dorchadas: (Kirby Walk)
Happy 25th anniversary, Kirby!

I ordered a bon voyage Kirby plush since they were available for the anniversary, and [personal profile] schoolpsychnerd and I started watching the Kirby anime, but of course, Kirby started out as a video game character. What better way to celebrate his existence than by playing the games that birthed him? I originally thought about playing Kirby's Adventure, the first Kirby game I ever played and the one that cemented my love for the series, but that's a several-hour commitment if I want to find all the secrets and unlock every part of the map. Kirby's Dream Land is bite-sized. I finished it in an hour and a half and it was fantastic.

Strange, coming primarily from later games, but fantastic.

Kirby's Dream Land eat enemy
Kirby, just let Waddle Dee waddle be!

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dorchadas: (Cherry Blossoms)
I heard about Momodora: Reverie Under the Moonlight on Bonfireside Chat, as a game that was similar to some aspects of the Souls games that they really liked. Then I heard it was a metroidvania game. Well, that's all I need to hear. Sign me up.

I bought it, loaded it up, and took in the beautiful pixel art and moody music. And then I moved forward and was brutally murdered by a chibi with a shield.

A deadly ambush.

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dorchadas: (Gendowned)
One of my favorite games for the original Nintendo was Blaster Master. I played it for hours doing the same levels over and over again, because it was extremely hard. About half of my games never got past the boss of level 3, and those that did never got past the crab boss in level 5. Only once did I ever manage to beat the crab boss, and that was the last time I played Blaster Master.

So when I heard that there was a remake coming out for the Nintendo Switch, I was almost more excited for that than I was for Breath of the Wild. One of the main games of my childhood brought into the modern era? The same gameplay and areas, still with pixel art, but with modern conveniences like the ability to save and Switch's suspending the game at any time? That sounds amazing.

And it is. We ordered the Master Edition of Breath of the Wild, but I'm not playing that. I'm playing Blaster Master Zero.

Blasting again!

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Game Review: Owlboy

2017-Apr-12, Wednesday 21:07
dorchadas: (Default)
Owlboy is a gorgeous game with great music and a touching story that I can't recommend because it doesn't know what it wants to be.

Owlboy first came to my attention the same way Hyper Light Drifter did, by reading an article on Rock Paper Shotgun about it. A later review cemented it in my mind, with John Walker, who hates everything except puzzle games, gushing over the gameplay and story. And, of course, the art.

Well, I'm not sure how far Walker got into Owlboy. I suspect he never beat it, because if he had, he would have written one of his rants about difficulty preventing his enjoyment of a good game. I did beat it and that's what happened to me. I had nothing but goodwill for Owlboy when I started, but it was slowly worn away by the course of the game, and for the last hour or so I just wanted it to end. And then it finally did, I and I put down the controller, and I deleted the game, and I'm almost certainly never going to play it again.

 photo 20170408181606_1.jpg

This game is beautiful, though.

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dorchadas: (Kirby Walk)
This is my favorite Kirby game!

I haven't played that many Kirby games, admittedly. Just this, Kirby's Adventure, and maybe five minutes of the original Kirby's Dream Land. But of those three, Kirby Super Star is definitely the winner. It doesn't have the complexity of Kirby's Adventure's wide levels and multiple secrets, or the simplicity of Kirby's Dreamland...but then again, in a way it has both. The real strength of Kirby Super Star is that it contains multitudes. It's structured as a series of smaller games, each of which is played and beaten individually. The first, "Spring Breeze," is a remake of Kirby's Dream Land, and the only one where King Dedede is the enemy. Another one, "The Great Cave Offensive," replicates Kirby's Adventure with its poking around every nook and cranny and using Kirby's various power-ups to unlock secrets through the medium of a treasure hunt. That's just two of the available games.

And, in perhaps the best part of the game, it's multiplayer.

Riding together.

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dorchadas: (Warlords of the Mushroom Kingdom)
I still remember the day that I first played Super Mario Bros. 3. My grandparents were visiting, one of the few times they came out to visit rather than having us come to them, and my grandmother had brought a copy of the game just released that year. I had already read all about it in Nintendo Power, and I think to this day it might be the present I have anticipated the most in my entire life. When she gave it to me I literally danced all around the room, yelling "Thank you!" over and over again. Then I sat down with the Nintendo, then plugged in at the TV in the living room, and booted the game up.

It was just as great as I was led to believe. I've never seen The Wizard, but I understand why Nintendo used it as an opportunity to market the game. People call that movie a feature-length commercial, but honestly, SMB3 deserves a commercial of that length. It is, to this day, my favorite Mario game.

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dorchadas: (Green Sky)
I wanted to play this game pretty much from the moment I first saw it, but it took me a long time to get to it. I didn't buy it until months after it came out, and then I just didn't get around to it. I've been watching more TV lately with [personal profile] schoolpsychnerd now that we have some YouTube channels we like keeping current on and are watching more anime. I've been tinkering with some RPGs that I may or may not ever run. And there were all the other games I wanted to play. That playthrough of Baldur's Gate II that I'm currently 132 hours into and still not finished with. The Zelda games that I've decided I want to chron-game through as many as I can before the Switch comes out. Playing through Mass Effect III even though I hated Mass Effect II because I had to finish the trilogy and see if ME3 really was good for the first 90% and it was only the end that was terrible (spoiler: no, it's almost all terrible). You know how it is.

Wait, that's just me? Oh. Um.

You can't jump on the bubbles.

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dorchadas: (Default)
As of an hour after sundown today, Yom Kippur ended for another year. Due to our local synagogue refusing to take our money for reasons we still haven't really been able to figure out, we didn't get tickets to services, so instead [personal profile] schoolpsychnerd and I watched a simulcasted Kol Nidre service put on by Nashuva last night. I took a few of my vacation days and took the rest of this week off, so I stayed home, and one of the things I did during Yom Kippur was read the book of Jonah, as is traditional.

As with most "why do you..." questions in Judaism, there are multiple answers as to why Jonah on Yom Kippur. The two I know are first that it shows that G-d is like the Terminator and will follow you to the ends of the earth such that there is no escaping his sight or knowledge, and second that it shows G-d's mercy because Ninevah was wicked but when Jonah delivered G-d's message, they sincerely repented and were spared, just as we hoped that sincerely repentance will ensure we are written into the Book of Life. I'm sure there are multi-page dissertations on the exact meaning of the withering tree at the end even though G-d spells out what he was trying to demonstrate exactly, but those I don't know.

One other thing I did, once the sun set, was play a game:

Spoiler: Not that great.

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dorchadas: (Default)
Last week was the 30th anniversary of the original Metroid, and I wrote about it. But this weekend I was looking to play something short as a break from the multiple sprawling dozens-of-hours RPGs that I'm working my way through, and while I originally was deciding between Kirby's Adventure, Super Mario Brothers III, and Slain: Escape from Hell, I realized that I hadn't yet played Zero Mission. I've heard multiple times that it's good enough to make the original Metroid completely obsolete and I've been meaning to play it for years at this point. What better time than in honor of the 30th anniversary? And now that AM2R is out--DMCAed, but the internet never forgets and it very specifically did not get C&Ded, so the author is still updating--I Wanted to play the first game before I played that.

I don't want to bury the lede, so I'll say that everything I heard about Zero Mission is right. It really does make the original obsolete.


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dorchadas: (Awake in the Night)
Did you know that Metroid is a girl?!

(I used that joke on [personal profile] schoolpsychnerd earlier. If looks could kill...)

My first exposure to Metroid was the original game, which I sadly seem to have lost somewhere over the years. It's also one of the original NES games that I beat on the original system, after hours of wandering around through Zebes, using JUSTIN BAILEY to get a preview of later areas with an overpowered Samus build. JUSTIN BAILEY also meant that I was spoiled on the secret of Samus Aran's real identity. I heard it on the playground, as you did in those days, went home and tried it out, and my mind was blown. I mean, the wave beam? What madness was this?

Oh right, also Samus Aran was a woman. I don't remember having strong feelings about it at the time, but memory is fallible.

My strongest memory of the original Metroid is actually the time I ruined a game through idiocy. There's a part of Norfair that has a series of one-block pillars over lava pits that you have to navigate to progress:

Metroid Samus jumping over pillars

It was somewhere around here.

While I was jumping over them, I wondered if I would be able to get out if I fell in, so I deliberately fell in. And then I spent a while trying to bomb-jump my way out and continuously failing over and over again. No matter how hard I tried, at times getting within a block or two of the top, I would fall back down into the lava again. Eventually I gave up, turned the game off, and went to go do something else.

"But [personal profile] dorchadas!" you say, "Metroid had a password system! If you had died in the lava, you could have put in the password and just restarted that way!" And you are absolutely right, but let me direct your attention above to the word "idiocy."

The next time through, I ended up falling down into the lava accidentally, but that time I managed to get out and go on to beat the game. Not under the time limit, of course, but a win is a win. And then I didn't play another Metroid game for over a decade until my roommate in Ireland lent me his GBA and copy of Metroid Fusion, which I barely remember except that I wasn't a fan of the constant AI companion. Metroid is space horror at its roots, and that's always been a thorn in the side of any attempt to make it more narrative-based. The point of space horror is that you are alone and there is no one out there to save you. Adding companions and commanding officers and so on works against that in a way that I don't like.

Even adding extra info is a problem. Take Metroid Prime's Space Pirate scan data:
Phazon mining is under way. Several garrisons have been established, and terraforming of the Chozo Ruins is under way. Security systems are operational, and Science Team continues to make progress in their biotech research. The Phendrana Drifts have proven to be an optimal location for Research Headquarters, and soon it will be joined by a fully operational Combat base and starport. If Command's predictions are half true, we shall rise to dominance in this sector within a deca-cycle. Truly, these are glorious times.
Blah blah blah blah. All the additional information is like that, and you have to scan all the time. My main memory of Metroid Prime is entering a new room and immediately switching to the scan visor and scanning every available surface. Compelling gameplay!

I didn't come to Super Metroid until 2009, two decades after my first Metroid game, but even then I didn't beat it until later. I wrote about that already here.

Other M and the fan reception to Federation Hunters seem to have killed Metroid at this point, but it was always a lot more popular in the west than it was in Japan. And Sakamoto doesn't seem to understand what bothered people about Other M and isn't that interested in doing another Metroid game anyway, so who knows if it'll come back any time soon. In the meantime, though, the fans are stepping up to the plate: Another Metroid 2 Remake finally came out today after eight years of development! Get it before it gets C&Ded!

Also, this fan film is pretty neat:

And while Nintendo might not care, and Sakamoto might not care, Hirokazu Tanaka (the composer) does:

Hip Tanaka Metroid 30th Anniversary message

dorchadas: (Kirby sweatdrop)
I first found out about An Untitled Story from a thread on Fresh from futilely hurling myself at I Wanna Be the Guy, I downloaded it, played it a bit, then shelved it for a few months and picked it up again once I moved to Japan. And playing it now, I'm even more impressed with my reflexes, my sheer bloody-minded persistence, or the combination thereof? How did I get as far as I did in this game without a gamepad, using not just any keyboard, but laptop keyboard? This is hard enough now that I have a purpose-built controller. I'm retroactively impressed with myself.

I've learned since then that the designer of An Untitled Story went on to make TowerFall, which I haven't played but which I've heard a lot of good things about but have never played, mostly because it's local co-op only and [personal profile] schoolpsychnerd isn't a fan of that sort of game. Or this one, really, though she cheered me on through my 47 deaths.

You're damn right I have.

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dorchadas: (Enter the Samurai)
Shatterhand is one of those second-tier NES games like Kick Master or Vice: Project Doom or Power Blade that don't get talked about as much as Castlevania or Mega Man but are still pretty good. I've wanted to play it pretty much since I saw it in Nintendo Power back when I was subscribed to it, but I never did for reasons that I no longer remember. Fortunately, the state of modern gaming and the fact that I do all of my gaming on my computer means that I can play all the old games I missed out on and then write about them in a way that I never would have thought to do as a kid.

The intro is less than informative about the game. Our hero is fighting either a robot or someone wearing power armor and shooting a machine gun, which pour hero blocks using his bare hands. Then he punches the robot. The end. Truly a story for the ages, or at least for NES platformers.

Step One: Punch. Step Two: It explodes.

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dorchadas: (Awake in the Night)
What does one write about perfection?

Symphony of the Night is the game I've beaten the second-most times, just behind Chrono Trigger (which I'm sure I'll get around to writing about one of these days). I still remember the first time I beat it, in [ profile] uriany's basement as we boggled at the choice of I Am the Wind as an ending theme. The gameplay leading up to it, I remember mostly in snatches. Farming for a Crissaegrim in the inverted library. Discovering that some weapons had special abilities you could activate using fighting-game-style button inputs. The way I was better at casting Soul Steal when it counted. Trying to do the tricks we had heard were possible--skipping Death at the beginning and keeping your equipment or dashing right at the beginning to end up outside the castle. They're both possible, but we never managed to do either of them.

Symphony of the Night is my favorite platformer ever. It doesn't have the purity of Super Metroid, and definitely not that of Super Mario Brothers, but it has plenty of madcap possibilities and it's those that make me love it. It's relatively easy to shatter the game's balance completely and end up either invincible or the next best thing, but that's the price of freedom.

man /man/ noun 1. A miserable little pile of secrets.

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dorchadas: (Teh sex)
Spelunky is one of those games like Minecraft that first came to public light while I was living in Japan and spent almost all of my video game time playing World of Warcraft. Unlike Minecraft, where I played the in-browser alpha and didn't understand what was so great about it, I didn't even hear of Spelunky until years later, after I quit WoW and so had more free time. The original version of Spelunky is still free online and available here, but I played the HD version.

When I first bought it, I was absolutely awful at it, mostly because this was before I had bought a controller and so I was trying to play with the keyboard and did...okay. It wasn't until I tried playing it with a controls scheme better suited to platforming that I actually managed to get anywhere, though. And then I played, and played. There were weeks where I'd play a game of Spelunky every single day. Just load it up, play until I died, and then try to get through as far as I could, which usually wasn't very far. And then the next day I'd play it again, and over time I got farther and farther down into the caves until, at last, I won.

I wonder how much I'm paying those porters...

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dorchadas: (Death Goth)
Like so many of the indie games I'm familiar with, I heard about Odallus through Rock Paper Shotgun. After playing Dark Souls last year, I was really interested in more games that recaptured that kind of feeling and Odallus seemed like it had a similar aesthetic. The Rock Paper Shotgun review that I read said:
Death comes swiftly but there’s no insta-gibbing and it definitely always felt like my fault. Lovely sense of exploration too.
...and since those are two of the major high points of Dark Souls for me, I put it on my wishlist and bought it during one of the Steam sales. When I got stuck in Gabriel Knight and was sick of talking to everyone about everything and clicking every item on everything, I booted up Odallus on a whim and got sucked in pretty quickly.

It's no Dark Souls, though.

I know that feel, bro.

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dorchadas: (Death Goth)
Kanji? Gasp!

Castlevania III: Dracula's Curse is one of the games I've had since I was a kid. The NES cart is actually in a box behind our TV right now, lacking only the means to actually play it. I managed to get pretty far through diligent practice, but I was never able to get to Dracula. I think the furthest I got was Frankenstein before I ran out of lives and continues. In the years since, though, I learned that I was going about it all wrong (about which more below) and came back to the game in my 20s and finally managed to beat it. So when I sat down today wanting to play some Castlevania, I figured I wouldn't play the game of my childhood since I'd already beaten it and moved on. But I wanted to play Castlevania III. How, then, to thread the needle?


8-bit kanji...

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dorchadas: (Enter the Samurai)
Some people played NES platformers, the Marios and Metroids and Castles vania that stride across platformer history like titans, and then moved on to the Genesis or the SNES and played Super Mario World, Sonic the Hedgehog, Super Metroid, Mega Man X, and Gunstar Heroes. Some of the greatest platformers ever made, games that still stand the test of time even decades later.

And some of us didn't have either of those consoles and ended up graduating to DOS platformers.

"Map" here is a relative term.

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dorchadas: (Green Sky)
Gargoyle's Quest is another one of those games I learned about through Nintendo Power. I was positive that it was through the Counselor's Corner section, but I looked through most of the Nintendo Power issues that I had a child and I could only find one question asked about Gargoyle's Quest and it's not about the topic I remember. I looked up the game in a Nintendo Power database, checked issue #12, but even it doesn't have the question asking where to find the Wings of the Falcon that I remember reading about. Which is good, because the answer is, "You talk to the townsghouls and follow their clear and explicit instructions." I won't say it's impossible to screw up, but it seems very unlikely.

Anyway, this game wasn't quite what I expected.

Phenomenal cosmic power, itty bitty screen size.

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dorchadas: (Enter the Samurai)
Imagine the perfect NES game. A game with the tight controls and world map of Super Mario Brothers III, the variable weapon choices and themed bosses of Mega Man, the item design of Castlevania, and the bounding pogo jumps and treasure hunting of Duck Tales. Imagine that it could be made for modern systems and wouldn't be bound by NES limitations like four-color sprites and no independent background scrolling. And then realize you don't have to imagine it, because the game I'm talking about is right there in the subject line and I'm not fooling anyone here.

I've known Shovel Knight was great for a long time since basically every review is blasting praise around like it's a game of Splatoon, but I have enough of a backlog that I wasn't willing to buy it until I found a sale on it, and that wasn't until around a month ago. And of course as soon as I started playing it I wondered why I had waited so long because this game is amazing.

This, uh, isn't going to be an impartial review.

I've seen plenty of these screens before.

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dorchadas: (Nyarlathotep)
I first downloaded this back before I went on my trip to Oregon and I played through most of it then, but I didn't quite beat it, and it wasn't until I went to [ profile] satinalien's wedding this weekend that I had more offline time where I fired it up again. It was described as "one-button platformer," so I assumed it was going to be mindless distraction that I could button-mash on the plane to pass the time. And I suppose there was a lot of button-mashing, but calling it "mindless" would be doing it a disservice. There's actually a lot of thought put into Jack N' Jill's systems within the constraints of its design paradigm.

They're very fluffy.

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dorchadas: (Slime)
The problem I have with iOS games isn't anything conceptual or philosophical. I don't think they're ruining "real gaming" (whatever that means), and while freemium is a blight upon the earth, it's spread to all games everywhere know and isn't a mobile-specific thing. No, the problem is mostly that i never have time to play them. If I'm on public transit or in bed, I'm usually reading, and if I'm at home I have too many other games at my computer that I want to play, so those get priority. But as I write this I'm on a plane to Oregon for a two week family vacation, so before I left I took the opportunity to clean out some of my iTunes wishlist and loaded my iPad down with some games, and this is the first one I played.

Ready for adventure.

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dorchadas: (Default)
Until today, I'd never beaten Super Mario Brothers. I've beaten plenty of other games in the series, but every time I played the first game I'd always get stuck in the same place--World 8-1. There was a jump I couldn't make no matter how hard I tried, and eventually I just gave up and moved on. None of the other Mario games I played presented quite as much of a wall for me, and I'd only think occasionally about that jump and about how it was a spot on my gaming backlog, so this morning on a whim, I loaded it up and started playing.

Who put all those bits there?

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dorchadas: (Gendowned)
With this blog post, I can officially inaugurate my Nintendo Power Cover Game series. Based on how many other games I have in my backlog, I expect that it'll take me approximately twice as long as my remaining lifespan to finish, but hey, more than one constitutes a series!

Power Blade is another one of those games I saw in Nintendo Power as a child and thought it looked really neat, but for whatever reason I never managed to find a copy. Maybe I lost interest due to youthful (and eventually successful) attempts to beat Final Fantasy, or maybe I was renting Mega Man III for the dozenth time. Anyway, it sat in the back of my mind for decades until recently when, in the attempt to put off the looming behemoth that is Baldur's Gate II, I dusted off the memories, loaded up JNES, and started playing.

The first thing I learned is that Duke Nukem apparently took extra work to pay the bills between the first two games:

Nice try with the glasses, Duke. We know who you are.

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dorchadas: (Green Sky)
Metroid is one of the franchises that makes me wonder what it means to call yourself a "fan" of a series. I mean, I could say I'm a Metroid fan, but I've only played and beaten Metroid, Super Metroid, and Metroid Fusion. I've played Metroid Prime but never beaten the final boss, and I've played Metroid II for maybe 20 minutes. That's a better ratio than I have for Zelda games, but it's not that great.

I suppose that's not that relevant to the topic at hand, though, which is how amazing Super Metroid is.

Samus Aran does not practice proper OpSec.

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dorchadas: (For the Horde!)
When I was young, my parents bowed to my pleading and got me a subscription to Nintendo Power. I got on the hype train pretty early, around issue #9, and most of the cover articles were on the games you'd expect--Mega Man II, Super Mario Brothers III, Tetris, Ninja Gaiden II, Final Fantasy, and all the games that have stood the test of time. There was one game that doesn't quite fit in to that hallowed pantheon, however, that still got a cover and lit a fire in the imagination of young me: Metal Storm.

Check out those high-rez explosions too.

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