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Stonetowerghost Blog

Nintendo direct excitement

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Who can say... Nintendo on the ball! 

First... 3d world. WOW. Nintendo is really embracing its roots. The game has so much crazy variety and goodness that you would literally think that they set out to make a 3d inspired super Mario bros 3.  All the craziness and constant new stuff in that trailer... The game just looks like a blast. The 90s golden age is back! 

Then there's Kirby... Cool. Glad to see a Kirby in its roots and I hope that they really make this one something deep and challenging. I was also impressed with some of the other miscellaneous titles that were announced... Like that final fantasy ish game on the 3ds and wii u party looks great. 

I'm disappointed that dkc has been delayed, but I think there are already plenty of holiday titles coming. It's also funny that most of nintendos big titles are coming out the same day as the big console Launches. 

Zelda was the most surprising news. Polarizing and I will admit skepticism, but I think that this new shift in zelda is what zelda needs. The only reason I prefer the n64 titles over most is the level of freedom and choice you have, and I am really happy that Nintendo is re embracing what made zelda so amazing in the first place.

nintendos new era is here. I've been saying it since e3 2012. This is the time to be a Nintendo fan. We've waited 13 years for this. 

Magic coming back?

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Sometimes when a problem is so pervasive and under the surface for years, it becomes almost impossible to see the problem because we are so used to the problem being there that we can't see it. It's like the refrigerator humming in the background but it has been happening for so long that no one who lives in the house notices it anymore. But when you have a friend over the humming irritates them and they mention it... And you're like... "oh I stopped noticing Ages ago." 

this describes perfectly the past ten years or so of Nintendo. I think that while Nintendo did well to explore new ground with the GameCube and the wii, there was a good ten year period of time where their games just didnt have that magic that they had had in the n64 Days. It was a subtle shift, probably starting around 2003 when wind waker came out... Nintendo started trying too hard. Games that didnt make sense like super Mario strikers, games that seemed to rely too much on nostalgia like twilight princess, and this whole disgusting wii period where games like wii music were genuinely taken seriously by miyamoto. While a great game, Mario galaxis was a perfect example of nintendos folly - trying too hard. Mario couldn't just be Mario anymore, he had to be flying through outer space To get attention. 

Fast forward to 2013, a year where freakin luigi is glorified, and we can start to see the beginnings of Nintendo getting the good old magic back. There are a lot of people who are too blinded by sales numbers and the trappings of the current generation to see it, but Nintendo has finally re embraced it's identity as the company that just makes games. Fun games, magical games, multiplayer games, designed to bring us together and make us smile. I see none of the efforting that has been present throughout the wii and ds era... And it seems like Nintendo has reclaimed it's whimsy. New super luigi u, Mario and luigi 4, luigi mansion 2, and the coming games this year... None of them feel like thealtered trying to prove anything Or make a point. They are just Nintendo games at their best. 

i think the biggest example of this is super Mario 3d world... A lot of people expected Mario to be fighting against god in the heavens of some magical land where only the craziest of LSD tripped minds could imagine, and instead it is simply a 4 player Mario game that embraces its roots. No need to impress. No need to make galaxy 3. Nintendo is literally looking to the past to create its future. It is the wisest thing Nintendo has ever done. 

Obviously it's too soon to see the results. I think this console war will be the big one and we just can't see it yet. Microsoft is embracing its online powers, Sony is being Sony on a new level... Embracing the same novelty and diversity that made the ps1 an instant hit. Nintendo is finally out of its experimentation phase and is finally ready to just be itself. The core identities of the big 3 are finally clashing. 

A job that paves the way

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I got a job at GameStop last week and they have a policy where you can rent games for free. Any game. 1 at a time. 4 days each. 

first i rented animal crossing new leaf and regretted it... Mainly because you need to own animal crossing not rent it. I liked what I played though. 

Next was Luigis mansion dark moon. This one had me afraid at first because I had heard there were missions instead of full freedom, but for this game it worked. I really enjoyed the clockwork mansion and I liked the beginning of the snow mansion... But I had to give the game back before I could get too far into it. 

And now I'm playing dream team. Dream team is surprising me. Never before have I played a Mario and lungi game that is actually engrossing for me. Usually I get ho hum when I play one. even bowsers inside story annoyed me more than it drew me in. But dream team... While having an incredibly slow start... Has the most engrossing gameplay and world of any of them in my opinion. I am very early in the game... Just saved the carpenter guy from being stuck in the chicken pipe. Lol. Got the hammers. Am going south. Love the dream worlds. My only concern is its staying power and if I will manage to complete it in four days. I have a family party tomorrow so it's unlikely. 

A New 3DS Game, and wait... 2DS?

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Yesterday I picked up DKCR 3D. Its the exact same game as the one on the Wii, and I blew through the main quest in about 6-7 hours. At this point I've already gone through and grabbed all the kong letters, beaten all the special levels before. So playing through the game got challenging around world 7 or so, but it was never impossibly difficult like it was the first time I played it. The 3D effect is a nice touch, but overall the visuals have noticably scaled down from the Wii version. I also noticed that the more traditional control scheme makes the game smoother and easier to play.

Here's the rub: This version has 8 new levels that weren't in the original. I haven't had a chance to play them yet because I still have to get all the DK letters in every world, and beat the original HARD levels in all 8 worlds... and then after you open the Golden Temple there are 8 new levels (9-1, 9-2, 9-3, etc) that have been designed specifically as post game content. Once you beat all of the levels, the original final level of the game will be accessible - the Golden Temple, which is now level 9-9. While I'm not exactly thrilled that I have to go through and be a perfectionist all over again just to play the new content, I'm enjoying the overall vibe of the game and its always nice to be able to play one of your favorite console games on a 3D Handheld. As always the game is fast paced, action packed, and GOOD.

I finally may have a source of income pretty soon, so I'm excited that I may be able to invest in some titles that I normally would not be able to play. I'm limited solely to 3DS for the time being & I'm hoping that I'll be able to play Zelda when it comes out in November, but there are no guarantees. The games that I'm looking forward to the most are on the Wii U, though. Specifically Donkey Kong Country Tropical Freeze... I get a GOOD feeling about that game. I think its going to be a spiritual successor to DKC2 - seriously. Did you see some of the level designs in that trailer? Screams DKC2.

As for the Nintendo 2DS... OOOOOOOOOKKKKKKK... o.O

So hold on... Metroid Fusion's actually good?

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Metroid marathon lately. Played through Zero Mission. (Meh) Too easy, too short.

Then reluctantly started a file on Fusion (again). Honestly, I never made it that far in Fusion because I'd always get bored. I felt like I as on rails and I hated the sector system. But then again, I had also never made it far enough to understand that its the kind of game that slowly evolves into a Metroid game, rather than starting off with full freedom. I think that how the sectors are set up at first can really give the impression that the whole game is going to suck.

Lately though (I play an hour or so daily) its been getting better. I just got the uh... missile expander thingy. You charge your missiles and then it spreads the blast and freezes enemies all over the place. As the game keeps changing and evolving and gradually getting deeper... I can easily see how they gradually let you have more and more freedom and access to the whole world similar to how free I felt in Other M when I suddenly could traverse gravity fields and do the screw attack. I enjoy the harried escapes from the imposter Samus. I'm also starting to dig how the different sectors are interconnected rather than simply being connected via elevator like I originally thought they'd be.

I don't know when I'm going to beat Fusion. I'm taking it in small chunks and mixing and matching with my wider life and interests. But for the first time ever I can honestly say I'm enjoying Fusion. And for someone who has disliked Fusion ever since I first played it in 2007... its a relief to finally play it and explore the genius in the distinctly new design.

Mysteries In The Rough

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Hey guys.

I'm actually finding that despite moving away from video games into more diverse lifestyling... I'm still gaming when I get the time. lol. I guess it isn't all so black and white. :P

I've been tackling the Oracle games. Just beat Seasons then linked to Ages. I'm almost at dungeon 6 in Ages. LOVE Oracles. In other areas I'm spending more time out with friends, making new friends, and job hunting... plus spending a crap ton of time meditating. Its amazing how much quality of life can go up if you're willing to get creative.

Back on track though, how about that Wind Waker HD?

Thing with Wind Waker... I think there's gonna be more to this game than meets the eye.

Wouldn't surprise me if I walk away from it feeling like I played a completely different game from the one I played in '03.

The Next Level

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There's a point when games can't be #1 anymore.

In celebrating 20 years as a gamer, I'm finding that ending the days where gaming is something that I do daily is challenging. I can't even consider that for the first time in my entire life I won't be there when Zelda is released nor will the latest gaming experience be a priority in my world. There's more on the line for me now - and I want to spend the 2nd half of my twenties living with the vitality of a man who is in his twenties. NOT sitting back and gaming while life is passing me by.

I can give credit to games for this - they helped me through hard times as a kid. They offered fun and comfort in a world that felt fundamentally unfair. When you're a kid you can't do much about the world feeling unfair. But as an adult there's more to work with and less need to fall back on sedentary experiences as a substitute for true aliveness, true human to human connection, etc. Games have also offered me outlets, alternate perspectives on life, and a versatality that has helped me make large jumps in the real world and take risks that are frankly, dangerous and unexplored. I think games can offer courage - and with those experiences of braving the depths of danger in games there is more room to try real risks in the real world.

I've been at the grind in making a great life for myself for five years. Its taken me across the country, through crazy experiences, wild adventures, and massive action in new and unexpected ways. People are watching and admiring me, inspired by how I throw myself into action and danger again and again and bring back the gold. The rewards for living so recklessly are immense and I thank the craziness of games for allowing me to live exaggeratedly and unapologetically myself. It has reached the point where every game I play is just a distraction so I don't have to get up and take far larger leaps in real life. Every time I play Ocarina of Time that was a drive to see the world stifled. Every time I played Mario Party it was a real social gathering I missed, every time I played Banjo it was the goofiness and aliveness inherent in the world that I couldn't follow and instead quick fixed with a video game.

This is by no means goodbye. I'll be back and the Wii U's many experiences will be played by me. But for the first time in my life I will not regularly frequent game stores, I will not avidly follow game news, and I will not play games as a replacement for my life. My life is my life, and I may one day find that 3 years have passed and I haven't looked into a game store in YEARS. I'll walk in with $1000.00 in cash, marvel at all the games I never knew existed, and will excitely choose from the options to compliment MY LIFE, and not live for games and let my life be backseat for games. I'm looking forward to walking in after years of REAL ADVENTURES and having that uninterrupted two weeks of non-stop intense gaming. I hope there are like 4 Zelda titles I've never heard of IN THE STORE. Oh how awesome that's be. :)

Until then I'm making the shift into something great and dark. My sections will be less about electronic games and more about the amazing game of life and the real life challenges I'm facing. Always inspired by and influenced by games, AND always living as if life is a giant game. In a world where we are mortal - I think having a childhood filled with games is great practice to treat life as play and hardship as just another level in the real world. It could be that we gamers have the greatest potential to make massive change in this world, if and only if we are able to let go of the electronic hobby and embrace the real world with the attitude that games taught us to have. Have fun with life and never take it too seriously... AND take it deadly seriously because this game ain't over.

Former gamer Stonetowerghost, out.

See you guys soon.

Trajectory for Nintendo

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I keep saying over and over that the Wii U is the new N64. I haven't given much reasoning for this in the past, and I think I'm past due to jump into the territory where I think Nintendo is heading. They've probably been planning this for a long time.

For starters things went south with the GameCube. Nintendo had core franchises lined up but the company wasn't being taken seriously anymore. Remember 2003-2005 period? Nintendo had a serious dry spell after Wind Waker came out. I don't think any huge releases came until 2006 with the exception of Pikmin 2 and maybe Metroid Prime 2. Point being GameCube started off trying to continue the Nintendo 64's spirit in better quality, but got lost in its own territory. Nintendo needed a plan or the company faced death - that was the reality and Iwata knew it. Luckily they had the newly released DS system to keep them afloat long enough to make the Wii.

We already know Wii's strategy - make the non-gamers into gamers. And better yet, make them LOVE the Wii. And it may have been the worst hardcore system yet, but their strategy worked - they created a system that had balanced software, party offerings AND core Nintendo franchises... but there was JUST ENOUGH dearth of core games to leave gamers dry.

Then Wii U. Nintendo has the HD on their side, plus the advantages of a full back catalogue of millions of people who played and loved Wii - When Wii U finally takes off it is going to be the absolute center of attention. Great party games, great core games, they set a five year strategy just to get to this point - To win over a new crowd of gamers with a TASTE of what they can do with Wii, and now they are BLASTING us with new software on Wii U PLUS the amazing 3DS. We have GREAT games coming this year, and honestly I think its only the beginning. Zelda is getting announced next month and is rumored to be on the same level as Skyrim, Star Fox is DEFINITELY in development, we have TWO smash Bros titles coming NEXT YEAR, plus 3-4 triple A titles for holiday 2013 AND great games like Wind Waker HD, Pikmin 3, Mario and Luigi, etc... just to hold us off! Do any of you have any idea how big of a difference this holiday season is going to be compared to the Wii's in 2007? The Wii U has 3X more titles available PLUS GREAT 3DS games coming out! Frankly I'm ANGRY that I'm probably going to be too broke to afford them! For the first time in a DECADE Nintendo is doing it right, and I'm also in a place where I'm not making a lot of money... it sucks!

In 2007 the Wii had Mario Galaxy, plus a lackluster DS Zelda, and Metroid Prime 3 in August. That was IT. You do know that, right? That was IT!!! 2013... and 7-8 high quality experiences this year alone.

I think 2014 is REALLY gonna knock it out of the park.

Comprehensive Guide to Final Fantasy

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I do a lot of Nintendo stuff usually, and its rare that I get to talk about a franchise that I sincerely enjoy for its own merits. Final Fantasy earned my respect long ago for its memorable storytelling, immersive worlds, and intense gameplay mechanics. There is no video game that consistently pulls me in like Final Fantasy. With that in mind, Final Fantasy is in competition with itself, often - as so many gamers are clear on their own personal favorite and are quick to champion their opinion above all the rest. From a solely objective perspective, let's break down the Final Fantasy games. I haven't put much attention into the first 3 titles, so I'm going to omit them and start with 4. I'm alao going to omit FF11 and FF14 for the same reasons.

Final Fantasy IV - It had a great story, for sure. Final Fantasy 4's story had a great cast of characters and the looming threat of villains around every corner. The game's balancing, however, was WAY off. Very often you'll level up a character only to lose them in an upcoming chapter and then get some new guy in his place. You have almost no control over the overall flow and pacing of the game, and there isn't much to do outside of the main quest. It also seems to get less and less focused the farther the game goes. Easily the most disjointed FF game on this list. It is also my least favorite.

Grade: D

Final Fantasy V - 5 takes the franchise deeper. There are endless mechanics and a very satisfying job system where you can direct the growth and trajectory of your characters. The story is very simple and straightforward, and while never surprising it maintains very high tension and a lot of unexpected things happen along the way. Lead antagonist Exdeath is probably the most enigmatic villain in the entire series: A cosmic mastermind whose only goal is to destroy anything and everything in existence. Clashing with Exdeath brings the feeling that you are facing something truly and inescapably easy, and he's probably the only villain in the series who never hesitates to kill. When you run into Exdeath, its likely he's not intending to let you get away. I also have to give Kudos for the game's 3 world mechanic, where you transition to different world maps at certain points in the game. It lends a depth and variety that can't be found in playing in the same map for the whole game.

Grade: B

Final Fantasy VI - The thing with 6 is that it is very well paced, at least at first. You are introduced to the story and characters gradually and with intention. It never feels choppy, and every character is just endearing enough to have you really feel as if you are on the journey with them. The story does not deal heavy handedly like with the upcoming titles on this list... it is often very subtle and about the experience, process, and little details that make the game along the way, rather than stuffing hours of exposition down our throats. All of the gameplay is par for the course, albeit deeper than the other SNES offerings. There's more to do and you can widen your possibilities for how you play the game endlessly. Last but not least the game is challenging - and I dare you to try to finish its final dungeon and take down the evil Kefka without massive frustration.

Grade: A-

Final Fantasy VII - Call me devil's advocate, but Final Fantasy VII seemed to rely on a lot of flash and very little substance. The game was shocking and pulled no punches - it often hit gamers in a way that I think are effective, but are also low blows: As if the game is relying on being as twisted and outrageous as possible so we'll ignore its faults. For one thing the game has no cohesive plot, and its often hard to understand the little details and interactions between the characters along the way. The game does a poor job of getting its message across, to the point where you feel like an aimless missionary wondering what the heck you're doing until Sephiroth shows up and sticks a sword into the president's back. Its as if the game is like: "Now you'll pay attention! It gets good from here!" Until you've been playing for twenty hours and realize you've been chasing sephiroth around the world and nothing new has developed. The party just small talks along the way, and you never get the sense that these people care for each other at all. In fact, they probably don't with the exception of Cloud and Tifa. While the game is a disjointed experience, there's often a lot of fun to be had in experiencing its shock factor and full on weirdness the first time around. Final Fantasy 7 is a true specimen off oddity and is committed to bringing a truly unique experience, and despite its lack of heart I find it to be the scariest and saddest game in the series.

Grade: A

Final Fantasy VIII - Meet the behemoth. Final Fantasy VIII is a polarizing entry in the series. It introduced a system that gave you FULL CONTROL over your party's skills, attack power, etc... at the expense of expecting players to figure out how to work the darn thing. The junction system is indeed confusing, but if you master it you master all. FFVIII is cool in that it allows you to choose how you experience it. The base plot is all there and it is VERY good - not as shocking as FFVII - but good. And while the game's characters are an endearing and likeable bunch... probably the only realistic characters in the entire series so far... and while the story's conflicy evolves and twists and turns around a riveting love story: The masterwork of the game is still in its deep systems and how it allows you to exploit everything and anything to your advantage... you want to beat some of its toughest bosses and make it look like this boss with some of the highest stats in the game is NOTHING compared to the might of your party? You can do that. Want to ignore leveling and take on a wicked tough annd minimalistic approach? You can do that too, and with no hassel. FFVIII makes you work for your keep, and it pays off.

Grade: A

Final Fantasy IX - A soft spot in my heart, Final Fantasy IX introduces some of the most endearing characters in the series. Lead Zidane's antics are anything but the norm, and the lengths he goes to win the lovely Princess Garnet's heart is truly touching. Zidane is the hub of the main party, and heads the central theme of the game - loneliness. Zidane wanders and woos all types of girls as if it's nothing, yet he longs for and seeks a blue light from his past that signifies home. Vivi struggles with his imminent confrontation with dying and the meaning of life. Goofy knight Steiner reveals himself to be anything but after risking his life to defend his kingdom and gets clear on what really matters to him. The characters in FFIX are open to life's lessons, and are open to learning and being impacted along the way. They are the unlikeliest heroes in the main series, (A gourmand with an uncertain gender and a long tongue. a little girl with fake wings on her back, a rat chick) but almost because of that they carry the story way more effectively and with way more heart than the mindless missionaries of VII and the devout students of Garden from VIII could ever accomplish. IX has great gameplay with some of the best locales, minigames, etc in the series... but what really carries it is its deep tale of love, loss, and friendship.

Grade: A+

Final Fantasy X - This one is rough because its such a multifaceted game. FFX brought many new weapons to the franchise - its story is presented with a level of depth and clarity that has not been replicated since - featuring Tidus's struggle with finding himself in a new world, his haunting past, and his ultimate fate as something other than what he originally thought he was. The game deals in secrets - it gradually doles out its big plot twists and because the surface interactions between the characters were so well done and often had so much humanity to them - it was easy to be distracted away from some of the strange things that were happening. As such, it was always a deep shock when the next plot twist was revealed... not because it was well hidden necessarily or unobvious, but just because the characters themselves did such a better job taking center stage and really shouting "WE ARE THE PLOT!" When secrets were revealed it took attention off the characters, shocked at the workings behind the scenes, and then reintensified back on the characters: Shocked and caring for them deeply. Because the gameplay is so straightforward and just doesn't branch enough, I can't give it an A.

Grade: B+

Gaming through the hard times

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Sometimes life just gets tough, you know? I just got back from Colorado and after 3 months non-stop experiential adventuring I've been looking forward to sinking back into what I know for a little while: Gaming. Ah, sweet gaming. Sweet like... candy? Yea, candy!

So anyway, I've been working on Dark Souls which is tough as nails and strangely satisfying. I'm still trying to secure the XBOX for an evening so I can spend a good chunk of time battling my way through hoardes of damn near impossible to defeat demons. Also started a file on Earthbound and just reached happy happy village. It has been 2 years since I last played through Earthbound and I'm enjoying the game more this time around because I'm less blinded by the popular opinion and expecting it to be more than it is: just a fun, goofy, and somewhat deep RPG... based on MY COUNTRY! lol.

Last year I played FF13 for 60 hours and stopped... maybe 40 hours short of full game completion. I beat Orphan and took on most of the hunts but I got bored and was put off by how hard the late game bosses and extras were getting. I'm taking this file to the end this time - fully maxing out my Crystarium and finishing all the hunts. This will probably take a while. lol. I have a few other games I've been tinkering with - mainly a Link to the Past where i'm at dungeon 5 right now but I was only playing it because people were watching who hadn't played the game before and I wanted to show it off. Also I've been replaying Ocarina of Time 3D but what else is new?

The big news is Mario Kart 7. I only played Mario Kart 7 briefly in 2011 and only played it enough to check out the new tracks then I gave it to my brother. Now 2 years later we're living together and we have Wi-Fi... so its Mario Kart 7 online! I've played around 200 matches and I'm starting to get a lot better. I get quite a few unexpected first place victories and I'm noticing the Mario Cup is nothing to sneeze at! I'm entertaining fantasies of snagging the top spot from that Canadian guy who has almost 20000 in points right now. I only have 300 lol.

Life's complicated right now and I'm taking it as it comes. I'm looking for work, planning out my daily routine (which goes beyond gaming) and hopefully will have money when Wii U releases its blockbusters later this year. This is a great year for gaming and I'm jumping on!