Dream Journal : Vicodin Dreams, Pt. 4

July 26, 2018 6:42pm
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This week I’ve been relying heavily on Vicodin to help me sleep while trying to pass a kidney stone, which has resulted in some particularly lucid, albeit still pretty weird dreams…

I had been watching an episode of The Game Chasers when I noticed something that seemed a little familiar.

I couldn’t quite put my finger on it until we went to visit my Grandpa later on that day and at random, I asked if anyone had been through the neighborhood recently asking about old video games.

I expected a quick dismissal, but instead he admitted that a couple of guys had been by the other day, and he took me into the back room where I quickly recognized the trim on the wall from the same that I’d seen in the video!

Although the guys had gotten an old school NES top-loader, thank god they hadn’t gotten everything because what was left was AMAZING!!!

It seemed like there were just stacks upon stacks of NES games everywhere – on tables and falling out of cupboards.

There were old systems and piles of controllers – where Grandpa had come up with all of this stuff, I had no idea!

My cousins had always been into Sega Game Gear, so at first I thought I’d just found their old handheld system in its case, but upon closer inspection there were three or four other units in this much larger display case like it was some sort of demo unit for a bunch of add-ons that had never even made it to market.

My luckiest find, though, was this unopened cart in a shiny, metallic purple box that I knew just from looking at it had to have been some sort of rare import, however while I fumbled to look it up online, the game box changed into a metallic purple VHS tape box, almost like those hologram cards where you could tilt them at an angle to make a crude animation of sorts.

I struggled with what to tell my Grandpa because it quickly became clear that he wasn’t just going to give all of it to me, but I made sure to mention that he shouldn’t sell anything else without checking with me first and at least he agreed to that! 😉

My Top 10 NES Games

April 25, 2018 8:23pm
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Inspired by this video from Billy of The Game Chasers citing his top 20 favorite NES games, I thought it might be fun to compile my own top 10 list.

…which was honestly hard for such a nostalgic system because there were just so many games that I wanted to include in the list just because they were classics – almost merely out of obligation!

But I tried to limit that wherever possible and instead focus on the games that I built up such incredible memories playing as a kid because I can still fire up just about any of these games today and be instantly transported back to my elementary school days where weekends were spent playing whatever NES game I had picked out to rent for $2 while my Mom went grocery shopping. 🙂

10. Megan Man 2
Admittedly this is one game that I’m just terrible at today, I was the master of this when I was, like, 8 years old! MM3 had more unique bosses and built on MM2, but this was the game that I cut my teeth on, for sure.

9. Base Wars
I’m not a sports fan at all, but baseball played by robots with guns and rocket launchers?! I would play entire leagues of this game set to two player with the second player empty just so that I could earn tons of money and build a team of the best robots available. The whole baseball part was just a backdrop. 😉

8. Excitebike
When I worked at summer camp, for some reason Excitebike was the go to game played in our cabin whenever any of us had five minutes of free time. It’s such a simple game, and it’s honestly not even that good, yet somehow that’s also what made it GREAT!

7. Battletoads
As Billy mentioned in his own video, Battletoads was ridiculously hard, but I loved how in the very first level there were little secrets like being able to ride the fire-breathing pigs. Plus, it was an added challenge to be able to hurt the other player whereas most other two player games before it had you invulnerable. Also – they’re toads, and they fight! It was by far one of the most unique, creative games of its time!!!

6. Super Mario Bros 3
This was kind of one of those classics, but it was also amazing and revolutionary and the commercial was beyond exciting. I remember we got the game by a friend of my Dad picking it up at a Toys ‘R Us downstate and mailing it to us because this was before video games were available everywhere. The game itself, of course … wow. Giant World. Cloud World. Bowser’s Kingdom. So many rich levels to explore – it’s really no surprise that it’s the #1 game by almost any standard … I honestly just threw it anywhere here to give the rest of my top 10 a fighting chance!

5. Final Fantasy
Final Fantasy 2 (IV) for the SNES is probably my favorite game of all-time, but the original Final Fantasy was one of my first introductions to RPGs. The grind was always tough trying to earn enough money for all of the weapons and armor and spells that you wanted/needed, but I loved as you got farther in the game and started getting items that keyed into special traits like Ice Armor vs fire creatures, etc… Plus, the class change was pretty cool.

4. Life Force
It’s like Contra, but in space! I was introduced to this game by one of my older cousins and it was cool because we could play together … plus, the Konami code made it a little easier when you didn’t know what you were doing. I’ve never really gotten into the rest of the Gradius series that this game technically fits into, but this is a personal classic for sure.

3. River City Ransom
I wasn’t big on beat ’em ups, but the way this game combined fighting + RPG elements was intriguing to me. I loved trying all of the different foods to see what they did to your stats, and the fighting power ups learned via lore were neat, too!

2. Crystalis
This is a fantastic game! Rich, expansive maps with a bunch of towns to explore, weapons and armor that have different abilities, and even the four elemental swords have their own power-ups. Even the soundtrack is really good – I remember getting chills as I would approach bosses or key story points because they would cue changes in the music. Crystalis was one of the more complex games that I played as a kid, but it really offered a great world to explore.

1. The Legend of Zelda
THE NES classic, at least for me! I still play this game on a whim all of the time – it’s great to play through while we’re sitting watching TV in the evening because I have most of the game memorized at this point, though admittedly I still need help once I finally get to Death Mountain. One of these days I want to try a swordless run or Zelda randomizer because I think either one would add a neat, new challenge to a game that I first played 30 years ago! Regardless, I can pick this game up just about any time and get lost in Hyrule all over again… 🙂

 

Honorable Mention – Super Mario Bros
And last but certainly not least … I can’t make a list of great NES games without including the very first NES game that I ever played.

The original Super Mario Bros is the game that started it all for so many retro gamers, and despite the levels being repetitious for the most part, it was still an incredible introduction to this new medium of entertainment on the TV.

Atari and the even more primitive consoles were a little before my time, but this plumber’s quest through the Mushroom Kingdom to rescue the princess kicked off a lifelong adoration for video games. I honestly don’t play this one very much anymore because I still don’t think I’ve ever beat it 100%, but it’s fun to play for a few levels here and there to warm up the old chops before moving on to something else! 😀

retro thoughts … Life Force (NES)

April 18, 2017 10:15pm
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This game was probably one of my favorite space shooters growing up.

I believe I was introduced to it by my cousin Jamie who’s 10 years older than me, so it was a bit of a turn from the Super Mario Bros and Legend of Zelda that I cut my teeth on back in 1988 when Nintendo first became a fixture in my young, eight year-old heart! But I loved all of the different power-ups and the Konami code made it a little easier to stumble through a good portion of the game even when you were just starting to learn the controls…

Some thirty years later, it’s still definitely a challenge … or maybe my reflexes just aren’t what they used to be … as I picked up the controller today at random and only got as far as level 3, which I always hated because the fire blasts were next to impossible to avoid! It was also hard for me to really enjoy the power-ups because it felt like I was constantly losing them 15 seconds after I’d gotten them to the point where eventually I just spent them all on speed boosters instead of even trying for the lasers and options like I normally would.

But I do kind of like how, similar to Contra, Konami alternated the perspective between horizontal and vertical scrolling and it adds a fun bit of variety to the game despite only having six levels total. Frankly, it’s quick gameplay is another bonus because today when I sat down to play, I really only had about 10 minutes while I was waiting for something else, so I was able to get in a quick game of Life Force … and make it to level 3 before dying … in a nice, short amount of time!

Playing this game makes me want to hunt down the other games in the Gradius series because I honestly never played any of them except for this one growing up, even though I did gawk at the screenshots of Gradius III in Nintendo Power. If all of the games followed the same basic structure as Life Force did, they should be a lot of fun. 🙂

Super Mario Run is surprisingly fun!

December 29, 2016 1:03am
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So I’ve been playing the new Mario game for iOS on and off since it came out a few weeks ago, and I’ve got to say that despite some of the negativity that I read, I personally found it to be pretty enjoyable.

I’ll admit that when I first heard the news, the idea of seeing a Mario game on a platform other than one created by Nintendo did seem very weird, and I can’t help but wonder if it was more or less published in response to Pokemon Go – a game that was immensely popular, though I can’t see making a lot of revenue for the company because they only charged for add-ons and not for the game itself.

Super Mario Run, on the other hand, cost a whopping $9.99 after a relatively small number of trial levels, which is more than I’ve paid for almost any of my apps except for maybe business-oriented ones, but I was curious and I haven’t bought a new Mario game since that weird cat one, so I figured I’d give it a try…

The look and feel is identical to The New Super Mario Bros, with the only real difference being the continuous running aspect, which took a while getting used to but after a while I found really grew on me. At first it seems weird playing a game with literally only one action – tap to jump – however a lot of my complaints about other iOS games is that they try to cram in a full controller’s worth of buttons onto the screen and it ends up looking just like the console version, but essentially unplayable.

I didn’t get that with SMR and although I sped through World 1 pretty quick, the worlds to follow offered quite a bit of challenge – I certainly didn’t just blow through them all in the course of an hour!

Lately I’ve been going back to the earlier levels and trying out the various coin challenges where you have to collect five pink, purple, or teal coins from each level, with each color getting increasingly difficult. I’ve gotten all of the pink and purple for several levels, but I don’t think I’ve cleared all teal for any one level just yet – they’re pretty tough, even at the very beginning.

But it’s nice to see that challenge in an otherwise pretty simple game. In a way, it almost has a Lemmings quality to it, or maybe that Mario vs Donkey Kong puzzle game for the DS … they’ve taken the Mario universe and put an interesting spin on it to make a new experience for the purely touch-oriented iOS world, which is kind of what they do if you look back to the likes of Super Mario Galaxy, or Mario 64, or whatever the new Mario title was for each Nintendo console on down the line.

Again, it’s a little odd for Nintendo to release a game from their flagship brand for a platform other than one of their own, but maybe that’s ok. I don’t really play the Nintendo DS simply because I’m getting older and the screens don’t work for me anymore, but give me a simple Mario game that can entertain me for a few random minutes here and there on my phone and I’ll play it, and I’ll like it, too! 😉

How am I just now seeing this?!

The trailer for the next Legend of Zelda game (on the Wii U) looks gorgeous – it’s really amazing how far that franchise has come in 30 years…

If I’m being completely honest, even though I’ve swooned over all of the artwork and game play from Skyward Sword, despite having that game sitting on my shelf for years now, I’ve yet to actually crack it open and play it for myself! I think it’s just because I hardly have any time to play video games anymore – I spent a bit of time with Hyrule Warriors when we first got our Wii U and really enjoyed that, but I also liked how I could pick up and just play for a little while whereas it literally feels like starting a quest when I sit down with a traditional Zelda game.

Maybe I’ll have to find some time around the upcoming holidays … in the evenings after the house has gone to bed … to get myself caught up on the franchise a bit so that I can justify picking up a copy of this whenever it comes out next year! 😉

movie thoughts … Pixels

November 11, 2015 1:32am
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pixels_movieOh man – was this thing horrible.

I mean, seriously – how did Adam Sandler basically become the Dane Cook of comedy movie producers where he used to be funny, yet somehow now literally every single thing that the man touches … including apparently my childhood love of video games … just turns to complete and total garbage?!

So where do I start?

“Arcader” – not a term that anyone who’s ever actually cared about video games has ever used. Sounded incrementally more utterly stupid with every utterance … why they didn’t just go with “gamer” makes this a hideous first strike in my book.

The opening plot for this movie with the world championships and the time capsule felt like what the guys who had been tasked to write a movie script about Battleship first came up with before they scrapped it and said, “Come on – we can do better than this…”

The “pixelation” … which apparently became a coined term within hours of the alien invasion that caused it … made about as much sense as Battleship pegs falling out of the sky. It would make sense that the aliens would be all pixelated when they’re destroyed, but why would our stuff do the same???

Kevin James can’t be President … at least not of the United States. Maybe of the PTA or the neighborhood homeowner’s association, but not the whole United States.

The nod to Pac-Man creator Toru Iwatani was neat, but it would’ve been cooler if they actually would’ve had him play himself in the movie! Instead he only made a non-speaking cameo while another actor played him during his brief battle with his creation.

Also, the “cheat codes” plot device doesn’t really make sense when not only are the heroes driving cars instead of joysticks, but the cheat codes would’ve been for Pac-Man, not the freaking ghosts!!!

Come to think of it – how do the aliens even know all of the rules of these games??? They were sent a VHS tape of the competition, not the source code to all of the arcade games!

…anyways…

Lady Lisa becomes unpixelated for inexplicable reasons, save for that she’s hot and Gad’s character wants her.

Sandler worked way too hard to kill Donkey Kong because all he had to do was climb the last ladder. You don’t kill Donkey Kong by throwing the hammer at him. That’s not how Donkey Kong works.

In the finale, our pseudo-president talks about “negotiating a truce” with the aliens, which we never saw because Sandler just beat Donkey Kong and disappeared. Nonetheless, everyone else apparently wins, too, as every possible conflict gets nicely tied up into a bow in roughly 30 seconds before the credits roll. Even Toru Iwatani’s stunt double sees his hand grow back – seriously, all that’s missing is the group high-five…

Also, apparently after the movie is over, I guess that Josh Gad fucks Q*bert or something.

Better Video Game Movies From the Last Few Years to Watch Instead of Pixels:

  • Wreck-It Ralph
  • Tron: Legacy
  • Scott Pilgrim vs the World (I didn’t even like this movie, but at least the video game effects were legit)

Push It to the Limit!

July 2, 2015 12:42pm
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This song amuses me to no end simply because I was first introduced to it while playing Grand Theft Auto 3 and listening to the ridiculous lyrics, I legitimately thought that it was a fictional song that had been made up for the game – in line with all of the great fictional ads like PetsOvernight.com and the Maibatsu Monstrosity!

“Welcome to the limit!”

Star Fox Zero trailer

June 16, 2015 8:27pm
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This looks like it could be fun! I still have quite fond memories of when the original Star Fox came out for the Super Nintendo … for whatever reason, my Dad had to go to some sales conference downstate for a week and the family came with him, and they brought my SNES with us to help keep me entertained. The first day we made a trip over to Toys ‘R Us because we didn’t have one up north and I got my copy of the hottest new polygon-based game to hit the system!

As one may have suspected, I didn’t really have much desire to even leave the hotel room the rest of the week while we were there… 😉

It’s kind of crazy to look back at the graphics that were really pushing the 16-bit SNES to its limits and then see this new game that will be released in full HD this fall for the Wii U. I honestly never played Star Fox 64 or any of the other games beyond the original, but this might be a fun one to pop in come Christmastime to see how it continues on with the tradition!

Aside from that weird chicken robot that apparently your ship can turn into on land, it looks pretty cool so far!

Grand Theft Whale

May 17, 2015 10:52pm
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I have not yet played GTA5 yet and typically I would play it on a console rather than PC anyways, however the ability to mod the game to drop whales on your unsuspecting victims is certainly a compelling reason to download a copy for the PC!!! 😯

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