Archive for the Resident Evil Category

How Nintendo Fucked Up

Posted in Best / Worst, Blog, Games, Hardware, Resident Evil with tags , on March 5, 2017 by slateman

Just four years after launching the Wii U, the system is effectively dead and Nintendo has shipped its last title for the platform. My Wii U collection now includes the free game I got with the system, a pair of Mario games and its swansong, the new Zelda game. The system was a gift given to me several years ago and beside the plumber’s usual excellent games, (already catalogued here) the only game I wanted was Zelda. It was scheduled for 2015.

Its delay was due to new hardware, there is simply no doubt. And that hardware has arrived. But I’m not spending $300 for a system to play Zelda when the last system was supposed to do so. But that’s OK. I have the option to play on my Wii U. So let’s.

But oh! my Wii U has decided to stop outputting audio. Now that’s not Nintendo’s direct fault. I mean, I didn’t really use the system that much, but hardware fails. I get it. But hey, I have this second screen. I could turn the volume up on the controller and maybe use it for a map or inventory screen. But oh no. Despite the second screen being about the only selling point on the console in its four miserable years, Nintendo opted not to utilize it at all for Zelda. Why? The Switch, surely. Can’t have the old system doing something the new system can’t, right? Screw you, fans! Buy the new hardware! And to answer the inevitable question, yes, I can play the game on the Wii U controller because that’s precisely why I bought a 55″ TV.

So, whatever, the Wii U is dead. Let’s look at the Switch. The future of gaming, certainly! Wait…did I hear that version of Zelda runs more smoothly when in handheld mode? You buy a new piece of hardware that only outputs the latest-and-greatest in 900P and it can’t do so smoothly? In the year 2017? Yup…so the best experience of Zelda is to play it on a handheld, 6.2″ screen running in 720P? What the fuck?

Now, the console itself is reasonably-priced. For a system that only outputs in 1080P and as a portable only has maybe 3-4 hours of battery life, $300 is the max price, really But the pricing on everything else is ludicrous. $70 for a pro controller? It was difficult to swallow when the 360 and PS3 introduced wireless controllers and they cost as much as a game…but $70? And what about another set of Joycon controllers? $80??? And what is this news of the controllers losing sync? So, if I want another set of controllers, my bill just went up nearly 1/3 of the price. And if I don’t want to hold them like miniature chopsticks, it’s another $30 for the grip? $110? Prices will come down, certainly, right?

Oh and as of this writing, save games are tied to the system, so you can’t back them up or transfer them? WAT? Only 32Gb of internal memory? Voice chat has to be done via an app on your phone? The list of WTF just grows inexplicably. No virtual store yet either. Wait, you can’t get new games or old games up and running properly for your launch? I love new HW, but I am not enthusiastic about this at all. It just feels like an awful lot of money for another system that’ll just have 5 games on the shelf. Barring some wonderful third-party exclusive, a thing Nintendo hasn’t hooked me on since Resident Evil 4 over a decade ago, give me one reason (whose name isn’t Mario) to get this system. Metroid? I’ll believe it when I see it.

Just a little disgusted on how they’ve handled the demise of the Wii U, the entirety of Zelda and the hardware of the Switch. I don’t doubt it’s some sexy-ass tech. But they screwed over Wii U owners and Zelda fans alike. Guess I’ll go play Breath Of The Wild on my 854 x 480 controller. Whatever.

Resident Evil 7 Speedrun Guide

Posted in Blog, Games, Guides, Resident Evil on February 3, 2017 by slateman

After completing the excellent RE7, I decided a speedrun was in order. And in order to successfully complete one, I need a step-by-step guide. However, no text one exists yet! Why not make one? So, here it is. My 12.5 hour initial run was followed up by a 3-hour race which is fully detailed below. It’s a niche thing, but for trophy/achievement hunters, this will likely be useful.

Resident Evil 7 Speedrun Guide

What To Play: 2017 Edition

Posted in Blog, Games, Lists, Metal Gear Solid, Resident Evil, Street Fighter, Uncharted, Ys on January 30, 2017 by slateman

It’s time again. Today I want to look at what’s coming up in 2017 much as I did in 2016 and also in 2015. Unsurprisingly, there are a few 2017 titles that were slated to come out last year. In Zelda’s case, we were waiting for that one way back in 2015! Regardless, a quick glance at what this year has to offer is enough to warrant genuine excitement. And let’s not forget the already-released and highly-praised Resident Evil VII! Unlike prior years, sadly, I haven’t access to GameFly and so my gaming will be greatly reduced from yesteryear. Things are also crazy expensive here in Sweden. RE7 cost 600kr which is almost $70. However, even with that number size, several of these truly feel like must-own titles. Few actual release dates so far, but that’ll change. Let’s get to it!!!

Ys Origin 2/21 Not A Priority
Horizon: Zero Dawn 2/28 Interest Piqued
Zelda: BotW 3/3 MAX
Tekken 7 6/2 Hmmm…
Battle Chasers: Nightwar TBA If the price is right…
Crackdown 3 Q4 Need an XB1 first!
God Of War TBA Could this be good?
Marvel Vs. Capcom: Infinite TBA Genuinely Psyched
Metal Gear Survive TBA Zero expectations
Red Dead Redemption 2 TBA OMFG
Super Mario Odyssey Q4 Need a Switch first!
Uncharted: TLL TBA A Must Buy
Ys III: Lacrimosa Of Dana 2017? Out in ’16 in JPN, Localize, please!
Final Fantasy XV n/a Do I have the time?
Sherlock Holmes: TDD n/a My wife and I loved the last
Overwatch n/a I should play this, right?
The Witness n/a I’d like to try this

Mini-Review: Resident Evil VII – Outstanding

Posted in Best / Worst, Blog, Games, Resident Evil, Reviews on January 30, 2017 by slateman

“This is terrifying.”

I uttered those words no fewer than three times during my still-incomplete playthrough of Resident Evil VII. And that fear was due not to not only events or monsters. It was the darkness. It was the eerie sound. It was the jump scares as well as when nothing at all was happening. The tension this game builds is stifling. RE7 is an unbridled success by excelling in its audio, video, gameplay and story and for accomplishing what it set out to do.

From the compelling opening sequence to the tiptoe moments throughout, the game is crafted with care and meticulousness. Every room is beautifully detailed in its grotesqueness. The lighting, more important here than in almost every other game, is spectacular. As I huddle, scared to death of whatever is lurking in the next room, the sounds are as remarkable as the visuals. My breath, every step, creaky floors, creatures behind me…each is a requisite part of the immersive nature of RE7 and all add up to convey a tension I’ve rarely felt in gaming. The story, while absurd in its premise, is the perfect vehicle for such a tale. It moves forward at a steady pace, allowing you time to breathe and explore but always retrieves you to that state of unease.

While RE4 is still considered a major success, what is largely forgotten is how needed it was. After RE3 and Code Veronica, the series needed a change. And after RE4 brought an action-oriented focus to the namesake, 5 and 6 expanded upon that formula until yet again a change was necessary. Whether RE7 is a glorious return to the series’ roots or just a mostly-unrelated survival horror game isn’t the point. The series needed a shift and here we are. I, for one, am happy there’s no Wesker, no Redfields and no Raccoon City. While my last few hours may tie things together, I have thoroughly enjoyed this game, RE or not.

And reviews seem to agree. How rare is it that the first, the fourth and the seventh main entries into any series are so widely-heralded as a massive success? Each has a different vantage point, take on horror and yet all three are Resident Evil. Considering how many times I’ve beaten 1 and 4, I have a feeling a speedrun of RE7 is in my future. And I can’t wait.

Resident Evil VII: They’ve Done It Again

Posted in Best / Worst, Blog, Games, Resident Evil on January 24, 2017 by slateman

I may have only just posted a list of the best moments of my gaming history wherein not one but two were dedicated to Resident Evil. But update that list I must because after today, the official launch day of Resident Evil VII, a third entry is a must.

Of course, that means we’ll descend into spoiler territory. But I’m only the first half hour in.

So when I find the love of my life locked in a cell, of course I release her. But rather than going back the way I came…clearly a better choice would be to follow this deranged girl. One thing leads to another and she’s gone again. But when she returns, the events that transpire truly were among the most impressive I’ve ever experienced in gaming. No doubt about it.

First she comes at me and attacks me. I am without weapons and I don’t really even know which button to press but press them I do, frantically, trying to get this woman off of me. She stabs me in the hand, it’s insanity. She wakes up from her zombie-like state and then knocks herself out.

Second she wakes from her self-induced slumber and performs some ninja handiwork, smashing me through walls and now, with a trusty axe, I strike her down…killing my videogame wife. Tragic indeed. Until…

Third she disappears, resurrects and comes at me brutally. She nails my left hand to a wall with a screwdriver. I press buttons trying to get out. I have to do something. This is friggin’ madness! And what then? She chops that hand off with a chainsaw. OMFG!!!

Fourth, because that clearly wasn’t enough, she bursts through a window and slices me in half, belly up, with said chainsaw, thus ending one of the most dramatic gaming sequences I can ever recall.

That entire thing impressed me the way few games have. I’m 40 now, feel like I’ve seen it all. But as that sequence ended, I was aghast…mortified, shocked and pleasantly surprised. The intensity can be rivaled by few games in memory. I don’t know how I would react to this in VR. And while I know the rest of the game simply cannot live up to that, it’s shown me that Resident Evil has morphed yet again. So far, I like what I see! Please don’t tell me there’s a fifth encounter!!! :D

The Best Moments In (My) Gaming History

Posted in Best / Worst, Blog, DoDon Pachi, Games, Lists, Resident Evil, Street Fighter, The Walking Dead, Ys on January 9, 2017 by slateman

Lists never get old, but old I am. And as I turn 41 in but a month, I’ve been playing videogames for about 35 years. Through that time, I’ve played the good, the bad, the incredible and the horrendous. I figured I’d catalog some of the best moments as seen through my eyes. This is by no means comprehensive. I’ve likely missed some and assuredly your list would differ from mine. For instance, everyone’s Game of 2016 seems to be Overwatch and I never even touched it. Oh well. So here we have a list of my favorite gaming moments ever, in no particular order. Oh…and obviously there might be spoilers. That happens when you recap decades of gaming. You’ve been warned. Let’s start!

Final Fantasy VII: Aerith (1997)
I am one of the thousands whose first entry into FF was VII. Purists hated us as we missed out on the classic lore of 1 or 2 (IV), etc. But as the seventh entry into the game arrived, it also ushered in a new era of gaming. The PS1 was really in its infancy; rendered videos coupling with voice acting showed gamers what the future could contain. (Granted, the TurboCD predated this by more than half a decade, but that’s a totally different story!) Those of us who grew up on Mario and Sonic were treated to a futuristic, mature and gritty game. Characters came to life as they had never fully done before. And Aerith/Aeris appeared, the pretty florist who joins AVALANCHE to counter the absolutely-and-completely-bad-ass Sephiroth. When Cloud arrives to find her at an altar and then OMFG Sephiroth impales her! What Just Happened?

Twenty years later, main characters are almost expected to die (thanks George R.R. Martin!) A story without a twist is boring. A tale wherein the protagonist is the antagonist or there are double and triple crossings are now standard fare. But in ’97 I knew of no game that dealt with such loss. And it’s a tale that, twenty years on, still affects me.

Tomb Raider: T Rex (1996)
Although Tomb Raider has received its fair share of glory, much of 3D gaming’s success and roots are attributed to Super Mario 64. And while that’s not unfair, the years have not treated Lara Croft’s first adventure well. TR didn’t age nearly as well as SM64, but a number of average-at-best sequels also diminished the series’ name.

However, back in 1996, this game was an amazing accomplishment. Nowadays, the barren landscapes would make the young cry in boredom, at the time, “less is more” truly was the mantra. Because when things did happen upon you, be them bears or wolves, it was a big deal. The game’s minimal soundtrack and the mythical world you scoured painted a wonderful picture of exploration and excitement. And then it arrived.

Running through the lush green of some cavern in I don’t recall where, I came upon a dinosaur. Now, I can’t recall if I saw the smaller ones first, but when the T. Rex appeared it was immediately categorized in the OMFG classification. I could only hear the Monty Python voices instructing me to, “Run Away, Run Away!”

Subsequent playthroughs were obviously less terrifying. But that moment was just so grand in a game of such minimalism. After some dismal entries into the series, the reboot landed itself at my favorite game of 2013. But the impact of that first game was every bit as important as the Italian plumber’s.

Resident Evil: Dogs (1996)
I’ve uttered OMFG more than once while recounting these moments. Shock. Pain. Fright. But let us face one fact: Resident Evil itself has two entries on this list.

We shall begin back in the mid-90s wherein so many of these moments reside. I missed out on playing RE upon release but did so about a year later. This was back when PS1 games were still being sold in longboxes. A friend, I can’t recall whom, lent me this disc. And anyone who has played RE knows *exactly* what I’m going to say.

Heading down that hallway with the black-and-white checkerboard floor, I was usually cautious. It was a must in that title. But when those dogs burst out the goddamn window, I nearly shat myself. It’s one of those moments in life that brings you right back to where you were. I can recall even where I was sitting. I remember it all. My heart raced and every time I went through the hallway again (including how they mixed it up in the RE-make) brought such anxiety.

Before we head to the next entry, I should share that Silent Hill had a similar effect, however slightly less potent. The creepy town streets, the static of the radio, it truly instilled terror into me. At the time I was living in an apartment, a former nurse’s station, which happened to have black-and-white tiled floors. After a session of SH I was to go to a friend’s and meet everybody when, as I walked towards the door leading outside, the awning creaked. I paused and then an enormous amount of snow fell from the awning. Scared the crap out of me. It was no more than a few feet before me. The empty halls and darkness looming made the fright all the more powerful.

Resident Evil 4: Chainsaw (2002)

Back to RE! The series was considered on the downward slope. Everyone loved the first two entries, but even I didn’t get around to 3 or Code Veronica. And then let’s remember that between RE2 in 1998 and RE4 seven years later, we were treated to three Gun Survivor titles, two Outbreak games, RE: Zero, the REmake and a GBC title. That is a lot and it watered down the Resident Evil name.

So when RE4 came out, as a GameCube exclusive, it was easy to have expectations low. The GC had mainly catered to a younger audience. What should we expect? Well, a buddy of mine and I booted the title up and walked through the intro (that I’ve played on the GC, PS2, Wii and PS3) expectations were shaken. And when you’re in that village and the chainsaw-wielding lunatic comes after you, that sense of dread returns. And when that guy literally chopped off Leon’s head, my mouth was agape. It was grotesque. It gave me the sense that anything could happen in this title. It returned RE to the high standard the first titles represented. And it shocked the hell out of me. Now, more than a decade later, the fourth game represents a change in gaming culture much like the first one did.

The Walking Dead (2012): That Ending…

The connection to the TV show and thus the graphic novels may be scant, but to me, the episodic first season of TWD was an enormous step in gaming and one whose ending resonates through me still.

Cutting to the chase here, the game was a solid portrayal of a post-zombie-apocalypse world. My character, Lee, was likeable yet real. His relationship with Clem was similar and at that time of my life (36, with four children), it was tangible and tactile. I was Lee and Lee was me. As absurd as it sounds, that sentiment is what every game developer wants his gamer to feel. Many games give you options to chat with characters and many times I skip out on several. Not here. I gobbled up every new chance to flesh out that relationship of the imperfect father figure and the lost young girl. When she was taken, a fire within me burned. “I will get her back,” as if I had any say in the game’s script. When Lee got bitten, I cut off that arm for the better good. And when we walked amidst the zombies and Clem got us into the storage shed (or whatever it was), my teeth clenched as I wished for a happy ending. And then…

Amidst all of these gaming memories, many truly are etched into my mind. I can go back and remember where I was, what the time of my life was, how that moment affected me. When the lights came on and I saw Lee, his eyes yellowed, my heart sank. “No. NO. NO! You can’t die on me! You can’t abandon Clem!” It was terrible. It was the absolute worst thing that could happen. And as the story continued on, Lee’s fate clearly determined, it was wrenching. And finally, as the tale ended, Lee (due to my choice) handcuffed to the heater (or whatever it was), I was crushed. The game ended, with hope for the future, but it didn’t matter. Lee was gone. I was done. Utterly crushed I was, so much so that as the credits rolled and my 6th platinum trophy popped, I didn’t even care. Tears streamed forth and I stared at the TV in absolute shock. No game had ever consumed me at such an emotional level. Sure, I’d played countless hours as Nathan Drake, Mario or Lara Croft. But nothing affected me as much as that relationship between Lee and Clem…and Lee and me.

Grand Theft Auto 3: Freedom (2001)
I have never beaten a GTA game. I tinkered with the first and the second (as well as one of the expansions) but we all know it wasn’t until GTA3 that the game truly came into its own. And I never beat it. Or VC, SA, 4, 5…nope. And that’s OK. Because in the autumn of 2001, I had just started Metal Gear Solid 2. It was slow and trodding. It required moments of sitting still. Hiding. Waiting. But at the same time, GTA3 had come out and it was all-around chaos. Why do missions? Just go around destroying everything in sight, beckoning police to the pandemonium and causing more chaos. Every time I would start a mission, I’d get side-tracked and mayhem would ensue. And while nowadays there are so many games that offer this experience, this, to me, was the first of its kind. Top-notch acting and a story that was an excellent production all equaled a groundbreaking and game-changing moment in history. I didn’t end up beating MGS2 until 5 years later and while that series is in my top-10 ever, GTA3 overshadowed what ended up being my least-favorite of the MGS games.

Symphony Of The Night: Inverted Castle (1997)
I played all three original NES Castlevania titles before taking a bit of a break. While I’d tinkered with the SNES and Genesis games, I still don’t think either truly lived up to the franchise’s name. Now, the big problem with Dracula X is that it never came to American shores. While SotN is a direct sequel, it means most of us didn’t play its utterly-excellent predecessor. I only bring this up because the arrival of SotN was, to me, the best Castlevania game in ages!

We begin with a good story, silky-smooth gameplay and let us not forget the music. Oh! that music! Alucard’s animations coupled with the gothic-inspired decor painted a wonderful picture of the time and setting Konami and Iga set out to create. It is yet another entry into the ‘I can remember when I was playing this game’ category. I recall my apartment, the time of year, even the music I was listening to during those weeks. (Conversely, when I listen to that music, I think of SotN!)

However nice that story is, it’s just a tale of a nice game! In the Internet’s pre-saturation phase, we didn’t have every secret accessible on our mobile devices (as they didn’t really exist). This game encouraged exploration and upon completing the game and searching for the elusive 100%, we were all greeted with an amazing discovery. Now, explore the entire castle…upside down!!! This was a simple solution to a simpler time when storage space was limited and system memory scant. Are you serious? Just play the entire castle inverted? YES! It was brilliant and exciting and riddled with secrets. Just how I love games to be! Coupling this revelation with a renaissance of the CV series, it’s understandable that the formula was recreated over no fewer than half a dozen times in the following decade. And understandably, I played each and every one of those as well! But none had the flair or excitement that SotN did.

Asteroids: Turning (1982-ish)
My introduction to gaming began at an early age and, like everyone else at the time, I owned an Atari 2600. With the caliber of games that appeared back in that era, I can truly appreciate games of today. (Yes, I owned E.T.) One title, Asteroids, wasn’t truly an amazing game. But one afternoon at a very young age, I started on what was my first experience with achievements. High scores were a big deal back then, but my goal for that afternoon was to turn the score. Rolling meant turning the score from 999,999 back to 0. At the time, that was the equivalent of a platinum trophy. It’s not sexy…but back then it was a huge deal.

Contra: UUDDLRLR (1988)
My youth, in some ways, was defined by the interactions with my friends and my best friend Dan in particular. We became friends in the 6th grade, just as Contra was released in the USA on the NES. It was at a time before digital distribution and videogame cartridges were expensive. Therefore most games were to be played in a sitting and then played again the next day, as you couldn’t just download a new game or demo. We would play this game repeatedly. “Bored? Play Contra!” And what better way to play than with the 30-lives Konami code? Everybody knows this code and it became synonymous with gaming and cheats in general. Nowadays, with trophies and achievements, cheats are not nearly as prevalent as they were back then. But back then, push power, up, up, down, down, left, right, left, right, b, a, select, start and go! (We used the select button for the 2-player code) If it didn’t work? Press reset and do it again! The game and the code are legendary for me. A funny side-note, rumor always had it that the code wasn’t meant to be left in Gradius (where it initially appeared), but the designer forgot to remove it before shipping. Funny how things work…

Ys: Books I & II: (1990)
We all know the extent of the failure of NEC’s TurboGrafx-16 in the west. It eventually battled the SNES and Sega Genesis and lost on most commercial accounts. However, the CD-ROM add-on, while released too late to save the system, was an incredible step forward in games. From redbook audio to complete FMV scenes, it heralded a new era that truly wouldn’t be adopted for another half-decade (with the arrival of the PS1 and Saturn). The small library wouldn’t really impress but one title in particular stood above and beyond its counterparts. Falcom’s Ys compiled the first two games into one and changed how games could be represented. Book I is a short adventure, but Book II is a wonderfully-crafted tale. Full animations of Adol and the group were brighter and coupled with crystal-clear dialogues. Don’t know if anyone else can remember when they started putting voices onto cartridge games in the early ’90s. This put them to shame. Of course, it’s too bad the system was a failure.

But beyond visuals and voice acting, the music was impeccable. There was simply no other system at the time capable of outputting such high-quality audio. I still can hum the tunes of certain areas. IMO, despite its failure, NEC was way ahead of its time when it issued the TurboCD.

Street Fighter II: Animations (1992)
I’ll never forget this. After having played the original SF in arcades and then Fighting Street on the TG-16, seeing SFII is etched in my memory. It was almost 25 years ago that I walked into the arcade at the mall in Massapequa. A horde of people surrounded a cabinet and a pair of televisions were hung above for the crowd to see. Round 1 began and I stood, mouth agape, as Ryu bounced, prepared for the bout.

The title proved to be one of the most remarkable successes in videogames. Its depth and replayability are heralded as true provenance of competitive gaming. And the title’s history in the 25 years since is colorful and full. However, one of the most impressive moments for me was just seeing those animations and colorful, vibrant backgrounds popping to life. We also cannot forget the music, whose hummable themes can still be conjured up at a whim. And for anyone who lived through it, the magic of what came in the following years is also as memorable as the rest.

Advent of Achievements/Trophies (2005)
It’s so bad that now I don’t really want to play old games. I play games that I don’t necessarily want to just to obtain trophies.

That goes against everything gaming represents! But every so often I’ll get a Vita title or something and play while the kids are watching movies…all to grab a handful of trophies that truly have no significance in the world.

When the Xbox360 shipped and featured achievements, it was a cool concept. Sony, realizing they were behind, started a long string of catch-up games on the PS3, eventually patching in so many missing features. Trophies, for me, are superior to Microsoft’s achievement points. A quick look at a gamer’s stats show a number. Achievement points or Trophies, it’s all the same. I could get 5,000 bronze trophies or amass 10,000 Achievement points. However, Sony’s breakdown shows that I currently have 19 platinum trophies and I can list them all off one-by-one. In retrospect, the jump from PS2/Xbox to PS3/Xbox360 was a major step in connectivity and console ability. And there’s simply no looking back.

And looking back, I’ve played games for more than 30 years. While achievements and trophies didn’t entirely change gaming, in many ways they changed how I play them. 100%ing a game was a badge of honor, but only to show a friend who was physically present. Now you have tangible proof. Developers make trophies to lead you down certain paths, perhaps ones you’d miss otherwise. It changed how I approach games and the longevity of some titles. I cannot go back and find it sad that Nintendo franchises (other than Mario) don’t call me to complete them like Sony’s or Microsoft’s do.

Red Dead Redemption: Mexico (2010)
So much has been said about RDR and this transitional section of the title. However, like many other people, I wasn’t fully sold on the game when it came out in 2010. Grand Theft Auto in the west? As written above, I’d never beaten a GTA game and I am not particularly fond of westerns, be it the time period or the movies about it. But then you cross the threshold to Mexico and the voice of José González appears. That acoustic guitar, that empty feeling of enormity ahead. It was a spectacular moment in gaming and opened the world to be so much more than what I thought. The game continued its excellence in its writing, gameplay and the ending was phenomenal. It was beautiful and remains in many people’s memories as a high note of a game that I never knew I wanted.

DoDonPachi: Dai-Ou-Jou: Chaining Level 1 (2005)
After playing shoot-em-ups (shmups, known as shooters back then) throughout the ’80s and early ’90s, the genre died as arcades faded away and games became more elaborate. Cave continued the tradition by refining a sub-genre known as Danmaku (Bullet Hell). For those initiated, the change was profound as both depth and strategy evolved.

I was reintroduced to the genre with Cave’s DoDonPachi in the early ’00s. After following the developer for a few years, they ported the finest title in the history of shmups in 2003. I imported it day one and played the hell out of it. The game is incredibly difficult, both the gameplay and the scoring system. Its meticulousness requires such specific accuracy, many are turned off by the game. Only the best can beat it in one credit, chain entire stages and the lot. As I’ve never been very good at Street Fighter or shmups in general, I had no chance at greatness.

Until the autumn of 2005 when I dedicated myself to scoring and chaining. My scores and progress are surely mere novice material when compared to the pros of the genre. But on the 14th of September 2005, I managed to chain the entire first stage! This meant specific planning and coordinating lasers, shots and hyper usage to combo every enemy from the beginning to the end. I would later get a higher combo total before moving to Maine when my time to dedicate dwindled to nothing. However, the unbridled excitement from achieving a goal after putting in such effort…it makes this one of the most memorable moments in all my gaming history. And while many of these memories here are of the game itself, this is a personal achievement that may stand above so many others. Below a capture of my highest chain and here is my old progress log, now utterly defunct and outdated.

Well, there you have it. In finishing this up, I’ve already thought of a few more that I might need to add to part two. But since this list has been brewing for several months already, it’ll be a while until I have that prepared.

Release List: 2016’s Final Quarter

Posted in Blog, Books, DoDon Pachi, Games, Music, Resident Evil, Tolkien on October 21, 2016 by slateman

I had this as part of my first post in Sweden, but it keeps growing and I thought a separate post would do. This is a quick list of what’s coming out throughout the remainder of 2016 (and a little beyond). What was initially a rather lackluster year has turned out to be quite exciting, for music at least. Insomnium and Alcest just released stellar records and some promising ones are on the horizon. Gaming, however, seems a bit stagnant. Anyways, here’s the list:

Oct 11 – Rise Of The Tomb Raider
Oct 13 – Rez Infinite
Oct 14 – DoDonPachi: Daifukkatsu
Oct 23 – The Walking Dead (Season 7)
Oct 28 – Testament: Brotherhood Of The Snake
Oct 31 – Council Estate Electronics: Arktika
Nov 03 – J.R.R. Tolkien: The Lay of Aotrou and Itroun
Nov 04 – Dark Tranquillity: Atoma
Nov 11 – In Flames: Battles
Nov 18 – Metallica: Hardwired…To Self-Destruct
Nov 18 – Lamb Of God: The Duke
Nov 23 – Alcest @ Pustervikbaren
Nov 25 – Einherjer: Dragons Of The North XX
Nov 25 – Witchery: In His Infernal Majesty’s Service
Nov 29 – Anne Rice: Prince Lestat & The Realms Of Atlantis
Nov 29 – Final Fantasy XV
Nov 30 – Vikings (Season 4 – pt 2)
Dec 16 – Amon Amarth @ Lisebergshallen
Jan 01 – Sherlock (Season 4)
Jan 15 – Homeland (Season 6)
Jan 24 – Resident Evil 7: Biohazard
Feb ?? – Overkill: The Grinding Wheel
Mar ?? – Nintendo Switch
May 04 – J.R.R. Tolkien: Beren and Lúthien
Autumn – Red Dead Redemption 2

Gaming In 2016: Snore…

Posted in Best / Worst, Blog, Games, Lists, Metal Gear Solid, Resident Evil, Skyrim, Street Fighter, Uncharted on August 20, 2016 by slateman

ZTDPackagingKeyArt_thumbI love gaming, there’s no question about that. But as August winds down and we enter the final third of 2016, it appears it’s been a rather lackluster year! A quick look back at what has come out and what I’ve played reveals a slow trickle of games truly worth playing.
Checking my PSN Profiles Page I see a short list of new games I’ve played since January. It’s not comprehensive, there have been a number I’ve played but didn’t care for (like many recent PS+ games. Ugh). Also note that I haven’t an XBox One, my 360 is about to die and both the Wii U and 3DS are utterly useless outside of Mario and Zelda games. Let’s see where we stand…

Games Of 2016

  • Ratchet & Clank
  • Resident Evil 0
  • Resident Evil 5
  • Shadow Complex Remastered
  • Street Fighter V
  • Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End
  • Zero Time Dilemma

Umm…Seriously? NOT ONE original title? Maybe I’m just a cautious buyer now, but c’mon, that’s pathetic. So, we have three ‘remasters’, one re-envisioning, and three sequels. Now, the sequels are good. ZTD is a solid finale into the fun series, SFV as a package is flawed but the gameplay is spectacular and the production value of UC4 is second to none. It just makes a ‘Game Of The Year’ competition unfun. There are other sequels coming…Gears 4, Rise Of The Tomb Raider, and Final Fantasy XV. There are also more re-re-releases like Rez Infinite and Resident Evil 4 as well as Modern Warfare and Skyrim. However, if that were my top seven of 2016, it’s sad to know I’d already beaten two of them, three if you count R&C.

I have friends curious about Mafia 3 or Battlefield 1 or whatever, but going by what interests me, there’s almost nothing on the horizon. And in my Game Of The Year competition, I list the best game and the best new IP title…I have NOTHING for the latter?

OK, enough of the bitchfest twenty sixteen. Let’s see what I’ve actually beaten this year. See if there’s a theme here. This list omits the aforementioned titles (of which I haven’t yet beaten RE0 and ZTD):

  • God Of War (*)
  • God Of War II (*)
  • God Of War III Remastered (*)
  • Gone Home
  • Lego The Hobbit
  • Lego Marvel Super Heroes
  • Metal Gear Solid 3: HD Edition (*)
  • Metal Gear Solid 4 (*)
  • Metal Gear Solid Peace Walker: HD Edition
  • Ratchet & Clank: Into The Nexus
  • Tales From The Borderlands
  • Tembo The Badass Elephant
  • Tomb Raider: Definitive Edition (*)
  • Ys: Memories Of Celceta

Asterisks denote games I’d already beaten already (barring HD upgrades, etc.) Of the 14 titles, I’d already completed 6? Two of those were my GotY for 2008 and 2013!!! The two Lego titles I got platinums in. They’re fun to play with the kids. But they’re the same as every other Lego game. There’s nary an interesting and unique game in the lot that has done something I hadn’t already done or seen before. Well, Gone Home but that almost doesn’t even count.

So…I’m disappointed by 2016 but hey, it’s how things go. I haven’t tried No Man’s Sky yet. Maybe that’ll be great. For giggles, here’s a full list of what’s left in the year as well as a few titles that trickle into 2017.

2016
August
30 – Resident Evil 4

September
13 – Pac-Man Championship Edition 2

October
11 – Rise Of The Tomb Raider
13 – Rez Infinite
28 – Skyrim

November
04 – CoD: Infinite Warfare
04 – CoD: Modern Warfare Remaster
29 – Final Fantasy XV


2017
January
24 – Resident Evil 7: Biohazard

February
28 – Horizon: Zero Dawn
28 – Vikings: Wolves Of Midgard

Who Knows
?? – Zelda: Breath Of The Wild

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

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.