Archive for the Gaming Category

Happy Birthday Sonic the Hedgehog (for yesterday)

Posted in Gaming, Random Rolls with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on June 24, 2011 by Cassie

See the attitude? See it?

I know it’s a day late, but I’m not feeling well.  I wasn’t going to post anything at all, but then I realized that this is my blog and I can make this as short and as crappy as I want.

You can go anywhere for his history, or little tidbits about deleted stuff or how it was made.  I seem to remember GamesRadar had some good stuff posted.  So with that in mind, and my going back to bed in mind, I’m just going to talk about him in my personal experience.

I love Sonic.  He’s the first real gaming experience that I remember, and considering I was three when the first game came out I’d say that’s pretty good.  I’m still one of those fans who goes and and excitedly picks up the newest Sonic game, even if it has Big the Cat or Cheese the Rabbit in it.  Sonic’s long and sordid maturation into his current state has done nothing to cause even the slightest hesitation.  And I actually liked some of them and parts of most of them.  I was even one of those people who pre-ordered Sonic Colors (which actually turned out pretty good) and got this awesome hat:

Is this what Kirby feels like?

Don’t get me wrong, I’m very aware of what Sonic was and what he has become…and sometimes I weep for him.

But….. 

When I think of that first game, and especially the second one (it being the first game I ever owned myself) and going up though those early days…I can’t think of one thing I hate about them.   I still remember looking on with awe as the vibrant and (dare I say, 3-dimensional) environments whizzed by.  Although I didn’t know it at the time, I was amazed at the physics of the game, taking note of not only the speed (a character that’s faster than the camera?  Sweet!) but of the (frustrating yet amazing) way the angles of the level affected Sonic’s jumps and acceleration rate.  Gravity affected Sonic in a way that I understood, especially in the uniquely challenging and still awesomely fun water levels.  These levels to this day remain a partial exception to my water-level rule.  The music was sophisticated, charming, fun and perfectly representative of each level.  I still play this stuff all the time.

I love the Sonic games so much that I even love the stuff I say I hate.  I love the spinning barrels in Carnival Night Zone (Sonic 3), I love the rising “water” bit in Chemical Plant Zone (Sonic 2), I even like the frustrating repetition in Metropolis Zone (Sonic 2)…I even liked Sonic’s weakness to water.  It made him more believable or something, I don’t know. 

I’m going to finish off my posting some videos, and as usual I recommend you continue exploring on your own.

Check it, with Sonic and Knuckles you could attach the cart to another Sonic cart and play as Knuckles in those games.  Yeah.

I liked it, ok?

And finally, the most terrifying sound ever in video gaming:

I feel wrong just having searched that….

Happy Birthday Sonic, heres to 20 more years of….hopefully not another thousand new friends to slow you down.

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Oooh I’ll get by…

Posted in Gaming, Random Rolls with tags , , , , , , on April 22, 2011 by Cassie

I’ve had a hard few months.  Lyme disease isn’t exactly fun stuff, but what can you do?  It’s not going to last forever so I’m just going to take it for now. 

There are days when I can’t get out of bed.  I literally lie there pressing play on the same movie over and over.  But I’m not here to dwell on symptoms, I’m here to dwell on the support system which has shown itself since this happened.

I’ve had relatives all over the place offering help, visiting and sending cards and little gifts.  My room is filled with small objects given to me by people who want me to know they’re there for me.  I cherish every single one.  It’s amazing to know how many of my relatives have gone through things with similar symptoms and similar consequences. 

I’ve heard from only two “real-world” friends, but not very often.  I’m not upset about it, life happens and people move on.  They’ve been supportive when we’ve spoken though.  And once I can leave the house they’ll be there.

The real surprise has been my online friends.  They’re always there.  I have four friends on Steam who have been absolutely amazing, and one more Steam friend who has been great too.  Just to clarify, I separated them because the group is of five of us and the other doesn’t know the other four.  I had two of these five people give me new games, both because I’m down to my last chunk of emergency fund and also because they thought I would enjoy them. 

These five people have been exactly what I need.  They’re like a drop of normalcy when most of my days are not.  They’re concerned, but won’t pry if I ask them not to.  They’re patient and kind, and a little inappropriate when it means a laugh.  They don’t make a big deal of the fact that I’m a chick playing Left 4 Dead, which you’d be surprised how many people do.  One of them is even waiting for me to finish single player Portal 2 so that we can both discover the Co op together.

So all in all this experience of being ill has sucked, but it’s been one of the most valuable experiences of my life.  It’s been amazing to see the friendships I’ve found, and I couldn’t feel luckier to have them.  So I guess I’ll get by with a little help from my friends.  (Cheezy ending, had to be done.  Sorry!)

Cheers!  –Cassie

Spam, Spam, Spam

Posted in Gaming, Random Rolls with tags , , , , , on April 8, 2011 by Cassie

I’ve been getting a lot of spam comments lately, and I really don’t mind.  It’s funny to see what people are spamming these days…

But the most disturbing trend has developed….of all my posts the one about Epic Mickey has gotten the most spam, followed my “What’s in a Name”.  But Epic Mickey is the only one getting sex-related spam.  It’s all “see porn here” this and “make it bigger” that.  It’s very unsettling.  What does it mean?

That’s all I have for today, so to round things out here’s that awesome Monty Python sketch about Spam.  You know, the spam they had before computers….

Silent Jak

Posted in Gaming, Random Rolls with tags , , , , , , , , , , on April 2, 2011 by Cassie

An attractive pair if I ever saw one.

I just picked up Jak and Daxter (finally!) in a bundle of awesome PS2 games that I got for super cheap.  I got Jak and Daxter 1,2 and 3; Onimusha 1,2 and 3; and Beyond Good and Evil, all for only $30.00.  This is my year for amazing deals on video games apparently.

But I’m getting off track.  I’m thoroughly enjoying this game so far.  The colourful environments and subtle but enjoyable music make for a great experience, and the  needy villagers are only mildly annoying as I was expecting a bunch of “daily errand quests” going in. 

Dude! I'm so glad you're here! I'm almost out of milk and I'm too lazy to go get it myself!

The controls are good, if a bit lazy and the camera is only irritating about 10-20% of the time.  So like I say, overall this is going really well.  And of course you already know all of this because if you were interested in the game at all you would have read about all of this 10 years ago when the game first came out.

My real complaint is about Jak’s lack of words.  This is not a complaint about silent protagonists.  Some of my favourite characters in the business are silent.  There’s Link, Jack (Bioshock, hello?), Gordon Freeman, all silent and all amazing. 

And this isn’t an entry against voice actors either.  Sly Cooper’s cool and soothing vocals more than made the character for me.  And those vocals in contrast to cartoonish but kind Murray and couldn’t be nerdier Bentley helped shape all three characters and turn them into the three dimensional characters we’ve come to love.  But with that in mind I move to the strong silent types in gaming.

Take Link, he has the exact same vocalization as Jak.  Both work with a series of grunts and shouts and that’s it.  Except it’s not.  Every character in Legend of Zelda is silent.  They speak of course, but the producers have chosen to communicate their conversations through reading.  When engaged in conversation, we don’t read Link’s side, but it’s more than clear what he’s said.  Every character I’ve met so far in Jak and Daxter has been voiced by a real person and in Jak’s case there have been several occassions already (and I’m only very early in the game) where Jak has gone to say something and just stopped himself.  It’s as if he’s going out of his way to shut up.  One can argue that this is a case of a silent protagonist with an overly chatty sidekick balancing each other out, but it can’t be easy for Daxter to constantly assume what Jak wants to communicate.  It’s like when you’re jinxed and you have to sit there shrugging and wincing your way through a conversation until somebody unjinxes you.

The bottom line is that vocals don’t necessarily make or break a game, there are amazing games on both ends of that spectrum…but if you’re going to pay a voice actor for the crazy farmer who lives next door, it’s just as well to get someone for your main character too.

Cheers!  –Cassie

Happy St. Patrick’s Day! or Tales of my Dreamcast

Posted in Gaming, Random Rolls with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on March 18, 2011 by Cassie

I had such an amazingly busy day I almost forgot to post for St. Patrick’s Day.  Here it’s actually a fairlysignificant day, and I was going to go into the whole culture and history of it, but I’ve decided to save that for another day.

Well firstly you’ll notice I have two titles, and really I could have had more…but you’ll soon see why.

Usually for St. Patrick’s Day I spend time at home with (one) whiskey (called “uisce beatha” in Irish which translates directly to “water of life”) on ice and hang out with my family or friends.  There is a huge bar scene here, but it was never for me. 

Being ill I couldn’t do any of my usual.  I spent my day working on an art piece I’ve had going for a little while, I watched Spaceballs, and me and my sister played Epic Mickey.  This hangout was pretty special to me, as I can’t usually do anything without enraging her.  It was fun.

A few weeks ago I ordered the DVD/Soundtrack combo pack for Pure Pwnage season one (found at the NoobStore just off of their main site ) and after a few issues with their shipper in Texas I finally got word that it shipped today!  I’d like to note that everyone at Pure Pwnage was more than helpful about this, every issue I had was with the shipper which resides in another country than those involved with the show.  I would also like to note that now the N00bstore crew is keeping a closer eye on this stuff.  Anyway!  It’s finally shipped!!  I can’t wait until it arrives. 

Later in the day I went out with my Dad to pick up my Mom from work and I got to see the early part of downtown St. Paddy’s Day.  It was pretty crowded for 4:30 in the afternoon.

Also today, a surprise package arrived at my Nan’s for me from my Aunt on the other side of the country.  She sent me a beautiful little box with nine drawers.  In each drawer is a treasure that I’ve yet to discover.  She sent it to me to let me know that she’s thinking of my while I’m sick.  I can’t believe she would do that for me.  I can’t believe I have such an amazing group of people around me.

And lastly, but not leastly, I got my very own Sega Dreamcast.  It took a few days of messages back and forth with a very kind stranger online, a few favours called in, and a generous offer to drive me  from my Dad…but I got it.  I got it and I can’t wait to play it.  It came with Shenmue, Marvel vs. Capcom 2, Blue Stinger and Resident Evil Code: Veronica.

So needless to say it was an amazing day. 

Slàinte! (That’s “Cheers!” in Irish) –Cassie

Mickey’s Epic Yarn

Posted in Gaming, Random Rolls with tags , , , , , , , , on March 9, 2011 by Cassie

I’ve mentioned before that one of my symptoms is a foggy cloudy head that can’t handle thinking or action of any kind…but in early December I started having days where I could once again handle video games.  Since then I’ve spent some of my emergency savings on a few new games, and my awesome parents have gifted me some.

It’s tough though because I have to choose something that won’t make me anxious.  As a general rule in this scenario I shouldn’t play or watch anything I haven’t seen before, it’s easier on my brain and on my nerves.  I also didn’t want to get too bored or into a slump, so I’ve been trying to choose things that are both safe and new.  I’ve made some excellent choices other the past couple of months.

I’ve played Super Scribblenauts, Kirby’s Epic Yarn, Sonic Colo(u)rs, Oblivion, Brutal Legend and my latest: Epic Mickey.  Or, Mickey’s Epic Yarn as I insist on calling it for some reason.  Although I plan on discussing all of those, I’m going to start with Epic Mickey.  It’s the most recent one I started and therefore it’s freshest in my mind.

Epic.

I’m going to start with the music, since that can’t really spoil the plot, and I don’t want to mix it in with the spoilers ahead. 

The music in this game is absolutely perfect.  It’s, to my ear, an actual recording, not digitally created.  I don’t yet have a source to back that up, so I welcome any information you have on it.  Like I say, it doesn’t SOUND like it’s all digital, but if it is they did a good job.  This soundtrack so far conveys just the right amount of Disney and creepy all into one.  There’s something haunting about it, like it reflects both a long-lost past and a dismal present.  I know, I think about music WAY too much.  Sue me.

The title theme itself represents to me a shady adventure on the way.  Grand in scale but gritty in practice, with some hope on the horizon.  It also sets up the flow of the game for me.  Very Disney, but with a little darkness to it.  Like something lurking in the background.

From the more Disney-esque title theme I moved to a place apparently called “Dark Beauty Castle” which had an almost ghostly waltz.

And then on to a Gremlin village, this music supposedly represents my allies?



From there the first battle featured the song “It’s a Small World”, just to creep me out that little bit extra.

That’s as far as I am with the soundtrack, and I can’t wait to hear more.  And now that I’m through gushing over the music, on to my views of the actual game and gameplay.

***MINOR SPOILERS AHOY***

We start with a delightful cinematic which sets up the intriguing plot and then jump right into gameplay with a mission that seems daunting, but is actually fairly easy.  The general setting is really interesting to look at and lives up to its name, Wasteland, in a haunting sort of way.  Right off the bat you’re approached by a gremlin whose job it is to walk you through the tutorial as you chase after Mickey’s older and significantly less famous brother, Oswald, who tries to stop you at every chance.  The gremlin explains that Oswald rules the Wasteland and seems confused at his actions. 

Here’s the thing…the game gives you choices:  Kill enemies or befriend enemies?  Proceed by creating or proceed by destroying?  Save a gremlin or get extra tickets?  I find it all very suspicious, and I keep waiting for the reveal that this is all a setup, or that the gremlins I’m saving are the bad guys and the enemies I could friend or kill are the good guys, or that I’m the villain.  I’m very early in the game and I’ve discovered only that Pete lives with the gremlins, but that the gremlins think he’s a bit of a dick.  Also Pete is wearing a dress and wig for some reason. 

There are also “guardians”, little wisps that follow you around.  The type of guardian that is drawn to you is directly related to your actions.  One type befriends enemies while the other destroys. 

I’ve chosen to befriend my enemies, mostly because it seems pointless to kill them when there’s another option, but also because they literally haven’t done anything to me.  I’ve happened across them and the danger music plays, but that’s about it.  I know they’re bad only because the game is currently telling me so.

***SLIGHTLY MAJOR GAMEPLAY (not plot) SPOILER AHOY***

Also, I fought the first boss, who so far seems to have no reason for being there or for fighting me, and after ten minutes straight of hitting him with paint nothing was happening, so I hit him with thinner.  He was down a few minutes later.  Apparently my choice to use thinner had some real weight in the game.  I know because they told me, and also because they gave me an extra can of thinner….which sucks for me because I actually use paint more.

***SPOILERS PROBABLY END HERE***

Don’t get me wrong, despite these complaints and my lingering suspicions, I’m really enjoying this game.  It’s filled with awesome references and some really fun, if not slightly frustrating, platforming.  Third person 3D jumping puzzles are not my forte, alright?  There are some really, really, awesome side-scroller parts that I could play all day long too.

In fact, I’d like to take a second and talk about the side-scrollers.

Mickey Mania indeed.

There are levels in this game in which you enter a portal to another map, you work your way through the portal to get to the other side.  The levels are designed after classic Mickey Mouse cartoons and they’re actually so much fun.  They could have made the entire game like this and I still would be having just as much fun, though in a completely different way, I admit.  Those of you who have been reading this blog for a while know that I love old cartoons, so I spend the whole time pretty much just geeking out over it.  It’s like in Mickey Mania where you start off playing through Steamboat Willie, and I could play that first level of Mickey Mania over and over.  The rest of the game is just as fun, but there’s something about playing through a black and white cartoon that appeals to me.  It must the nerd/amateur historian in me or something.

Anyway, that’s my initial take on this game.  I’m really having fun so far, even if I do suspect it’s going to jump out of the shadows and stab me in the back at any moment.

Cheers!  –Cassie

My Pokemans!

Posted in Gaming, Random Rolls with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on March 6, 2011 by Cassie

Let me talk about them.

So today is the release of the newest Pokemon twins.  Pokemon Black and Pokemon White.  This marks, in North America, 18 traditional-style Pokemon games.  This number doesn’t, of course, include the peripheral games such as Pokemon Snap and Pokemon Stadium or anything ever released outside of Canada and the US.  For a closer look at how these games work I suggest you check out Sam Smith’s article over at Games’n’Shit.  As for me, this new release has me reminiscing.

In North America alone the original games, Pokemons Red and Blue, have spawned one of the biggest and most long-term sensations in my memory.  There’s a trading card game, books, toys, comics, a TV series and even movies.   And yes, even a rap:

To this day, one of the saddest movie moments I can think of was when Ash (the protagonist) stepped between two warring Pokemon, sacrificing himself in the hope of bringing peace to the strange little creatures.  Seeing his offering, the Pokemon stop fighting and then their tears bring Ash back to life.  That scene is right up there with the Seymour episode of Futurama.

I was never a big trader in the card game, mostly because I don’t have the brain for the game.   I still collected a few, and my siblings were big into it.  Like Sam Smith (over at Games’n’Shit)  I had a fancy binder with card pages to keep them nice and clean.  As I got a little older I realized that I was wasting those poor cards, and gave them to my brother.  I still have my Oddish card and my Charmander foil card.

Well that's just adorable.

As for the games, the only one I have every personally owned is Pokemon Red.  I’ve played all of them, but Red has always had a special place in my heart.  When I was young and the games were first released I played through Red from start to finish.  Charmander was my homeboy.  I had him on my team for the whole game and we had a blast.  Then my precious Red was lost in a move.  I never saw it again that I know of.  A few years ago, for my 21st birthday, my totally awesome younger brother gave to me a Pokemon Gameboy in the box.  The Pokemon Gameboy was a Gameboy Colour with a special Pokemon casing. 

Ain't She a Beaut?

Originally this handheld came with Pokemon Yellow…or as I like to call it: Pokemon: Pikachu.  Mine came with a brand new copy of Pokemon Red.  I couldn’t have been happier.  Since writing this originally I’ve been speaking with said brother…apparently my first copy of Pokemon Red went in a trade to my younger cousin, so apparently I did see it after I lost it.  Please don’t ask what was obtained in our end of the trade.  I just hope he had as much fun with it as I did.  I’m now on the second playthrough on my second copy of the game.  I still go with Charmander because, comon, who else are you going to choose?  With Charmander by my side I swept across that virutal countryside catching animals and storing them in deposit boxes all over.  Hey, you gotta catch ’em all right?

I highly recommend you look up that song in other languages too.

Pokemon has been a big part of both my gaming and regular life.  A quick tour around the internet shows that it’s the same for a lot of people.  We love you Pokemon.

I’ll be waiting for a price drop or until my brother finishes his copy.  For those of you who are getting it now, have fun!

Good hunting!  –Cassie