Wednesday, December 31, 2008

And a year ends...

...and I'm a bit older. My wonderfully beautiful girlfriend is here with me, and I am now 23 years old. It's been a good year, I'd say. Hopefully this keeps on, and I keep posting here to the (I assume) very small volume of people that may or may not actually read this "blog" (I hate that term).

I've been playing Left 4 Dead on a massive scale thus far (over 35 hours since I got it on Xmas). And will be discussing it at length in the future. So, for now, Happy New Year, and may gaming keep flowing through your veins and hearts for years to come.


Monday, December 22, 2008


Last night, at around 2 AM, the ending cutscene of Twilight Princess concluded, and the words "The End" boldly, yet still somehow subtly, displayed on the left side of my screen. I dropped the Wiimote and nunchuck, satisfied.

It took me, as I've said several times, about 2 years to finish that game, and I finally did it. Total play time (which does count game pauses, sadly, so this is somewhat inflated) was over 41 hours. God damn. I mean, you have to figure about 2 hours for every dungeon, and there are, what, 12? 14? of them. Plus all the shit in between them -- all the running around, talking to people, cutscenes, minigames, and general being fucking lost, which comes with most games. I didn't get all the pieces of heart. Nor did I get the third armor type, which, from what I understand, allows Rupees to be subtracted instead of hearts when Link takes damage. So there's easily another 5 hours to be played if one were going for perfection, but, ya know, fuck that. I think I died less than 10 times the whole game, though I'm not sure. Maybe less than 5.

Is the game hard? Well, that depends on what you would consider "hard." The game challenges you to think differently, but none of the puzzles are painfully over your head (coughOcarana'sWaterTemplecough). The game does a great job of consistently allowing the player to feel like they're accomplishing something. Progress is always made. It's really an excellent feeling, and one that doesn't occur all that often in gaming experiences. Though Nintendo is, I'd say, one of the best developers that can pull it off. But if you're one of those gamers that can't really grasp lateral thinking or any form thereof, Twilight Princess might make your brain cry a little. Just a little, though.

Comparing it to Ocarina of Time's something I wouldn't really feel comfortable doing. But what the hell, I'll do it anyway. This game does some things better, and some things worse. The places this story goes are definitely more interesting. The items are more diverse. And the size of everything is monumental compared to Ocarina. But Ocarina has all the elements of classic Zelda games perfectly in place, whereas Twilight Princess simply does not. Towns and people from the earlier games are here, but it's all so very new that the nostalgia that Ocarina's same towns and people had is either lost or overlooked.

Also, you don't have to turn into a fucking dog in Ocarina. I don't think there's a single person that really liked those parts. Sure, they were fascinating and had some nifty puzzle elements in them (dominated primarily with the "sense" ability), but I never really looked forward to the next part of the game where I might have to be a dog. Or wolf. Wait, no, "Sacred Beast" is the term the game uses. Whatever.

It's a great game though, and if you own a Wii and actually use it to play games (something I'm not sure people know it's designed to do -- there are better dust-gathering paperweights out there) you should have this game. It's easily one of the best games on the system, which, considering it was a launch title, is pretty fucking awesome.

Now where's my beer; I earned it. Also, I need to do more of these bets because they force me to finish games.

Friday, December 12, 2008

This takes me back.

Last week a strange but beautiful coincidence took place in my life. I found myself, late Saturday night, sifting through various "Let's Play" videos, which for the uninformed are full videos (some with audio commentary) of members from the Something Awful forums playing through entire games. One game that I actually watched all videos of, back-to-back, was a play-through of I Wanna Be The Guy, an impossibly, hair-tearingly, controller-smashingly, screaming curse words...ily...difficult PC game that pays homage to all the old NES games that were just as hard. You can download it here, if you dare (I think I played it for about 25 minutes before deciding there were better things to do).

Anywho, watching such a stupidly hard game got me thinking about those games I used to play a long time ago. See, I never had an NES...or an SNES, Genesis, etc. My parents' logic was "You have a computer, so, just play games on that. Computer > than NES, et al. anyways." So, though my Commodore 64 did kick ass, I missed out on a good chunk of super-hard games. But, I when I was 5 years old, I was given a Game-Boy. And eventually, I got Megaman for it.

The hours I poured into that small, small game cannot be measured. I mean, the game was hard enough for a full-grown teenager at the time, and I was maybe 6 or 7 when I played through it. I remember writing down the password grids after each finished boss. I remember dread washing over me every time I lightly brushed into the evil, evil spikes and Megaman burst into a bunch of pulsing circles.

So, the next morning, I said told my girlfriend about the I Wanna Be The Guy game, and then my recollection of ye olde Megaman on the Game-Boy. I even fired up an NES emulator to show her what I was talking about. Her first response was "Wow, that's really hard to see," even with full-screen on my 19-inch LCD monitor. Oh Game-Boy, the youth today do not know how easy they have it.

I never did beat Megaman. I got all the way to the final level -- the Wily level -- and died at the final boss battle. I gave up after that, knowing I'd never be able to get that far again.

The day after I talked to my girlfriend, she presented me with a hoodie with Megaman's extra life sprite blown up on the front and words "The Man" below it. All I could do was laugh and say, about a dozen times, "this is awesome." I then declared, "I need to finish Megaman, goddamnit!"

But I wanted more of a challenge. I wanted such a blisteringly hard game that an hour's time would only amount to one level completed. I wanted to feel, every time a boss was beaten, that I accomplished something inhuman. Long ago, this is the feeling that older games were able to bestow into the hearts of every gamer. Games today really don't have this same feeling, and if they do, people complain of the difficulty. Seriously, grow some balls -- we had it a lot worse off 20 years ago.

So, I got Megaman 9 from the PSN. And holy shit, this game is hard. But in a very, very good way. Every mistake you make (usually resulting in death) forces you to learn and adapt yourself to perfection. After 20 or so run-throughs of Magma-Man's level, you'll know what I mean. After I beat the first boss, my yells of jubilation were clearly those of decades past. And yeah, it took me an over an hour just to finish one level. My thumbs kinda hurt, and my hands were clammy with concentration. It felt wonderful.

Bionic Commando: Rearmed projects a similar feeling, too. But Megaman 9's NES-look and completely old-skool atmosphere completes the experience. I Wanna Be The Guy pushes the feeling so far above both of these games that even finishing a part of one level brings great joy, but IWBTG isn't Megaman, so, pfft.

I have less than two weeks to finish another game. I'll do it, no problem. I've decided to finish Twilight Princess. My fancy-shmancy new Wii HD cables will allow this to happen smoothly (yay 480p! ::sigh::). But if I finish Megaman 9 somehow, that'll count, too.

Thursday, December 4, 2008


Well this makes two games finished towards beer. That's right, I got Crysis back last xmas and I just finished it now. You got a problem with that?

I didn't think so.

Why did it take so damned long? Well, there's several reasons. For one, I formatted my computer shortly after I started playing it and, for some reason, wasn't able to transfer my saved games over. So! I had to start it all over again. That took effort, considering I was several hours into the game.

For two, the story is pretty lame/generic. Very generic. Super war-hungry general that wants to use nukes despite overwhelming scientific reasoning as to why that would be him an asswipe failure? Check. Hot scientist chick? Check. Guy that "dies" early on but "magically" comes back later, complete with line, "You think I'd be killed that easy" (or something like that)? Check. Crazy aliens that look like the Sentinels from The Matrix? You betcha! If only there were Nazis instead of North Koreans (today's "modern Nazi"), it'd be the focal point of awesome. But what can ya do.

For three, the graphics are irritatingly pretty. I wanted to play this game at high settings -- I really did -- but despite 4 gigs of RAM and a Geforce 9800GX2, it would choke at points, and I demand smoothness, goddamnit. So every time I'd think about playing, I'd know that it just wouldn't look as good as it could, and I'd feel gypped (and somewhat lonely).

But I overcame these hurdles, and finished it. Man, that ending boss fight is fucking stupidly difficult. Though, for what its worth, ending boss battles should be difficult, and some games have really lost their way with that concept (I'm looking at you, Doom 3). Of course, the game was set up with a sequel in mind, a la Assassin's Creed, but that didn't bother me, because the sequel is already out. Or the expansion pack. Or whatever it is. Warhead. I might get that someday, but not anytime soon.

I probably had about 6 hours or so left from when I last touched this game, summer? Something? I'd say total play time was something around the 10-14 hour mark. Considering I played it mostly on hard (and died a fucking much so that it stopped being fun and I switched to normal near the end. Seriously, it took more bullets to kill the Korean assholes without super-fantastic armor -- see above picture -- than for them to kill me) I'd say that isn't too shabby.

So what's next? Dunno. Something totally awesome, I'm sure. Maybe I'll finish Zelda. Wouldn't that be cool...only two years overdue, right? That's not too bad, is it? Guys? ..guys?