Archive for November, 2003

Thanksgiving 2K3

Thursday, November 27th, 2003

I just wanted to wish everyone a happy and safe Thanksgiving. Tomorrow officially starts the holiday shopping season, and there’s going to be some awesome deals on games and systems if you are brave enough to get out in those crowds and fight off the crazed bargain-hunters.

Good luck!

Retro Gaming

Tuesday, November 25th, 2003

I first made my foray into legal emulation with Midway’s Greatest Arcade Hits Volume 1 and Namco Museum, I then moved on toCastlevania and Contra. and then picked up an e-Reader (and several packs of cards, of course) and Animal Crossing.

And it just keeps getting better. Classic Metriod is locked away in Metroid Prime, Nintendo is giving away Legend of Zelda game discs with the NES Zelda games on them, Midway is releasing a compilation of their old arcade games, Capcom is releasing a Mega Man collection, and there are an insane amount of conversions of classic games to the Game Boy Advance.

This is an incredible trend, and I certainly hope it continues. Maybe I’m looking at these games through glasses stained with nostalgia, but I honestly beleive that we are seeing some of the best games from the earlier days coming out of all this. It gives us who grew up with these classic games a chance to play them again without having to fight finicky systems, and it introduces the new generation of gamers to some games that, well, they need to play.

Dash Dash

Wednesday, November 19th, 2003

Double Dash is a lot more like Super Mario Kart for the SNES than Mario Kart 64, with some very noticable exceptions. So let’s get down to business.

Double Dash is the first Mario Kart game (that I know of) that allows for two characters to pilot the same vehicle. The player in the driver’s seat (obviously) steers the kart and works the gas and brakes, the person on the back is responsible for using the items and attacking the other racers. You can switch up the drivers at any time during the race, and since each one can hold an item, it makes for an interesting strategy.

There is no shortage of special items in Double Dash, either. In addition to the standard Green Shells, Red Shells, Mushrooms, Spiked Shells, and Lightning, each character has a special item that they can randomly get after running into the question blocks. These items are such things as the Mario Brothers’ fireballs to the Kongs’ Giant Angry Banana Peel ™ to the Bowsers’ ENORMOUS Spiked Shell, among others.

There are obvious teams in this game. On the character select screen, they are even laid out so that the team mates are on top of each other. Thankfully, though, you don’t have to pick the preformed teams if you don’t want to. You want to team up a heavy driver with a light copilot? Go right ahead. You want to be able to use Yoshi’s Giant Eggs and Daisy’s shield should you get some special items? Not a problem. Doing some quick math, there are over… a bunch of combinations of drivers that you can pick from. The weight of the drivers that you select will also determine the karts you have to choose from, further adding to the customization.

The characters themselves are definitely unique. There are similarities between teammates, but they all have some little quirk that distinguishes them from each other. Mostly it’s their voices. Everyone in the game has a few phrases that they say throughout the race. They all are appropriate to the character, and nothing sounds out of place. I do wish there were a little more variety to some of them, though. For instance, when you have Daisy in your team and you switch them up so that Daisy is on the back she says, “Hi, I’m Daisy!” Every time. Whenever she takes her victory lap, “Hi, I’m Daisy!” This is only a minor problem, really, and then only for the characters that use actual words when you play as them. I’m sure Koopa Troopa is yelling, “Koopa is the greatest EVAR!” when he wins, but he’s doing it in some Koopa language that sounds to me like grunts, clicks, and whistles.

The courses in the game are distinct and varied. No two courses are quite the same. You will be racing on such locations as Sherbet Island, a volcano, an island shaped like Yoshi, a cruise ship, a highway (with traffic, of course), etc.

The game itself plays very well. If you are controlling the kart by yourself, you are responsible for using the items to knock other players around and keeping your kart on the road. If you have two players per kart, one person controls the driving and the other one controls the tossing of the items. With two players, you can also perform some enigmatic move called the ‘Double Dash.’ I assume it’s a maneuver to gain speed around a curve (like the Mini-Dash) but one that requires two people to pull off. That move and item usage force a kind of cooperative gameplay that, for Mario Kart, is interesting at the very least.

All the standard Mario Kart modes are here. There’s the Grand Prix mode, the Vs. Race, and Battle mode. Grand Prix mode and Vs. mode are pretty standard. If you’ve played those modes on any other Mario Kart game, then you know what to expect, so I’m not going to go into any detail here. The Battle mode is what is probably the most different from the other Mario Kart games in that there are three battle modes instead if the old ‘break three baloons’ mode (not that the ‘break three baloons’ mode is bad by any stretch). The new modes are, essentially, Grab the Shine and Run, and Bob-ombs of Fury (they are probably called something better than that, but I can’t remember what they actually are). In Steal the Shine and run you grab the single Shine and have to hold onto it until time counts down to zero. If you get hit, you drop the Shine. Interesting game. The other one, which I found a little more fun was Bob-ombs of Fury. In that mode, all the weapons are Bob-ombs. If you hit another player you get one of their points, if they don’t have any points, then you just get a point. First team to three points wins. Very interesting and fast paced mode.

There are apparently several unlockables in the game. The only ones that I’ve seen so far are some new karts and a new Battle Mode arena (A Mario Kart game with 5{or more} Battle Mode maps? Insanity!)

We didn’t get the chance to fiddle with the LAN featurs of this game since between everyone that was playing the game we had one copy of the game and zero broadband adapters. Although I can imagine the chatter in the room once you get four people per GameCube (two per kart) all trying to coordinate each other’s actions without giving too much away to your opponents. This game might turn into almost as big a party game as Mario Party 5.

“Is there anything wrong with this game?” I hear you asking me. There are only two things that I didn’t like about it: It would have been nice if there were more voice samples for the characters that speak English, and there is no longer a jump button. The L and R buttons still execute the Power Slide, but the karts don’t hop any more. I liked being able to hop over a Red Shell at the last second and send it careening into the barricade, but I can’t do that any more (I’m not so sure I could still pull that off on the SNES version).

Overall, I like this game. It’s worth a rental at the very least. The problems that I mentioned are minor, and if you haven’t played the other Mario Kart games, not being able to hop won’t even bother you.

I’m not dead

Tuesday, November 18th, 2003

No, I haven’t abandoned this site. I’ve been under the blight of a failed computer upgrade and losing the contents of a Zip disk that had quite a bit of work on it.

Time to start on it again, I suppose.


Tuesday, November 11th, 2003

First, we need to determine why people go to an arcade in the first place. There are several reasons why someone might want to go there, but I’ll only touch on what I think are the most important. This list isn’t any particular order, just how they popped into my head.

1. Socialization. We’ve all heard stories of the stereotypical video game player. For that matter, maybe some of us arethe stereotypical video game player. What better place to meet other people that share the same, or at least similar, interests as you do than your local arcade? They have all the latest games and all the junk food you could possibly want. It’s almost like a perpetual party for game geeks.

2. You can play the latest games. Any arcade worth its salt is going to (attempt to) have the latest and greatest games. That’s good for them because they want to make money. That’s good for me because I can play the latest games without having to spend a fortune to do so.

3. The experience. This, I believe, is the single most important reason to go to an arcade. To get an experience that you could not (easily) get at home. In days past, you would have to go to the arcade to play games that you just couldn’t play anywhere else. The power of the video arcade machine was far and above what was readily available to just about anyone else in the world. Sure, there were arcade conversions of some of the more popular games, but they were never as good as their arcade counterparts. So to get the full experience of whatever the game of the week was, you had to go to the arcade.

So what happened to the arcades? Well, consoles happened. The power of the console-based video game systems has gotten to the point that they are nearly as powerful as the units that you can find in your local arcade, at least graphically so. So then it comes down to a matter of money. Do you go to the arcade to play Soul Calibur for an hour or so or do you go to Blockbuster and use that same five dollars to rent the game and play it all night? A lot of people are going to take that second option and not think twice about it.

So what are arcades to do? The arcade game manufacturers are kind of in a pickle. They realize that they have to give people what they can’t get at home, and then they have to make them think that they need it. So you then end up with nothing but gimmicky game machines all over the place. In one local arcade, for instance, out of eleven game machines, three of them have joysticks. Now don’t get me wrong, I like playing Dance Dance Revolutionor Time Crisis 3 as much as the next guy, but I also like the occasional round of Ms. Pac-Man or Spider Man once in a while.

At this point, you are probably wondering to yourself, “Well, that’s all well and good, but what does he want?” The truth of the matter is, it really doesn’t matter what I want. What matters is that the arcades of at least this area stay open so that I can go to them and play the dwindling number of classic arcade games and still play some of the newest machines, even if those machines don’t have joysticks.

AsylumLAN 14 is over.

Monday, November 10th, 2003

Well, another AsylumLAN is done with, and I’m exhausted.

In an odd turn of events, I managed to win my own tournament (in Super Street Fighter II, no less). Coming in a close second was [EvL]j00. Trenchcoat and Smooth[GummiBear] also provided some stiff competition, but I managed to eek out the victory. Many thanks to all who participated. We’ll have to do it again in February.

Right. Regular updates… Erm, that’ll have to wait until tomorrow.


Friday, November 7th, 2003

AsylumLAN is this weekend, so I won’t really be around. I’ll be at the event running a Super Street Fighter II tournament among other things.

See you on Monday.

Television And Games

Thursday, November 6th, 2003

I just realized that I watch a frighteningly small amount of television and movies. Well, I don’t think it’s all that frightening, really. If you count playing video games on your TV as watching TV, then I watch probably more than the average person.

Although it’s not just the not watching of Popular Reality Show, my TV viewing time is almost exclusively devoted to the Cartoon channel and the Food channel, there’s been fewer and fewer new video games coming out that I really think are worth having. My Nintendo 64 collection has bloomed to around 30 games, and most of those are what I would consider at least marginally good games. Contrast that with my Game Cube library of about eight games (and my Game Boy Advance library of three games).

What does this mean? One of two things.

1. I, being a student in college, have less time to devote to games than I have had in years past. So I don’t buy new games since I don’t have time to play new games.

Plausable. But I lean towards option 2.

2. We’re stuck in a glut of bad sequels and mediocre games. I think that it’s gotten to the point where consumers, especially the younger ones, are being led to believe that mediocrity is greatness. Then when a truly good game comes out, people are astounded.

Anymore I wait for the truly good games before I make a purchase. This has slowed down the expansion of my library considerably. I also like to purchase some of the older titles for the ‘obsolete’ systems. It’s more cost effective, and if I don’t like the game, I won’t feel so bad for wasting $5 instead of $49.99.

So, until my cable provider starts carrying G4 my TV is primarily going to be used to help me play Tetris Attack or Super Street Fighter II or some such.

Handheld Gaming

Saturday, November 1st, 2003

The N-Gage sounds like a good idea. So did the Neo Geo Pocket, the Wonderswan, the Game Gear, the Turbo Duo, the, the Atari Lynx, etc.

What has Nintendo done to get this stranglehold on the market? The easy answer is Pok