December 25, 2014

Kicking Gnomes: The Rest of 2014

I didn't get the chance to shoot photos for everything this time and since I missed my Summer and Autumn editions, I'm just kind of combining the rest of my year into one blog and I'm already certain I've forgotten things! I was super busy this year so my pickups were not as fruitful as I had hoped, but regardless, here's some of the stuff I managed to put my name on this past few months.
I apologize for the horrific photos.

December 18, 2014

Les Dispositifs Terribles: Nintendo WiiU

I was very excited when I finally picked up my Wind Waker HD limited edition WiiU, Nintendo's sixth worldwide, non-handheld console. Then it sat on my shelf for a few months and I barely touched it. Those days are over, folks! I'm now knee-deep in my relationship with my WiiU, so it's time to have a look at how it stacks up as a console. So…

December 11, 2014

Game Binge - Episode Three [WiiU Edition]

I've been spending a lot of time getting thoroughly acquainted with my WiiU in the past couple months, and I thought it necessary to reflect these activities in blog format. It's been a long time since I've posted a Game Binge, so I decided I'd just jump in and test drive a whole bunch of games currently available for the console. In the words of Mario, "here we go!"

December 04, 2014

That's A Wrap: Bayonetta 2

warning: may contain spoilers

Today we look at Platinum's long awaited sequel to Bayonetta: Bayonetta 2! Inventive…
Jokes aside, this is the first game I've bought immediately at release in a long time. That's sayin' somethin' folks.

If' you'd like a more intense look at my first impressions, have a peek at my 8-Bit Minute blog, based on the demo. To summarize: Bayo2 sure seems like a technical upgrade from the first game, without ruining everything else that I did love. This is of particular note for the blog, because if I were to write this "Wrap" blog as I normally would, it would be virtually identical to my blog on the original title. So this time, I decided to focus on some specifics of Bayonetta 2, including some things that I more or less ignored in my discussion of Bayo1.

First let's have a quick rundown of the game's audio/visuals!
Bayonetta 2 is incredibly bright and colorful, which is different from much of the first game. The HD cinematics are absurdly good looking, and the in-between dialogue bits are very familiar, with a simple, sequel update. The graphics during combat are a bit rougher in texture, and you may experience the occasional lag or some aliasing during input-heavy moments or online play, but it hasn't affected my personal enjoyment much at all. As lovely as everything looks on an HD telly, everything is mimicked on the WiiU's gamepad, too, and looks rather epic there. Not as sharp but certainly saturated. Additionally, I love, love, love the design of enemies in these games! The angels are regal while the demons are menacing, and yet they tie together beautifully. The "costume" design of the sages is particularly exquisite.

November 27, 2014

In RETROspect: Rocket Knight Adventures

So the masters of the Cartridge Club finally got their shit together and added a Genesis title to the roster, and the game in question for November 2014 was Konami's Rocket Knight Adventures! This is a game I've had in my arsenal for a long time, and I've always enjoyed playing it so I figured this was a great opportunity for another In RETROspect blog!

When I first cracked into the game many, many moons ago, I only recall feeling like it was a classic platformer, which was a game genre I spent a great deal of time with back in the day. It's a quick, fun game with a unique hero leading you on this multi-territorial adventure. And because you're an opossum I don't know when the "o" happened (teehee!), it was just "possum" when I was a kid... there are a few handy gameplay mechanics that you won't see in any other game.
Upon replaying… it's harder than I remember. This particular title emphasizes the need for excellent timing and a great deal of platformer's instinct and frankly, I'm a little rusty. I do have to mention that one area RKA excels in is sound effects! They are phenomenal! There are not many games in which simply deploying a parachute will make you smile. The rest of the soundtrack is pretty tight, too. Not the greatest of the era, but certainly catchy and the upbeat tunes will keep you motivated throughout. And for the record, the game still looks amazing; very sharp, and some of the best 16-bit graphics I've seen.

November 13, 2014

The Elite Four: Sub Bosses

warning: contains spoilers 

Ahh… feels good to tap out another one of these. I've got a mildly unique list for you today: sub bosses! Or mini bosses, or mid bosses or whatever you'd like to call them; today we call attention to all the badasses that weren't the final boss, but remain the highlight battle(s) of the game they belong to. I'm super interested in what sub bosses stand out to you guys, so please drop me a comment with yours! This was a tough list for me to place, so take the rankings with a grain of salt. And without further ado, here are my Top 5 Video Game Sub Bosses.

October 30, 2014

Les Dispositifs Terribles: Playstation Vita

Hey there, sports fans! So I have for you today, a new invention. It's a sort of break down of gaming hardware, and I will try to do one every time I purchase a new system. I've recently acquired a bunch of new systems - and by "new", I mean new for me, not necessarily hot off the press - and it occurred to me that putting my thoughts down into words might be a bright idea. Please understand, THIS IS NOT A REVIEW per se. I don't exactly see the point in "reviewing" hardware because A) I (will) own them all anyway, and B) I would never recommend you do or don't buy a system because of its hardware specifications alone, I would recommend them chiefly based on their game libraries, and which would suit the person best. I'm publishing this so you can see my thoughts and first impressions of the system, and I will try to highlight a few things that stand out or maybe that you weren't aware of, and then perhaps my feelings will help you decide whether you are prepared to make the purchase yourself, if you haven't already. Every time I purchase a system, I always find myself noticing things that I didn't know before I made the purchase, and sometimes I think these are things people would like to know. So here goes…

October 23, 2014

That's A Wrap: Dragon's Crown

warning: may contain spoilers

Well, well, well. Long time no see, gamers! Today I'm back with another article in which you will probably skip all the reading to stare at the pictures: Dragon's Crown! The game is allegedly an action RPG, although it feels more like a classic hack 'n' slash to me. But! it's bloody gorgeous, as per usual for Vanillaware, who also developed-in-part the (recently logged) Muramasa Rebirth, which was also absurdly good-looking. Dragon's Crown is available on PS3 and PSVita, and due to my lack of being home as of late, I chose to experience the adventure on Vita.

I vividly remember the massive hype surrounding DC at the time of its release. Many people seemed to purchase it right away and I saw lots of boobs screen caps and comments on twitter. However, I'm kind of glad that I waited as long as I did to play DC, because I ended up going into it completely blind, with little more than the aforementioned boobs hype for expectations. The first notes I jotted down were, "I can already tell lining up hits is going to take me back to my retro days. Not sure if that's a good thing…" and, after my first hour of play: I'm intrigued. It's fun to play, and a little overwhelming. I know I'll become accustomed to gameplay as I go, but it feels like a lot to soak in.

October 16, 2014

8-Bit Minute: Bayonetta 2

I've been inspired to invent a new blog: 8-Bit Minutes will (hopefully) be short, simple and sweet as their namesake's era. I was motivated to create this after playing the criminally short demo of Bayonetta 2 for the WiiU. I just feel like I have a few things to say, and while I can pretty much assure you there will be a "Wrap" article on Bayo2 in the future, for now, I just want to lay down my first impressions on the game (demo). In the future, these will not necessarily always be based on demos, but just any game or topics that I've acquired an impression of, that warrants more than a few sentences to convey (see "Game Binge"), or perhaps anything in the industry I want to briefly comment on. I promise to keep this as to-the-point as I am able.

July 31, 2014

That's A Wrap: Bioshock

warning: may contain spoilers

When I first saw the promos and commercials for Bioshock my reaction was, "I don't care what this is, I have to play it." This is a somewhat rare occurrence for me, made even more outstanding by the fact that I learned Bioshock was a first-person shooter, and that didn't deter me at all. Something about that Bobby Darin tune mixed with the violent images of a Big Daddy just had me dying to know more. I feel like I can't emphasize enough how important that is to me... I really don't enjoy many FPSs. Actually, I'm not entirely sure Bioshock deserves the "First-Person Shooter" designation because the game as a whole is truly the antithesis of that genre; there's so much more to this game than killing people and blowing stuff up! It's a story- and character-heavy drama that incorporates aspects of many genres into it and kind of ends up being its own… thing. I've recently tried pitching Bioshock to some friends who don't play many games - and certainly few from days gone by - and in spite of their disinterest, every time I mentioned something like morality, multiple endings, and chemical throwers they seemed to suddenly light up with interest. I feel like Bioshock can appeal to any gamer, and it remains to this day, one of the very few FPSs I will not only give the time of day, but replay again and again. And again.

July 17, 2014

That's A Wrap: Muramasa Rebirth

warning: may contain spoilers

Continuing to bond with my PSVita, I found myself unable to resist the allure of Muramasa Rebirth, a Vita port of the Wii title, Muramasa: The Demon Blade. What attracted me to Muramasa was actually that I didn't really know anything about it! I'm familiar with the word "Muramasa" but that didn't necessarily explain the game. After firing it up for the first time… wow.
The game is comically polite, unbelievably good looking, and feels like it belongs amongst my favorite retro titles in a lot of ways.
The first thing I think anyone would notice about this game, is that it is beautiful; the colors are exquisite and the design is just gorgeous. There are little visual effects in some areas that are so subtle but so effective - they add so much to the atmosphere of each level, which
are hand painted with heavy Asian influence and it's just… fucking beautiful. I really can't describe this game's graphics and do it justice; even the screen caps are not entirely honest.

July 03, 2014

Kicking Gnomes: Spring 2014

Apparently this was the spring of hardware for me. As such my actual game pickups were few and far between, but now that I'm caught up on consoles (well… almost) I think I can spend the next few months pissing away my money on games again!

First up,
I'm finally the proud owner of Playstation Vita. Because it's about fucking time. Still looking for excellent recommendations; you guys know me by now, what will I like? Of course I have all the PS+ free titles from the last few months, and you can see below what else I've purchased.
I also got a heavy-duty case and two memory cards (not pictured) but what I really want is just a really big, reasonably priced one. Come on, Sony.
My first official game for my Vita was this copy of Mortal Kombat. Haven't really played it yet, but MK is close to my heart so I hope it doesn't suck.

June 26, 2014

In RETROspect: Super Mario Land 3: Wario Land

warning: may contain spoilers

I was craving something quick, fun and familiar, so I dove into my Game Boy collection for something good. I happened upon my Wario Land trio, and decided it was time I give them another whirl, beginning with Super Mario Land 3, a.k.a. Wario Land!

As I'm sure the title hints at, Wario Land is a classic platformer based largely on the very popular Mario games, but with the famed plumber's slightly-more-obese cousin at the helm. I've always had a soft spot for Wario; I find him comically sinister and happily choose him over his predecessors. My first impressions of Wario Land were that it's extraordinary fun, in spite of its simple gameplay. Upon replaying, I was surprised by how much of the game came back to me, including secrets! You do not need the manual to figure out Wario Land; I suppose the story isn't exactly presented clearly, but if you're familiar with our fat friend, you get the picture. Basically, pirates have stolen a statue of Princess Peach, and our clever semi-villain has concluded that if he beats the others to it, he can barter the statue back to the royals for lots and lots of money! That said, your adventure is served by Wario and Wario alone. The only other characters in the game are the baddies (save for one minor cameo at the end…)!

June 19, 2014

The Elite Four: Hardest Games

I almost didn't bother with this article because I'm worried there is nothing newsworthy here, and I'd hate to sound like a broken record. But in this case, I don't think it can be avoided, these games are notorious for their difficultly and I think any life-long gamer would hold them amongst their top 10.
Also, this list ended up being entirely retro (all NES, actually) because, as I think about it, retro games were always harder. Oftentimes these games didn't have difficulty settings to choose from, you only had 3 lives to complete the entire game, and they were based on (or are home versions of) arcade games, which were basically designed to be impossible to finish. They never held your hand.
I don't think this generation's gamer really even comprehends what us old-schoolers have been through. So maybe you'll gain a little insight today, maybe you'll just plain agree, or maybe you have a different view of these titles altogether.
Broken record it is! Here are my Top 5 Most Difficult Video Games.

June 12, 2014

The E3 Blog: 2014

This year I decided to switch up the format a bit, and present my thoughts to you by presentation. I basically just jotted a sentence or two for everything shown during the conferences - while watching them - so it's a little point form-y and disassembled, but my thoughts are there, nonetheless. There were many other games present at E3 that did not make an appearance during any of the conferences, and as such, they are absent from this blog. I don't want to bore you COMPLETELY to death, and I still have a great deal of research to do myself. So without further ado…

June 05, 2014

That's A Wrap: Uncharted: Golden Abyss

warning: may contain spoilers

For my first foray into the PSVita I chose a game that I'm familiar and comfortable with elsewhere: Uncharted. Please bear that in mind as you read, as many of my opinions may actually be Vita-related rather than game specific, since I'm still getting accustomed to the console. Apologies if this annoys you.

My first impression of Uncharted: Golden Abyss? I miss the 50-inch telly. It's significantly harder to clock headshots on this tiny screen with finicky controls. But other than that, the game looks familiar, sounds familiar, plays familiar… by all means this is an Uncharted game. I noticed there seems to be less combat, and it's much easier to complete melee or stealth attacks in this version. Also, there is much, much more to do in Golden Abyss by way of treasure hunting. It was clearly designed for people who wanted Uncharted exploration on steroids. I quite enjoy these aspects of Uncharted though, so this is shaping up to be a great game!

Uncharted has the unique distinction of being one of the first games on both of Sony's (at the time) recently released consoles. Drake's Fortune (insert shameless self-promotion) had the honor of breaking ground for the PS3, and Golden Abyss was one of the earlier titles for the Vita. Certainly between the two, the game looks infinitely better on the PS3, but I commend the artists of GA for their stunning backgrounds and competent level design.

May 29, 2014

Tales of Opinia: Trophies & Achievements

So it's been a while since I've done something different here, and I've had this blog type chambered away pretty much since the beginning, I just hadn't the time or content to tap one out. Tales of Opinia blogs are - you guessed it - opinion pieces. As always, you are free to disagree with me, but I'm going to try to shed some light on who I am and why I feel the way I do about certain aspects of the gaming industry. I'm always looking for inspiration or motivation regarding content, so if there is something you'd like me to discuss in a blog, please get in touch with me and share, and I will try to oblige.

Today's case in point: trophies and achievements, and why I don't like them. Let's start with the obvious incoming disclaimer: these are MY opinions. I understand a blog could easily be written to the opposite tune of this one. In fact, I could probably rhyme off a few great things about trophies and achievements, but that is not the purpose of this blog. If you are a trophy/achievement whore (I say that affectionately), that's fine. By all means. I don't hate you. I'm just saying I don't particularly care for this system. Quick warning: my mouth comes out in this blog. Sorry.

We didn't have trophies and achievements when I started gaming. We did have high scores, but after arcades, gaming became a very personal thing, and so did your scores. If you had the good fortune(…?) to grow up with siblings, close neighbors or friends who never went home, maybe you still had a little competition, but it was between you and the people you cared for. Your biggest enemy was you.

May 22, 2014

The Elite Four: Effective Songs

So here's a fun fact for you: like so many others, music is an absolutely huge factor in my life. In my troubled childhood, music was often what kept me sane; in my tedious teenage years, music propelled me through school; and in my adult life I've studied music and audio extensively and incorporated it into my career. That said, it should come as no surprise to you that soundtracks are one of the first things I notice in a video game, or anywhere really. A well composed soundtrack can add so much to a game, and over the years I've added countless soundtracks to my music collection, and dumped them onto every iPod I own. While I insist that there are many, many worthy soundtracks and several amazing composers who work largely in the video games industry, over the years I've noticed a few tracks from some of my favorite games that just... stand out. Every time they pop up I'm immediately filled with memories and a very strong desire to play the game from which they originate. Not only are they catchy, they're memorable and very descriptive of the levels and moments they accompany. So with the quick disclaimer that this was a very, very, very difficult list for me compile, I present you what I think are my Top 5 Most Effective Songs from Video Games.

May 15, 2014

Minor Distraction: SaGa 2: Hiho Densetsu (Final Fantasy Legend II)

warning: may contain spoilers

I think this may be my most anticipated discussion to date, as many of you are old fans of this game and the rest of you have never played it! So I will do my best to provide some insight on this awesome Game Boy classic that will hopefully do the game justice.

Let me begin by quickly clarifying that SaGa 2 was retitled 'Final Fantasy Legend II' in North America. I will, however, refer to it only as SaGa 2, largely because I like the name better, and because I'm not proud of the rename. It seems the game was retitled to leech off the recently popular (in NA) Final Fantasy games, and guarantee SaGa's success in other markets, but I've always felt that SaGa was plenty fantastic on its own.

I first got my paws on this game in the early 90's when it was released in North America. I guess my mum recognized the name "Final Fantasy" as one I loved, and bought it for me - so I guess the sales tactic worked. Imagine my surprise when I popped the cart into my Game Boy and discovered that this is no Final Fantasy at all! That doesn't stop SaGa 2 from being an excellent fantasy RPG, though, especially considering it's one of the earliest RPGs made popular on a handheld in this hemisphere. While it does share a handful of qualities in common with Final Fantasy, it is - as I said - its own title, and one that I've replayed countless times. I love this game.

May 08, 2014

That's A Wrap: Final Fantasy X

warning: may contain spoilers

I have played Final Fantasy X as many times as years it's been available, plus a few. It's a tradition for me to pick this title up and blast through it at least once a year, so excuse me if I consider myself something of an expert on it.

I can't fully recall my first impressions of FFX, but when I think about this game my brain overflows with memories, some of the most prominent of which are from my first playthrough, in which I trailed my friend Rich, and we'd get together every day to talk about the game. Allow me to take a moment to insert this confession: if ever there were a fictional character I'd totally marry the shit out of, it's Seymour Guado. Stupid voice actor and all! That said, Rich was the recipient of one very pathetic phone call, from one devastated Lo Burton who had just killed Seymour. His response was "...which time?" and my day was made.
This time around, there was some initial shock regarding how poorly FFX has aged, and how it compares to the current gen, but those feelings were quickly replaced by the anticipation of diving into the world of Spira, its magnificent story, its interesting cast and the last game in the series to hold onto the longtime values that make a game worthy of the title, 'Final Fantasy'.

May 01, 2014

Don't Panic: The Rules

The following outlines the rules and regulations regarding contest prizes and giveaways from And Then She Games and Lo Burton. Most contests or giveaways will be conducted via twitter (@nintenlo). As a participant, you must first agree to these stipulations.

April 17, 2014

That's A Wrap: Deadpool

warning: may contain spoilers. And prime examples of why I'm frequently compared to the M with a M.

The time. Has come. I couldn't put off my darling Deadpool any longer. Even the case was starting to get mouthy! People seem to struggle with the idea of a woman really loving Deadpool. Even the guys at the game shop I bought my copy at were like, "um... do you know what you're getting into?"
"Did you read any reviews?"
The fact remains: I love Deadpool. I love Deadpool. I love Deadpo-

Dammit, Apple! Learn to recognize 'Deadpool' as a word!

I love Deadpool.
There we go. Anyway, as I was saying: I love the M with a M so much, I'd buy this game even if it was terrible, and was just going to sit on my shelf and collect dust.

My first impression of DP went something like: "I'm 60 seconds in and I've already received 3 achievements…"
And then: "I'm 120 seconds in and I can't stop laughing. Also, more achievements."

April 03, 2014

Kicking Gnomes: Winter 2013/14

I don't think my winter slash Christmas slash birthday slash Valentine's (jerk...) was as fruitful as some, but here are a few titles I added to my collection this winter.

Nate, Nate and Nate are united at last! I never actually owned copies of Uncharted 2 and 3, I just borrowed them from others, and I'm pretty sure I gave my copy of the first title away a long time ago. But after picking up and replaying the original, I decided it was time the trilogy joined my collection permanently. Love this series. You can read my wrap up for Uncharted here!

March 27, 2014

The Elite Four: Party Games

One of the things I love most about video games is their ability to bring people together. I'm sure when many people think about "playing video games" they think of one guy, cooped up in his mom's basement, in the dark, staring at a screen while slumped in a chair and eating cheetos. While I'm totally guilty of this, I'm also known amongst my crowd for bringing video games to parties or small get togethers, and getting even the greatest of nay-sayers to participate. Hell, I've even gotten my father* to play video games! So for this edition of the Elite Four, we're going to have a look at some of my favorite titles for parties and get togethers, for all kinds of gamers. A couple of classics, some unconventional picks, and some mildly funny anecdotes.
Also: double whammy! Here are my Top 10 Games for Parties.

*Think least likely guy on the planet to play video games, and then knock it down a few more notches…

March 19, 2014

That's A Wrap: Tales Of Xillia

warning: may contain spoilers

As my beloved Alvin would say, "that's a wrap!"

Tales games are popular amongst seasoned RPGers, and I consider myself one of them, so Tales of Xillia was a non-negotiable must for my collection. When PSN offered it for a measly 10 dollars, I had run out of excuses for putting off this game any longer (for the record: I will be purchasing a hard copy). And since the 'Tales of' collection is amongst my all-time favorites, Xillia took priority over the millions of other games I've got in queue.

Being a Tales game means, for me, that Xillia is an instant classic, and while many of my first impressions were less than savory, almost none of them stayed with me. Amongst such observations: the game seemed so dark and muted. Even the menus. Not nearly as vibrant or sharp as previous entires. But it turns out this is actually story related, and the menus are just the result of a typical "seasonal" Tales makeover.
The interactivity is very different. There are tons of NPCs scattered about, but you can only talk to a select few, usually indicated by a bubble above the character's head which will depict a face - for conversation (and the mouth will close if the character has nothing new to say); an exclamation mark - for a game event; or a series of lines - indicating a shop.
In the end, I suppose I was just shocked. Xillia had some pretty massive shoes to fill, being the follow-up to my recent playthrough of Tales of Vesperia (I've skipped Graces for now), which quickly became not only my favorite Tales game, but one of my favorite games of all time. I will take this moment to shamelessly promote my often-overlooked Vesperia article. It took me a long time to warm to Xillia, but it eventually captured me, as Tales games always do.

March 13, 2014

Out of MP: Dishonored

warning: may contain spoilers

I tried on numerous occasions to play Dishonored on the Xbox360, and burnt out every time. I constantly had to talk myself into it, like it was an unnecessary chore. I think it's safe to say I'm out of MP...

I think I'm going to try a new format for these. I'm going to attempt to divide my thoughts into pros and cons, so that you can clearly see what I disliked about the game, but also understand that I see the good things, too. Forgive me if these thoughts are a little all over the place... First, I'll share what little information I managed to gather from my many short bouts with Dishonored.

The story is centered around the silent Corvo, the Empress' most trusted guard. He's sent to neighboring empires to seek help in the growing plague problem, which is being spread rampantly by rats. Our story begins as Corvo is returning home, where he is clearly liked and respected by all, especially the Empress' young daughter Emily. Shortly after delivering his journey's news to the lady-in-charge, the trio are attacked by an unknown enemy, who possess incredible abilities including teleportation. They murder the Empress and kidnap her daughter, and when the Empress' court arrives, only Corvo is left, with blood on his hands. He is immediately charged, and begins a long tenure of prison cells and interrogation rooms. Finally, the day comes when Corvo is to be executed, but in a strange turn of events, he is helped to escape. These mysterious rescuers invite Corvo to join them as an assassin, under the notion that together, they will rescue Emily and help her to the throne, overthrowing the mastermind Spymaster, who has taken over. Shortly after, Corvo is met by the Outsider, who brands Corvo with his insignia, granting Corvo the ability to use powers, such as the teleporting "blink" ability seen earlier. The bulk of the game consists of Corvo being sent on various missions to eliminate key people in the Spymaster's rise to power, and rescuing Emily.

February 12, 2014

In RETROspect: Golden Axe

I've been trying for a while now to figure out how to go about discussing a retro game. It's such an obvious move for me because I love retro games, and they're why I'm a gamer, but it's tough because you can't really evaluate them under the same standards as today's games. Normally you'd basically just ask yourself: "could they do better?" but it's kind of pointless to ask this of a retro game because most of them are 20+ years old and nobody is really going to change them now (yes, they could port or reboot, but then I'd be reviewing that…).

So I thought I'd try to begin to conquer this curious territory with Golden Axe, because God knows I talk about it enough, and it's a pretty well-rounded retro game that helped set a lot of standards for console games at the time (and some arcade games, too!).

There is no way I could possibly recall my first impressions of Golden Axe, but I can ask myself this: how much could I figure out without the manual?
In this case the answer is "everything you need to know". At the beginning of the game, you get a handful of screens and text boxes explaining who the characters are and why they're seeking Death Adder. The controls are painfully simple and the rest of the game doesn't take long to figure out.

February 06, 2014

The Elite Four: Two Player Genesis Games

In case it's not already clear, the Sega Genesis/Mega Drive is probably my favorite console. We go way back. In my home in the 80's and 90's, Nintendo consoles came and went like high school boyfriends, and Atari would make the occasional booty call, but I guarded my Genny with my life. No one "borrowed" it, no one had a chance to break, and no one sold it. As such, I've spent considerably more time with my Genesis, so it's got a pretty big space in my heart, and I have a decent library to match.

Being the token Genny girl in town, I would often drag people to my house and make them help me with the many two player games the system offers, so here are my Top 5 Two Player Genesis Games (non-fighters).

January 30, 2014

That's A Wrap: Blue Dragon

warning: may contain spoilers

Once upon a time, the video game industry's most talented got together to create a fantasy RPG. And it was glorious. I'm glad to say I've finally completed Blue Dragon for the first time and it was much more impressive than I thought it would be. 'RPGs on Xbox' is spooky territory and this was the very first offering from RPG powerhouse Mistwalker. I think it paid off, and this is one of the few diamonds-in-the-rough. I fell in love in minutes. It's an incredibly complex game, but it doesn't feel overwhelming as you play. Nevertheless, I will try to introduce you to all the major components today.
The first thing you may notice about Blue Dragon is that it has multiple discs! I thought we were past this? Not really an issue but an interesting surprise when I first cracked open the case…

When mysterious violet clouds roll in over Talta Village, they bring with them a brutal land shark attack. The small settlement's youth decide they've had enough of these recurring incidents, and this time they are going to capture the monster. Enter the game's protagonist Shu, with his intellectual counterpart Jiro and the impulsive Kluke. They devise a clever plan to save the village, but things don't really go according to plan, and the trio is whisked away on an adventure to discover who is behind these attacks, and put a stop to it.

January 16, 2014

The Elite Four: Retro Babysitting Games

Welcome to my first Elite Four* article, which will showcase my "top 5*" of various subjects. We're starting with a pretty weird one, but it's one that I have to turn to quite a lot, actually. If you've got friends who are parents, you're tight with your neighbors, or maybe you've just got a big family like me, sooner than later you're going to get stuck with the kids. A lot of people in my life have young kids right now and in spite of the fact that I'm not the biggest fan of little ones, I try to be a good friend/sister occasionally by taking the little brats off their hands for a while.

I'm pretty sure you can't be "the cool aunt" unless you have video games… it just so happens I have many, and surprisingly, I have quite a few titles that are just perfect for kids. When it comes to entertaining 4-10 year olds, I often turn to my retro consoles for help, because I find the games as a whole are much less complicated for young minds, and I tend to prefer the consoles to the handhelds if I've got more than one munchkin, because then they can all see what's going on and participate. Playing Pokemon on Game Boy is awesome when you've only got one sitting in your lap, but otherwise, we need the big guns…

January 09, 2014

That's A Wrap: Uncharted: Drake's Fortune

warning: contains spoilers

I hadn't planned on replaying Uncharted, but I needed something to do while killing time at my parent's house over Christmas so why not? I'm reminded how much I love the Uncharted series, and how fun and quick this game is. A lot of people consider this "a man's Tomb Raider," which is pretty funny 'cause I think dudes would rather play TR and chicks would rather play this.

I don't really recall how I felt about the graphics in Uncharted at the time of its release, and this was one of the few PS3 games I played early on so it had the rare opportunity to expose the PS3's capabilities. In any case it's clear that they put a lot of work into it, and it holds up pretty nicely. Obviously the animation of characters is a bit blockier than later games but the scenery is beautiful and the details retain their prominence.

The music in Uncharted is pretty different. Indiana Jones, anyone? Typical Naughty Dog, using minimal sound, but it's effective and you learn to depend on it because you know when there's music, there is still work to be done. The tunes themselves are pretty cool. The orchestra makes great use of exotic instruments you don't typically find in video game arrangements, or anywhere really. They really add a neat ethnic touch to the soundtrack and it grabs your attention.

January 02, 2014

That's A Wrap: Shadow of the Colossus

warning: may contain spoilers

The beauty of Shadow of the Colossus is that it's an incredibly simple game. I remember the first time I played SotC on PS2, thinking, "it's gotta get more complicated soon," but it never does! This time around I played the HD remaster of SotC on the PS3 for the first time, as finding a copy for the PS2 can be pretty tricky these days. I have no idea what happened to my copy, but I played this game plenty back in the day.

I think many Colossus fans would argue that this game was ironically? waaay ahead of its time at release in 2005, on the Playstation 2, so playing it all straightened up on PS3 was quite the experience. I didn't notice any major changes in the game, except that the graphics are entirely cleaned up and of course, you get trophies. It really looks fantastic on the PS3 and the improved frame rate helps you get a better handle on the game - sometimes literally. The setting is still true to the game: a largely barren wasteland of ruins with patches of lush oasis… navigating this gorgeous, massive world is a joy.

In a strange contrast to the game's visual, the soundtrack is actually quite saturated. The music is played to you by a wonderful orchestra and the songs are rich and brilliant.