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Robio_basic Blog

New website that I'm calling home

Hey all. This isn't exactly a good bye post or anything, but recently some old Gamespot friends got their fingers into a new gaming site called thevgpress.com, and they have pulled me in.

I had been fighting the urge to leave GS for a while since I've invested so much time here, but the fact is I'm really not enjoying the forums anymore. There's been an increasing amount of negativity over the past year. Not sure if it's due to Gerstmangate, an economy that increasingly makes it difficult to enjoy multiple consoles, or just an increasing amount of frustration and fanboyism due the the new format of the console wars. Whatever it is, people are starting to get bitter and uppity.

So that brings me back to vgpress.com. It's a simple site that updates gaming news daily, has a near weekly podcast,blogs, and a couple small forums. It's only populateda handful of people right now, but they're all pretty smart guys and there's no snotty attitudes, no "my console is better than your console", and no mods that delete your post when you come up with a clever one liner that insults someone's mother and taste in gaming.

So despite the smaller community I already find myself posting there with great frequency and am enjoying myself again. Check out the site if you have a minute. The navigation still needs a little work but it's getting there, and it's a great source for news if nothing else and you'll likely see a number of familiar gamespot faces.

No Street Fighter IV for me

I'm just about driving myself insane. I really want to play SFIV. As a Wii owner I have no chance in hell of ever playing it. As a one console owner I knew there would be games that I'd miss out on and that's fine. Between 2 jobs, wife and kids there's not enough time to play everything I want on one console, let alone 2. But this is the first time I truly am regretting it.

Street Fighter II was just legendary to me. When I first became interested in the game I remember trying to play it in the arcade but the lines was too long. So instead I settled for the original Street Fighter that had the punch pads. But one of those pads was ripped off and I ended up cutting up my hand on some of the exposed metal.

Despite the injury I never lost interest and a few months later I bought a SNES and a copy of SFII along with it. And it was amazing. Worth all the hype that I had heard. I remember the shock of seeing the 4 bosses the first time. Each one infinitely harder than the next. Vega was a complete blur. How the hell were you supposed to hit him? And for the love of god look at Sagat!!! He's huge!!! And Bison with the Psycho Crusher? Screw that I quit! But I of course preservered and in time got half way decent.

And I played each of the next installments, Championship Edition, Hyper Fighting, Super SFII, etc. The Alpha series would eventually go on to be my favorite, particularly Alpha II. Loved the aesthetics of it, loved the cast, and it just felt perfectly balanced.

But now here I am without a system to play the new installment, which looks simply magnificent. I'm sure in a couple weeks I'll be able to deal once Madworld and Rune Factory: Frontier come out, but right now it's hell. I guess I'll take some comfort in knowing that I wouldn't be able to play as either Adon or Rolento and those were my fighters of choice in the Alpha games.

Crap... it doesn't work. This sucks.

Deadly Creatures - And.....we're done.

Picked up Deadly Creatures last week at launch and yesterday I finally had the time to finish it off. Overall it was a great experience, though I'm not sure I'd call it a great game. If I look at it as just another game it was too short, lacks replay value, suffered from a few camera issues, and had just a terrible ending.

That all being said, I don't regret playing it for a moment. It was such a different experience that it'll go on my "Win" column for no other reason that it was so remarkably original that I couldn't help but enjoy it. Whenever someone starts up with the "games as art" argument I usually roll my eyes and just shut my mouth, but with Deadly Creatures makes one of the strongest cases for it that I've ever encountered.

Adventuring as the tarantula and scorpion and experiencing the world through their eyes inan area that's probably no bigger than my front yard really was something else. Add in the scorpion's combat, the back story of Billy Bob Thorton and Dennis Hopper, and the Tarantula's final boss battle (which despite being brief is damn near legendary) and you've got the makings for a game that I'd recommend to all. The developers tried something truly different and for the most part pulled it off. Got to respect that in a day and age where the biggest games all have IV's and V's after them, if not XIII.

And now that this game is finished, it's time to patiently wait for MadWorld. . . It's going to be a long two weeks.

One year with the Wii - yes I'm happy

Technically I'm about 3 weeks off since I bought the Wii last year during Black Friday but I don't think anyone's counting. And if they are, well screw you it's my blog I can be late if I want.

Overall I'm very happy with the Wii. I've said it before, but if it wasn't for the Wii I wouldn't have a console this gen and likely would have stuck with handhelds. Between the classic Nintendo franchises, the niche titles and the VC I've got everything I want out of a console. Sure there's a few games on the PS3 I kind of miss but not many, and I'm still going to hold my ground on boycotting them this gen. GoW 3 and SFIV will be missed though.

So here's a quick list of my favorite games I played over the last year on the Wii. Not necessarily all were released this year (though most were), but they were new to me this year:

Twilight Princess - Best console Zelda ever. It's actually gotten better since I went back and played it a second time. Snowpeak is without a doubt the greatest dungeon in any Zelda game and I'm hard pressed to think of a boss battle better than the flying dragon that you fight in the Sky Temple.

Brawl - I don't think there's ever been a better "fan service" than Brawl. The main fighting was pretty much the same as ever, but the stages, music, characters, trophies, stickers, and all the other unlockable fun made the game much more than the fighting. It was the greatest trip down memory lane any Nintendo fan could ask for.

No More Heroes - There's something to be said about style over substance. However, when a game packs as much pure attitude as NMH that style suddenly becomes a very good thing. Any repetitive gameplay was quickly made up by the next cut scene you saw or even just the name of the next porno flick that Travis was late in returning.

Mario Kart - Yes it was easier than past installments but frankly who cares? The online racing was one of the best online gaming experiences I've ever had. Friends could play alongside and pick it up in no time, and there's never a shortage of people to play online.

Lost Winds - The best 2-D platformer of the year. Forget anything you've seen on Little Big Planet. The 3 hours you'll spend on Lost Winds are better than any 3 hours you'll spend on any other 2-D platformer on a console this year (there's a particular 2-D Castlevania game that still comes in better overall though).

de Blob - Pure fun. Awesome ska sountrack. Utterly original concept. The game had a few faults, particularly it's rather limited gameplay but I'm hardpressed to think of any game that executed it's main idea so well. There was only 8 or so hours of gameplay to it, but those were 8 amaziing hours.

Harvest Moon: Tree of Tranquility - Every reviewer got their review wrong. The game was repeatedly criticized for being the same old game, but what they all failed to realize was that this was the first Harvest Moon that successfully combined the core farming gameplay with an actual story and not just a generic quest that's just part of the background. Best in the series and no one played the game long enough to fiigure iit out. Pity.

Fond Memories: A Link to The Past

As far as Zelda games go, I'm always late to the party. I never get them at launch (except for the two N64 Zelda's), but I do eventually get them and then I love them and wonder why I didn't get them sooner. It's because they're always a little tough to get into. And it was no different with Link to the Past.

I picked it up after a few months of owning my second SNES. Overall I enjoyed the game, as I did with most Zeldas. The one think that I really enjoy about the series is that there are so many little hidden secrets packed in the game, that every now and then when you find one, you really feel like you're the first person on earth to find it. It doesn't matter how many millions of copies were sold, you were the first person on earth to ever find this particular one. No one else could possibly be as brilliant as you after all.

That moment for me came when I went swimming in the river and found the guy under the bridge who gave you an empty jar. I'm sure most of you have no clue what I'm talking about because you never found it. After all who else but me could have been brilliant enough to figure that one out. That's all me!!!!!!! Seriously though, I was ridiculously proud of that moment. I couldn't even comprehend anyone else on earth taking the time to swim under the bridge. Surely this was a secret only the true masters would find.

One other thing worth mentioning would be that when I bought the game it was used, and I didn't get the box. Instead I got this really nice clear cartridge case. No other game touched that box because shortly after getting the game, I was eating Apple Jacks and the prize was a Legend of Zelda sticker. The one I got had Link on it. One of those pictures that they've been using of him for decades now. Well, needless to say the sticker was immediately put on the case so that it could clearly be identified as the Zelda case.

And today my copy of Link to the Past is one of the very few SNES games I still own. And it still sits in its clear case with a Link Apple Jack sticker on it. And that all makes me better than anyone else.

Harvest Moon: loooooooove this game

Last week I picked up Harvest Moon: Tree of Tranquility. There was a lot of hesitation in this buy since it's been getting very mediocre reviews. Metacritic has it's average score listed at 64 or so. I'm happy to say that all of the reviewers missed the mark on this, and it makes me wonder just how many actually played to completion or at least put in more than a few hours. Really it's making me question the value of modern game reviews more than ever.

The game isn't without its flaws. There's a little too much slowdown and the disc load times are just ridiculous for this point in time. But once you look past those, this is the best Harvest Moon to come out in years. It's also the first (outside of Rune Factory) to combine a real story with a solid farming system. I can't figure out why reviewers didn't pick up on that (unless of course they didn't play it). It's a pretty big deal. It'd be like if the Mario series suddenly had a plot a little more complex than just "saving the princess." Reviews would take note of that (of course they'd play that game).

Regardless of the reviews though I'm very happy that I picked up the game. I spent a good 12 hours or so with it this weekend, and for me that's huge. Best of all I'm finally enjoying a game in one of my favorite franchises that I was just about ready to write off.

Chrono Trigger DS - Trying to decide if I care

I just checked out the Chrono Trigger preview article earlier today. It's been revealed that the extra content involves a monster training/fighting colleseum thing. Couldn't be less interested if I tried. Not sure what I was expecting, but that certainly was underwhelming.

Truth be told though I can't get excited about this game. Odd because back in the day CT was THE freaking game. I don't know how many hours I spent playing it but I got every ending on it, knew every secret, and even paid $50 to import the 3 CD soundtrack from Japan (that was a pretty rare thing back in 1996).

I haven't touched the game in at least 6 or 7 years. I sold it along with a bunch of other games during a money crunch I had several years back. Guess I haven't missed it that much. Still, wonder if I should even mess with it. As into nostalgia gaming as I am, some things are better left untouched.

Quickie game reviews

I just got one of those Unlimited Rental deals at Blockbuster and amazingly enough it pushed me to start playing a lot over the last month. So without further ado. . .

Lego Batman - Well it's the lego formula with Batman. Do I need to break it down any further than that? Didn't think so. Good rental, not worth the buy. 7.5

Wario: Shake It - The whole is not greater than the sum of its parts. Wario should have been a much better game. It looks good, sounds good, handles well, and has some unique gameplay elements. Despite all that it just wasn't a great game. I think it would appeal more to the kind of gamer who likes to get every trophy/goal/quest completed as there is a lot of things to collect and a lot of missions. 7.0

De Blob - This generation's Katamari Damacy. By that I mean it's a game with both an extremely original look and idea. Nothing else is like it. It looks good, the music is incredible, and it a ton of fun. It's a little short though, and the elements they added for replay value don't really grab me, but it's still one of those games that every Wii owner, and really every gamer need to at least play if not add to their collection. 9.0

Samba De Amigo - So much wasted potential. The game could have been great, but Sega half assed it on the controls making playing very frustrating. I won't go so far to say they're broken, but they needed a lot more work. I found a way to get pretty accurate reads with the Wiimotes but it was uncomfortable as hell. Just so sad. 5.5

Professor Layton and the Curious Village - Incredible. I never thought a puzzle collection would appeal to me so much, but it did. I've already written about this one, but I just wanted to emphasize how good I thought it was. 9.0

Legend of Zelda: The Phantom Hourglass - I was completely caught off guard by this game. It may be my favorite Zelda game of all time. It took the Windwaker formula and art style, and fixed all the problems with it and put out a very polished and amazing game. The whole mapping system was brilliant. Though I wasn't sure about it at first, it actually was natural fit for Zelda. Being able to make notes in-game... how was this never included before?? Brilliant. I had small issues with combat, but aside from that there are no complaints. Even the one dungeon that you have to repeatedly return too wasn't that big of a deal to me. I'm going to replay the game one more time in about 6 months to see if it still holds up, but either way I hold this game in the highest of regards. 9.5

Fond Memories: Sonic the Hedgehog

Despite not being a huge Genesis fan, the very first 16 bit game to make a real impact on me was Sonic the Hedgehog. The hype around this game was something else, as Sega was determined to put this new mascot on par with Mario. I wasn't sold on it though. Hedgehogs are neither blue nor do they look anything like Sonic. This was obviously a contrived load of crud.

My cousin had a Genesis though, and so on some holiday I went over to his house and I got to try it out. WOW. . . this game is fast. THat's pretty much the thought that never left my head. Nothing like this ever existed before. Who the hell could possibly control something like this?? When Sonic REALLY built up speed you were pretty much left at the mercy of the game. That was a completely new experience though, having a game faster than I could control it. Certainly never happened with a NES game.

The other big thing that stuck in my head was what Sonic would do when he stopped moving. If you left him standing still for more than a few seconds he'd start tapping his foot and pointing to his watch. Pretty funny, but at the same time I thought, "what a prick."

The funniest thing of all at the end of the day happened when it was time to go home. I played Sonic pretty much non-stop for about 4 or 5 hours, and in that time apparently I did not blink. When I about to leave my dad saw my eyes and asked what the hell happened. They were totally bloodshot. That was a first. It had never happened to me before with other games.

So to this day when I think of Sonic I think about playing till my eyes bled.

Fond Memories: 16 bit era Part II: The Genesis

Two really bad things happened to me in the beginning of 1993.

1. I found out that there was an X-men game on the Sega Genesis, and being a comic book junkie I had to have it.

2. One of these new stores opened up in my area that bought old video games and systems.

See where this is going yet? Yeah. . . I went to this store and brought along my SNES, FF II, Secret of Mana, FF: Mystic Quest, and Spider-Man & the X-Men and made the trade. All of those for a Genesis and The X-Men (which was just a horrendous game). Yeah that was kind of dumb.

I won't say I hated the Genesis. There were some fun games on it, like Sonic and Streets of Rage, but as an RPG junkie the Genesis was totally lacking so I never really got that into it. For some reason I rented a lot of EA PGA games, so 15 years later I can't help but still associate the Genesis with golf.

I was also introduce to the evils of 3rd party controllers with the Genesis. Some genius at Sega decided that 3 buttons was more than enough. Unfortunately when the fighting game genre came to fruition the standard controllers didn't cut it. When Street Fighter II Championship Edition came out you had to press the start button to toggle back and forth between punches and kicks. Made for a real effective system as you can guess.

I ended up picking up these special controllers for the Genesis with 6 buttons. I can't remember who made them (if there's a god they're out of business) but they were red and black and just the biggest bulkiest controllers I've ever held. They made the old X-box controllers look small. Not only were they uncomfortable, but both broke within 1 use so that only 5 out of 6 buttons worked. But it wasn't even the same button on both controllers. One controller couldn't do strong punches and the other couldn't do weak kicks, so dependng on who I was playing with I had to switch out controllers.

That kind of sums up my thoughts on the Genesis. . . more trouble than it was worth. About 9 months after purchasing it I ended up going back to the same used game store and trading everything back for a SNES. Of course the bastard only gave me $35 for the Genesis, so I wasn't able to get much. But it was a good lesson to learn about the evils of trading in game systems, and at the end I had a SNES again so all was good. And in the process I learned how to get cheaper games at a used game store, so now my collection was about to grow by leaps and bounds.