Gaming, Technology, Uncategorized, Video Games

Pokemon Red/Blue First Impressions

As you know from some of my recent posts, I was enthralled by the Twitch Plays Pokemon Red/Blue Stream. Now, they’ve moved on to Crystal, which holds a ton of sentimental value to me since Pokemon crystal was probably the earliest video game I can remember of my childhood. I had never held an interest in seeing where the series began, however, before I saw the TPP stream of the first generation. Since I have an emulator app of my phone, I decided to download Pokemon Blue and give it a chance. (Don’t hate on me for emulating; I may share my reasons in a later post, but that’s for another day.) So far, Pokemon Blue is a decent inaugural entry to the series, but it’s not without its fair share of issues which were remedied in the second generation.

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Gaming, Technology, Uncategorized, Video Games

The Twitch Plays Pokemon Phenomenon (Part 2)

In my last post, I talked about Twitch Plays Pokemon, and if you haven’t read it yet, you should probably do so by clicking this link. Basically, I talked about the facts about what TPP is in a nutshell. I explained what the purpose of the stream is, I detailed the Democracy vs. Anarchy system, and so on. Part 2 of this article is a bit more… fun, shall we say. This will explore and explain more of the pop culture impact this stream is having on the gaming community, not to mention the intricate lore I can’t accurately describe. To be honest, I’m amazed with what’s happening, and I kind of adore the stream for being able to create so much lore and so much media based on this nonsense. We surely have an interesting community here, and this post will explain just how kooky the TPP’ers really are.

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Gaming, Technology, Uncategorized, Video Games

Review of Fire Emblem Awakening (3DS): Score of 9.25

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Wow. If I didn’t feel a dire need to express how truly amazing Fire Emblem Awakening is, I could just write this one word and leave the article at that. In the past couple of years, I’ve begun playing more games than ever, but despite the dozens of games I’ve played lately, none of them are as good as this one. In fact, I would venture to say that Fire Emblem Awakening is possibly best game I’ve ever played; undoubtedly, it is the best mobile game I’ve encountered. There are so many aspects of this game that come together perfectly or near perfectly, it was amazing. I’ve not yet encountered a completely perfect game, but now I now how it feels to be so close to that nirvana. I’m very glad to bestow upon Fire Emblem Awakening the highest review score on my blog to date.

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Gaming, Technology, Uncategorized, Video Games

Pokemon HeartGold and SoulSilver Soundtracks on iTunes Excites Me

As I mentioned in this post a while back, I absolutely love good video game music, and among my favorite tunes is the Bicycle Theme from Pokemon Crystal (which is basically the better version of Gold and Silver). To be honest, I had a tough time picking just one song from Crystal to include on my list. I could sit and listen to those little 8-bit ditties for hours on end; there’s something so fun, peppy, and nostalgic about them! Now, I know that the music from Crystal was the same as in Gold and Silver. I can only assume that the music in HeartGold and SoulSilver is practically the same; I’ve never played the remakes. I do know that the sounds are updated, because HG and SS have a feature that allows playback of the old 8-bit tunes rather than the new audio files. I’m simply unsure as to whether the new audio files are new tracks altogether, or simply “remastered” versions of the old ones.

In any case, I love seeing this soundtrack on iTunes because it gives game enthusiasts (especially nostalgic ones like me) a legal way to download the songs that may have defined a time in their life so much more than any other song that will ever be heard on the radio.

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Gaming, Technology, Uncategorized, Video Games

3D Isn’t Really A Gimmick… On The 3DS Anyhow

Lots of gaming companies have tried a lot of different ideas to revolutionize gaming. Dance pads, plastic guitars, and even plush baby peripherals (no joke; Babysitting Mama) have made appearances, to different degrees of success. Motion controllers, voice control, and controller-free gaming are trying to make waves at the moment, and, likewise, some ideas are having more success than others. 3D gaming is another one of these ideas. For home consoles, 3D gaming never really took off, mainly because of the price barrier, I think. On the other hand, 3D gaming on the go has done pretty well, if 3DS sales are any indication. What could have been a terrible marketing gimmick has actually become a feature I’m enjoying, even when I thought I would never use the 3D feature of my 3DS upon purchase.

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Gaming, Technology, Uncategorized, Video Games

Tutorials: Sometimes, They Should Just Be Mandatory

I’ve mentioned it before; I don’t really read the instructions of games. Luckily, just about every game offers a tutorial of some sort, so reading the instruction manual is somewhat unnecessary if you’re just looking to get the basics. Some tutorials are more in depth  than others, some are longer, some are shorter, some are optional, some are mandatory, and these differences are usually a good thing. Most shooter games probably don’t need to thoroughly explain how to aim and shoot, whereas strategy games probably need to have a slightly more in depth tutorial than the FPS. Furthermore, this tutorial should be in the foreground of a game rather than the background, or better yet, the game could ask you upon first play whether or not you’ve played a similar title before. Despite all the rave reviews, this is a problem I’m encountering in the 3DS title Fire Emblem Awakening: the tutorials are there, but they are kind of hidden, and I spent more time confused than I probably should have.

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Gaming, Uncategorized, Video Games

Review of Pokemon Black 2 (DS): Score of 7.5

Pokemon Black 2 was a decent game, but it wasn’t perfect. As a direct sequel to the original Pokémon Black, one would assume that it should improve upon things found in the first game. I did not find this to be true, however, as it fell short in some aspects, but succeeded in others in comparison to its older brother. With that being said, Pokemon Black 2 was an enjoyable game, and I’m glad I played it all the way through.

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Gaming, Technology, Video Games

Nyko Power Pak+ and Charge Base for 3DS Review: Worth Buying

As time goes on, technology gets better, but new batteries can’t keep up with the power draw. My GBA SP can go over a dozen hours on a single charge, but my 3DS can’t even manage half of that. With a 3DS battery life of 5 hours or less, it’s no surprise that an upgrade is somewhat necessary for traveling. The Nyko Power Pak+ and Charge Base serves that purpose by raising the battery life to around/over 8 hours (depending on brightness settings & wireless communications). This product is not perfect; it definitely has its flaws. However, it does accomplish its main task, which is to raise the battery life of my 3DS, and it does so significantly, making the item worth buying.

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Gaming, Technology, Uncategorized, Video Games

These Five In-Game Tunes Bring Back Serious Memories

I can’t really call this list a “Top 5” list because it isn’t. There are songs in games I’ve played that have been more masterful; they’ve been performed by a full orchestra with perfect precision, or composed by somebody with a true love for music and games alike. These next five in game tunes (can’t even really call some of them “songs”) mean the most to me as a listener, however. These songs/tunes have impacted my life in one way or another. Some are pure nostalgia, others not so much, but all bring back lots of great memories. Hopefully through this article, however, you’ll learn a bit more about me as I tell you the significance behind these songs.

These songs are in no particular order, but first up is The Equalizer from Madden 06, and I think it’s been used in a few other Madden games as well.

When I was in (I think) 3rd grade, my cousin sent me Madden 06 for Christmas because that same year, she had gotten me hooked on football. I thought that was the most epic thing because I usually didn’t get new releases, as my parents were pretty restrictive on my gaming time. At the time, I had a tiny (I mean, like about 10 inches tiny) TV, but that didn’t diminish my love for that game. I played through the Superstar mode 2 or 3 seasons before the data file corrupted, I won the Super Bowl, became MVP, etc. Then I move onto Franchise mode for a while and made my own dream team. It was amazing!

The soundtrack matched; it was one of the best soundtracks I’ve ever heard in a video game. This is one game where it was tough for me to pick just one song to put on this list; there were near half a dozen that easily could have made this list because they brought back great emotions and memories. This one, however, takes the cake. The Equalizer, like all songs on this list, is one that I can hum to myself and it all comes back to me. That’s the great thing about music; just a note or two can cause you to relive all your in-game exploits, and it can happen anywhere. From the simple “doo, doo, doo” of the Mario theme to the Gregorian Chant of the Halo theme, imitating an in-game song is an instant way to cause it all to come rushing back, anytime, anywhere.

Next up is One Final Effort from Halo 3.

About 3 years ago, my friend sold me an Xbox 360 with two official controllers for a mere $45. I have no idea what drove him to do such a thing, but he did it anyhow, and it changed my life forever. It took video games from something I enjoyed in my downtime into something that will drive my career after graduation. Halo 3 was the first game I bought for my 360, and as such, it was the first game I beat on my 360. One Final Effort is the song that accompanies the explosive ending to one of my favorite games of all time. That final sequence in Halo 3 was an adrenaline rush; there was stuff exploding everywhere, I’m driving a Warthog through all this stuff, my ally is shooting down everything he can on the turret, and this total beast music drives me to the finish where we hurtle through the sky and into our ship which ends the game. It’s one of those songs that fits the mood absolutely perfectly, and when Halo 3 ends, it makes the perfect transition into the final cutscene that brings you from high-adrenaline, high-energy gaming to a complete standstill where you are forced to recollect everything you’ve done in the campaign and reflect on it.

You know that feeling you get when you finish a game and you don’t know what to do with your life (or is it just me)? This song segues into that feeling perfectly, and it left such an impression on me; it left me hungry for more games and more Halo. It created a desire to do so much more with video games than I had up to that point. This song changed my life. Literally.

Third on this list is the Pokemon Crystal Bicycle Theme.

Oh man, the feels. Pokemon Crystal was my early childhood. I played that game so much, it’s not even funny. The weird thing is, I never did beat the Elite Four, but as a kid, I was OK with that. I was content riding around, entering tournaments, catching Pokemon, facing gym leaders, solving puzzles, and the whole nine yards. I used to be able to know what tune was going to come on as I entered each city; I could tell you where just about anything was, what most items did, etc. I was in love with Pokemon Crystal, more than any other game aside from Halo 3. Even as I’m writing this, I’m seriously considering digging out the old GBC cartridge and starting over. You know that feeling you get in your chest when you think of your favorite game or your best memory? That’s what I feel right now; I’m more emotionally attached to this game than is probably rational.

Let me just say, Cyndaquil was the most amazing Pokemon ever; I had to get that out of the way. I think Pokemon Crystal was the game that probably led me to be so narrative oriented when it comes to games. As a kid, I had a lot of sports games, arcade type games, racing games, and other titles that didn’t (and couldn’t) really have a storyline. Pokemon did, and as a kid who loved to read, I had no problem walking into every house, talking to every person, and learning the ENTIRE story. So, considering it’s a pretty large game, (especially for its time) and there are a ton of different songs to choose from, why did I choose the bicycle theme? I rode that bicycle a lot. Like, a ton. As you may know, when you get on your bicycle, it overrides the theme song that usually plays in any area, as each area has its own theme tune. So, I rode around for HOURS listening to this song; this song is the video game tune of my early childhood.

Number Four: Everything Turns Grey from Mat Hoffman’s Pro BMX

So, I had a pretty slim PS1 library, but this was one that I played a ton. This song doesn’t bring out the massive memories that the Pokemon or Halo songs do, but this is definitely the most memorable song from any of my PS1 games. Everything Turns Grey set the mood perfectly for the game, and this was one of two songs that I kept replaying over and over, since that was a feature of the Pro BMX, and for that, I am thankful. My time with Mat Hoffman’s Pro BMX was spent with perfectionism. I wanted to get every achievement possible, but alas, I was still a young grasshopper; I was NOT skilled enough to pull it all off. I think that game broke my need for perfectionism, and for that, I am thankful as well.

The last song on my list is the Lobby Theme from Black Ops II

This song isn’t necessarily the most beautiful, nor is it the most interesting. However, I do enjoy it a good deal because it’s upbeat, and I usually don’t listen to music of that genre. It also marks an important turning point in my gaming life. It marks the point where I started to define myself as a gamer; I poured over 200 hours into BLOPS II, and although I don’t regret it, I definitely don’t think I’ll ever do that to Call of Duty again. I’m not bashing COD here; I’m simply saying that this song symbolizes me journey to find and identify myself as a gamer. Despite the fact I’m moving to Battlefield to scratch my FPS itch, I’ll always remember this song with fond memories.

So, tell me, what video game song means a lot to you? What memories does it bring back? Share a link so I can listen to it! Follow me @OpinionAsAGamer, leave a like or a follow, and be sure to check out the LP channels in my “Links” tab. Thanks for reading and reminiscing!

Swimming in Nostalgia
Matt

Gaming, Technology, Video Games

Wii Mini Arrives In America for the Holidays

The Wii Mini will release in America this month for $100. I find this to be a strange move for many reasons, but I’m not sure if this is a good or bad move for Nintendo. I can’t quite discern yet, but here’s what I can tell you:

The Wii Mini will ship with a copy of Mario Kart, but for $100, there’s a huge caveat: there is no online play. Granted, Nintendo had the weakest online presence this generation, but this makes it impossible to play games like the aforementioned Mario Kart, Black Ops, and Smash Bros. with others over Wi-Fi. Let’s be honest here; you can buy a used Wii for $50 at Gamestop that has online capabilities, so why buy this one for $100, even if it is new and shiny? Furthermore, it doesn’t even play Gamecube games…

On the other hand, if this does sell well, original Wii game sales might rise, and this would help get rid of games on the shelves. Even though this would mean money for Nintendo, I still wonder if they would make more money on Wii U sales if their Wii option was gone entirely.

I’ll be honest, I have no idea how this one will play out over the Holiday season, but it’ll probably be a make or break situation for Nintendo’s home console presence.

That’s it for now; just keeping you updated on the latest news.
Matt