Archive for the Games Category

The Top 8 Best Gaming Series

Posted in Best / Worst, Blog, DoDon Pachi, Games, Lists, Metal Gear Solid, Resident Evil, Street Fighter, Tony Hawk Series, Uncharted, Ys on January 24, 2016 by slateman

best-series
Another long-brewing article, I pondered this for quite some time. Why not put together a best gaming series article? Good question! Now that vacancy is now filled! Let’s not wait. Article start!

There are a few games that missed this list, some better than others, but honorable mention goes out to:

  • Mega Man
  • Tony Hawk
  • Ratchet & Clank
  • Gears Of War
  • God Of War
  • Tomb Raider
  • Ys

With those out of the way, let’s start with number eight!

Castlevania_logo_color
#8: Castlevania (1987 – Present)
This series has been quiet as of late. With just two titles issued in the past half-decade, it’s safe to say we’re in a lull. However, from 2001 until 2008, we saw about ten solid Castlevania games, and this is after the classic trio and subsequent rejuvenation with Symphony Of The Night. And what spectacular titles those are! The first game was a great start, the second a stumble that at the time I loved and memorized and the third was the pinnacle of platforming back in ’89. SotN remains in my top-whatever list of games, and the music alone can transport me back to ’97 and where I was in my life.

The handheld titles that followed each trumped the last and some of those I played more than once. I even liked Lords of Shadow and its handheld quasi-sequel. Last year’s second installment was quite the opposite. I hated that one. Some rather dismal Castlevania games aside, there are easily a dozen top-notch games to replay as we wait
for another renaissance of Dracula and the Belmont clan!

Zelda_Logo.svg
#7: Zelda (1987 – Present)
Everybody knows Zelda, Link and of the rich history of games relating to them. The problem with Zelda is that moving backwards, I can’t say love any recent titles other than 2013’s 3DS game and maybe the Minish Cap from 2004. I wasn’t a fan of the GC or Wii titles and I never played Majora’s Mask. So, two portable games since 1998? It should go without saying that I’m excited about this year’s Wii U game.

Of course the original, the SNES game and Ocarina were all perfect 10s. I didn’t get an NES until around when the SNES came out, but I remember playing the first Zelda game, completing the second quest…bombing every single inch of the map in order to find the last dungeon’s location. A Link To The Past? Ocarina Of Time? Nothing needs to be said about those titles. But while I love me some Zelda, the series hasn’t wowed me in quite a while, thus putting it at a shockingly-low number seven on this list.

uncharted_logo
#6: Uncharted (2007 – 2016) (R.I.P.)
I played the demo for the first game and wasn’t impressed. But upon playing the full game, I realized that Naughty Dog had crafted a special 3rd-person shooter that coupled solid gameplay with excellent storytelling and likable characters. I obtained three platinum trophies in 2011. Uncharted, Uncharted 2 and Uncharted 3. I liked the games that much. And the portable game was surprisingly-fun as well. There’s not much to be said about this franchise that hasn’t been mulled over by countless others. I don’t quite know if UC4 can possibly live up to its predecessors and it’s rather sad the series will be done after part 4. Will it still be as memorable a decade from now when other developers are making the umpteenth version of the same game? *shrug*. But Nathan Drake sure had a good run!

Do_Don_Pachi_Japan
#5: DoDonPachi (1995 – 2012)(R.I.P.?)
Some series tout diversity but with shmups, it’s not quite so easy to discern. The outsider would recognize no true difference between Daifukkatsu and Sai-Dai-Ou-Jou. In fact, their names alone might confuse. However, to the dedicated player, those two titles are night-and-day different. While I can pass on Don Pachi, DDP and three of its four sequels are the pinnacle of the genre. Cave supported the scene until its dying breath and even put out a remarkable home port to make the goodbye ever bittersweet. And while DFK and SDOJ were fun and amazing titles, DOJ remains the best shmup ever made. The recent surprise IOS release (Ichimen Banchou) may breathe hope into the franchise, but I won’t hold my breath. DDP is that good.

top_title-logo
#4: Resident Evil (1996 – Present)
Some franchises have a handful of main games, but not RE. We have 1-6, which I’ve played all but the third. There are the Revelations games, Zero, the Chronicles and Gun Survivor games, etc. and this doesn’t include remakes, movies, CG movies and remasters of 1, 4, 0 and 2 coming up.

Therefore, with a pool of so many games, surely there will be some great ones, right? Obviously but the good games are damn good. I positively loved going through the HD remaster of RE1. I played through RE4 on no fewer than four consoles (GC, PS2, Wii, PS3). RE5 I platinumed on the PS3 and also beat on the Xbox360. RE6 was bloated, but the good in that game was quality. Too bad there was so much excess.

The remaster of 2002’s RE0 is an entertaining romp (it’s so strange to think that 2002 is 14 years ago. It’s a classic era in a sense.) With the re-make of RE2 and the inevitable RE7 on the horizon, I don’t see a shortage any time soon. I liked the survival horror of the first games and the action-based nature of the recent ones. Despite a number of iffy titles, the diversity and sheer quality of the great games lands this at #4 on my list.

logo-sf
Street Fighter (1987 – Present)
I played SF in the arcade, then later as Fighting Street on the TurboDuo in the late ’80s.
I vividly remember seeing SFII for the first time at the mall arcade on Long Island in ’92.
I recall SFIII (and sucking at it) but still giving it a go while at some flea market down in Florida in ’99.
SFZ was my favorite; I played the first in the mall in Albany, then SFZ2 at the same mall mentioned earlier on Long Island. (’95-’96) I imported SFZ3 from Japan the day it was released.
SFEX was shipped to me, along with the cool Chun-Li shirt, and I played it incessantly while my girlfriend was in Florida in October of ’98.

I really could go on and on, as every entry is special and so very unique, all while retaining the necessary familiarity. My story continues with the Vs. series, spin-offs, SFIV, web sites I’ve run, countless art books and the like. And this isn’t even discussing the gameplay. It set the standard with SFII, it reinvigorated the scene with SFIV and I’ll be a day-one purchaser of SFV when it ships next month, more than 25 years after I started playing this series. It is the king, its characters iconic, its music memorable and it’s easily in my top-three favorite franchises ever. Not a question. The real downside is that I’m not particularly good at it. But that hasn’t stopped me from enjoying it for most of my life. And as I write this (before SFV is released), I’m not entirely sure this doesn’t belong at #2 on this list…..

Metal_Gear_Solid_logo
#2: Metal Gear Solid (1998 – 2015)(R.I.P.)
I’m eschewing the first Metal Gear games as I never played them and it’s only truly when MGS shipped in ’98 that the series became so iconic. And here’s the thing: MGS, MGS2, MGS3, MGS4, MGS:PW and MGSV are almost all so totally different from one another. Each has a unique purpose, statement, gameplay innovation or take on stealth that makes no one better than another. It’s also worthy of note that other than MGS2 and MGS3 both being PS2 games, every title appeared on a different generation of hardware. Kojima always wanted to do more and more and finally with MGSV, he accomplished his goals and ended his involvement in the series.

And for a person who isn’t the greatest at stealth games, this series brought me across 50 years of a convoluted history and kept me compelled to keep playing, despite my lackluster ability. Having gone back to replay some titles, I was no less amazed on subsequent playthroughs. MGS4 was my GotY in 2008, MGS5 in 2014. They were emotional and fun, powerful and silly. Kojima’s attention to detail cannot be overstated. Masterpiece after masterpiece, any new MGS sans Kojima will be lacking that special touch. Thus, 1998 – 2015, and #2 on this list.

Super_Mario_Logo
#1: Super Mario Bros. (1985 – Present)
If the grandeur of MGS cannot be overstated, then surely Mario can be. Everyone knows of him, and every game gets great scores. However, this is no conspiracy. While the golden years of gaming had a long string of amazing Mario games, even recent years have been consistently excellent. I once ranked the Mario games stopping around 2008 but the newer titles stand up with those others. As Super Mario Bros. 3 still sits atop the best-games-ever list, there are easily another half-dozen games featuring the plumber on the top 25. From the Galaxy games to the New SMB titles to the 3D World games…Shigeru Miyamoto has produced the single greatest series in gaming history with one of the most iconic characters in all of media. No new Mario games will come out in 2015, but whenever a new title comes out, I will be in line to get it. Why? The one-word review of Mario and the reason it’s the greatest ever? Fun. I could continue with ingenious and tricky and comment about replayability but the end result is a fun game each time (well, I hated Sunshine) and the noble title of:

Best.Franchise.Ever

DoDon Pachi: Ichimen Banchou

Posted in Blog, DoDon Pachi, Games on January 23, 2016 by slateman

ddp-ib-logoI haven’t a clue how this one snuck up on us! An IOS-only, new DDP?!?! This is a strange game, and while it’s not really a full title in any way, it’s free and it’s kind of fun! I’ll likely toss together a bare-bones guide for the game (mostly translations) and hey, it’s a new DDP! I ought to update
BeeStorm too!

Game Of The Year: 9-Year Recap

Posted in Best / Worst, Blog, Games, Lists, Metal Gear Solid, Uncharted on January 18, 2016 by slateman

gotySince I’m on the kick of making lists and since I haven’t really done a Game of the Year list consistently, I figured I’d toss this up. I went year-by-year to figure out not only the best game for each year, but also which was the best new IP. In a world of endless sequels (see the post below), new franchises are important. These lists are mostly for me, honestly; I love looking back at each year’s greatest titles. I moved to Maine just at the end of 2005 but I couldn’t really pick a best of 2006. Perhaps I’ll return and make this a true 10-year list. Well, without further ado…

Year GotY New IP GotY
2015 Metal Gear Solid V Rocket League
2014 Shadow Of Mordor [Same]
2013 Tomb Raider Guacamelee!
2012 Borderlands 2 The Walking Dead
2011 Portal 2 Torchlight
2010 Red Dead Redemption Darksiders
2009 Uncharted 2 Borderlands
2008 Metal Gear Solid 4 LittleBigPlanet
2007 Uncharted [Same]

It’s worth noting that 2010’s Red Dead Redemption was a toss-up with Super Mario Galaxy 2. Both are pretty much perfect 10s in my book. Two MGS games and two Uncharted games topping this list! And Borderlands is on there twice too. Pretty cool!

What To Play: 2016 Edition

Posted in Best / Worst, Blog, Games, Lists, Resident Evil, Street Fighter, Uncharted, Ys on January 17, 2016 by slateman

2016
2016 is here and it’s time to look forward rather than backward. The top three on last year’s list ended up being pushed back to this year, as did a handful of others. Thus, this list is somewhat of a duplicate. Here’s the list with known dates. Almost all titles are PS4 games with the exception of Zelda and the last two.

Resident Evil Zero Jan 19 Pre-Ordered
Mighty No.9 Feb 9 Buy? GF? Wait?
Street Fighter V Feb 16 Pre-Ordered
FarCry Primal Mar 1 GF likely
Ratchet & Clank Apr 12 Buy / GF?
Uncharted 4 Apr 26 Pre-Ordered!
Mirror’s Edge Catalyst May 24 Maybe GF later
Sherlock Holmes: TDD Spring Maybe GF
No Man’s Sky June GF?
The Legend Of Zelda ??? Day One Buy!
Ys VIII: Lacrimosa Of Dana Summer To US in 2016?
Rise Of The Tomb Raider December Buy?
Shadow Complex Remastered ??? Likely Buy!
Zero Escape 3 Summer GF probably
Final Fantasy XV ??? Unknown
Broforce ??? Unknown
Doom ??? Unknown
Crackdown 3 ??? Loved CD2
Gears Of War 4 ??? Loved GoW1 & 3!

So, SFV, UC4 and RE0 are all a-coming. Zelda is, without question, a title that will be in my library. The rest though…I don’t know. I loved the last Tomb Raider (GotY 2013!) and the new one got good reviews. I’m likely going to want that one. A new Ys game?! Sherlock Holmes is fun to play alongside my wife. I don’t know. 2016 may not be the best or most innovative year, but it should be a good one.

The Best Games Of 2015

Posted in Best / Worst, Blog, Games, Lists on January 8, 2016 by slateman

I haven’t been quite as consistent in making a best games list annually but this year I thought I’d change that. Much like music, I felt that 2015 was not the strongest of years, but that the top titles were utterly stellar.

To begin, I went through all games I had received trophies in and/or beat (plus a few Nintendo 3DS games, as those are the only two platforms I really played). That list is as follows. Oh, and for titles with an *, it means they came out prior to 2015 but that I didn’t play those until last year. A + means I beat it again, perhaps an updated version or on a new platform.

  • PS4: Bastion (*)
  • PS4: Call Of Duty: Black Ops 3
  • PS3: Chariot (*)
  • PSV: Color Guardians
  • PS4: Dying Light
  • PSV: Fat Princess: Piece Of Cake
  • PS4: Guacamelee! Super Turbo Championship Edition (*)(+)
  • PSV: Hotline Miami (*)
  • PSV: Hotline Miami 2
  • PS4: Jamestown +
  • PS4: Journey (*)(+)
  • PS4: Just Cause 3
  • 3DS: The Legend Of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds (*)
  • PS3: Lego The Lord Of The Rings (*)
  • PS3: Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater (+)
  • PS4: Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain
  • PS4: Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes (*)(+)
  • 3DS: New Super Mario Bros. 2 (*)
  • PSV: OlliOlli2: Welcome To Olliwood
  • PS3: Rain (*)
  • PS4: Rocket League
  • PS4: Resident Evil HD Remastered (+)
  • PS3: Resident Evil Revelations (*)
  • PS4: Resident Evil Revelations 2
  • PS3: Resident Evil 4 (*)(+)
  • PS3: Resident Evil 6 (*)
  • PS4: Rogue Legacy
  • PS3: Sherlock Holmes (*)
  • PS4: Shovel Knight
  • 3DS: Super Mario 3D Land (*)

Plenty of other titles (PS+ games, for instance) that I chose not to include. So, what are my thoughts on this year? Well, first, I went through a Resident Evil rage and then a Mario Renaissance upon purchasing a New 3DS. In preparation for the big autumn release, I started going through Metal Gear games again, trying out Peace Walker, replaying MGS3 and Ground Zeroes and diving right into the glorious Phantom Pain. It was a year of binge playing, much like many of us do with television shows nowadays.

I got a pair of platinums, played the excellent Far Cry 4 and enjoyed some titles with my wife by playing Rain and Sherlock Holmes. It was a good year, not a great one, with several of my best experiences being old games (3DS titles especially).

But what was the BEST? Which were the top 5? Everyone else’s list have titles like Fallout 4 (never played any of those games) or The Witcher 3 (same!) Here’s a rather-unofficial Top-5 list.

2015-dyinglight#5: Dying Light
While I haven’t beaten this title yet ($15 Black-Friday deal), it’s a huge improvement over the disappointing Dead Island and truly gave me a sense of fear and dread. Nighttime in this game was a truly horrifying experience. Visually it’s one of the best-looking games ever and the gameplay was different enough to keep me interested. It’s just a shame I got this at the end of the year when my #2 and #1 games came out!!!

2015-rocketleague#4: Rocket League
The year’s fourth-best title was FREE? I usually download PS+ titles right away so that I ‘own’ them but I don’t usually prioritize actually playing them. After a few weeks of hype, it was time to check it out and oh man, I was hooked fast! Simple, pick-up gameplay but a deep system of play allowed for newcomers to start off on an even keel. There were so many “OMFG” moments! Unlike some other titles, I’ll come back to play this again here and there surely.

2015-residentevil#3: Resident Evil: HD Remastered
I was always embarrassed to say I never actually beat Resident Evil. I’d played it on the PS1, borrowed it from somebody…way back in like 1997. Then I played the original REmake on the GameCube but bailed on that. When half a zombie was crawling through a window and I had one before me and one behind, I was done. But the HD version drew me in and I beat it several times, once even speed-running it in 2-and-a-half hours. I quite liked it and that led into my RE madness for a few weeks. Didn’t help that my wife was away for four months at the time!!!

2015-justcause#2: Just Cause 3
Oh, Just Cause. If I’m not mistaken, IGN gave the console version a 5.9. Whatever! JC3 is a terribly-flawed game…but I don’t care one bit! I never encountered the game-breaking bugs others did. What I did encounter was a ludicrous and amazingly-fun game dedicated to blowing every goddamn thing up in sight. And for that, I salute its intent. I had a blast (total pun) wing-suiting around the world, flying, diving, crashing, jumping massive chasms, using the grappling hook for infinite purposes and liberating the most beautiful and insanely-detailed world in gaming history. While my #1 game ruled, its world was barren compared to the diversity and the nooks and crannies of this title. I don’t care what review other sources give this title, it filled its purpose perfectly and was utter madness…just what I expected and wanted.

2015-mgs#1: Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain
Back in 2010 I wrote about MGS I vs. III vs. IV. I’ve spoke of this often, but I had in the summer of 2008, run through all four main entries into the MGS saga in one summer. It was friggin’ great. And then Kojima announced V. Do we *need* part five? Snake’s story was told. I was satisfied. And so I avoided all press entirely, really. I mean, c’mon, Snake on a horse? Open world? Whatever. But as the date approached, the MGS world beckoned me and I couldn’t avoid it. And when September 1st arrived, holy shit, I was blown away. What you get in 5 is the least-cohesive of all MGS stories (and that’s saying something), but it is also the most silky-smooth gameplay I’ve ever witnessed. The usual Kojima depth is there in spades…far more hours still await me after I’ve passed the hundred-hour mark. I don’t know how many other games I can say that about. I wrote about its awesomeness a few months back. Ultimately, while the story was the weakest part, MGSV sits aside its brethren as triumphs in the gaming world and my reservations about the need of another game were rendered nonsensical. This game is spectacular and is the best game, hands down, of 2015 and probably the past few years as well.

Oni vs. Satsui No Hadou Ryu

Posted in Artwork, Game Art, Games, Street Fighter on November 20, 2015 by slateman

Just because…

Oni-Satsui-No-Hadou-Ryu

Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain

Posted in Best / Worst, Games, Metal Gear Solid on September 20, 2015 by slateman

MGSVI’ve written about MGS before. Having played 1, 2, 3 and 4 one awesome summer (2008), I was set. The ending was perfection (mostly). MGS4 tied everything together splendidly, it concluded a convoluted, yet beautiful tale and there was nothing left to say. Metal Gear was done. Or not. When part five was announced, I could only ponder, “Why?” Surely the mighty dollar was the true source of inspiration but do we really need more? (“No,” clearly is the answer.) And after Ground Zeroes came out, I wasn’t truly convinced. I avoided all the hype, the extended gameplay trailers, etc. But, my inner MGS fan awoke and I preordered it and it arrived and I played it and…

OMFG. While the story, set between Peace Walker and the original Metal Gear, isn’t nearly as compelling as MGS1…or 3…or 4…or even 2 (and I hated 2)…the gameplay is silky smooth and killer. The story of 3 may be better than 5, but how can I ever go back after playing such a perfect blend of stealth and balls-out action? Case in point…

Side op to collect a weapon blueprint. I sneak up to the compound, scope it out and find an entrance I like on the left side. I pick a lock and crawl around the one guard and sneak past the security camera. Using darkness to my benefit, I work around the building, taking out a sniper with my own suppressed tranquilizer sniper rifle. I all but walk around a pair of guards, head up stairs and get my blueprint. Halfway done. On the way out, a guard notices something so I hang off the ledge and he climbs the stairs. I drop down and sleuth my way out of the compound without anyone noticing anything. Perfect stealth.

Side op to rescue a hostage. Sneak in and order Quiet, my sniper buddy, to take out an enemy via a tranquilizer shot. But, oh! the enemy is wearing a helmet. The ding off the helmet alerts the entire encampment and they immediately notice me. What ensues is two minutes of tranquilizer shots resulting in about 20 enemies passed out around the base. I get my hostage and extract him.

Which is the correct way to play this game? The beauty of MGSV is the perfection in which either plays out. Neither is weaker. Some games allow you to do things but it’s not quite how the game was designed so you can tell. Not here. If that enemy hadn’t been wearing a helmet, the entire side op would’ve turned out entirely differently. And that is why MGSV is the greatest game in a long time. And while I wait for Snake (Venom this time, though I always preferred the Naked moniker) to finish his tale, which inevitably must be anticlimactic, I’m enjoying a game that didn’t need to be made, but I’m oh-so-glad it was. And we’ll bid adieu to Kojima’s take on the MGS world…but it’ll be on a high note…again!

The 9 Best Games Of The Last Generation

Posted in Best / Worst, Blog, Borderlands, Games, Lists, Portal, Resident Evil, The Walking Dead, Uncharted on July 20, 2015 by slateman

I’ve been thinking of this article for some time now. Should I list 10 games? Should I list them in tiers? Ultimately, I’m just going to post this and go with it.

This is a list of the nine best/most important games of the last generation. That means the Xbox360/PS3 and PC if it appears on consoles. I am not looking at PC-only titles.

Bottom Tier

resident_evil_5_medium_1Resident Evil 5
This is not an important title. I can’t say it really did anything massively new or reinvented anything spectacular. Although it is entirely co-op, it’s not utterly groundbreaking. And it’s not widely heralded as an excellent title.

What it is however, is awesome. I’ve already raved about it as a stand-alone title. The DLC was fun and diverse. Nowadays I rarely replay games entirely. Instead, I 100%ed it on two consoles (-achievements). It was fun, packed a powerful punch and epitomized what I loved about the PS3/Xbox360 generation. A large game, fully co-op, good save system, tons of weapons and reason to replay it. That last one is an important one. Infinite rocket launcher? Magnum? And this doesn’t even count Mercenaries mode.

Rdr_torquemada_lookoutRed Dead Redemption
GTA in the wild west? No thanks. I love GTA, I don’t like westerns but…well…this is fun and diverse and the writing is impeccable and dead-eye is a hell of a lot of fun and WHOAH, that story twist!!! How many times did I get off track, wandering the woods for a bear or through the vast, arid desert skinning animals and saving people? I lost my save for RDR but I got to see the true ending and it was one of the best stories of the entire generation. And let’s not forget the song when you finally cross into Mexico. It’s rare that one song in a game stands out but its power was in how your rode south, the gentle song leading you into a foreign (yet similar) land. And how different it was, different people, chatter and style.

A sequel in this generation would only make me smile. I certainly hope it’s on the horizon somewhere.

Middle Tier

DLC4_Envishot_LostCity_smallGears Of War 3
The first GOW was great and the second just OK. The third, in my opinion, was the strongest and the most fun. It expanded the color palette for one, and tweaked everything to make it run faster (less clunky) and was just a spectacular and powerful game. So, while the first title really did more for this generation, specifically its cover system, excellent reload mechanics and a fully co-op campaign (oh how I wish for more of those!!!), the third perfected it. If I were to go back; I’d play this one.

call-of-duty-4-mwCall Of Duty: Modern Warfare
I don’t care what anybody says about MW and the series as a whole. Here’s what matters to me…

After hearing all the hype, I finally rented the game and tossed it in my 360. Of course, the visuals were impressive and the sound was solid. It was when my character stepped out into the streets, with bullets flying everywhere, my eyes opened wide. Games up until that point had enemies shooting at you. Some team-based games had more targets, but for the first time, I felt like I walked into a world that was going on around me. I remember having surround sound going, bullets pinging everywhere, and it was utter mayhem. It was precisely what I wanted in gaming. Now, while the sequels upped the ante considerably, it was the first MW where my mouth truly dropped. As a player who avoids multiplayer almost entirely, the campaign was all I cared about. And it was a solid, entertaining and compelling campaign. Its brevity wasn’t disappointing either. Quite the contrary, it was sweet and to-the-point. Solid controls, insane action and at the time, superb visuals made for a game that was truly a game-changer. Once again, say what you will about the series and its subsequent milking. That first game was a turning point.

Just-Cause-2-1Just Cause 2
I never played (or had even heard of) the first Just Cause but this title was a free game on PS+ one month. I’m all about grabbing just about any free game I can but my first play session was merely OK. The controls were a bit loose and it was hard figuring out the whole grappling hook. I remember my second session, however, where my opinion changed entirely.

I had a hard time going back to open-world sandbox games after this. Moving around was so slow and boring (well, with the exception of Saint’s Row, but that’s just a ridiculous game!) The things I managed to do with Rico in this game were outrageous. Tethering cars to helicopters and scaling buildings with ease were awesome, as were the insane amount of explosions but the most important word in a review of this game is “fun”. I had a blast playing this, destroying everything. Just the number of options in this game make it for a memorable and long-lasting experience. Shoot a guy? Tether him to a truck and drive off? Tether an item to a truck and pull it down onto him? Oh, it goes on and on! In December of this year a sequel is coming out and I can’t limit my excitement. This might be one of those games where more of the same is just what I want. We’ll have to see!

walking dead lee clementine

The Walking Dead
Sure, I loved the show, but a choice-based, point-and-click adventure? Once the first two episodes were free, I grabbed them (remember, I love me freebies!) and everything changed. I connected with Lee, the game’s protagonist, more than perhaps I did with any character in any game ever. I cannot even discuss the finale without getting a lump in my throat. It was perhaps the single most powerful gaming experience ever. (yes, that trumps Metal Gear Solid IV and the at-the-time surprise of Aerith in Final Fantasy VII.

And while there were action sequences in this title, those were by far the least exciting, the least compelling, the least enticing. Episodes four and five start to rip your heart out and as I’ve written about already, the tears were genuine. I was talking to my TV. I was moved. I was hurt. And I will recommend this game to anyone, zombie fan or not. In some ways, it should be top-shelf material. Ah…I hate making these lists. Just know that it’s awesome. I shouldn’t have to say more.

Top Shelf

872182-portal-2Portal 2
I missed out on Half-Life and that whole thing and so it wasn’t until after Portal 2 came out that I even tried this series. The first game was certainly fun, but I’m pretty certain I played that (PC) after I beat it on the PS3 (and subsequently played it all again on the PC, beating both 1 and 2 within 24 hours).

This is a triple-A puzzle game…something that’s generally unheard of. Without playing it, my claims of Brilliance can not explain the sheer awesomeness of this title. Sadly, it’s the only thing I can even say. After each test room or the later colored gels, I marveled at the absolutely-ingenious design. I felt such delight at the solutions and the miraculous lack of unsolvable puzzles. The game was designed and tested to perfection. GLaDOS and her anger were written with utter sarcasm and it all delighted as the weird story unfolded. I can think of nothing about this game that isn’t perfect brilliance. You can go back at any time as well, provided you haven’t memorized all the solutions, and enjoy those brainy solutions all over again. Sadly, I never got the chance to play co-op. I bet that’s awesome.

bl2_1

Borderlands 2
After renting and beating Modern Warfare, I rented Borderlands. I’d heard good things, etc. etc. After such a visually-compelling and powerful experience, my initial thoughts of BL were…eh. The cel-shaded presentation coupled with a weird premise didn’t totally impress me immediately.

I played a bit; I returned the game.

A few weeks later, I was humming this tune in my head. I started missing the skill tree options. I had to rent the game again. Perhaps I was lucky but the local video store was closing and I bought the game for like $12. I then played the game. A lot. My save game ended up getting deleted and so at some point I started again. Then did true vault hunter mode. Then I returned a year later and got the platinum. The DLC was spectacular (I bought 3 of the 4, IIRC). We’ve all played our share of FPS games. None compelled me like this one. The outrageous guns that I’d receive were motivation alone to continue! It was stylish, unique, funny and full of loot! The light-hearted story was trumped by the second game, itself a superior product. Just about every fault I could find in the first title was remedied. Things were tweaked where necessary and left alone where needed. Even the trailer was insanely awesome! I love this game and while I skipped the Pre-quel, I fully anticipate grabbing part 3 whenever it debuts on this current generation. LOVE IT! (said in Torgue’s voice!)

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To complete the trio of sequels…

Sure there are other 3rd-person action games. They’ve existed since the advent of 3D games. In so many ways, Uncharted is inspired by Tomb Raider which itself was inspired by Indiana Jones. So Why is this so important? Because it was fun, challenging, looked great and its gameplay was perfection. The first game is amazing, the third game is more of the same and the second was pristinely balanced. Headshots were truly enjoyable and the ka-ching of every kill was the most rewarding sound of the entire generation of games. Seeing Drake hanging by one arm got a bit old by the third game. However, the cinematics of the second, the chemistry with Elena and Chloe, the diverse and lush locales, the exciting finale, the co-op levels…*takes breath*…This game is probably my favorite of the entire generation even if it didn’t redefine like Portal or Borderlands did. It just did what I love the most…perfectly.

Super Mario Completion

Posted in Blog, Games, High Scores / Accomplishments with tags on July 6, 2015 by slateman

Having just purchased a Nintendo 3DS, I’ve opted to catch up on the missing Mario games (After playing Zelda!) Since my history with the Italian plumber truly began way back with the original Mario Bros. (Not Super!) it’s only fitting I dedicate myself to these titles.

However, my expertise really lies in those older titles. Once Super Mario Sunshine came out, my interest waned but in the last 6 or 7 years, there have been some stellar Mario titles. I do dedicate myself to a new Mario whenever possible and today I “finished” Super Mario 3D Land. Four Stars means I got almost everything. Re-doing EVERY level with Luigi and getting gold flags on each…no thanks. Four stars is enough. In light of this, I wanted to see how far I really got in those titles from the last half a decade plus. Turns out there are a number of games and I’ve “completed” all of them to some extent. Let’s see! First – The titles! Three for the Wii, Two for both the Wii U and the 3DS.

2007 – Super Mario Galaxy (9.7)
2009 – New Super Mario Bros. Wii (8.9)
2010 – Super Mario Galaxy 2 (10)
2011 – Super Mario 3D Land (9.5)
2012 – New Super Mario Bros. 2 (8.5)
2012 – New Super Mario Bros. U (9.1)
2013 – Super Mario 3D World (9.6)

The numbers that follow are IGN’s scores for each game. It’s evident Mario has not lost his touch. Anyway, let’s go title by title to see how much I’ve truly completed. Of course, it goes without saying I beat every game. Beyond that, however, varies by title.

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Gold Crowns on all levels – 120 stars (out of 121)

After New Super Mario Bros. on the NDS, a game which I’m fairly certain I 100%ed but have since lost my save, Galaxy was part of the new phase of Mario. It was new, different and not entirely reliant on stupid motion controls. The game was brilliant, with some unique and curious spins on both the Mario world and physics. I loved it and my goal of getting everything was set. Seeing as how it was 8 years ago, I don’t remember specifics, but I do know that one of those final stages was a pain in the ass and getting that last star was a glorious achievement.

Looking back now, i see it was the first game that asked you to beat the entire game again using Luigi in order to unlock one final galaxy for one final star. While you don’t need to get everyone on those levels (to my knowledge), it doesn’t matter. That’s a lot of work for one final stage. Maybe when I was 13 I would’ve done that. Not now.

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1 star out of 5

Missing:
Two star coins on Worlds 2 & 3
Four star coins on World 5
11 on World 8 (didn’t even play 8-7)
18 on World 9 (only beat (+ 3 coins) two levels)

I don’t recall when I stopped playing this. I know that World 9 got pretty damn hard! One star is pretty lame but I don’t see myself going back to this one any time soon.

Save-file requirements & my progress

  • Beat the game
  • Beat every normal level
  • Collect all 207 star coins in the first 8 worlds.
  • Collect all 24 star coins in world 9.
  • Beat every level, find every secret goal and use all of the warp cannons.

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One Silver Crown (All 120 Normal Stars)(144/242 Stars)

Silver crowns on all levels (Worlds 1-6 plus World S)(120 Stars)
All Comet Medals
Gold crowns on some levels (= stars + green stars)
No Grandmaster Galaxy in World S

I felt SMG2 was superior to SMG. In fact, at the time, I claimed it was the 3rd-best Mario game ever! It was just that good, and IGN’s perfect 10 is something I fully agree with. After busting my ass to collect all 120 stars (AGAIN!), it was a shock to find out there were 120 more! I collected a few dozen of those but then stopped. Just looking at this stirs my completionist OCD. Did I stop because those green stars were too hard? Or did I just get burnout? I think it’s the latter. I suppose I could go back and try to get some. :)

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4 Stars out of 5

I just finished this and felt pretty good about it. The game, while heralded as spectacular, was good. The first half was just a joke though. It was so easy, and as you can see from these stats, I’m a good player, but NOT a great player! Of those 392 lives lost, I easily lost 100 on three levels at the end of my journey. Yup. 100 lives. Three levels.

The second half of the game was great though, with some rigorously-challenging goals and the like. My four stars means I got all 293 star coins (plus some extras) by getting every star coin on every level in worlds 1-8 and Special worlds 1-8, then defeated Bowser again. Why not a fifth star? Yup, gotta beat every stage again as Luigi and get all golden flags. I don’t know which stages I got gold flags on (not without playing each stage and getting to the end). Redo the entire game again? Nope. I’m good. Four stars is solid!

Save-file requirements & my progress

  • Defeat Bowser in World 8’s second Castle
  • Clear all stages in the first 8 Worlds
  • Defeat Bowser again after Special World 8
  • Obtain all 285 Star Medals
  • Clear all stages with Mario and Luigi + Golden Flagpole on all

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After getting and beating SM3DL, I didn’t wait long to pick up New Super Mario Bros. 2. The reviews claimed it wasn’t as good as 3D Land but I much prefer the side-scrolling Mario games to the 3D ones. This title may have been a bit gimmicky and the Star World was a breeze compared to older titles, but I loved it all. It took me just over a week to burn through the entire lot, collecting all star coins, moon coins and getting max lives. It was fun but not overly challenging and it’s only my second true 100% in a recent Mario title.

Save-file requirements & my progress (won’t cross these out as I got them all!)

  • Beat World 6-Castle
  • Obtain every Star Coin
  • Obtain all of World Star’s Moon Coins
  • Complete every level
  • Get the highest possible number of lives

While not final chronologically, this is the last game I played through and now I must wait for another Mario to dedicate myself to.

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5 stars out of 5

This is the only true 100% game (now the second). All five stars means I beat every level with every star coin including all the Superstar Road stages (plus the final one) as well as catching Nabbit. I wrote about the final steps in this process (both here and here). There’s not much else to comment on. This was a fun, solid challenge that wasn’t bogged down in stupid requirements.

Save-file requirements & my progress

  • Beat Bowser in story mode
  • Unlock and beat every normal level
  • Get every star coin (normal levels)
  • All star coins on Superstar Road
  • Catch 7 Nabbits + all star coins on Superstar Road-9

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2 stars out of 5
305 Stars out of 380
76 Stamps (out of 80)

I got every star, stamp and gold flag on worlds 1-6, Castle, Bowser and Star.

However, in World Mushroom, I’m missing two flags, five stars and a bunch in world Mushroom-Box (whatever).

World Flower is a mess, missing a bunch and never having beaten a few. World Flower-12 is the boss rush level and it’s not hard, I just haven’t ever managed to do it quickly enough. Timed stages are annoying. Due to this, I never saw World Crown. Oh well.

Stamps are a joke. I really have 76 out of 80. But then five more apparently come from beating every level with every character. Ahahaha. No.

Save-file star requirements & my progress…

  • Beat the final level in World 8
  • Collect all Green Stars in Worlds 1-8
  • Collect all Stamps in Worlds 1-9 (there are none in 10-11)
  • Get all Golden Flags in Worlds 1-11
  • Beat worlds 1-11 with all characters for the final Stamps

Final Fantasy VII: Remake

Posted in Best / Worst, Blog, Games with tags on June 17, 2015 by slateman

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September 7th, 1997. My senior year in college had just begun and I had classes and work in the computer lab after school. I snuck out to the local Electronics Boutique at the mall. I bought Final Fantasy VII. I hadn’t played RPGs much, barely any JRPGs and never touched a FF game. For anyone too young, it’s impossible to understand the potency of this game. I remember the ads. “If it were available on cartridge, it would retail for $1,200.” CD games were new. CG in games was new. Symphonic scores were new. And FFVII blew the doors open on all of it. Holy shit. This was unlike anything we’d ever seen.

So, now while FFVII has been on GameFAQs’ top-100 list for…wait for this…6,099 days, I marvel at the endurance. SIX THOUSAND DAYS. My entire life has changed, the entire gaming industry has changed. The madness and dedication to FFVII has not. And while there’s simply NO WAY the remake can ever live up to our memories of 6,000 days ago…I have no choice but to return to Midgard. Back before there were spoilers (well, there were but you probably weren’t online back then. I was already running sites for two years) all you had to say was Aerith (Aeris). That shit changed the way I looked at videogames.