I don't think I have done this yet on the blog this year, although I have wanted to for quite some time now. It's a shame that it took this long to give it a shot, because if it's something that you, the readers, seem to enjoy, I would have loved to do it more often. I didn't play just one game for the blog, but instead two, as a way to get a couple different perspectives on a franchise for two really different games, both of which I enjoy playing for different reasons. I don't want to do a comparison and try to determine which game is better or more fun to play, as I did with the two baseball games that came out this year, but just hold both games up and put them under their own spotlights. I just want to do it in a one-day span, to drive home the point I am making about both of them.
This all came about because I finally sat down and planned out the rest of the year for this blog. That's right, you heard me correctly. I actually decided to put some planning in to this stupid thing and stop winging it like I have done for the better portion of ten months now. With the end of the year approaching quickly, and two new game systems coming out in a mere weeks, I wanted to make a battle plan for how I could finish off this year of gaming strong. I didn't want to limp to the finish line, as good as that sounds, but really drive home the fact that I am less than two months away from this once seemingly impossible goal.
Because of my planning and scheduling, I realized that I have way more games to write about than I do days left in the year. This isn't a bad problem to have, as I once worried about finding enough to fill the year. However, since I am not ready to reveal what will happen to TheNoyse.com after December 31st, 2013, I don't want to just allude to the possibility of something, if anything, continuing after this year is over. And because of that, I want to try and get all the games in that I want to write about, if possible, while still keeping to my schedule that I have planned out as of now. Again, if you know me or anything about this blog, you will know that I'm quite likely to change things on a whim, go against the master plan and throw you all curve balls when I feel necessary.
So with that, I present to a double feature, as I write about both X-Men Arcade, and X-Men: Mutant Apocalypse.
First up is X-Men Arcade, which I played on the PSN for this blog, but am far more familiar with it as being an actual arcade game. I picked up the game on sale from the PSN store several months back, for a couple of bucks, hoping to recapture the nostalgic feeling and fond memories of button mashing next to strangers and friends alike in the arcade, all huddled around this game.
Thankfully, the digital version didn't disappoint on the good feelings aspect, as they didn't really change anything about the game. They didn't add new enemies or stages or characters, they just left it alone for all the fans to enjoy. Sure, they put some poilish on it, but not enough to ever confuse you into thinking you were playing an updated or remastered version of the game. Everything you remember loving about the game is still fully in effect on this version.
For me, playing this game in arcades was an absolute must. If the arcade I was in had it, I would be playing it, whether that meant waiting in line with friends or jumping in to an already started game with complete strangers, I was playing it. As you know, I'm usually not a multiplayer type of gamer, but once you step foot into an arcade, all gaming habits you may have fall to the wayside, as you just get lost in the musty smell, the sounds of machines racking up high scores and quarter machines spitting out change, and the sights of people just like you, all there for the same reason. To play games and have fun.
This game is meant to be just played and enjoyed. It's the truest form of button mashing imaginable, and because strategy takes a back seat to simplistic game play, you don't have to know, or even get along with, the people you are playing with to conquer the game. The X-Men characters to choose from offer a nice variety of choices to a broad range of fans, so everyone fighting for one character isn't common, as most people are just happy to play, regardless of who they are controlling.
There is a video game arcade and bar that I have been to a few times, and wrote about a time or two on this very blog, and every time I am there, the crowd around the X-Men Arcade machine is one of the biggest in the building. It's even comparable to the line at the bar and the restrooms, which says a lot. I always try to get in on a game when I go, and never hesitate about joining in on someone else's game.
Playing X-Men Arcade on the PS3 was fun, but lonely, It made me want to run down to the arcade and drop in a few quarters. I guess it's nice to have on hand whenever I feel like beating a game in about a half of an hour, but for the most part, it's just an awesome reminder of how far video games have come in society. We used to game with friends by our side, now we do it across the ocean via the Internet. It isn't a bad thing, it's just a thing.
I also played X-Men: Mutant Apocalypse for this X-Men double header. I chose this game because playing Arcade made me think of how well single-player X-Men games can be. Honestly, I don't know how critically acclaimed Mutant Apocalypse is or was, but for me, it's always the first or second game I think of when talking about the X-Men franchise. So I hooked up my Super Nintendo and fired up this game, taking me back to a different part of my life as a gamer.
As a kid, I didn't have many friends. Sure, I had lots of buddies at school and people I referred to as friends then, but looking back, they were more acquaintances than anything. I had a couple of good friends though, but unfortunately, circumstances pushed them both out of my life. Before all that happened though, I mainly hung out wiht my cousins and their friends when I felt like being around people. When I was craving me time, I would bunker down in my room and game. One of the games I dumped several hours into was X-Men: Mutant Apocalypse.
It was a great single player game, as you would pick from one of five characters, play their level, and then go on to the next character and stage. Eventually you'd beat the game, playing all the different characters and mastering all of their abilities and play styles. It felt like teamwork, playing all of them individually, but without all the social awkwardness of my childhood.
Sure, Wolverine was by far the best character, as it was so fun to just run through and slash your way past everyone. But personally, my favorite was Gambit, with his staff for melee combat, kinetic energy and card throwing capabilities. He just seemed like the outcast in the group, resembling how I felt a lot of my childhood. It was because of his appearance in this game that I decided he was one of my favorite X-Men characters, if not my overall favorite.
Unfortunately, Marvel hasn't done much with the character as far as mainstream media is concerned, but I'mm holding out hope that one day he will step out of the shadows as being a secondary, often forgot about character and actually develop a wider fan base. A lonely kid could hope, right?
Anyway, playing this game again drummed up some unexpected memories and feelings from my childhood, but there was a silver lining. It made me realize that just because I choose not game very often online with other people, doesn't make me less of a gamer. I'm just a different kind of gamer. One who appreciates the solitude and quietness of enjoying games solo, and getting lost in them, sometimes even escaping from whatever ales me in this world and enjoying the world I'm playing in, where I've been given the ability to be who I want.
I love going to fairs. I can't pinpoint one specific thing, but rather the entire experience. Everything from the horribly unhealthy food, the amazing exhibits, the animals and especially the people watching make going to the fair - state fairs, specifically - a surprisingly fun experience. If I could just eliminate carnies and the super-aggressive salesmen in IRL infomercial centers, then the fair would be practically amazing.
Of course, when I traveled down to the Oregon State Fair, I didn't anticipate finding the game I was going to play for the day down there at all. I mean, it's the fair, after all, and since stupid, rigged carnival games don't exactly count for this blog project's purposes, the thought of playing a video game at the fair hadn't even crossed my mind. I had a few handheld and iOS games with me for the trip down there and back that I would use for the blog, but sometimes, the universe has other plans.
We stumbled across an exhibit hall late into the day that we really had no idea about until we found it. Inside, it was like stepping into a blast from the past, as the entire show floor was filled with random things that defined childhood. There was a giant etch-a-sketch to play with, a huge connect-the-dots in a white board type of surface that was intended to be completed by multiple people. There was a toy train display, a dollhouse display, a giant wall of legos, brain-teaser games, board games, action figure displays; if you can think of it, they probably had it in some form or fashion.
Tucked away in the back corner of the show floor, however, was a little 80's arcade, complete with about eight vintage arcade cabinets and a quarter machine, of course. There was also this really cool interactive game-show style trivia game, with the names of 10 old-school video games on little cabinet doors that opened, with numbers 1-10 underneath each one. Below that was a sound board, with numbered buttons on it. Every button you pressed would play some distinctive 8-bit style music, which you had to guess the name of the game that it went to. The games ranged from the classic Super Mario Bros, to Contra, The Legend of Zelda, and even the moon level from DuckTales. I can proudly say I nailed 10 out of 10. Not to brag or anything, but you know.
Anyway, of course I had to actually play some of the games there as well. I've never been known to pass up the opportunity to play some retro arcade cabinet video games. The first game I picked, which is usually one of the first games I always gravitate to when in an arcade, if it's available to play, of course.
This game played just like every other Ms. Pac-Man game ever, so no real surprise there. The only thing I can report about is how loose the joystick was, which essentially handicapped my playing ability, as I couldn't make any quick turns down necessary paths, and kept getting stuck in larger square paths. This of course led to my death over and over again, which was disappointing, but not heartbreaking. It's not like I went to the fair to play games anyway, and that was just one of many things we stopped at throughout the day. It would have been nice to show off my skills properly, but with anything retro, you always run the risk of the equipment not performing to its best. Think of it as the unsuspecting surprise waiting to be discovered each time you sink a quarter into a machine.
Overall, it was a blast. Playing retro arcade cabinets is always fun, and if you can add Ms. Pac-Man to the playlist for your visit, it's always a quarter or two well spent.
I had a great day at the Oregon State Fair. I had amazing company, an overall wonderful experience, and I got to satisfy my game of the day while there. Now, if we can just work on getting rid of those carnies.
Arcades are becoming a thing of the past. When I say arcades, I of course am talking about the old school type of arcades, with game cabinets lined up all over, quarters being the only currency used and the glow of machines being the guiding light through the establishment. Now days, "arcades" mean something different - with every game centering around winning tickets and no real skill being involved, but rather luck. Gone are the wall to wall arcade video game cabinets, replaced my gaudy monstrosities of "games."
The reason I bring this is up, is because whenever I find myself in a tried and true arcade, the first game I always hunt down - and I mean always - is Bust-A-Move. For you youngsters out there, Bust-A-Move is not a type of Dance Dance Revolution game or anything of that nature, so get that out of your head right now. No, Bust-A-Move is a bubble popping game, where you must shoot different colored bubbles at stacks of colored bubbles, matching up colors in order to create a bubble explosion. Once all the bubbles are gone, the level is over.
So again, every time I visit an arcade (which sadly isn't very often anymore), I hunt down a Bust-A-Move machine, if they have one. And let me tell you something, if they do, watch out! I will need to be dragged away from that machine, only after I dump a fistful of quarters into it. Over the years, I have probably spent more money on just that game than any other game I've bought EASILY, including DLC and season passes and all that. And that's just quarter by quarter, remember. Needless to say, I love those types of games for reasons I can't fully explain. It's just my thing.
Imagine my surprise when I downloaded a free game (thanks to PS Plus) on my Vita the other morning, only to just discover today that it is a bubble popping game! Talk about an unexpected but very, very great surprise.
Germinator isn't exactly your dad's bubble popping game, however. They introduce a new twist on the genre to set it apart from the rest. Instead of bubbles stacking up, when two of the same color come in contact, they merge into one big one. Add another one, it gets even larger. Add a fourth, and POP! This is all made possible by the fact that the bubbles are not bubbles at all, but rather germs. As if a game in this niche genre needed any sort of explanation.
Another cool aspect is how the different color germs react when blowing up, and the introduction of a special meter to charge up shots with special powers that do different damage depending on the color. Because of my old school ways, I found it challenging to actually remember to use the special powers, but when I did, it was awesome.
Thankfully, this was a free game. Not because it was horrible, but because if it was in an arcade, my wallet would be tapping out quicker than if it was fighting a Steam sale on a payday. Also, because it is on my Vita, I can take it with me while waiting in line to be next on Dance Dance Revolution ... or not.
The follow up to the iconic Donkey Kong was a legit sequel, not just a rehashing of the same game as before, which is all too common in sequels, both back and then and in today's market as well. The second game wasn't called Donkey Kong 2, but rather Donkey Kong Jr., naturally.
And it was awesome. And dare I say maybe even better?
Maybe I am a little bit biased towards Jr. because it was the first Donkey Kong game I remember playing in an arcade. Because of that, I always associate Donkey Kong games as being a duo of characters, with the big ape and Junior. It's hard for me to associate Donkey Kong as a villain as he was in his first game, or acting alone in his adventures. It's just the way it is in my mind.
Conversely, despite this being the only game ever where Mario is the bad guy, I refuse to accept that reality. Sure, he was actually named Mario, but let's be real here. This isn't the heroic plumber we know and love. This character is just a pissed off zookeeper who is trying to keep sanity and order while an escaped monkey is trying to breakout a father-figure of an ape.
Frankly, I'm glad this direction was one-and-done for the Mario character.
Anyway, tonight I played this on my 3DS. It was a free download from the Ambassador Program that Nintendo did when sales of the 3DS were abysmal. They wanted to thank all early adopters of the handheld system by giving us twenty free downloadable titles for our handhelds, which is one of the coolest things to come from a company in a long time.
The game is hard once we get to level three. Having to jump over those sparks that the stupid "Mario" is throwing my way. Once you beat that monstrosity of a level, the last level awaits where you have to unlock all the locks in order to free DK. Once you do, you can start the game over, but the difficulty ramps up. The thing that makes this game hard is that it's not all based around your hand/eye coordination, but rather your patience level. You see, the game requires a lot of patience to beat it. You don't have to just make precise jumps, but you have to wait for the exact right time to do it. And sometimes that means you have to wait quite a while.
I'm noticing one thing in this series so far. It is soooooooo hard, overall. Sure, with enough practice you can get very good at it, but if you just start playing the game without much time invested to it already, it would be easy to be scared away from it. But that's sort of what makes this series great - the surprising difficulty. More on that to come, I promise.
So is Donkey Kong Jr. better than the original one? No, probably not. It's just different, well-done and an important game that pushed the series into something that could (and would) go on for many, many years. Besides, any game where Mario is a bad guy can't be that great, can it?
Not to brag or anything, but this might be the coolest game I'll add to my list of games all year. I never expected that I would actually play this game, as I didn't even think it was a real game to play. I played a game, here at Disneyland, that is a fictitious game in a Disney movie that has been turned into a real game.
Of course, I'm talking about Fix It Felix Jr. from the Wreck-It Ralph movie.
When we were strolling through Tomorrowland here on our last day at Disneyland, we stopped at a gift shop. As we were browsing, I noticed some old-looking arcade gaming cabinets sitting around. I immediately b-lined for them, to see what was going on, and sure enough, it was an arcade littered with all the old, classic games. Ms. Pacman, Donkey Kong Jr., Joust, Asteroids ... They were all there. In total, there was 20-30 machines, also featuring a couple of pinball tables. Mixed in the madness, however, were two giant displays looking like electrical outlets. I recognized them immediately from Wreck-It Ralph. This, of course, peaked my curiosity.
I went over to the displays, and their they were - four Fix It Felix Jr. machines. I thought it was a joke, honestly, or just a display. But nope, they were legit, fully operational games, built to look extremely aged and designed to play exactly like the game is conveyed in the movie.
Oh, and they were free, also, as opposed to the other games that of course required tokens.
Now, I knew they had designed a few of these things as promotional displays for the movie before its release, but I didn't think they could still be found anywhere other than a collector's basement. I guess that will teach me for underestimating Disneyland.
So I fired up the game and gave it a go. Everything is spot on, from the animation to the death sequence of Felix, to the audio. Everything you imagined the game playing like from watching the movie, it's all that and then some. It's a surprisingly fun, accurate-to-the-concept game, and could have easily been a real game 20+ years ago as the movie would suggest.
It's also quite difficult, but I'm assuming the atmosphere isn't great for focusing much on gaming. The arcade portion of the shop wasn't too crowded, however, and I got to play several times before anyone lined up behind me waiting to play.
All in all, it was an awesome experience to play that game, especially with how much I enjoy the movie. Even my little four year old loved playing it, even though she could barely see the screen.
Thank you, Disneyland, for making my Play A Game A Day project not only easy to fulfill, but super enjoyable as well.
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PSN = the_noyse
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Games played for project : 365