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Who's Your Main - Giancarlo Varanini

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Virtua Fighter 2 | Arcade 1994, Saturn 1995 | Pai and Wolf

It was the summer of 1994 and I was walking through a casino--not gambling--and found myself inexplicably drawn towards the side of the building that had an absolutely enormous arcade. In the front of the arcade, there was a screen featuring one of the most amazing displays of technology I had ever seen--Akira fighting Shun Di on a raft as it was floating along a river and underneath a massive bridge. I played quite a bit of the original Virtua Fighter, but what I was seeing was such an enormous leap in visual detail that I almost didn't believe it was real. But Virtua Fighter 2 was very real and while it's amazing rendering of polygons sparked the initial attraction, it was the depth of gameplay mechanics that kept me coming back.

I had two mains for VF2 (I know that kind of defeats the purpose of a main), but there was good reason. I liked using Pai because anytime I busted her out on someone, at that time, they almost always just expected her same punch, punch, punch, kick combo from Virtua Fighter, not realizing that she had a great assortment of counters, reversals, and other combos at her disposal. I found myself switching to Wolf later on because all of his grapple moves just looked really cool and often caught opponents off guard, but I won't hesitate to say that I abused his clothesline.

Samurai Shodown 2 | Neo Geo 1994 | Hanzo Hattori

To this day, Samurai Shodown 2 is one of the greatest fighting games ever created. When the original game came out, I found myself leaning a bit more towards Haohmaru for reasons that should be obvious--his moves were easy to pull off for any Street Fighter fan and his standard moves had a stupid amount of reach. Going into 2, I felt like I needed to change things up, so I went right for Hanzo--a character I used off and on before in the original Samurai Shodown because he is a ninja and not, in fact, a samurai.

Hanzo in Samurai Shodown 2 was the first character that really taught me the importance of properly executing cross-ups despite criticism from opponents that using such moves constituted cheating. But what I liked most about playing as Hanzo was how deception factored into his repertoire of moves, especially when it came to intertwining his projectile attack (the bouncing fireball) and his teleport move.

Saturday Night Slam Masters | Arcade 1993 | Mike Haggar

Saturday Night Slam Masters was a fantastic wrestling game, but it was also just a really great fighting game. Sure, it wasn't necessarily as complex as something like Street Fighter, but it had more than enough depth to keep it interesting. Plus, it had one thing most fighting games didn't have--Mike Haggar. Yes, that Mike Haggar. The only mayor in America who knows how to really get things done and his tools are two massive fists and devastating pile driver. There's some debate as to whether or not this is pre-Final Fight or post-Final Fight Mike Haggar, but it doesn't matter. I used him in this game and I will use him in Marvel vs. Capcom 3.

--Dishonorable Mention--

Golden Axe: The Duel | Saturn 1996 | None of them. They're all terrible.

My experience with Golden Axe: The Duel comes from the Saturn version of the game, so apologies if the arcade version is any better, but the Saturn version was absolute garbage. Maybe I just didn't give it a chance, but everything about it felt like a knockoff of Samurai Shodown, only someone forgot to include the parts that actually made Samurai Shodown good. Another sign of its horribleness: It's one of the few fighting games I've ever returned to the store and this is coming from someone who actually owned Way of the Warrior for 3DO. In fact, I think the only reason why I didn't return it that same day was due to being a huge fan of the original Golden Axe and perhaps hoping Sega would release Revenge of Death Adder for the Saturn if The Duel did well. It did not. But hey, Sega? Revenge of Death Adder would make for a nice XBLA/PSN release.

Giancarlo Varanini Ornament

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This blog is a part of the scavenger hunt.

Share a couple of items on your Christmas wishlist this year.
A new hat.
A deep fryer.

What games will you play during the holidays?
I really need to finish Mass Effect 2, but I plan to put in some hefty time with World of Warcraft and Donkey Kong Country Returns.

What are the kinds of food or drinks you must have during the holidays?
Coffee and donuts, but I would love to have those every day. Maybe throw some apple cider in there.

ORNAMENT HUNT ANSWER - CLUE 17

On the 3DS

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If you haven't had a chance to look, we just put up a Gut Reactions feature on Nintendo's announcement on the 3DS. As I mentioned in my litte write-up, the timing and the manner with which the 3DS was announced was kind of...odd. I know that Nintendo took a similar approach when it first announced the original DS years ago, issuing a simple press release that essentially stated its new handheld would have two screens. Yet, in an increasingly competitive portable gaming market, I would've expected Nintendo to make a slightly bigger splash with something that's so important to the overall success of the company. It's like someone forced their hand into making a little teaser announcement because E3 is going to be so packed with new hardware (Natal, Move, the Wii's vitality sensor) and game announcements that a new Nintendo handheld might get lost in the shuffle...and that's kind of ridiculous. Still I suppose this announcement served a different purpose, alerting the media (mainstream and enthusiast) that Nintendo's going to have some big stuff at E3 and that we should all be excited. And well, I'm excited.

However, the comments in the Gut Reactions feature make me a sad clown. Some of you seem to think that we don't know that it's an entirely new platform--a successor to the DS in the way that the GBA was a successor to the original Game Boy. I am here to inform you that we all know this. We all understand it's a new platform. There's no need to get so angry. We're all cool here. I think some of us didn't focus on the new platform angle for this simple reason--we know next to nothing about it. Sure, Nintendo said it's going to have 3D effects (without glasses) and that it's going to be backwards compatible, but aside from that, we only have unconfirmed Nikkei reports to go on. Yes, there are also various rumors that it will have the visual horsepower of the GameCube and possibly be able to make you fly, but...we just don't know. What some of you may be misunderstanding is that many of us we're looking at this from a basic consumer point of view.

Let's say I own a DS (wait, I do own a DS). Let's also say that I held off on buying a DSi because the extra cameras and DSi Ware stuff aren't enough to get me to throw down additional money for a new DS and that I wanted to wait and see if Nintendo would announce another DS revision, anyway. Let's then say Nintendo announces that revision (the DSi XL) and I happily squirrel some money away to purchase it because there's more value associated with a DS that has the functionality of the DSi AND a gigantor screen. So, here I am, ready to buy a new DS and then Nintendo announces a successor to the DS that is also compatible with all the old DS and DSi stuff. I slowly put my money away and wait while others continue with their plan to purchase the DSi XL, perhaps not realizing that a new (and theoretically better) handheld is coming out that plays the games they want to experience. You know what those people are going to think when they find out about the 3DS? I'm thinking something along the lines of "Crap, I have to buy another one?"

And that's the problem. Yes, the 3DS is an entirely new platform but a major aspect of its functionality (that we know about at the moment) is its DS/DSi support, and with the DSi XL release just around the corner, some of us couldn't help but treat this as an announcement of yet another iteration of the DS/DSi. It's just bad timing on Nintendo's part, but you shouldn't necessarily mistake that as us being down on a new Nintendo handheld. We're all excited to see what Nintendo has in store for E3 where we'll be sure to dive into the 3DS in much grander fashion.

Metroid: Other M Questions Answered

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Looking at the comments in our Metroid: Other M preview, there seem to be some lingering questions, so I'll do my best to answer them based on what we saw/played yesterday.

Why is there no gameplay footage?

Nintendo wouldn't let us take any footage.

Can you walk while in first-person search mode?

Based on what we played, no. You can look around and shoot while in the first-person mode, but Samus can't walk. Given the control setup (pointing the Wii remote at the screen), it'd be kind of hard to walk around anyway.

Is there support for the classic controller?

We don't know for sure, but it doesn't seem likely. If you were playing with the Classic Controller, you'd have to set it down and pick up the Wii remote in order to switch to first-person mode--needless to say, that setup would be way too cumbersome and probably wouldn't be that effective in particularly hectic fights.

Your preview sounded negative. Was it?

Not at all. I think I was more surprised than anything else. I really wasn't expecting the single Wii remote control scheme, nor was I expecting this level of integration between the Prime and Super Metroid mechanics (despite seeing the first-person stuff in the trailers). It really does feel like a different Metroid, but I also feel like the level we were allowed to play through gave only a small taste of what the game is like. I'm really interested to see how much more intense the action gets.

If I was to pinpoint any disappointing aspect of the demo, it's that the level took place inside a space station--not the most exciting thing.I realize previous Metroids have also used this setting (Super, Prime, Fusion), but Metroid's hallmark, for me, has always been its portrayal of alien worlds and the crazy creatures that reside in them. Fusion melded the space station/alien world concept together pretty well, so I have hope that the areas will get a little more interesting in Other M. Additionally, the original trailer briefly reveals different environments, so there's a distinct chance that the Bottle Ship is only a small portion of the entire game anyway.

How awesome was the CG rendition of the Super Metroid ending?

So awesome.

If you have any more questions, I'll do my best to answer them here.

Errr

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Summer School > Halo 2 > Half-Life 2 < Knight Rider for the NES