Nintendo has always been known for being ahead of the times, trying new and unique things and attempting to go against the grain when it comes to the video game industry, Not everything they have tried over the years has been successful or revolutionary, but they never stop trying to change the game, one invention at a time. Sometimes their ideas are just complete and utter failures, while other times they are just way ahead of the time, and years after an idea "fails," it somehow works out eventually (see 3D technology from the Virtual Boy to the 3DS).
And sometimes, their crazy ideas work out, and are exponentially better than predicted or expected to be, which force competitors to take note and try to capitalize on the success of what Nintendo is bringing to the table. Take for example motion controls, which everyone laughed at and mocked, until the Wii became one of the most successful consoles of all time, mainly because of the motion controllers and Wii Sports.
Now days, Nintendo is constantly trying to reinvent themselves along with the wheel at the same time, mainly because they are trying to stay relevant in the gaming landscape next to the two titans of the industry, Microsoft and Sony. Back in the day, however, the competition was a little less stressful. Sega was winning the market share at one point, sure, but the market was clearly big enough for both companies to co-exist without running the other out of town. Nintendo decided early on that their main focus would be games and the first party titles, while Sega was the company determined to be different and revolutionary. Part of this thinking and business strategy is where the idea for Sonic and Knuckles came from.
Sonic & Knuckles, for the Sega Genesis, incorporated what Sega called "lock-on technology," which acted as an expansion pack for Sonic 2 and 3. All you had to do was stick the cartridges for either one of those games into the game/expansion pack. By doing this, you can play as Knuckles in those games, alternating the gameplay dramatically and opening up unseen and unexplored areas of those games. It was a cool idea, but unfortunately not one that ever really caught on past this trial run of games. Sure, expansion packs continued on, but not quite in the same way, where other games could be combined to practically make new games out of it.
I never played this as a kid, and quite frankly, never knew about this "lock-on technology" until much, much later in life. The Sega friends I had never had this game, from what I remember. Either that, or I wasn't friends with them anymore when it came out. Either way, it wasn't until it was released on the Wii's Virtual Console that I finally got to play it. I enjoyed it then, but I still wasn't unlocking the full potential of the game. You see, if Sonic 2 or 3 are downloaded on the same account as Sonic & Knuckles, the special unlocked versions of the games are available just as if you were plugging them in to the expansion pack "lock-on technology" cartridge they used at the time.
Using Knuckles is just plain fun. Whether it's the Sonic & Knuckles game itself or the unlocked versions of other games, Knucklesis a fun character. He plays completely different than Sonic, and he is a nice counterpart character. Tails was okay to use, but people never really clamored to play as Tails. With Knuckles, however, he pretty much became a fan favorite and cemented his place in the Sonic universe in connection with Sonic for as long as the blue blur continues to run.
Competition breeds inspiration, motivation and a need for improvement. Without Sega being such a wrecking ball force, Nintendo might not have ever realized how important their first party titles would be in the long run. And without Nintendo, Sega might not have felt the immense pressure and need to do new and crazy things. If only they could look into the future and see the path they would continue to blaze going forward.
Growing up, as I wrote about before, I strictly had Nintendo game consoles. I never had a Sega Genesis or any other Sega console, like the Sega Game Gear. I was perfectly content with my Nintendo, as having multiple consoles back then wasn't exactly a common thing, especially for a kid my age. It was one or the other, and despite what you think you remember about that time in game history, there was a point when Sega actually owned more of the gaming market share than Nintendo did. That seems completely crazy, but thanks in part to the crazy popularity of the blue blur known as Sonic the Hedgehog, Sega systems were actually more prevalent than Nintendo's.
Crazy part is, I knew very few kids that actually owned anything Sega related. Maybe I just gravitated towards fellow Nintendo fans, or maybe it was just sheer coincidence, but regardless, my experience with Sega's were limited to say the least. There was one kid who I considered a good friend, although we hardly ever hung out outside of school. Anyway, I remember one day he brought his brand new Game Gear to school that he had just received as a "present." It was Christmas or his birthday or anything like that, but rather just another day like every other. I was confused as to why exactly he got a present, as I was quite jealous, and discovered that him and his family were Jehovah's Witnesses.
This meant that they didn't celebrate holidays or birthdays, and in lieu of that, his parents would randomly buy him presents for no reason other than it was the right thing to do since he wasn't getting anything on the normal days that other kids would be. I'm sure it wasn't easy for him, and despite his faith he would have liked to get presents like every other kid. Either way, he had a Game Gear, and while I wasn't entirely sure why, I was jealous, if only because it was something cool that I didn't have. He was a huge Sega fan, and loved Sonic to death, as he was always drawing him, talking about him and hating on Mario.
When Sonic 2 came out, I of course knew little about it. This was of course before the heyday of the internet, where video game information was super easy to obtain. Other than magazines, we learned everything about video games that we knew from friends. As archaic as it sounds - and trust me, it was - I almost am envious of those days and how simple and stress free they were. All I knew about this game was what my friend told me. He taught me how to draw Sonic and his new friend Tails, and despite my lack of intimate knowledge of them, I knew I liked them for being different.
Sonic was the equivalent of the cool kids in school, and Mario was the nerdy kids, who might have had a better future in store for them, but in the moment, all they wanted to be was equal with the cool kids.
Anyway, it wasn't until I went over to another friend's house, who I can't even remember how I was friends with him, was it until I played Sonic 2 on a console. Playing with Tails was fun, as it was a nice change of pace for an alternate or second character to have different moves and abilities and overall just play differently than the main character. I still couldn't help think then that while I liked the characters and the premise for the game, it just wasn't as fun. It was too fast, too wild, too hard to control, and made me think everything was just a speed run and not actual levels you would need to traverse like normal platformers in order to beat them.
Playing it again makes me feel this all over again. It is a fun game, and it's fun to revisit the cool things they introduced into gaming, but ultimately, I feel like it is just trying too hard to make something different than the "norm." A two-tailed fox is perfect for being original, but as a Nintendo fan, it may have been cool back in the day, but now, it's still trying to live in the past.
And you're lucky, dear readers. I had a "what does the fox say?" joke lined up that I never used. You're welcome.
Somethings that I know now as an adult I wish I had known as a kid. I'm not talking about like how to manage finances better once you have your own source of income, or sometimes ugly reality of of your constant pursuit of love. No, the advice I wish I knew back then would still be very vague and mysterious of what the future would hold, but it would at least make me stop and think about some of the things I did and the choices I made, even if I couldn't make different ones or they were already made for me.
I wish I could go back and tell my younger self that the choices I would make that seem harmless or insignificant at the time, could and probably would define me as a person in my adult years. More specifically, choosing between Sonic and Mario as a kid would eventually help define me as a gamer later on in life, especially if video games would continue to be apart of my life in the future.
I have a simple theory, really. I believe there are three different types of gamers. There are Nintendo fanboys, there are gamers that absolutely despise and hate Nintendo, and then there are the gamers that are just indifferent. Obviously, everyone will fall into on of these three categories, but if you think about it, what group you belong to in this list also goes a long way in describing your gaming habits, despite how non-specific they may be
Gamers who are indifferent towards Nintendo tend to be pretty open about their game choices, and usually play a wide variety of games and platforms, especially the new hotness and whatever games are reviewed and hyped up the best. Nintendo fanboys love the Big N to death, and the company usually can't do any wrong, especially with their IP's. They also seem to be far less cynical about games in general, usually trying to find the positives before bashing them for whatever flaws they may have. Nintendo haters are on the complete opposite side of the fence, as their game choices tend to always be more "hardcore" and mature than whatever kind of games Nintendo is putting out. They are usually cynical, bitter and quite negative about games as a whole.
Clearly you should be able to figure out which side of the fence I sit on.
So like I said before, these are all dependent on which character you chose to gravitate towards and defend endlessly as a kid. Some kids chose Sonic, other kids chose Mario, and some kids just didn't care for either one, or liked them equally. Of course, most kids didn't have the choice, as their parents made it for them by getting them one video game system or the other. Whether you were a Nintendo owner or a Sega owner, your allegiance lay with what system you owned. And that, as I theorize, goes on to accurately define you as a gamer later on. '
For me, obviously, I grew up on Nintendo consoles. I did have a couple of friends who owned Sega Genesis', but I wasn't good enough friends with them to get much play time with their game systems, especially games like Sonic The Hedgehog. It wasn't until very late in my life that I ever fully experienced this game, the first in the Sonic series. As a kid, I was always intrigued by it, but honestly, it only made me want to go home and play more Mario.
Going back and playing it again, it made me think about how because I shunned Sonic, and overall just didn't have much time to enjoy it, I grew up to be a Nintendo fanboy. But that isn't what this week is about, not at all. No, in this week, I want to actually play all these Sonic games that I either missed or didn't care about before, because let's be honest. Sonic is one of the most recognizable and influential video game characters ever, and despite him taking a back seat to Mario over the years, I still feel it is pertinent and respectful to pay homage to the blue blur.
Besides, I'm a Nintendo guy, remember? I always look at the video game cup as being half full, even if that means writing about the character and brand that almost toppled the Nintendo empire single handily,
I've never was a Sega kid. Growing up, I had the Nintendo consoles, and always relied on friends who were Sega kids to play Sega exclusive games. For the most part, this meant Sonic games, and then the awesome Dreamcast collection, so for the most part, there is a huge Sega Genesis library of games I've never touched. While I don't feel like a piece of my gaming universe is missing because of this, every once in a while I think about a game that I wished I had played as a kid, if only for some context, especially for this blog.
Castle of Illusion Starring Mickey Mouse is one of those games.
While never playing the original game, I have heard plenty of good things about it. I was always curious about it, but never had a chance to check it out. Well, I still haven't played it, but I did get a chance to play the brand new remake of the classic game, aptly named Castle of Illusion Starring Mickey Mouse. What, did you think they would come up with a cooler name, or add an "HD" or "Remake" or "Remix" to the already absurdly long title? Think again, my friends.
Anyway, this is your run of the mill 2.5D platformer game with 3D background, or however it is people usually describe this type of game. In simple terms, it's a platformer through and through, in every sense of the genre. It's side-scrolling and you jump on platforms, jump on enemies and collect things along the way that end up helping you advance in the game. I wouldn't want it any other way.
While it is a Disney game, they really don't have many true Disney references in it other than Mickey and Minnie Mouse, and the witch that seems to be the witch from Cinderella, who has kidnapped Minnie and is imprisoning her in her castle away from Mickey, who is on a warpath of sorts to rescue his fair lady. All of the enemies though are creations specifically for this game, as far as I can tell, and while I find it a little odd, I don't see it as a bad thing, as it could easily get muddled down if it were nothing but actual, existing Disney characters. More power to them for creating an entire world of characters just for this one game, that are now officially, unofficially part of the Disney family.
So what did I think about the game? Well, I beat it. In one sitting. Because it was fun, and it was totally one of those games that you keep saying, "Just one more level, just one more level." And then you realize you are getting to the point of no return and you might as well finish it. Sure, I could go back and finish up the trophy list by collecting every single thing in the game, but let's be real here. Me beating a game is an accomplishment in it's own right, so why push myself to tie up lose ends when I have so many other great games to play?
I wouldn't have done it back when I was a kid. Of course, that might have had something to do with not having a Genesis. Just saying...
Tonight, I was ready to get some good PS3 gaming in. I've been dying to get back in to one particular game that I haven't wrote about, finish a couple of other ones, and more importantly, play a really awesome one that I just picked up today. While I was on vacation, I got my gaming fix in, but handhelds and PC gaming will only hold my interest for so long. I wanted some real console experiences - I want my PS3.
So when I went to play tonight, I got hit with a ridiculously slow system update that's probably been waiting to upload for who knows how long. It was prompted when I tried to get on to the Playstation store, to go and download a bunch of games that are on sale that I probably won't ever have time to get around to playing. Because of this fabulous system updated, I decided to turn my gaming attention towards my new system, the Sega Genesis.
Tonight, I played a game that I think I've played before, but honestly I can't remember due to the influx of games of this genre, both on home consoles and arcade machines as well. I played Streets of Rage, the side-scrolling beat'em up fighter. It plays just like all other games like it: Walk a little bit until you encounter an enemy from either side of the screen, fight them with a couple basic moves, clear the screen, move on to the next set of enemies, and repeat over and over again until the level is over. Add an enlarged boss battle at the end of each level, coupled with the ability to pick up weapons like drain pipes and bottles, mix in a special attack like a police car firing a rocket into the crowd of enemies, and there you have Streets of Rage.
I really wish there was something profound to write about this game, but unfortunately, it is what it is. I didn't even get the same feeling tonight as I did yesterday playing Comix Zone. The game just doesn't hold up well, even compared to others in the genre.
I guess what they say is true. Sometimes an old game is just an old game.
Now if you excuse me, I have to go watch my PS3 system update bar slowly move. Wait, is it even moving still? I can't even tell. Ugh...
Well, folks, I am officially at the half way point of my year long project to play and write about a new game, a different game, every single day for an entire calendar year. I'm going to write up a reflection piece on the first half of the year, and what to look forward to for the second half of the year, but that will be a different post. I want that to be its own separate piece.
No, for this post, I'm going to stick to the tried and true formula of writing about the games I'm playing. Although, to start out the second half of the year, I am adding a little surprise to the mix. You see, I got myself yet another game console to play games on, and what better way to unveil the newest addition to my collection then right here? So without further ado...
That's right, you are seeing a Sega Genesis. Well, to be totally honest, it's not an original, old-school Genesis, but a newer, updated plug-and-play version. Not only does it have wireless controllers, but it also comes preloaded with 80 games, including many of the old Sega classics. On top of that, it still is able to play old-school Genesis cartridges.
I bought it online, for a couple of different reasons. For one, I wanted another system for which to play games on for this blog. Secondly, I never had a Sega Genesis as a kid, or any other Sega product growing up - despite several of my friends having them. I always wanted one out of sheer curiosity, despite my pure love I had for my Nintendos. Mainly, I just wanted to be apart of the Sega conversation back then. I guess my desire to spread myself thin, gaming-wise, is deep rooted with me.
Anyway, I already think this is a rad little piece of hardware. It's small and light, easy to store away and even easier to hook up. Literally, just plug it and play. My only real complaint so far is that fact that you have to use a mini-screwdriver to open the battery compartments on the controllers. Other than that, it is exactly what you would imagine it would be. Turn it on, and there is the menu featuring all the games that are available to play.
So the game I chose to play for this blog was Comix Zone. I have played this game on my PS3, but I felt inspired to give it a go once again for the sake of this post. Mainly, because it is a fun, yet very frustrating, game.
It basically is a game that breaks down the fourth wall of sorts, showcasing a game within the pages of a comic book, all the while making it an action platformer that is very conscious of itself and what it is. You character jumps in and out of comic book pages, all dialogue being shown as the typical comic book style bubbles, and even going as far as to have to rip pages of the comic book itself.
It's a fun little romp through the crossover genre of comic books and video games, and a perfectly worthwhile example of the unique type of games that Sega pushed out that never saw the mass marketing success that lesser quality games on the Nintendo platforms enjoyed.
All I can, to wrap up this post correctly, is...
XBLA = The Noyse
PSN = the_noyse
NNID = The Noyse
3DS F.C. = 3007-8109-2329
STEAM = TheNoyse
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Games played for project : 365