadowrun is Pretty Cool

So, I'm very glad I picked up Shadowrun.

It remains interesting, and I know that I'm not very far at all - I only recently acquired a weapon and figured out how to fire it. Since I've gotten it, I've been killing enemies and getting as much "karma" as I can (apparently karma increases my stats - I've spent a few on Strength and Firepower). I don't really know where to go next - I guess I have to get some Tickets to enter the Cage? There are quite a few people to talk to and even more keywords I can use on them.

I suppose I should describe the game to those who have never heard of it. Shadowrun is a 1993 SNES game, controlled from an isometric perspective in which your main character can examine his surroundings by bringing up a cursor, in real time, and clicking on points of interest. This allows you to pick up items, talk to people, and examine things so you can figure out where to go next. The combat works similarly - you point the weapon cursor at the enemy you want to attack and pound away on the A button, which fires your weapon. There is also magic, which probably works similarly, but I don't have any yet, so I've not seen it. Shadowrun is basically an amalgam of Phoenix Wright, Final Fantasy, King's Quest, and perhaps just a touch of Zelda. It isn't extremely well polished - the game basically throws you in and lets you fend for yourself with no idea of what your goals are and any clues you might receive end up being cryptic at best - but that doesn't matter because its presentation is so interesting.

The graphics are a little dated, but they work, and the only real complaint I have about them is it is sometimes difficult to see items you have to pick up because they are so small. I missed the Scalpel (in the first room of the game, no less!) for a long time because of this. The music is a little repetitive, but I think that's only because I only have access to such a small portion of the game so far.

And apparently, you can enter the Matrix in this game. I have no idea if it is anything like the movies of the same name (I doubt it), but boy, when I saw that you can "jack in" to it via some sort of device on your head I was very interested. Perhaps the Matrix movies are somehow based on the Shadowrun universe? Doubtful at best, since I really have no idea how it works in the game and since I was obsessed with the movies when they came out, and I probably would have noticed it somewhere if Wikipedia or something mentioned it. Regardless, I remain intrigued about this game. I don't think it will be my absolute focus over the next couple of weeks (I did just order Kirby's Dreamland 2 online, and I'm very excited to play it soon), but I will see how it goes. You can't beat 5 bucks for a game like this, though, ever.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Rabbids Don't Write in Blogs

So I picked up Rayman: Raving Rabbids for the Wii today. A coworker of mine hated it and sold it to me for ten bucks, with original case, booklet, and disc all in great condition. I figured, why not? I played it (briefly) when it first came out and it seemed alright, so I got it.

As a giant mini game collection is expected, it has plenty of different things to do in it. Some of the minigames are fun as hell (like the music minigame, where you have to keep the beat by shaking the Wiimote/nunchuk at the right time), while others are just plain annoying (the cow throwing game or the keep the bathroom doors shut game). So far, the game's presentation is minimalist, but good - Rayman is stuck in a prison cell and can only get out by performing for the Rabbids various games. There is no dialogue, just grunts and groans (and brilliant screams) from the Rabbids, and the occasional "Hmm..." from Rayman himself.

I am not aware of how many different minigames there are, and it appears as though the game will be short - but what should I expect, this being a minigame collection? I'm glad I picked it up, but its true worth will be when I see if my girlfriends brother likes it. If I can play this multiplayer, it could be fun - could I even get my girlfriend to enjoy it? Probably not, but its worth a shot.

I also did end up picking up Shadowrun, Link to the Past, and Imperium, all for SNES, although I let my girlfriends brother have Zelda (it was the Player's Choice version, I want the regular, non-Players Choice cartridge). Imperium is a standard shoot-em-up, it seems alright but I doubt I'll play it too much (its just super, super rare so I thought for five bucks I might as well pick it up). Shadowrun is going to be excellent, I can tell, but it looks as though it'll take me awhile to learn the intricacies of it before I post about it here. It seems like a fairly ambitious game for a 1993 SNES game, so that's awesome. I'll post about that soon, though...

Thursday, May 15, 2008

So I just beat Wario Land II...

I hate that I haven't been able to update until now, but I just beat Wario Land II - and thank god. It gets much better after you beat it the first time. Once you beat the game, you are allowed to decide which level you play in order to obtain the treasure there, or start playing a branching path in the story, because there are apparently multiple endings - which is sweet.

The thing I didn't like about Wario Land II up until this point is that I was unable to choose my level. In the original Wario Land, if I was stuck on a level, I eventually had to beat it, but I could always go back and play some other level to find a treasure I missed or something. In Wario Land 3, I could go to pretty much any level and try to obtain a different treasure I might have missed, but again I would eventually have to beat whatever I was stuck on. Both Wario Land II and Virtual Boy Wario Land (from what I've played of it) suffer from this problem: I can't choose the level I want to play (although this is partially averted in Virtual Boy Wario Land, because I can just go backwards through a level to the elevator to the previous level). Wario Land II was pretty much the hardest Wario Land to get through for me, at least on the first try. However, now that I can choose the level, I may go through it again to see what it has to offer - I can't promise I'll post anything here or that I'll complete it, but again, I'm glad I got the game.

Besides that, the game played pretty well, and I recommend it to anyone who enjoys classic Wario games. I will say this though - from what I've played, the order of quality Wario games is as follows for me:

1. Wario Land 3 (I've beaten this 100%)
2. Wario Land 1 (I've beaten this 100%)
3. Wario Land 2 (I've beaten this, but not at 100% obviously)
4. Virtual Boy Wario Land (I'm at the end boss of my first playthrough)
5. Wario Land 4 (I haven't quite beaten this yet)
6. A rotten pile of dogshit
7. Wario: Master of Disguise

I realize that number six and seven are easily confused, but number six is definitely the better of the two.

Anyway, my two biggest problems with Wario Land II are, as mentioned before, the inability to choose my level, and as mentioned here, the shitty minigames. If those had been better, this game could've been better than the original.

Oh well. All of those games are good (save for Master of Disguise).

The resale shop I go to just got a copy of Shadowrun for the SNES in, and supposedly the guy is holding it for me. Hopefully he keeps his promise and I'm able to pick it up on Friday when I get my paycheck. I tried a bit of the game on an emulator, and it looks interesting - the GameFAQs reviews for it say its good, and its also somewhat rare, I understand. I've never played it before, so I may post about it here assuming I get it and the cartridge still saves correctly.

God, it was nice to write a post. Hopefully I can write another one Friday night if I get Shadowrun or something else.

(Click here for my first Wario Land II post) (Post 2)

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Game Droughts are a Bitch

God, I hate game droughts.

I'm playing through Puzzle Quest right now, and I'm having a great time playing it, but I don't really have much to say about it at this point. It remains fun, I still think people should play it, but as far as me writing another entertaining post about it? I don't think I could top this one.

Regardless, until I get my next paycheck on the 16th of May, it doesn't look like I'll be playing too many different games. I started a Resident Evil file yesterday, but I doubt I'll continue to play it - I've beaten it before, and it is a very frustrating game, what with it's limited inventory and limited saves. Limited goddamn saves should never be in any game, ever. They are fucking retarded.

Anyway, the posts here will probably be sparse until I get something new to play. Then, like usual, i will probably post ten posts in a single day. I'm still waiting on Mario Kart Wii and any of those games listed in the "Currently Looking For" column. I'd also like to order a new 72 pin connector for my NES so I can play some of those games again, on the original system - prompting, of course, more writing here. I would love to play the original Crystalis - I didn't think the Game Boy Color remake was that great. So, readers, if you do indeed exist, I will see you soon.

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Puzzle Quest: I Am the Rat King

If you haven't played Puzzle Quest, get off your ass. It's on like every system ever, so go get it.

Now that I understand how better to use my items, powers, and can more easily recognize patterns in gems, I can stop sucking ass at the game. In fact, I find myself playing battle after battle after battle, over and over again until I pass out and see nothing but colored gems in my dreams and can only think to myself upon awakening, "I need green mana..."

This game is rich. And what I mean by that is all the different ways matching up colored gems can be used to accomplish different things. Battles are the meat and potatoes of the game, but there are parts that I have only recently discovered. I have "captured" two different monsters: one, a Minotaur, who lets me learn his spell, and another, a Giant Rat, whom I have mounted and I now ride around like some sort of mangy, diseased God.

No, really. I ride a fucking rat to work everyday.

The rat allows me to use his spell as well, but I don't have to use up one of my six spell "slots" - apparently, your mount gets its own individual slot for a spell. I assume I can acquire different mounts throughout the game by capturing different things, thereby granting me better powers than "Rabid Bite" (not a joke - it's the rat's actual power).

Oh! I almost forgot to describe the capturing process. Instead of battling the rat until it died, I had to solve a puzzle clearing all the gems on screen (not a full boards worth, there was only like 20 gems). This is a unique little twist on the normal battle mode, and it is nice because (at least on what I've attempted to capture so far) you can try over and over again quickly. The only complaint I could find is that both the battle screen and the capture screen scream for a "Retry" button in the Pause Menu.

Anyway, the game is fucking amazing and you should play it.

(Click here for Puzzle Quest: I Suck at You)

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Final Mario RPG Impressions

Well, I beat Mario RPG just a couple minutes ago. This will be the last post about it here, so I'll try to address everything.


First, I'll talk about the rest of the game I haven't already written about. So I reached Nimbus Land (which is another dumb name - it sounds like an insult from Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure or something) and found out who Mallow's parents were (Surprise! He's a prince! How original - a character who doesn't know his parents at the beginning of the game who turns out to be royalty!). I fought a pretty lame boss (I can't even remember her name - it's the chick who declares herself queen of Nimbus Land) who I didn't like because it's never really explained why she came to power and how she fooled the inhabitants of Nimbus Land into thinking their King and Queen were sick.

Anyway, so after I fought her I had to go into a volcano to presumably lengthen the game. There really was no reason for it - they could've just given me the star after I beat Queen Forgettable. The guy I fought at the end of the volcano was just as forgettable anyway. After I beat him, I rode a cloud back to Bowser's lair and fought my way in.

Nothing really interesting happened until I got to the point where you have to go through six different doors to move on - two of the doors were battle doors, two were "action" doors (basically just jump your way through), and two were quiz doors (where you, duh, answer quiz questions about the game). The quizzes were fairly stupid sometimes, though - like "What was the first enemy you see in X Land?" There were some fairer questions like "What is the name of the boss in the pirate ship?" I could actually remember that one. Regardless, there was always a puzzle at the end of the quiz doors that was just ridiculously hard. One of them had me making balls jump over each other like checkers, until I only had one ball left. The best I could do was two. Oh, and if you fail? Start over!

Oh well. So after I beat that area, I had to fight a Magikoopa, who was pretty easy. After I beat him, he healed me and I was able to buy items from that crocodile guy, who apparently has reformed himself and is now selling items legit. Then, I fought the giant sword, who I thought was fairly tough.

It was at the sword that I realized Princess Peach is awesome. For four star power, she can heal your entire team for over 100 health. So, she and Bowser became my permanent team, which is sad because I really liked Geno's attacks.

So anyway, after the sword I had to fight my way through Smithy's factory. It was fairly boring, I thought, because I killed everything in my way with no problem until the final boss.

Smithy, the final boss, was kind of stupid. He was sort of a bumbling fool, which I was pretty surprised at. Knowing Square, I thought he would be a complete bad ass who knew exactly what he was doing and was extremely confident it would work. Problem is, this is a Mario game, and even in the later RPGs, the story isn't taken seriously.

Which is a double edged sword, because there were some pretty funny parts of Mario RPG. Bowser is usually pretty funny, because no one (save maybe the Toads) is really scared of him. Minor enemies always focus on Mario and Bowser gets upset and recites Haikus (not kidding - it's fucking hilarious).

Anyway, the ending was pretty sub-par. Yes, it was nice to see a short cameo of Luigi, but I didn't really like it. All the characters pretty much go their own ways without any extra context - they don't even say, "And so, Bowser rebuilt his castle," or "Geno went back to Star Road and nailed some hot Star Piece of ass," or anything. It's told with pictures, which I guess will do.

The battle system, to my surprise, remained fantastic throughout the game. I pretty much always had fun and I would only avoid battles when I knew I had to fight a really annoying enemy who only cast spells with really long animations. Otherwise, I would kill everything wherever I was at. I believe I finished the game with everyone at level 22.

Overall, the game was fantastic. I don't know where I'd put it compared to the other Mario RPG games - I still think the funniest was Superstar Saga, and Super Paper Mario and it's pseudo-RPG elements were a lot of fun as well. Hell, the battle systems in all of the games are pretty fun - I think I like Mario RPG's style just a little bit more than Thousand Year Door's and the original Paper Mario's system of only having two characters in play at a time. Either way, I will say this: the forty bucks I paid for Mario RPG was worth it, and I'll probably play through it again someday. Hopefully they release Mario RPG on Virtual Console soon, so more people can experience this fantastic game. Damn, what a long post.

(Click here for Part 1 of my Mario RPG Impressions) (Part 2) (Part 3) (Part 4) (Part 5) (Slightly Off Topic Rant) (First Mario RPG Post)

Monday, May 5, 2008

Mario RPG Impressions Part 5

So I'm still going after the sixth star. I had finally reached Monstro Town after wandering around Belome Temple for a long time trying to figure out which combination would get me to the right exit. Which is basically another type of Forest Maze, dammit. Regardless, I've noticed the battles are getting easier - not only that, I'm leveling up really fast as well. I don't know if I'm just underleveled (I haven't grinded at all yet in this game - which is odd because Squaresoft made it in the mid nineties, when they made you grind ten levels just to take a shit) or if I'm just fucking awesome at the game.

But, that's probably not the case because its getting easier. I just beat Birdo, with absolutely no problem at all (well, I think Geno got killed once, but that was because I entered the battle with low health). Perhaps Birdo was intended to be an easy boss or something, I don't know. I'm kind of thankful that I don't have to level up for hours to beat the game, though. The later Mario RPG games didn't make you do that either and they were better for it. I just think it's strange that Squaresoft made an RPG that didn't involve massive amounts of grinding (they even made you grind in the "made for America" Final Fantasy Mystic Quest which was released around the same time!).

Anyway, the next post or two will probably be my last for Mario RPG. It really depends on how they do the last star. If I get it in the last level then fight the last boss, I'll probably end with Part 6.

(Click here for Part 1 of my Mario RPG Impressions) (Part 2) (Part 3) (Part 4) (Slightly Off Topic Rant) (First Mario RPG Post)

Puzzle Quest: I Suck at You

So it's been three days since I last posted, I see. I have been playing games, but I've also been working and hanging out with my girlfriend who is having a rough couple of weeks. I'll probably write a post or two today, I don't know when I'll put them up though.

Anyway, so I took advantage of Gamestop's buy two get one free sale on used games on Friday and picked up a few. I got Final Fantasy III for DS, Puzzle Quest for DS (I got this version because I remember reading something in Penny Arcade that said the stylus was a better way to control it), and my free game was Resident Evil for the Gamecube. I haven't really gotten into Final Fantasy III yet, but Puzzle Quest is pretty good.

And totally fucking unfair at the same time. When I string together like two combos, the computer will go and get two four-in-a-rows, fourteen green mana, twenty seven blue mana, and seventy fucking three skulls, killing me in essentially a turn. I am stuck (no joke) on a Vampire Bat, and I think that is because I suck at this game. I've played plenty of random battles, so I've leveled up, but I think I need to learn what my powers do better before I am to continue. Puzzle Quest is so outside the normal range of games I play that it is like learning how to play games all over again. I should probably delete this post because I am embarrassed to explain how shitty I am at this game.

Fuck it. To tell you the truth, I really like the game and I want to get better, so I will, god dammit. The problem is, I've got plenty to play and I need to finish Mario RPG before I focus too much on Puzzle Quest. And I've largely ignored Wario Land II for a while, as well. And Mario Kart Wii is always around the corner when I get fifty bucks...

Friday, May 2, 2008

Mario RPG Impressions Part 4

So I now have 5 stars, having just beaten the Sunken Ship/Seaside Town area. I am now heading towards Land's End, presumably to purchase the most fashionable two piece bikini for Mario, which I hope comes in blue denim, of course.

Anyway, the area where I gathered the fifth star was... interesting. I liked the whole whirlpool thing, where I could go underwater and explore down there, while still jumping around and doing battles. What I didn't like was going back to Seaside Town to save and being confronted with a boss battle. Hoo-boy, that was fun! I had just fought Johnny, and he wasn't necessarily a bitch, but he was still a boss, and I used a few healing items during the battle, so when I reached Yaridovich, I had very few healing items left. I barely beat him (thank god, too - god knows how long I would've had to put the game down in anger had I lost) and was able to procure the fifth star for good.

Its at times like these that I really see the old Squaresoft shine through. No save points in between bosses (well, I may have been able to save, but I didn't think to check, so perhaps I'm just fucking stupid, which I admit is possible), fake treasure chest enemies that can kill your party in seconds, and common enemies that can take half your health in one hit if they do the right move. I love you so much, circa 1996 Square. You make me so goddamned happy.

Sarcasm aside, I had mixed feelings about the fifth star. Not as bad as Forest Maze, mind you, but not as good as Moleville, either. On to JCPenney! Er, I mean Marshall Fields! Oops, to Land's End! Whatever it is. The name would be cool if it weren't a fucking clothing brand.

(Click here for Part 1 of my Mario RPG Impressions) (Part 2) (Part 3) (Slightly Off-Topic Rant) (First Mario RPG Post)

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Mario RPG: Slightly Off-Topic Rant

I know Mario RPG is like 12 years old, but this is bullshit because I've seen it in recent games. By "it", I mean fake treasure chests. If i open a treasure chest, but it's actually a monster, that's ok, I guess, if a little stupid. But if the monster is ridiculously powerful and kills my party in just a few turns, that's retarded. And the one in Mario RPG wouldn't even let me run from it, for fucks sakes.

See, I could handle all the other enemies in the area, no problem. I even beat a boss before I encountered this guy. But this is just fucking stupid. He killed Mario, Bowser, and Geno very goddamn quickly. He even summoned little Goombas (four of them, dammit!) that did almost as much damage as he did!

Are the developers suggesting that I save before I open any treasure chest I find? Well, I'd love to, devs (well, actually, I wouldn't, but for the sake of the argument let's just continue)! But I can't, because I have to be at a save point and you won't let me save anywhere. So don't put stupid bullshit traps in your game that basically kill me instantly and erase tons of fucking time!


(Click here for Part 1 of my Mario RPG Impressions) (Part 2) (Part 3) (Intro Article)

Wario Land 2: I Hate the Slug

This guy can suck it:

He is a bastard. He's the only enemy in Wario Land 2 that I hate. I don't remember anything like him in Wario Land 1 or 3, so obviously the designers realized he was bullshit and took him out. The problem I have is this: he is almost impossible to kill reliably! Every other enemy is fairly easy to kill because their weak points are obvious. This guy seems to start his attack animation randomly, and if his mouth is facing you, he is invincible. And if you get hit? You lose like six coins. A bigger problem is that the designers always seem to place three or four of these guys in a row, in a small enclosed area. So, say goodbye to your coins.

Which brings me to a major problem I have with Wario Land 2. As I mentioned before, the minigames in this game aren't fun to begin with; what I failed to mention was that they are fucking expensive. 50 coins just to see one block of 9 for the game where you guess the number! That means you might have to spend 300 coins or more to figure out what the number is! This wouldn't be such a problem if you could PICK THE FUCKING BLOCK YOU WANT TO SEE! I think that would be fair, because it would make the game easier, yes, but it would still cost 50 goddamn coins for each flip. And the other minigame costs at least 100 coins to win, basically, because the "hard" setting, while cheapest, is also damn near impossible.

The main game remains pretty good, but so far I think I like the other Wario Land games better. Wario Land 1 focused on collecting coins and treasure within the level without minigames, and I think it seemed more focused than Wario Land 2. The third game, though, focused better on entering a level and solving a puzzle to get a treasure, and I think it was pulled off better than 2. Plus, whether you liked the golf minigame or not, you didn't have to play it in every fucking level like you do in with the minigames in Wario Land 2. The second game just seems unpolished compared to the other two; I would recommend them over this one. That's not to say this is a bad game, but it seems more like a mishmash of ideas that don't gel together perfectly.

(Click here for my first Wario Land 2 article)

Mario RPG Impressions Part 3

I really enjoyed Booster's Tower and the minigame after it. Actually, I think Booster was the funniest part of the whole game so far, because the guy is fucking stupid. Well, perhaps that's not right. I think he has Alzheimer's. He and his minions, the Snifits, all forget about anything that is right in front of them. Hell, Booster himself forgets Mario is his enemy, and actually gives him an item! Then, later, he suddenly remembers Mario and runs from him.

Alzheimer's in a videogame - that's a new one, if memory serves. (Amnesia doesn't count.)

Anyway, Star Hill was fairly lame, but I hated the way it looked as soon as I entered it, so I was happy to be done with it quickly. I'm done with the game for tonight, but I'll play more tomorrow.

(Click here for Part 2 of my Mario RPG Impressions)
(Click here for Part 1 of my Mario RPG Impressions)
(Click here for my first Mario RPG article)

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Mario RPG Impressions Part 2

Finally, another Mario RPG update, dammit.

I now have three stars, having just beaten Punchinello, and I just got Bowser on my team. Apparently, Peach is at the top of Booster Tower, where I'm heading next. I haven't gone inside yet, because I've decided to level up my characters so they are all around the same level, which at this moment happens to be 10.

I had stopped playing at the Forest Maze, because that area is bullshit. Easily my least favorite part of the game so far. I had no problem with it until the Lost Woods-ish part at the end, where you supposedly have to go left, left, straight, right. But you also have to follow Geno, then make some other weird turns, and I eventually had to look up where to go online because I was frustrated as hell, and even THAT didn't help because the people who wrote the FAQs on GameFAQs are fucking idiots who don't know how to write directions for an isometric perspective!

Let me spell that out for you. If a game is set up like Mario RPG, and you walk diagonally up, left, right, and down almost all the time, then guess what? When you are denoting turns (or exits), you say upper-right or lower-left! Not left, right, up, or down! When you say up, what the fuck does that mean?! Upper right, or upper left? So, suffice it to say, I eventually figured out where to go, but I don't remember what I did. But once I beat that fucking level, I resolved to never go back.

And what is it with the Lost Woods thing? It always seemed like lazy design to me (yes, even in the Zelda games). All the areas look the same, and I don't care if they are intended that way or not, it's not fun. It's annoying. I've seen it in multiple Zelda games, a couple Mario games (this one included), and probably a bunch of other ones too (Crystalis comes to mind). Developers: stop it. Nobody likes playing this; I hated wandering around for like an hour fighting annoying enemies (including Donkey Kong! Er, I mean, Guerrilla...). So fucking quit it.

Anyway, after I beat that area and got the second star, I went to Moleville and played through the mines there, and had a blast doing it. I actually enjoyed the fights, really with no complaints, even the boss was fun. And the mine cart ride afterwards using the Super Nintendo's Mode 7 was pretty sweet as well. I always love seeing Mode 7 stuff - it feels so outdated, it's awesome.

I'm still really enjoying the game, though. Very well done, and extremely playable, perhaps even as much as the later Mario RPG games - Forest Maze aside, of course.

(Click here for Part 1 of my Mario RPG Impressions)
(Click here for my first Mario RPG article)

Well that was fast... I have Wario Land 2 already

So on a whim, I went to my hometown's Gamestop today, before I picked my girlfriend up from work (her job is just a few doors down from Gamestop). I see a sign advertising 25% off Game Boy and Game Boy Color games, so I look at what they have, hoping to find either Kirby's Dreamland 2, Kid Icarus: Myths and Monsters, or Wario Land II.

Usually, it's the same old shit. A bunch of card games, perhaps a Tetris clone, maybe a Mario Land.

I got lucky, though. "Holy shit! They have Wario Land II!" It was listed as $9.99 as well, so I ended up paying about $7.50 because of the sale, which is about 5 dollars less than what was being asked at the eBay auction I was looking at.

So, I picked the game up and brought it home. I intend on playing through it, but there is a slight problem: it appears as though whoever previously owned this game didn't take proper care of it, because a tiny, tiny part of where the cartridge connects to the system appears to be slightly corroded. From what I've played so far, the game works, but I have had it delete my save once already (possibly due to my using an old Super Game Boy). Luckily, that file was deleted only about 5 levels in, so I started over on my Game Boy Player and have had pretty good luck so far. If I get far, though, and my save gets deleted, I probably will put the game down for a while - I can't stand replaying the same levels over and over again because the fucking game decided to delete itself.

Anyway, Wario Land II is a pretty cool game. It is like a combination of Wario Land 1 and Wario Land 3, and it is succulent. The invincibility and powers of Wario Land 3 combined with the linear level progression and the importance of coins of Wario Land 1 - seems like a pretty good combo so far.

I will say this, though: the minigames leave a lot to be desired. Ooh, guess the number! And try to figure out where this picture is if we show you for a split second! I may not have liked the golf minigame very much in Wario Land 3, but it beats the pants off these two.

Oh, and Zombie Wario can't jump in this one. Apparently, Zombie Wario got an upgrade for Wario Land 3.

Monday, April 28, 2008

The Last Wario Land 3 Post

Okay, so one more post before I take another break for a day or two of exam work.

I just got all 100 treasures in Wario Land 3, so I'm pretty much effectively done with it. I doubt I'll be getting all 8 coins in every level, because, well, I have other shit to play (namely, Super Mario RPG, which will now probably get my full attention unless I buy Mario Kart Wii soon).

Just a few closing thoughts on Wario Land 3:
  • Above the Clouds is an annoying fucking level. In fact, its the most annoying level in the game.
  • The last boss, to me, seems like an easier version of Donkey Kong GB's last boss, which I thought was odd. And somewhat lame. Granted, Wario Land 3 came out six years after that game, so I guess they assumed most people hadn't played both? Or it was just a coincidence? I don't know.
  • The music is very well done, which is something I don't think I've said before. I haven't played much of Wario Land II, but the Wario Land series overall has fantastic music, even though most of them are on the Game Boy.
  • The puzzles are great, as well, because they aren't super easy nor do they become incredibly frustrating (aside from climbing the clouds in Above the Clouds, as mentioned before).
  • The golf minigame is okay, but to me it seems tacked on. Sometimes, it seems as though the designed the holes merely to drain your coins (but I think thats just me - I tend to try to always hit the "ball" as hard as possible rather than aim my shot).
Anyway, I'm really glad I got the game and was able to play through it again. Playing it makes me long for another proper Wario Land (the DS's Master of Disguise was utter dogshit). As I seem to be doing lately, I'll probably be playing a series out of order - I'd like to pick up Wario Land II soon, as I'm eying some eBay auctions. The other game I'm looking at picking up is Kirby's Dreamland 2, which I have actually played through before, but it has been years and I barely remember it. Anyway, back to exam studying. See you Wednesday or Thursday.

(Click here to read my second Wario Land 3 article)
(Click here to read my first Wario Land 3 article)


I'll keep this short and sweet: once exams are over, I will be posting again, probably just as frequently or more frequently than I have been. So, on Wednesday or Thursday, expect another post.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Mario RPG Impressions Part 1

So I'm really enjoying Mario RPG so far. I can tell you, however, that it's very odd coming from playing all of the later Mario RPG games (Paper Mario, Mario & Luigi: Superstar Saga, Paper Mario: Thousand Year Door, Mario & Luigi Partners in Time, and Super Paper Mario) to this one.

I can see how Mario RPG influenced those games, though. As different as Mario RPG is from the others, the roots are there. The timed button presses, the witty dialogue, goofy situations, wierd minigames, and Mario character staples are all there.

But, Square's interpretation of the Mario RPG is much harder than the later games. I mean, this game is not too difficult (well, at least so far... I guess I'm only one star in), whereas the other games were pretty much a cakewalk. And as far as the humor so far goes, Superstar Saga is still the winner (really, for me, that's one of the funniest games of all time, all because of this guy. I can't get enough of him).

But I am still very happy with my purchase. Yes, it is partly because I own a game I've wanted for a while and it is one of the more moderately expensive SNES games, but it's also because I love the Mario RPG games and I want to play through the original.

I think I'm about to get Geno, which is cool, because people on the internet seem to love him, and I know nothing about him. I guess we'll see.

(Click here to read my first Mario RPG article)

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Super Mario RPG: Legend of the Seven Stars

I just sold a couple of Game Boy Colors to this goofy shop up here that has no idea how much stuff is worth, and I got 30 bucks. I then went to a different shop and picked up Super Mario RPG: Legend of the Seven Stars and paid ten more dollars and got Final Fantasy Legend II and Super Mario Land 1, both for Game Boy.

It's been a good day so far.

I'll be writing about these games as time goes on, as well. I've never played Mario RPG, so that one will be interesting.

Monday, April 21, 2008

It Would Be Super Effective

Wouldn't it be great if the Pokemon games had some sort of random element to them?

Okay, let me be more specific. What I would like is for when you start a new game in Pokemon, the game randomizes which Pokemon will appear where throughout your journey. Obviously, there would have to be some restrictions. I mean, if you were to run into, say, nothing but Pidgeys and Rattatas for three gyms, that would be unfair. But, if I started a new game in Pokemon Pearl, and after I obtain my first set of Pokeballs, would it not be sweet if I encountered a Gible? Sure, it'd mean I'd get a chance at some fantastic Pokemon right off the bat, but that would certainly encourage replay value, at least for me.

Plus, it would encourage trading, I think. I mean, if my friend and I are only two gyms in and I have a couple Gibles and he has a few Riolus, I would most certainly trade with him as soon as possible.

But this will never happen. It'd be too difficult, and really, how would you catch them all? All the FAQs online for finding Pokemon on specific routes would be useless. Still, it'd be great to have different Pokemon at the beginning to start out with...

Wario Land 3 = Fantastic

Wario Land 3 continues to be amazing. I have played and beaten it before (back in 2000, before high school even), but since that was so long ago, I had basically forgotten how good it was.

One of my favorite things about it is that it obeys all of my laws of good handheld games. Which are these:

1. Let me save anywhere, anytime. (Preferably letting me resume at the exact spot I left off, which Wario Land 3 does do)

2. Give me hints on where to go next if I want them, and make them easily accessible(i.e. don't make me slog through tons of text on the main menu - let me get the hints in-game).

3. Use bright and/or contrasting colors so I can tell the difference between enemies, walls, floors, etc.

Wario Land 3 fulfills all of these requirements fully. I have no problems playing it. I have no problems seeing it even on a Game Boy Color, which if you recall did not have a backlight. So, essentially, it is the perfect handheld game.

Sadly, it's one of the best games I've played in a while. I'm not saying recent games like Smash Bros. Brawl or New Super Mario Bros. are bad, but they don't pull themselves together so coherently like Wario Land 3 does. Wario Land 3 just seems to do everything right.

I'll have to get a hold of a copy of Wario Land II - it's the one game in the series I've only played briefly, and I've heard that's pretty good as well.

(Click here to read my first Wario Land 3 article)

The Game Boy and Interesting Diversions

Wow, six days since I last posted here. What a crazy week it has been... It was an enormously crazy week for my girlfriend, and I really hope she can get through this whole ordeal relatively unscathed.

However, this blog isn't about my personal life, so I won't discuss it anymore than that.

Anyway, it's been six days since I posted here, and a couple things have happened as far as video games go. One, a coworker of mine has been unloading some of her old videogames on me (free of charge!), and she gave me a particularly interesting load last Saturday. It consisted of a Gamecube, two Gamecube controllers, a clear purple Game Boy Color, a semi-broken original Game Boy, Animal Crossing, 2 Memory Card 59s, Harvest Moon GBC, Pokemon Pinball, and Wario Land 3. The last game in particular I've been looking for lately, and it's not that I've had a problem finding it, I just didn't want to pay more than 15 bucks.

Regardless, I was happy to receive it. I've been playing it since I got it, and for a Game Boy Color game, it is surprisingly playable. In fact, it's fantastic.

It is (obviously) the third game in the Wario Land series for the Game Boy, and it has a peculiar feature: It is a sidescrolling game, and the player's character cannot be killed. The game makes up for this by allowing the player to traverse levels in such a way that when they reach a boss and get hit by the boss, they are turned into something that floats and they float out of the boss's lair and have to find their way back.

At times, yes, this can be annoying. Usually, however, the game only sets you back to the previous room, right before you enter the boss room. This way, you really only have to start the (usually always short) boss fights over.

Anyway, the point of the game is not to fight your way through levels to get to the end, like in a sidescrolling Mario game. This game is all about solving puzzles in order to find treasures to further explore the rest of the levels in the game.

Honestly, that's all I want to say about the game itself at this point - I'm sure I'll post more in the upcoming days about it. However, I will say this: Since Wario Land 1 was titled Wario Land: Super Mario Land 3, it is implied that the Wario series was an offshoot of the Mario series, and that seems odd to me. The first two Mario Game Boy games were great and sold well, and then Nintendo went and made a game all about Wario, the bad guy from the second game.

What the hell made Nintendo do that? I'm certainly thankful, because Wario Land is a fantastic game, but wow, what an odd choice. You'd think Nintendo would only continue to pump out Mario games. Oh well, perhaps they were sick of them back then. It doesn't matter now, anyway; the Game Boy Advance's Wario Land 4 wasn't as good as the first three games, and the less said about Wario: Master of Disguise, the better.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Baby Park Is the Worst Mario Kart Level Ever

Mario Kart Double Dash was an alright game. It didn't gel too well with me, however. I mean, I played it, but you know, it was never fucking sweet. Sure, it had some cool ideas (character specific powerups being the best), but I didn't like some of them. The two people on one kart thing? I could really take it or leave it. I would rather just be able to hold two items than have two characters.

But the lack of hopping with the R button. Wow, that really ruined the game for me. I could never master the powerslide; I'm sure I could've had I gave it enough time and effort, but I never really cared about it because I didn't like the controls too much. Which is sad, because I love the controller (Let it be said: the Nintendo Gamecube controller is the most comfortable video game controller ever made, and I mean ever), but without hopping the game seemed wonky to me.

And then there's Baby Park. Which is really the shittiest Mario Kart track ever. First of all, its a short track, consisting of just two turns. There is a lot of item boxes, and so it seems the whole point of the level is for it to be a big battle.

Fuck that.

I don't care what anyone says; they are wrong. Baby Park sucks. If you have ever bitched about Blue Shells taking "skilled" play away from Mario Kart and adding to its "random" winners, then you cannot, CANNOT like Baby Park because the whole level is one giant fucking blue shell. Bullet Bills, Blue Shells, Red Shells, and all of them all combine to form the most annoying level known to Mario Kart. Are you really good at racing? Powersliding? Anything like that? Well, you might as well forget leading the pack on Baby Park, then, because the winner is always completely random. It really is whoever gets the star on the last lap, or the Blue Shell two laps before the end.

And the worst thing about Mario Kart DS is the fact they included this bullshit level.

Anyway, to sum up: Mario Kart Double Dash is an okay game, but the lack of R hopping and fucking Baby Park are two abortions of ideas that I hope Nintendo never revisits again.

Quit being a prick, Leafeon

So I started a new game in Pokemon Pearl today, probably to have more to discuss on this blog. But anyway, I decided I didn't want to use only the Pokemon that can be found towards the beginning of the game - so I traded a Leafeon from my copy of Diamond to Pearl and began to raise him.

A couple things worth mentioning: I've never done this before. All my previous playthroughs of Pokemon have been with Pokemon I catch myself, mostly because I never had any means of trading. So, I've also never had to deal with a Pokemon that won't obey.

So: Fuck you, Leafeon. Just fucking use any move. You don't have to use the one I tell you, but quit "loafing around." Once I beat the second gym, Pokemon up to level 30 will obey me. By the time I beat the gym, Leafeon will probably be around level 22. Woo-hoo, 8 levels of obedience. Then I have to wait until I beat another 2 gyms so Pokemon up to level 50 will obey me, at which point I'm pretty much set until endgame. Anyway, it's a minor point - I just found it annoying, is all.

Quick thought: I wish Nintendo would implement a way for me to use Pokemon that aren't available at the start of the game without imposing this stupid "disobey" crap on me. I would love to have my Elite Four team consist of all Eeveelutions or something cool like that.

This is the last Minish Cap post, I swear

So I finished the Minish Cap today. Well, that is, I beat the final boss - getting all the heart pieces isn't too easy a task - which it damn well shouldn't be. Here are my final comments on this game vs. Phantom Hourglass:
  • Story: Meh, Phantom Hourglass probably takes this one since even though it doesn't really advance the storyline of Wind Waker, it involves characters from it. And Minish Cap has Vaati, so as mentioned before, it is shit.
  • Items: The final nod has to go to Minish Cap here. Although I liked the controls of the old items in Phantom Hourglass, they ultimately weren't used outside of the dungeon you got them in, whereas Minish Cap forced you to use them to get around - and also in puzzles throughout the world! Wow!
  • Graphics: Good thing graphics usually don't bother me, because I can't decide which I like better. Minish Cap is weird looking to me; it looks like some other game at times. Phantom Hourglass, on the other hand, uses a dumbed down version of Wind Waker's graphics - and when you see Link up close, you'll see the DS doesn't do a great job of it. So I guess in the end, Minish Cap wins, because at least with that game I don't notice shitty looking graphics as I'm playing.
  • Bosses: Phantom Hourglass wins. While Minish Cap wins for difficulty, Phantom Hourglass has incredibly fun bosses, and the use of the items in the boss fights is really the only place they shine.
  • Dungeons: Minish Cap wins. Phantom Hourglass has the Temple of the Ocean King, which is the worst Zelda dungeon ever(because of sheer annoyance). Also, besides the fact the dungeons never really pose a challenge physically or mentally, Minish Cap's somewhat easy puzzles beat out Phantom Hourglasses ridiculously easy puzzles.
  • Controls: Ah, the controversial one. I'm going to take Phantom Hourglass here, not because I necessarily prefer the stylus controls, but because Minish Cap forces me to use the R button way more than I should have to. And shoulder buttons have always sucked.
Well look at that. A tie! It appears as though Phantom Hourglass isn't as bad as I've made it out to be. In the end, I would recommend Minish Cap over Phantom Hourglass though, because the core parts of the game (dungeons, puzzles, and items) are better than what Phantom Hourglass has to offer (controls, bosses, and a slightly better story). But really, these are Zelda games we are talking about. So I recommend both.

(Click here for my second Minish Cap article)
(Click here for my first Minish Cap article)