edranyesul / Member

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edranyesul Blog

Don't go here... go here!

For all my video game blogging, head on over http://www.controlpadblues.com . I'm basically using it as an avenue to vent all things related to video games, and how it feels to be almost 30 and trying to keep young at heart.

More than anything, however, I feel like every game I've ever played has a memory to come along with it. Some might be more vivid than others, but it's been a fun look back so far!

William and Catherine, blah blah blah

So, apparently there's a wedding on at the moment. Or, it just ended or something.

It's not that I don't care - I am a big history buff, and this sort of thing always has me intrigued... but it just isn't the same thing, nowadays. Social networking, overexposure and all this other junk has turned something that should be a very significant historical moment, and flipped it over, making it one of the more superficial things I've ever seen.

"Who will design the bride's dress?"

"Where will the bride and groom celebrate?"

"What kind of cheese will be served at the reception?"

Media outlets are going nuts, trying to get the most of every angle of this as possible. That's understandable, since people just seem to get so caught up. But how much is too much?

I studied Journalism at Universityto maybe be a sports broadcaster or something some day, but I started the week of 9\11. Of course, it somewhat changed our curriculum, how we viewed the media now as opposed to last week, kind of thing. I can't help but think that one single event changed the way we look at pretty much everything.

Look at music - I'm a fan of alternative rock, but enjoy a catchy little pop ditty once in a while (guilty pleasure!). Steadily, the quality of music being celebrated by the masses has dwindled to a fairly concerning level. It's getting harder and harder to find an honest-to-goodness new band that just rocks out for what it's worth, without concerning itself too much about whether or not people will like it.

Movies have steadily gotten less original - sequel after sequel, re-make after re-make, and one franchise reboot after another. Sure, it might all be coincidental, and there are still some things to beproud of in our society,but have our priorities shifted?

Probably... it just kinda bums me out sometimes.

Mortal Kombat, or: The Day I Saw Gaming Change Forever More

I feel like I'm a retro gamer, through and through.

I'd much rather kick back, have some snacks and enjoy a game I've played before, one I know I'll love yet another time around. Sure, some games come around that demand my attention - the new Mortal Kombat game, for one. I've been a fan of that series since I was in Grade 5 or 6, and the ridiculousness of the storyline and finishing moves just keeps me coming back for more.

Back in '93, my best friend would keep getting more new games than I would. I got a few here and there, but this guy got three or four new games every Christmas! Whoa! Insanity! In the SNES era, he got some gems; Contra III, Street Fighter II Turbo, Darius Twin, many, many other cool ones... but that Christmas, he got one game that blew my mind.

I had heard a bit about Mortal Kombat, but I had seen a few other fighting games with digitized, real-person-lookygraphics, and they all looked cheesy. Why would Mortal Kombat be any different??

Then, I saw it. I heard it. I friggin' felt it. The moment he played as Scorpion and whipped that spear across the screen and heard "COME HERE!!", my interest was piqued. Finally, that second I saw Scorpion pull off his face, breathing fire and leaving his opponent in a pile of dust, I was haunted. That skull staring back emotionlessly at the screen right back at me... oh I thought about it going to bed that night. As any 10 year-old should, of course!

Again, this was the toned-down Super NES version of the game. No blood, just sweat. It took playing the Genesis version of the game to truly appreciate the brutality of the game (no pun intended). I had just never seen anything like it before.

Of course, the sequel came around, and pushed boundaries even further. Since then, I've been absolutely hooked by the convoluted storyline, characters and setting of the franchise. The whole Netherrealm, real-world, inter-dimensional deals never get old, and seeing as how every character (almost) has either died and come back, or is someone's brother instead of the actual character, or is a descendant of another character, or even a character borne out of a rumor about a glitch in the game!

It's games like that that just keep me hooked. Why take yourself so seriously? It's just a game! 'Nuff said!

Another Year...

It's been almost a year since I last posted in this blog, and a fair amount has changed. I got engaged toa woman who puts up with more gaming than she'll admit to enjoy being a part of, my once steady employment has hit a few rough spots (though not of my own doing, just the company as a whole), and games are still not very high on my give a crap list. Overall, though, things are great. Except... just not in the gaming department.

Yeah, there arestill some gems out there with my names on them - NASCAR '07, for one, and Grand Theft Auto; Episodes from Liberty City among them. NASCAR because I'm a huge follower of the sport, and my collection wouldn't feel complete without it, and something makes me feel that I'm obligated to buy Liberty City. I'm not sure what it is. I haven't completed GTAIV yet, though I'm still chipping away at it.

I just don't really get that "wow" factor when I play games, anymore. Remember that feeling you got when you saw a Nintendo 64 on display at a retailer, and your jaw just dropped when you realized you were in The Mushroom Kingdom? Or (for me, personally, anyway), that first time you played Star Wars: Shadows of the Empire and felt like you were on Hoth and felt like the movie was going on around you?

Maybe it's just the fact that games havebeen 3D so long that the novelty has just worn off. Graphics can improve all they want, but if games don't blow you away with innovation in gameplay, then there just isn't anything to get excited about.

Take Fallout 3, for example. This is a game in a genre I'm still new to, but am trying my best to just sit back and enjoy. Friends have told me, "Andre, you need to play this game. It's awesome!" Well, I found it at a cheap price, and I'm just starting the game. So far, here's the impression I'm getting from it;

It's dark and gritty, which is kinda nice- so was Half-Life 2, and even Doom 3, for that matter.

Starts off slowly - other games I've played do the setup portion a lot better... or maybe it's just me and my itchy trigger finger.

Characters aren't that interesting (yet) - every game should have that has captivated me has done so with its characters, and usually in the first 10 minutes or so of the game.

I really want to enjoy this game, but I'm having a bit of a rough go of it. I haven't given up on it just yet, but I can't help but feel a bit lost in "Game of the Year" talk. Is this really it? Is that the best there is? I know the game is old, but...

Take Bioshock, for example. To me, the kind of gameplay in that game is similar (enough) to that of Fallout. There's levelling up, and different strategies to take throughout the game. The atmosphere in both games is a sort of retro, almost alternate universe kind of feel to it. Where Fallout 3 is large and expansive with many nooks and crannies to explore, Bioshock is tight and claustrophobic... with many nooks and crannies to explore.

So, the same general idea, just done differently. I can'thelp but feel that, between the two, I will have preferred Bioshock over Fallout 3.

So... yeah. The whole "Game of the Year" stigma just doesn't cut it for me. I just want to have a fun, easy to pick up and easy to enjoy kind of game. Is that so hard?

Oh, and look up the user kornnut43 (me) on YouTube. I've gone back and replayed a lot of the games I grew up loving, and replaying over and over again, and made them into movies. It's something I enjoyed doing when I was younger, and I still enjoy editing stuff together, just for fun.

The Golden Age of Gaming

When one talks about their own, personal Golden Age of Gaming, it has a tendency to get people fired up. I know first hand that, whenever I watch a random YouTube video of one of my favourite Nintendo 64 games,one can't help but feel a jolt when I read a comment from a guy saying the video is awesome, and that it reminds him of being in kindergarten. In the same token, when I remenisce about the early days on the NES and it's importance in my childhood, there's always someone reminding me about the introduction of Pong.

Nevertheless, the first moments I had my hands wrapped around a controller were life-changing. That sounds awfully cliché, but like any other hobby I've grown up with, it ends up becoming a part of you. The colours on the screen when I was first introduced to Super Mario Bros., the music, the sound effects, the controls... it all felt like it was perfectly in place, and that if I had been introduced to something else, it wouldn't have had the same effect.

There were other games along the way that had the same impact - games like The Legend of Zelda, Contra, Mega Man, and other, not-so-obvious ones like Felix the Cat, and Adventure Island. Every time a new game came out for the current generation of consoles, it started feeling like it was getting stale, after a while. It was rare for a console to rip out a great game in the last year or more of its lifecycle.

When I first got the Super NES shortly after it was released, Step 2 of my Golden Age began. The Game Boy had been released since the NES came out, but portable gaming wasn't (and still isn't) quite as important as what I could play on the bigger screen. The addition of so many features, both graphic-and-sound-wise, was astounding. There wasn't anything I played that didn't feel like a re-invention of the wheel. Even games I don't enjoy playing now, I was mesmerized by back then.

The Super NES had a surprisingly solid life to its end in '97, or so. Sports games, adventure titles, the Super Game Boy - everything that came out brought new life to the console. No wonder the majority ofdownloadable titles that come out these days look like old school SNES titles...

When games went 3D, it was like I was back in the NES days. Never before had I felt anything like it - you were literally IN the gaming world! Super Mario 64 demos were pretty much everywhere, and every last one of them had a sign saying "Please limit play time to five minutes". It was hard to put the controller down, so I rarely did. The fact that games like Cruisn' USA and Star Wars: Shadows of the Empire brought games that should be in an arcade to your living room, I could not get over it. It felt like I was cheating some sort of system, cracking some sort of code that had not been meant to be broken. Of course, the quality of games like GoldenEye 007 and The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time changed all that. Amazing things became commonplace... for a while.

Developers seemed to get complacent, feeling that people would just enjoy being in whatever 3D environment they'd be plunged into. A wave of video game junk was thrown at us for a few years, and it wasn't really until the next generation of game consoles that we'd get a break from it.

Not that it lasted that long. Beginning with the PlayStation 2, people got used to the beauty of what ended up being the prior generation to the one we are currently in. There were gems across the board - Gran Turismo 3, Grand Theft Auto 3, the Halo franchise, and Nintendo scored big with a few go-to characters like Mario and Link, as well as countless others. In between, however, were messed up movie-licenses, unoriginal new titles, and poorly conceived attempts at being revolutionary. I'm not saying that the XBox, GameCube and PS2 were disappointing consoles - it's just that it seems to have made the process of making games easier,which caused developers let their guards down, relax, and not try as hard.

As much as I'd like to say the current state of gaming is great, I just can't. There are some great, original titles out there (BioShock and the first Call of Duty 4), but I just find that there is too much bad to outweigh the good. I like a few games, but very rarely do I get excited about the release of new games, anymore.

Rock Band vs. Guitar Hero - The Debate Continues

I remember first playing Guitar Hero at a friend's apartment. So cozy was the spot that we'd gather on a regular basis to play various multiplayer games throughout the day, only to end up turning them off to watch our favourite Sunday night animated TV shows. We'd usually play a few more "FIVE MINUTES REMAINING YOU GUYSSS" matches of Far Cry: Instincts, then go our seperate ways.

I was quite weary of the rhtyhm-based games, finding that Dance Dance Revolution and its counterpart, Karaoke Revolution, were just too gimmicky for casual gamers like myself. I often saw kids (teenagers, but I'll just call them kids) playing it at the local arcade, people looking on in laughter as they didn't look like they were dancing, so much as semi-rhythmically stomping a piece of plastic with their feet. When a friend showed up at the apartment with a plastic guitar controller, I thought oh boy, here we go...

After we popped the game in, it was mesmerizing. Not only was the music good, but the controls felt surprisingly legit. Note progressions and everything about the game felt precise, at least with my experience as a (real-life, not plastic) bassist. It was fun.

Then the whole fad got a bit tedious. It started to focus on being challenging, instead of being fun. I guess the two can go hand in hand, but when your hands cramp up after several failed attempts at ridiculous solos on the Medium difficulty, something has to give. Unfortunately, after being an avid follower of the series, I gifted the first three of the series to my girlfriend's little sister. She'd get a kick out of them.

Then, The Beatles: Rock Band was released, and it re-invigorated my interest for the genre. Being a die-hard Beatle-maniac, I picked up the Collector's Edition, drum kit, guitar and all.

While the presentation was phenomenal, I loved how this rhythm game focused on rocking out and having fun, instead of being ridiculously and frustratingly difficult. The drums worked remarkably well, even though I couldn't enjoy them at 100%... curse living in a second-floor apartment... in any case, the game inspired me to buy Rock Band, and then Rock Band 2.

I'm back into my obsession for these games. I've re-bought Guitar Heros 1 through 3, downloaded countless songs for Rock Band (just my favourites, of course) and just recently got Guitar Hero: World Tour, seeing as how it's compatible with Rock Band "instruments".

This brings up a personal dilemma - which do I prefer? Rock Band or Guitar Hero?

Well, the overall feel of Rock Band wins out. Between little colored squares and little colored circles, the squares win out. They just seem layed out better, and I'm not sure why, but I'm pretty sure they're easier to hit.

For an overall look and sound, Guitar Hero wins out. The character customization seems to be more in-depth, and the animation in the background (not that you have time to look at it anyway) looks much more vibrant and colourful. Don't look at the crowds though... you'll see several clones, all moving in unison, and it detracts from the feel of working a crowd, even if it is a fake one. As for the sound, it sounds like you're playing along with an mp3, with random cheering noises in the background. Rock Band adds to the crowd feel by adding an arena-like quality to their songs. Not bad, but not quite as clear as Guitar Hero.

The most importantelement is set lists, and I feel that it's a tie between the two. Rock Band doesn't have that strong of an on-disc setlist, but more than makes up for it with downloadable content. Bands seem to want to back RB more than GH, it seems. However, for on-disc content, Guitar Hero wins out. Any game that takes my favourite band (Tool) and incorporates them in their own special way has to take the cake. Guitar Hero: Metallica is also an amazing turn of luck for me, as are The Beatles: Rock Band, and the upcoming Green Day rendition of the game.

So there it is. Fanboys of each series with argue vehemently with the other, opposing fans, but it all comes down to personal preference.

As with everything else in life, I say "can't we all just get along?" Cliché, but oh how I wish we could.

Scary thought!!

I wasn't sure there would ever be a day when I'd walk into the local game shop, and not really feel the need to walk out with anything.

I have a rather hearty collection of games already, so the idea of spending more dinero on games that I may or may not enjoy doesn't appeal to me that much anymore. For example, there are tons of PS2, XBox and GameCube games out there with incredibly low price tags these days. Of those three, only a handful of GameCube games would be on my list of "must owns"... all of those Nintendo-produced, mostly-Mario games.

Even the current gen games aren't anything to get all wet about. No, I don't own Call of Duty 4, Halo 3, or Grand Theft Auto IV (I own an XBox 360, not sure about the PS3 investment... yet), and I know I'll greatly enjoy playing them when I get around to it. Still, aside from that, there isn't a whole lot of anything to get me real excited about. Zelda has a new entry into the franchise (apparently) headed to shelves in '09, which is exciting.

Speaking of which, Nintendo has really been the only one to make games I can honestly look forward to - in and amongst all the junk that's flooded the Wii, of course. Zelda and Mario are two franchises that I grew up with, so without a doubt, I still can't wait for those titles to hit shelves (Mario sports titles not included, really).

Hooray for being a video game child of the 80's... it now makes me feel like an elderly gamer - "Back in my dayyy, you could only run to the right!! None of this motion-controlling back and forth and around a Galaxy, for cryin' out loud.... even though doing that is a good time, indeed."

The sad thing about "growing up"

It had been a while that I had been wanting to move out.  I had all the games, DVD's and music CD's that I'd ever want, and I would finally have time to play them all once I moved out of home.

Boy, was I wrong.

At my new spot, I've got everything set up.  But, since I live with my significant other, playing a boatload of games like I did when de-stressing at home is not happening.  Not that that's a bad thing - it gets me up and around.  And it's not to say she doesn't approve of it.  The other day, she actually bought me Super Paper Mario, a complete surprise!

It's just that after all these years of collecting, I don't have the time I used to have to play them.  There are still many a game that I own that I wish to play through, I just can't find the time to commit to playing them.

Ah, the joys of adulthood.

Levelling, eh?

I am intrigued by this levelling system....  currently at level 10, I am, and I am creeping up steadily as I write reviews and add games to my collection.

Fun stuff.  :D

E3 2006 is finito...

It's been an incredibly long time since I've had anything to say about the state of gaming, and now that I have a morning for myself, I might as well work this brain of mine a bit by stretching my thoughts out into one, long, comma-filled sentence.

(Or not.)

E3 2006 is in the books, and it's safe to say my feelings about it are all over the board.  On one hand, I was so happy to see Nintendo take charge, grow cajones and actually come through with what they promised.  On the other hand, Sony did the exact opposite.

I'll start with the Wii.  I was more than skeptical that the controller design would be that practical and fun, but my opinion has changed.  Big time.  From the moment I saw Shigeru Miyamoto and Reggie Fils-Aime on stage playing tennis, I wanted to jump right up there and look ridiculous with them.  While I'm still a bit curious as to how some of the platform games will work with the motion sensing controller, I'm so excited for the majority of the games announced that I'm already sold.

Where can I pre-order?  :D

The XBox 360's year to shine was 2005, so I wasn't expecting much out of the Microsoft camp.  Still, 2006's E3 validated my purchasing the system at launch late last year;  Grand Theft Auto IV, Halo 3, Gears of War, MotoGP 2006 and so many others (Brothers in Arms: Hell's Highway, Call of Duty 3, Lego Star Wars II: The Original Trilogy - seriously, I could keep going on and on) make me glad I splurged after a weak launch lineup of games.

Where do I begin with Sony?  When the trailer for Killzone 2 was first shown last year, OMG's and jaws were dropping left and right.  Was it pre-rendered or in-game?  Needless to say, people were psyched.  I even admit to being one of them.

That bubble has burst...

I'm not one who worships graphics.  A game can get by with being fun and innovative, so long as it looks decent.  The Grand Theft Auto series is a prime example of this - LOVE those games, but it might benefit from a visual facelift.

When the PS3's actual in-game shots were shown, I thought "ok, it looks good - but the games will be good too, right?"

Then, they announced the PS3's launch price.

Then, they announced the seemingly rushed answer to Nintendo's revolutionary Wii controller.

Then, I realized that everything I might buy for the PS3 would also be coming out for the XBox 360.  (Games of real value, anyway.)  There might be slightly better graphics on the PS3, but who cares about graphics when you had to sell your house to buy the console?


So that's pretty much the jist of it.  The Wii will rock you, the PS3 will do nothing but drain your wallet and the XBox 360 will be the next generation's PS2.  Even the current gen systems still have juice (Mortal Kombat: Armageddon, Guitar Hero II and Super Paper Mario to name a few), so I am happy.

To say the very least, I am happy.

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