Saturday, July 30, 2011

Top 50 Video Game Moments: Number 38

Apologies for the delay. Yesterday belonged to Trinkenspiel. Now that I've downed my homebrews and my Maker's Mark and discussed everything from the state of popular music to how adorable Benno's cats are, I return you to your regularly scheduled countdown.

Today's Top 50 Gaming Moment comes to us from the mostly unknown freeware game Eversion. What I'll be discussing makes the game essentially pointless to play, so if you haven't checked it out, do yourself a favor and go here and pick it up. A quick playthrough (i.e. not the 100% perfect ending) only takes a little under an hour to complete. It's free, so it's got to be worth it, right?

If you've played it already (or if you foolishly plan not to or even more foolishly plan to spoil it for yourself before playing) the rest of the article is after the jump.

Friday, July 29, 2011

Top 50 Video Games: Number 38

Stats of Import
Platform: Playstation 2
Absurdly Specific Genre: Fighting Game (Non-Hadouken Class)
Difficulty: 3 (I generally played on Normal. The game didn't just give up, but it didn't punish you for playing, either)
Beaten: Yes. I beat the game with the hidden characters on 'hard' (not 'very hard', though... that's just absurd)

Most every gamer eventually settles on a one of the fighting game series. My friend Branny is a Mortal Kombat guru, my other friend Benno is a Street Fighter nerd. Another acquaintance loves Virtua Fighter. My friend Matt and I, though... we're Tekken folk. The nights we spent passing the controllers as we played Tekken 2 til the wee hours of the morning are some of my favorite video game times. Considering these fond memories, it was a great surprise for me to walk into a Target shortly after purchasing my brand new PS2, only to see this game, Tekken Tag Team Tournament staring up at me.

Upon bringing it home, I found it to be an absolute treasure trove of things I wanted out of a Tekken game. There were characters, tons of them. All the best ones from the other different games of the series. There was Tekken Bowl mode (which my wife and I have since spent a bizarrely large amount of time playing). Most interestingly, though, was the addition of tag team dynamics into the fighting. You constructed a team of two fighters, and could tag between them at any time, only losing when one of them was KO'd. A fighting game where four people could play at once? Ridiculous! But awesome...

Unrelated screenshot of two people fighting using capoeira.
The only downside to this glorious game is how easy the save file becomes corrupted. The little "holy crap, don't turn off your console" icon seems to pop up at times where you wouldn't otherwise expect it. I've never corrupted the master save file on any other game, I've done it in this one 5 times.

It'll be a little strange to some that Street Fighter gets left completely off the list, but I've always prefered Tekken's button based controls. If I want to punch, I use the punch button. If I want to use some crazy flurry of punches kicks and impossible energy-based attacks that attack the laws of physics and decency right in their faces, it's still mostly done via buttons, with limited D-Pad action. These are the controls I've gotten used to, and Street Fighter just feels weird now because of it. I've always preferred Tekken, and since Linds also prefers it (she's pretty good, too... this is one of the only games where she can beat me with any kind of consistency), I don't see any reason to switch it up now.

Besides, there are velociraptors with boxing gloves. It's almost too awesome for words.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Spookymilk Survivor IX: Scattergories

Greetings, readers. This week on Spookymilk Survivor, we played Scattergories. Spooky gave us each a letter (two for two members of Ugly Juanita, since we had fewer players left) and ten categories. The name of the game (which I erred on, as we’ll see in a bit) was to play Scattergories, taking each category and coming up with an answer which had as many words that start with the target letter as possible.

I took on two letters – ‘F’ and ‘H’.

Movie: Familiar Foods From Foreign Folk
Musician: Five For Fighting
Book: Freedom From Fear Forever
Actor: Frederic Fenimore Forrest
Sports Player: Frank Francis Frich (The Fordham Flash)
Beverage: Funeral For a Friend
Food: Fresh Fried Fish Fillet
Party Game: Fusion Frenzy
Fictional Character: Fin Fang Foom
Sentence: Funky’ Frank Fonda first fears flash fried fresh foods.

I was pretty pumped about the movie title, as well as the sports player. The food seemed a little generic, but four seemed like a good score for it. Fusion Frenzy was the only entry in either list where I wasn’t able to pull off at least three.

Movie: A Hen House Hero
Musician: Hot Hot Heat
Book: Holly the Happy Hairbrush
Actor: Harold ‘Happy’ Hairston
Sports Player: Hunter Hearst Helmsley
Beverage: Humble Hippie Holiday
Food: Ham Hock Hash
Party Game: Hungry Hungry Hippos (drinking game)
Fictional Character: Hannah Hariet Hayes
Sentence: Herb’s happy hyena howls; Horny Henry hears.

Hungry Hungry Hippos is kind of a cheat as a drinking game, since all you actually do is play Hungry Hungry Hippos and make the loser drink. I was a little burnt out after ‘F’, so I didn’t put nearly as much effort into ‘H’, and I’m pretty sure it shows.

Now for the reason that I’m a muttonhead: I thought every word in the answer had to start with the target letter – it did not. I had a “How He Hits His Home Runs” (a 1920’s documentary about Babe Ruth) for a movie, I had a ton of books that would’ve been a lot better (though nowhere near as good as Rachel’s book title – holy crap, that was brilliant). Also, when Spooky said that the sentence “had to make sense”, I didn’t think about the fact that I could just put as many 5-letter adjectives as I could think of and just string them along, that way. Well, I kind of did, but I could barely wrap my mind around Herb’s happy hyena howling while Horny Henry listened on (surely aroused in some sick way, that dirty bastard).

Ugly Juanita pretty well crushed Spy Tag this week (aided by a weird submitted nonsub, but that by itself wouldn’t have made much difference). We stay safe, and Spy Tag feels the sting of the blade.

Woot for UJ!

Monday, July 25, 2011

Top 50 Video Game Moments: Number 39

This fine Monday's moment comes to us from Metal Gear Solid 2. It's a fairly late game spoiler, so if you haven't played through Metal Gear Solid 2, do that first - then check out number 39.

Top 50 Video Games: Number 39

Stats of Import
Platform: iPod/iPhone/Android Mobile Phone
Absurdly Specific Genre: Avian Rage-based Porcine Evaporation Apparatus
Difficulty: 3
Beaten: I had, but then they added a bunch of new levels, and I haven't beaten those yet.

That 'whoosh' sound you hear is likely this list losing all of its credibility. Angry Birds? Better than Goldeneye? Better than Mega Man 2?? Maybe not, but these furious little avian projectiles pierced my armor like no other 'casual' game before it. Generally speaking, I find truly casual games an interesting diversion for a little while, but none of them ever capture my attention for more than about a week. When I was first exposed (and, like a viral infection, 'exposed' is definitely the right word) to the game in Christmas 2009, I found myself unable to stop playing. I beat all 60+ levels in a little under 3 hours, then started looking for a system that I could play Angry Birds on.

How could I resist? It's an angry bird - launching himself at little wood houses... to kill pigs. What's not to like??
The game itself is beautiful in its simplicity. The different birds explode, bombard, trifurcate, and otherwise launch themselves into the pig fortress' various different building materials in an effort to ensure that no pigs survive (a worthy goal, I suppose). My two year old niece has played Angry Birds, my mother has played Angry Birds, my grandmother is vaguely aware of Angry Birds' existence. A more elitist gamer might deny how damn much fun the whole thing is. Such gamers would only be fooling themselves. There's a reason this game is as well-loved as it is.

It's just good.

Except Boomerang Bird, no one loves Boomerang Bird.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Top 50 Video Game Moments: Number 40

Accidentally posted an unfinished version of this earlier. Oops! That (probably) won't happen again.

Today's entry (number 40 already! One fifth the way there!) comes to us from Halo 3. Pretty sizable spoilers abound, so unless you're all into that sort of thing (or unless you're one of the 9 trillion people who have played Halo 3 to its completion), stay away..... stay far away.

Spookymilk Survivor IX: Twenty Questions

Spookymilk Survivor rolls on, this time with his world-famous (okay, niche-internet-famous) Twenty Questions. These are always fun, but this year had the added wrinkle where instead of submitting the lists as a team, each player had to submit their own list. More on that decision in a bit… first the questions, my answers, and a short commentary (if mine was picked by the judges, it appears, along with their comments, in italics).

1. What’s the worst way to die?

About to score with the most beautiful woman you’ve ever seen, you begin to shit yourself uncontrollably and fall into a coma, where you remain for the next 40 years, forced to unconsciously relive your final moments for all time.

B: “the worst” is quite subjective. Does it mean painful? Sad? Ironic? I don’t know, so I just went with the two that tickled my funny bone the most. Shitting one’s self into a coma is one I’ve never heard of.

Comments: This was the last one I came up with. The idea of dying right on the verge of something great is tragic. The idea of shitting yourself into a coma is comedic. Best of both worlds!


2. The ‘80s hair metal bands are having a fight to the death. Who wins, and why?

Noted apothecary Brett Michaels puts his skills to good use and envenomates the alcohol and drug supply at the reunion tour. Everyone dies, but in a tragic twist, Brett then succumbs to his own plot, as he is unable to turn down alcohol, even if he knows that it is laced with cyanide.

K: Somewhat ordinary, until the awesome twist.
B: When it comes to hair bands, I think over the top descriptions of the actual deaths is the way to go. I almost picked H as well.

Comments: Meanwhile, this is the first one I tackled. “Noted apothecary” is a funny phrase, and the idea of Brett Michaels taking his band’s name that literally was funny. I actually sort of thought the ending might have been a bit obvious.


3. The Wiggles are on tour, and their opening act is 50 Cent. Name the tour.

The “Repent For the End Is Nigh” tour.

Comments: There are some that I really didn’t try on. This is one of them.


4. If you had been the second person to walk on the moon, what would you have said?

So help me, if there are any Transformers sequels up here…

Comments: The new Transformers movie is about as good as one might expect. I didn’t expect to win with this one, and my expectations were on target.


5. You’ve decided to get back to someone who wronged you by putting them in your will. What do you leave them?

“To [name redacted], I return two lengths of rubber tubing, a blindfold, two gallons of gasoline and a shovel. I do not know why you were so insistent on having me store them all these years ago, but you may have them back.”

K: Yes, you sick bastard, that would do it.
B: Most of these were just gross, and I’m not much a fan of gross-out contest. I like both [Nibbish’s] and H because they actually attempt to embarrass someone at the reading of the will, and that’s the best kind of revenge.

Comments: Semi-inspired by an XKCD joke (which I am currently too lazy to look up) about certain items being very suspicious when placed together. I agree with Beau, gross wasn’t the way to go with this one.


6. Convince me in thirty words or fewer that the sky is red.

“I have a knife, I will insert it between your ribs should you not repeat after me… ‘the sky is red’”

Comments: I think there was a much better way to go with this one. My mental wheels just started spinning in their tracks when I went to look for it, though.


7. What is Stonehenge?

The little-known inspiration for the crowning architectural achievement of our time, Nibbhenge.

B: Nibbhenge…tee hee.

Comments: This is Nibbhenge. You’re welcome.


8. “Roses are red, violets are blue;” Finish it.

“I shat on Jenn’s desk and blamed it on you”

Comments: First read, I thought this was funny. Much less so a day or two later, but I didn’t have the motivation to fix it.


9. Intelligent aliens finally arrive and they land in the Yukon. What is the first thing they say?

God, how can you guys stand this kind of heat?

Comments: Get it? Because humans think it’s cold, and the aliens think… never mind. See #3.


10. When the pyramids were being built, what was the big inside joke amongst the workers?

So, I invited Apep over for burritos the other night, and the neighbor’s cat walks into the house. Well, you know how Apep is about cats. Suddenly, he was just totally freaking out, killing everyone. My mom got scared, and said “You’re movin’ with your autie and uncle in Bel-Air”.

Comments: Apep and a relatively well known bait-and-switch meme? GOLD.


11. Biathlon combines shooting and skiing. Describe a new Olympic sport that combines two or more events.

Javgrapple (A combination of the wrestling and javelin events). Both players have javelins, both players must attempt to pin the other, while maintaining a tight grip of their javelin. If the projectile is dropped, forfeiture will ensue. Pinning the opponent is key, as it allows you a two second buffer during which you may break free and throw the javelin. Drawing the blood of your opponent is frowned upon, but there is no formal rule against incidental javelin/genital contact.

Comments: I actually thought this one out, and probably spent more time on it than any other entry. It seemed like a funny concept, but I think my definition was too clinical. Ah well.


12. If yesterday was Thursday, Thursday. And today is Friday, Friday. And tomorrow is Saturday and Sunday comes afterwards, what happens next?

Partyin’ (Partyin’)

Comments: No attempt was made for this one. Sorry. I agree with Beau’s comment re: “not the worst lyrics in pop music” (Sk8r Boi, anyone??), but it’s hard to come up with a joke for this one that hasn’t already been told, so I put my time into the other ones.


13. Ned from Pushing Daisies brings Marie Curie back from the dead for sixty seconds. What does she say?

[Translated from Polish: My word, I’m alive! Sir, I don’t know who you are, but this is very important, millions of lives can be saved if you take note of my final work, I put my notes in the old... wait... you don't understand Polish? Why are you speaking in English? Hurry, find a translator! This of the utmost urgen...*dies*]

B: The two Polish to English translators I found turned your phrases into gibberish, so if there was something funny in them, I missed it, sorry. Though I think she swears in the first one. I can’t say I’m a huge fan of any of the others, so I’ll just pick two.

Comments: Well, thanks for picking mine, I guess.


14. If you had the job of redesigning humans (but only the parts that other people can see), what would be the first change you’d make?

Adding a helicopter into the top of the skull, Inspector Gadget-style.

Comments: My design for a human would look a lot like Inspector Gadget. Go-go Gadget Copter!


15. Kelly Wells (I) and Kelly Wells (II) are locked in a room for two hours. What happens?

An honest and thoughtful discussion of the direction and cinematography of Blackzilla Is Splittin’ That Shitter 3.

K: Sweet Jesus, that is the perfect title to pay off this joke. Whether player-created or just picked from her list of films, it’s awesome.

Comments: I checked out Ms. Wells’ IMDB (which I’ll not link to), and that is a real movie. Blackzilla is, in fact, splittin’ that shitter – for the third time.


16. Tell me a new flavor of Doritos that actually sounds worth buying.

Tortilla chip flavored doritos! Now with 100% less of that awful orange Doritos dust!

Comments: So, the joke here is that I don’t like Doritos, and… yeah, that’s about it.


I actually liked having to come up with a complete list, even if it was almost certainly a huge pain to judge. My answers generally don’t get picked by the rest of the team when we do these, so I got to have my revenge by getting a full nine of them picked out sixteen. Second best – I’ll take that.

Regrettably, Ugly Juanita got the butts handed to them by Spy Tag*, so we’ve got to vote out a member. I’m immune, and two of our guys were nonsubs, so I guess that makes it pretty easy. I’d really prefer if UJ didn’t end up like NPF/Likes Bacon, but until people start submitting, we’re in trouble.

* On an unrelated note. Spy Tag?? Really?

Top 50 Video Games: Number 40

Stats of Import
Platform: NES
Absurdly Specific Genre: Video Game Controller Destruction Inducer
Difficulty: 9 (oh GOD)
Beaten: No. I've gotten close a couple of times, then my Nintendo died. I've beaten it using an emulator, but I'll be damned if I'm going to count that kind of cheating cockflickery.

This is too low. I know that. Unfortunately, as mentioned back in the beginning, I didn't have access to an NES in my formative years, and the Mega Man series was one that none of my friends wanted to play as a party game. I didn't get to experience the joy of the Mega Man series in any meaningful depth until a few years ago, but it's worth the wait.

Spooky commented on the Sonic the Hedgehog 2 entry a week or so back, mentioning that the older style of platformer (even a relatively easy one like Sonic 2) has a bite to it when a player is used to the newer, more forgiving games. So yeah, Mega Man 2 kicked my ass. Repeatedly. Over and over.

...and over and over and over...
But that was fine, because the level design was fantastic, and the enemies that were doing the ass-kicking were colorful and always interesting. Finding out that the various bosses were weak to other bosses' weapons was a revelation. Seeing Dr. Wily's castle (and hearing that awesome music) for the first time was blood-chillingly cool. If only that dragon didn't keep kicking my butt. I will beat this game legitimately one of these days. It's too awesome not to.


Monday, July 18, 2011

Top 50 Video Game Moments: Number 41

This entry on the totally subjective Top 50 Video Game Moments list comes from Final Fantasy VII. I consider it to be one of the most overrated moments in video games. I probably don't even need to put the page jump in at this point, but if you've somehow managed to avoid gaming's "Rosebud is a sled", then I suppose you should play FFVII, it's overrated as all get out, but it's still a great game.

Top 50 Video Games: Number 41

Stats of Import
Platform: XBox 360
Absurdly Specific Genre: Manly Men Doing Manly Testosterone-laden Things
Difficulty: 7 (it probably doesn't deserve that high a score, but it's exactly the type of game that always gives me a hard time.)
Beaten: Yes

Contrary to what this spot on the list might have you believe, I'm not a huge fan of the Gears of War series. I like third person shooters, but Gears of War seems slow, and everything you shoot at takes forever to die. The chainsaw bayonet is cool, but the only color in the universe is brown (except for the occasional bursts of red when you split an enemy in half with said bayonet. I didn't get too far in the first one before getting annoyed by it. It's sitting on the shelf - I suppose I'll get to it when my current queue goes down a bit.

It might be a while...
 The second game seemed very similar right up to the point where I decided to play it in co-op mode with Branny. The light immediately went on. This is why these games are so popular. It's the type of game that I'd never play by myself, but with a friend, it's a completely different experience. I realize that this was advertised as the big thing in the game, but it's true. Once you play Gear of War 2 in co-op mode, every shooter without a co-op mode feels drastically empty.

Even better than the campaign was Horde mode. Fifty waves of enemies, the only objective is to use teamwork and survive. It's been adapted to several different games since, but I still enjoy the mechanic most in Gears. I have more people on my xbox friends list that I met while playing Horde mode than from any other game. At it's heart, that teamwork is the prime appeal of the Gears of War series.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Spookymilk Survivor IX: Punch to a Quick End

It feels like only a week or two since the last season of Spookymilk Survivor ended, but I was actually eliminated two months ago today, so I guess it's not so crazy that Season 9 started this week.

This week's challenge was "Punch to a Quick End", where the point is to make the shortest possible complete story to form around two movie quotes, which are provided. Last time, I fell right around the middle in both length and quality. I decided to go the short route this time...

We came, we saw, we kicked its ass. It was too bad about the orphanage, but hey, nobody’s perfect.

K: I don’t know exactly what happened here, but there’s enough to make it a story. It doesn’t take much, folks. (3)

I had been debating making the story even shorter, but decided that I'd probably have a good chance at being one of the shorter ones. Ha, I needn't have worried, as mine was one-third the length of the next shortest. It seems that no one caught the "shorter is better" vibe. My entry from last season (one that was right around the middle in terms of length) would have been the fourth shortest this time around. I'm not sure what to make of that.

My team, 'Ugly Juanita' showed an unsettling trend, as three of the four nonsubs fly under UJ colors. Not only that, but the only nonsub that didn't come from UJ did so by accident, thinking that the deadline was later than it actually was. Hopefully that turns around pretty quickly, or we're going to be kind of screwed straight out the gate.

I see that Spooky just asked if I was going to be blogging this again this season. The answer is 'yes'. I've got a blog, and with the video game lists and whatnot, it finally feels like it's getting used a bit. Hopefully I'll follow this one up with another fifteen just like it.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Top 50 Video Game Moments: Number 42

Today's entry comes to us from Sonic the Hedgehog 2. If you haven't played Sonic the Hedgehog 2 then you probably didn't own a Sega Genesis growing up. I feel bad for you in that case, they were pretty cool.

Top 50 Video Games: Number 42

Stats of Import
Platform: PC
Absurdly Specific Genre: Statistical Anomaly Exploitation System
Beaten: I Won the World Series as the 1991 Twins (and later, in a much more difficult accomplishment, won the world series as the 1998 Twins) That's about all I wanted out of it.

The Jester knows what's up with this.

I've previously shared my childhood love of the old grocery store shareware computer games. That love led me to some treasures (Highway Hunter, Wacky Wheels, etc) and some truly wretched wastes of (my parents') money. One of those wastes of money was Epic Baseball, which essentially allowed you to make managerial decisions as the 1927 Yankees took on the 1965 Dodgers. As a kid, this was a bitter disappointment. At the very least, I wanted to play as my hometown team. I certainly didn't the team that denied them the '65 World Series. Therefore, when I saw Tony LaRussa Ultimate Baseball 2 peeking at me from the store shelves, I decided that this was something I needed to pursue. Sure, it was expensive (five dollars!), the graphics looked cool.

These graphics
Even better, it came pre-loaded with the entire 1992 major league roster. A lot of the right players were still on the team from the '91 World Champions. The gameplay was a little choppy, and a little buggy, but I loved that game like none other. I soon found that the game also came pre-loaded with "classic" teams like the 1927 Yankees and the 1965 Twins, as well as (in one of its coolest features) a team full of the old Negro League stars. I mixed, matched and traded for quite some time, before deciding that the game's replay had finally been exhausted.

Then I found the player editor.

Suddenly, there was literally no limit to the players I could make. I immediately created the entire 1991 baseball season. I learned that the game had very little idea what "small sample size" was (1991 Paul Sorrento was a god among men), but that did nothing to dampen my enthusiasm. Pretty soon, I made a league made up of my friends, comic book characters, and heroes of baseball past. I mean, seriously... in the above image, Waite Hoyt is pitching to Joe Mauer. With a little imagination, Pedro Martinez could be trying to strike out Spiderman, or Han Solo could be facing off against Babe Ruth. There have been better baseball simulators out there, and there have been better statistical games out there, but I've never played a sports game of any type that has captured my attention and imagination like this one has.

It turns out that using five pitchers in an inning isn't the only thing that he knows how to do!

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

How Incredibly Meta of Me

I’ve added “share” buttons to the bottom of my posts. You can do… various different things now. Most interestingly, with the +1 button (which feeds directly into the swanky newish Google+), you can share with the world just how much you loved Entry #12 on my video game list (which would be, of course, Big Rigs: Over the Road Racing).
Since I’m loathe to give you an all-text entry, here’s an XKCD joke.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Top 50 Video Game Moments: Number 43

Number 43 on my 'Top Gaming Moments' list comes to us from the game Resident Evil 4. It's not really that much of a spoiler, but if you want to be shocked by every new experience in Resident Evil 4, maybe you should let this entry slip on by.

Top 50 Video Games: Number 43

Stats of Import
Platform: Playstation 2
Absurdly Specific Genre: Magical Broken Bone Prevention Game
Difficulty: 3
Beaten: Yes

Before the brand got too diluted, back before the infamous overpriced peripherals, Tony Hawk games were absolutely awesome. It was the one skateboarding game I could find that had tight controls (even if your hand ended up turning into a claw after a couple of hours, because of the way you had to hold it to properly hit the grind button), a perfect learning curve, fun looking tricks, and most importantly, interesting environments.

I can't go to baggage claim anymore without wanting to grind forever.
The single player levels were fun and had a variety of different fun things to do (disrupt the pickpockets! annoy construction workers! collect letters!), but where the game really shined was in the simple game of 'Horse' (or as we played it 'Nancyboy'). Two players essentially play a game of Horse on skateboards, with an escalating fight of who could get the most points in one string of tricks without bailing.

This type of behavior was frowned upon
It was brought up in the comments for Goldeneye that I may have ranked it too low. That might well be (I think I probably did, but what's done is done), but its current day replay value isn't totally up to snuff (nostalgia value is still off the charts, though). This game may not have been as universally loved amongst my friends back in the day, but when a couple of my friends came over a few weeks ago, we stayed up until 3 am playing this game. The replay value hasn't gone down a bit (in fact, it's possible that it's even more replayable now than it was then). A rare feat for any video game.

Friday, July 8, 2011

Top 50 Video Game Moments: Number 44

My 44th favorite gaming moment comes from the classic Descent 2. If you've not played the Descent series, take this fanboy's advice and pick up D2X-XL (which you'll need to play it on a modern PC) and buy the game (you can get it for practically pennies on ebay last time I checked).

Enough pitching. On with the list.

Top 50 Video Games: Number 44

Stats of Import
Platform: Nintendo 64
Absurdly Specific Genre: Movie Tie-In Game That Doesn't Suck (Maybe the rarest genre out there)
Difficulty: 5
Beaten: No, though I won my fair share of multiplayer matches.

Though the list thus far doesn't look it, it will eventually be dominated by games known for their single player experiences. This is not that game. Though the game does a pretty good job of giving the player a runthrough of the James Bond movie that it shares its name with, it is cherished for being a wholly multiplayer experience. I cannot count the numbe of times that my friends and I packed around a TV and played this game.

Usually on a TV with a screen not much bigger than this image
Doom and Wolfenstein never grabbed me. This was the first proper FPS that I actually get into, and while the single-player was actually pretty fun (though I never quite got all the way through it - I didn't own a N64 until 5 or 6 years ago), the multiplayer is what set it apart. I didn't acquire any 'leet skeelz' for a few years, and one or two of my friends were absurdly good at it, but it didn't matter. I always felt as though I could get the best of anyone if only they could get my hand/eye coordination to cooperate (funny, I still feel that way today, even as hundreds of 14 year olds on XBL prove me wrong in Halo and Modern Warfare).

There's no way to beat prox mine spawn campers, though. Screw those guys.
A couple of Halo parties came close, but nothing ever topped the old Goldeneye gatherings in the Church attic. I don't think I'm being particularly melodramatic, nor unrealistic, when I say that I doubt anything ever will.

Other games of note: Perfect Dark was actually set to appear on this list, itself being a near clone of Goldeneye (but with cooler guns!). Then I replayed it - holy chop, Batman! Any explosions or simulants, and the game would slow its framerate to a dead crawl. That, combined with the fact that the single-player campaign wasn't anywhere near as cool as Goldeneye's, and I think I made the proper choice. If I had to say where Perfect Dark would end up, I'd say somewhere just outside the top 50.

Monday, July 4, 2011

Top 50 Video Games: Number 45

Stats of Import
Platform: Playstation 2
Absurdly Specific Genre: Road Rage
Difficulty: 5
Beaten: Yes. I unlocked Minion and beat the game as every character.

If we are to be overly kind, the Twisted Metal series has a spotty history. For every decent entry, like Twisted Metal 2, there's a game like Twisted Metal: Small Brawl which seems to lose focus on what the series is about. To be clear, the only elements you really need in a Twisted Metal game are interesting cars loaded to the gills with guns and crazy special weapons and crazy, darkly over-the-top characters.

Also, destructible environments
Then the PS2 came along and Twisted Metal: Black descended from the heavens like a psychotic beacon of light. The graphics were miles beyond its predecessors and the music was appropriately creepy (and they even got the rights to "Paint It, Black" which was a fantastic touch). Filling the opponents full of lead, napalm, and whatever else you could get your hands on had never been so fulfilling. I've always had a soft spot for the Twisted Metal series, but Twisted Metal: Black is where the series finally rewarded me for that faith.

Top 50 Video game Moments: Number 45

Happy 4th of July.

Moment number 45 comes from Final Fantasy XIII. If you're one of the people who wasn't turned off by the game's first twenty (!) hours, but still haven't managed to finish the game, I suppose you should think twice before clicking the 'show more' link.

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Top 50 Video Game Moments: Number 46

Number 46 on my list of favorite gaming moments comes to us from the bullet hell game Ikaruga. If you haven't beaten Ikaruga (and let's be honest, unless you devoted some time to it, it's pretty unlikely that you did), think twice before viewing.

Top 50 Video Games: Number 46

Stats of Import
Platform: Xbox 360
Absurdly Specific Genre: Kinetic Creationist Defense Platformer
Difficulty: 7 (it gets pretty crazy in the end, but patience and repetition made it work
Beaten: Yes. The ending ranked as my 47th favorite gaming moment.

I guess I didn't realize when I said on Monday that 'Splosion Man would be on the games list "soon" that it would actually be showing up next. Funny about that.

Platformers are a nickel a dozen. If all you wanted was a platformer, the XBox Indie section has somewhere around a billion of them (some of them are pretty awesome, but Sturgeon's Law is in very harsh effect). Inventive platformers? That's a different story.

'Splosion Man tells the story of a man made out of fire who can propel himself into the air by exploding. He can explode three times before he needs to recharge by standing on the ground or refueling himself via explosive substance. There is but one control to be learned.... SPLODE.

You get an achievement for trying to change your control scheme. That's a joke, of course.
It's one thing to have a fairly unique central gimmick, but 'Splosion Man did so many things with it, and was just fun to play. It just seemed like everyone who was involved in making the game was having a good time. Humor was omnipresent, from the little jingle that plays whenever you pick up one of the obese scientists to the aforementioned un-sane cutscene that plays at the end of the game.

'Splosion Man started out easy, but the learning curve ratcheted up just about perfectly. By the end of the game, you've got absolute razor-thin timing puzzles to be solving, testing the limits of your reflexes. Yet it never gets too frustrating. If you got stuck on a particularly challenging section, you just felt compelled to finish it.
And there certainly were... challenging sections.
I went into 'Splosion Man expecting a couple of hours of entertainment, followed by me getting bored. Instead, it turned out to be a rare gem. If Ms. 'Splosion Man can live up to half of the ingenuity and originality of the first game, it'll be a classic.

Friday, July 1, 2011

JI [carriage return] JIM THOME

I should be finishing up the two video game posts (along with two more for Monday, since I'm gone all weekend), but instead - in honor of Jim Thome's 594th home run, I present this.

MS Paint, ftw

Oh, for dumb.