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August 30, 2013

Mario Pinball Land (Part 1)

Oh, tabarnak... I hate this game. I hate it hate it hate it hate it hate it. Double hate it. LOATHE IT ENTIRELY.

To play such a game, it requires sheer will. It requires patience. It requires strong thumbs and index fingers. More than anything, it takes courage to face such a challenge. It takes flippers, but you know what? It also takes balls. (Mmmmmmwah! Good night everybody!) No no no, steel balls, as in, PINBALLS!

Joke aside, though, the review today is Mario Pinball Land, and just judging by this introduction, you already guessed, dear reader, that this won't be a walk in the park. No, it's Hell in Game Boy Advance game form. It's a thumb destroyer. A horrible creation that led to the uselessness of many machines. A picture of its box art should accompany the description of “frustrating” in every dictionary.

You think I'm exaggerating? No, I'm not. Not this time. I absolutely HATE this game, and here are all the reasons why.

August 28, 2013

Web Comics

Internet is huge. You can find almost everything on Internet, from the most obscure things to the more known. Internet is also known as a field for artists of all kinds. There's the famous website DeviantArt, on which you can find of everything (and I do mean everything...). Therefore, it's not a surprise that we can find absolutely impressive works of fanart on Internet. Same goes for fanfiction; whether you like it or not, fanfics are a popular way to share a story you imagined about your favorite characters.

But what to do when you both want to tell a story (or, well, jokes) but you'd rather put extra effort into it? You create a Web Comic! Literally, you write multi-panel jokes and you draw your favorite characters in each panel, and the whole point is to get a laugh from the reader.

There's a TON of web comics out there based on video games, and I'm honoring them today. Not all, this post would be too long. But at least some of them that are worthy of notice.

August 26, 2013

Is Luigi Still Overlooked?

Some guys just can't take a break. Especially in video games. When you are the character representing Player 2 (when there's even a P2 to begin with), of course you're not going to be seen very often. It's pretty sad for the goofball of the Mario series, Mario's brother Luigi. It's his life's story to be option number two, while Mario always takes the number one spot.

2013 is the Year of Luigi, because Luigi appeared for the first time in the arcade game Wrecking Crew, which came out in 1983. It's been thirty years this year. Cool for him, except the poor guy still can't get enough recognition. Always in his brother's shadow, Luigi is really in a pitiful situation.

Despite this year's celebration of the green bro, we have to ask the question... Is Luigi still overlooked? It's kind of hard to tell.

August 25, 2013

Three Weeks of Arcade

If you followed this blog in the past weeks, you probably noticed a constant theme among three of my first reviews: Internet games. Yes, I know I reviewed three games whose concepts could be retraced to Internet, at least in a way or another.

-Desktop Tower Defense referred to the very large number of tower defense games on Internet;
-Castle of Shikigami III is based on vertical flight shooters, also known as Bullet Hells;
-And Yard Sale: Hidden Treasures is an object search game, and we can find lots and lots of those on the Web.

I noticed that theme, and so I decided to have another theme for the next reviews. Have you ever been to an arcade? I do mean here a place where there are arcade games, such as those very, very old machines. But arcade places also usually have additional things that don't necessarily count as video games; an arcade can also have things like pinball machines, air hockey tables, Whack-A-Moles... and if the arcade is big enough, you can bet that there's also going to be a pool table. Because, let's face it, even if an arcade exists so that kids could have fun with video games that they didn't own... in the end, an arcade is there so that its visitors have fun. And that means it can have so many much more things than just, well... arcade games!

I'm gonna concentrate on those arcade bonuses in the next weeks. You see, here are the next three reviews.

-Mario Pinball Land will cover the whole pinball thing; pinball machines are still pretty fun to play. As for this game... well, I won't spoil the review for you, but... There's a reason I label it one of the worst Mario games.
-Thrillville: Off The Rails is an amusement park tycoon game most of all, but a big part of the game is spent playing seven mini-games, all of which are reminiscent of those found in amusement parks (such asWhack-A-Mole, Donkey Races, Ballon Pop...). Those games, while not all technically also available in arcades, can still be considered sort of as such, as you need to pay an amount of money to play them, and you can either win or lose.
-Last but not least, Midnight Play Pack contains five different games, two of which are bowling and pool. The latter can be found in some arcades, while the other can also be found, except in much, much bigger places.

The link is sort of weak, but it's there. And it's all that counts.

August 23, 2013

Top 12 Most Unexpected Super Smash Bros. Characters

The success behind Super Smash Bros. and its franchise lies in a simple idea: How can we get the biggest Nintendo stars in the same game and make them fight like mad? Masahiro Sakurai found the answer pretty quickly, and the rest is history. The original Super Smash Bros., for the Nintendo 64, contained 12 characters, 4 of which were unlockable. The sequel that came out for the GameCube had a roster twice the size of the original, with 25 characters. Then, when the Wii came around, the fans rejoiced at the announcement that a new bigger, better, faster, stronger SSB was coming out. The result was Super Smash Bros. Brawl, with a cast of 35 characters.

And now, the new console generation will also get its moment of Smash, with a new game coming out in a few months. This new game will be available both on Nintendo 3DS and Wii U, and it's almost sad that I won't be able to play it with my puny Wii. Three characters were announced for this new installment. First of all, MEGA MAN! This had been hoped ever since the reveal that Sonic was playable in Brawl, and finally our friend the fighting android enters the Brawl scene. Who else? The Villager from Animal Crossing (odd choice, but he seems just as cool as all the others; besides, we needed an Animal Crossing character) and.... Wii Fit Trainer. THIS is the most unexpected choice. Nobody – or almost nobody – would have predicted such a character in the next Smash installment.

However, this is not the first time that the team behind SSB makes bizarre choices of characters to add to the roster. Even back in the times of the first Smash game, there were fighters that nobody would have expected. In fact, had the hype been this great back in the times of the N64 game, everyone would have tossed around their hypothesis for the roster. And people would have been surprised more than once over the course of three games; in fact, they would have been surprised 12 times, if not more. Here are my picks for what were the most unexpected new characters in the first three games. Remember, I consider every character on this list by the game he/she showed up in first.

August 21, 2013

Sprite Movies

Remember when I mentioned that you could so some pretty awesome stuff with Adobe Flash? Games are one thing, movies are another. Yes, you can build your own little films with Flash.

All you need is a good knowledge of the program, and some drawing talent. And actually being able to carry through with the project. As you draw everything to make your Flash animation, you need to draw, well, a LOT of things. So it can be long.

However, when you pay tribute to a video game series (especially the 2D games), you have a big advantage. There are numerous websites that make it their mission to collect sprite sheets. What's a sprite sheet? It's basically a picture on which you have every possible sprite that can appear in the game for a character, for the enemies, for the fields, for the backgrounds... In theory, using Flash and all those sprites, you could basically re-create the whole game from scratch.

But that's not what they use it for. No, it's better than that: They make Flash movies out of those sprites. I particularly like sprite movies because, just like every Flash animation out there, they are basically like animated fanfiction: The story is written, the sprites are taken from the games, the animation is created, and so on... That's a particularly impressive task to do such a thing, because, well... the amount of work is enormous. That's probably why series such as Super Mario Bros. Z took so long to be completed: There was almost only one man behind all this awesomeness. A man nicknamed Alvin-Earthworm. That's also why it has gained such a cult following: It's just such a huge love letter to both the Mario series, the Sonic series and the Dragon Ball series.

August 19, 2013

Are Licensed Games Really Such A Bad Thing?

(Pardon this, ahem, "cheaper" editorial-like post; I will be very busy today, and I need to leave soon, so this post won't have pictures for the moment. I'll add pictures later today.)

In my collection, I have a few licensed games.

Licensed games are games created by a studio to cash in on something very popular at the moment of the game's release. The biggest example is to release a game that ties in with a movie presently in theaters, or which has just stopped airing in theaters. It happens very often, on almost all consoles. Of course, this happens more often with animated films.

However, the quality of such games can vary greatly. In fact it isn't easy to create a game based on a movie. Do we continue the film's story? Do we just re-create the story in game form? Or, do we make a game that has absolutely nothing to do with the movie? Those are all questions a game developing studio tries to answer when it's time to make a licensed game.

August 16, 2013

Yard Sale: Hidden Treasures Sunnyville

(Note: The game reviewed today is also available as a game on Internet as well as a PC game, so there might be some pictures that are from those versions of the game.)

After last week, I needed a break. The Bullet Hell got the better of my thumbs, so I decided I would play a game that's not as harsh on one's fingers. And I might have found such a game on the WiiWare. Remember my article on the strange stuff we can find on the WiiWare? Well, not everything in there is that bad. There's a lot of gems on the WiiWare. You just gotta dig through the thousand or so games in the collection to find the good ones.

Today's game isn't half bad, actually. As long as you can appreciate calm games. You probably noticed that the past two games were related to the Internet: Tower Defense games and Bullet Hell games. Well, once again, this is a type of game we can find on Internet for free, which is not to say all games like this are of the same quality; likewise, while we can indeed find games like this on Internet for free, it's also a very popular type of computer game that you can buy at the nearest store. The WiiWare section actually has a few of those games, but I'll review only one. Or, anyway, I don't think I'll review another of those.

This is an object finding game. The whole point behind such games is that you are given multiple still images containing lots and lots and lots of objects; you are given a list of objects, all of which you must find in the image. Each environment is a different level, and usually it gets harder as the game progresses. Harder, as in the objects are hidden better, or there are more objects to find.

Welcome to Yard Sale: Hidden Treasures, where every level is a yard sale and you can steal decorations, animals, cars and even LANDMARKS from caricatures.

August 14, 2013

Official Songs

Wednesday, that means: Fun Stuff Day!

Over the course of thirty-something years, video games gained a recognition all over the planet, which is a pretty impressive feat for something that began as "kid stuff". It helps that the original audience grew up, and with it the kind of videogames changed as well. And then those now-adult gamers let their children discover the games, and in many more years those children, now adults, will let their own children discover today's games, and so on... Video games became such an important part of our lives that we can't really avoid it in our medias, what with the never-ending debate over violence in video games, movie plots revolving entirely around video games... and songs!

Actually, there aren't many artists who contribute to video games. As we all know, a video game's score is nowadays recorded by an orchestra. However, the series using songs based on them are very rare.

To my knowledge, there's only one franchise that decided to use musical bands to create a part of their soundtracks. For a while, it was Crush 40. And now, it changes once in a while. The result is pretty great. (And sometimes the song transcends the game it came from, if the song is really, really good and the game really, really sucks.)

But there are other musical groups out there who wrote songs based on famous video game franchises. All that counts for this message is that they're actually official songs taken directly from the games.

August 12, 2013

Castle of Shikigami III (Part 2)

Part 1 of this review can be seen here.

Okay, I'm back to talk more about Castle of Shikigami III. Last time, I discussed the characters, and I went through the first part of the story. I fear the worst has yet to come. So, I boot up the game, and I start playing...

Hey, where's my save file? Where is it? I can't see it anywhere! There's no save file selection! What... what the Hell?

On closer inspection, there are, in fact, no save files in this game. Does that mean you must always start over? Actually, no. A quick look at the options gave me the answer I was looking for. You see, this game's save system works differently from other games. What happens is that you first have to toggle on the save feature in the Options menu. After that, you can play, and each time you play, it gets saved on your Wii's memory. When you quit playing, and then come back, you must first go back to the Options menu and select Load Save, which will load the save file placed in your Wii memory. And THEN you can keep playing. You must do that every time you play this damn game. I've been smart enough to search for this, and I found it, but there's nothing in the game that indicates that it worked that way. Someone who doesn't go take a look at the options menu would not know about this cheap, cheap save system.

Now that my save file has loaded, let's keep playing.

August 9, 2013

Castle of Shikigami III (Part 1)

Ugh... This is it. A big one. A game that, in all regards, could be considered bad. On the storytelling aspect, it fails. On the gameplay aspect, it fails. The character aspect fails as well. It's a mess. And yet... I can't help but play it. Because I want to finish this damn game. Just once.

You heard right: This game is so hard that I never finished it. And in fact, I'll have so much to say that I'll need to cover everything on two blog posts. Readers, welcome to the first multi-parter review of Planned All Along!

Sigh... Today... Castle of Shikigami III.


August 7, 2013

Mega Man Fan Film

Like every Wednesday, here's a little something funny.

Each franchise is appreciated by a number of people; that's the fanbase. I already discussed fanbases in my article "Can the Sonic Series Be Saved?". However, while it's true that there are downsides to every fanbase, there's also a good side.

You see, devoted fans will spend a lot of time discussing their favorite series. Even more devoted fans will do more than just that; they might draw fanarts, they might cosplay, they might write fanfiction... And the biggest achievement is to make a fan film about that series.

After all, a fan film requires the same elements as a real film; cameras, actors, sets, a script, special effects... I haven't seen a lot of fan films in my life yet, but I know they they can be very enjoyable. Of course, the teams behind those movies don't have the budget of a renowned film company, so there's gonna be flaws. Sometimes, major flaws, like some special effects that are very obviously CGI, or actors who tend to ham it up a tad too much...

Though, by the end, if you can manage to bypass those elements that challenge your willing suspension of disbelief regarding the film, then you can appreciate the movie just by the fact that some people, who didn't have the budget of a Hollywoodian flick, still managed to make something fine with what they had.
Case in point: The Mega Man fan film, made by Blue Core Studios, and one example of a feature-length fan film released on Internet. For what it is, it's not bad at all. Better than what I would be able to do, anyway.

Keep looking around Internet for more fan films; some of those are surprisingly great.

August 5, 2013

Is Dream Land Secretly Horrifying?

Like most people, I played a Kirby game at least once in my life. The pink puffball also happens to be a powerful warrior when he sucks an enemy in his big mouth and steals its ability. Kirby can gain abilities of all types: He can eat a singing foe to become Microphone Kirby. He can eat a rock enemy to become a Rock Kirby. The possibilities are endless. The best way to see this is to play the Smash Bros series: Kirby gains the ability of whichever fighter he inhales. That makes a grand total of 40 Kirby forms in those games alone.

However, that's not the main focus on this article. You see, Kirby lives in a world called Dream Land. It's unclear whether it's just a planet or a whole universe, because Kirby does a lot of space travel, and as a result he ventures through multiple planets. However, Dream Land is supposed to represent the world of the subconscious mind at sleep, or if you prefer, "dreams". Heck, it's in the name! Another case in point: All the weak little baddies are cute, which hints at a game series directed at kids. When you've got adorable bomb-tossers, adorable knights in yellow armor, and even adorable trees with a face... but all of them are still enemies, and they're still attempting to hit you.

This begs the question: Is Dream Land secretly horrifying?

August 3, 2013

Recent Purchases

Okay, well... Thursday, July 31st, I bought Sonic and the Black Knight. It's a... fun game. I'll put it that way. However, this means you can expect me to review it someday. As to when... I can't tell, as I decide the games I'll review a month ahead of time only. Which is still fine.

Also, I went to Staples recently (my next university semester begins this September, so I needed a new pencil case), and to my not-so-great surprise, they sell Wii games at a cheap price. Among others, I saw Mario Super Sluggers. ...Oh, I feel like buying it next month... and maybe another game sold cheaply...

Whatever. I also intend to buy a Wii Points card, so that I'll buy more games on WiiWare and the Virtual Console. That's the problem with today's generation of consoles; you can pay using your credit card or Points Cards, but someday the Points Cards will be discontinued, and if you have problems buying Wii Points through a credit card... then you're in trouble. Oh well.

Anyway, on a side-note, I've been playing the game I'll review this Friday. I can hardly wait until then to post the first part of that review! ...But I'll still wait. I know I can wait, anyway.

Read you later!

August 2, 2013

Desktop Tower Defense

On Internet, Flash games are a huge fad. With some knowledge of a program called Adobe Flash, one can make excellent animated short films, and with an even more extended knowledge of the software, it's possible to create Flash games. Those are literally games that can be played on the Internet, using the computer's features: The mouse and the keyboard. There's probably more Flash games on Internet than there's been games released for all existing consoles, and this is because anyone with a solid basis in Adobe Flash can make a game. Of course, as a result, the quality in the games can vary heavily, and you can also get games that would never be allowed on a real console.

Is it normal, then, that a game released on the Nintendo DS feels more like a cheap Flash game? NO!