The 100 Wonderfullest-ass Games in the World (part 4/4)

March 14, 2014

10. Mike Tyson’s Punch Out!!! – Note the three exclamation marks. I’ve heard this described as the “perfect game” or “the very bestest game ever made in the world ever,” and yeah, it’s pretty epic. How can such a deep game about boxing be accomplished with only a directional pad and two buttons? It’s simply incredible and holds up as a true classic. The addition and subsequent subtraction of Mike Tyson makes it all the more legendary.

9. Arnold Palmer’s Tournament Golf – Really? Yep. Remember, it’s epic because I played it, and for me, this was the first game that came close to making the game of golf enjoyable without windmills. Memorizing club strengths and taking into account the direction and speed of the wind, spacing the feet apart, and following those little lines on the green to sink a perfect putt – when it’s a video game, it’s not completely pointless and wasteful. All golf games should be video games, and they should all try to be as good as this one.

8. Toe Jam and Earl – This game deserves another playthrough and a whole article devoted to it, so I’m going to ramble on a bit about this one. A rich kid in our town got a Super Nintendo before any of us, and somehow through the magic of money got Toe Jam and Earl for the Genesis in the same day. Needless to say he became very popular, and another one of my friends and I found it necessary to sleep over at his house. That night, in spite of the imminent power of the SNES, we ended up playing probably 90% TJ&E because it was so fucking funny, challenging, and the cooperative gameplay was much more meaningful than any game we had ever played. You play as aliens, searching the earth for your lost spaceship parts, collecting mysterious presents that could be helpful weapons, extra life or lives, or even instant deaths. You had to contend with various earthlings such as swarms of bees, a lady pushing her kid around in a shopping cart and screaming at it to SHUT UP!!, the Nerd Herd, and the Boogeyman himself who would boogey you to death or knock you off the stage to fall a few levels, forcing you to find your way to the elevators that would bring you back. You could get separated from your buddy and sometimes have to hop down to help them out. You could get good at identifying presents and knowing which wrapping papers to avoid until you accidentally open a randomizer which mixes up all the contents and forces you to start trial and erring with them all over again. If you had Icarus Wings or rocket skates, you could go back to level 1 and cross the sea to the southwest to drop down a hole and visit the secret level which had a lemonade stand and chicks in a hot tub who would “titter titter” as you “chat chat”ed with them. You burped when you drank root beer. You could have a rap jam instead of playing the adventure. The adventure could be randomized or standardized, and it was just about the greatest game ever. They really fucked up the sequels, but this first one should be enshrined, infused with the soul of a saint and be guaranteed a spot in the afterlife because if it isn’t there, I’m not going.

7. Thunderforce III – I know I say that a lot of games have the best soundtrack ever, but Thunderforce III has the best soundtrack ever, and it really does. If you don’t believe me, you should play it. In that way, I hope you doubt everything I’ve ever said, because it would require you to actually sit down and enjoy some of this shit, which would bring me joy. Not as much as simply having my opinion respected and considered every once in a while, but definitely more than a brand new Game Gear. Anyway, Thunderforce III is just a kick fucking ass side scrolling space shooter with dope bosses and treacherous environments. Did I mention it has the best fucking soundtrack ever? Man, is it good.

6. King’s Quest IV – One of the earliest games where you play the heroine rather than the hero. That’s pretty cool, and it was still a parser style command game, and our commands just got grosser and grosser. If you were to log the commands typed into King’s Quest IV when I was 10 years old (or 33 for that matter), they’d be like PICK UP BOW (okay) TAKE OFF CLOTHES (i don’t understand) UNDRESS (I don’t understand) SHOW TITS (i don’t understand) FUCK YOU (now what kind of language is that) SUCK MY DICK (i don’t understand ‘suck’) YES YOU DO BECAUSE YOU SUCK COCKS FOR A LIVING (i don’t understand). Great game with slightly more sensible puzzles than some of its predecessors, a lot of it based on classic fairy tales, though there was some bullshit that could really get you screwed, like digging up too many graves and your shovel breaking. Or the fact that you had to save and load and pray in order to get through the troll’s cave, because it was actual luck (or a random number generator if you want to be a nerd about it) that determined if you could proceed to the next screen without the troll showing up and dragging you off to your death by the braids. Weird random memory: Playing this game in the den while my parents watched a made-for-TV movie called “Perfect People” about a married couple who end up getting liposuction, hair implants and plastic surgery. I think they get hooked on prescription drugs, too. The TV was just a couple feet to the right of the computer monitor, so I ended up watching a bunch of it and realizing that adults were very susceptible to becoming (or perhaps remaining) insecure lameasses.

5. Super Mario All-Stars – Ka-ching, motherfucker! Four games in one slot. Hey, Nintendo did it and so can I. It was such a great idea to port the first four Super Mario Bros. games to the SNES on a single cartridge, so of course I bought that shit up (and did it once again when they made it for the Wii). I played this one listening to the Beavis and Butt-Head Experience CD – remember that one? Literally got to the very last stage in the Lost Levels (which was actually just Japan’s Super Mario Bros. 2) but could not beat it. All the other ones, though, got their due. It was with this game that I realized that not all that glitters is gold, and not all graphic and sound updates are as lovable as their original incarnations. George Lucas would later drive the point home when he added those extra scenes to the Star Wars movies and made them stupid.

4. Chrono Trigger – Take the artwork of Dragonball’s Akira Toriyama and a Squaresoft RPG and you get… Dragon Quest! No, wait – Enix and Square were still two separate companies (I almost wrote ‘countries’) at the time. This is just a brilliant RPG with excellent music, story, and god damn fucking everything. I play this game, or at least start a new quest every winter and listen to the Roots’ second album because it’s a tradition. One of these days I swear I’m going to try out a game that snubs Magus in favor of helping Frog, but it’s really hard to pass up adding such a badass to the party. Bonus – the Japanese version for the DS has both English and Japanese options, and you can switch between them at will.

3. Super Smash Bros. (N64) – I’ll tell you a story. Be quiet. When I was in the throes of my first bout with Pokemon madness, I got into some wack shit. I had seen the Pokemon movie in American theaters. I played 50 hours of Pokemon Snap trying to photograph the little shits. I kept my money and driver’s license in a Pikachu wallet. And still, I was yet to control a Pokemon in a game as the Pokemon itself. The same way I wanted a Final Fantasy-esque role-playing game with Zelda-style slashing, I wanted to BE the Pokemon and jump around and attack enemies with all my Poke-might. It must have been the late spring of 1999 when my friend and I visited Toys R Us and they had a game at the playable Nintendo 64 display which I had never seen or heard of. It was called Super Smash Bros. and seemed to be a kind of fighting game where you could play as classic Nintendo characters. Among them, Pikachu was playable, and I was like hot Koffing shit! Pikachu was playable! I grabbed the controller and jumped and attacked and fought, and we must have played the game for an hour there in the store. Not soon after that, this friend owned a copy of the game and we began playing it as part of our evening ritual of drinking and smoking and cursing and getting fucked up and playing video games. Life was very fulfilling then, on summer breaks from college. By the time school started again and I had moved back to my college town, playing Smash remained the #1 game among my friends who remained at home. The next summer, Smash was still the de facto purpose of our nightly get-togethers and remained so all the way until December of 2001.

2. Super Smash Bros. Melee – This game came out in December of 2001. The anticipation had been swelling all year since we had heard that there was going to be a new Smash game with more characters, and a complete overhaul on the graphics, which though not necessary, would provide a new experience, which was welcome, because I’m not sure how long we’d be able to continue playing that first Smash Bros. game on the 64 without going mad. Our tradition continued through Smash Melee, and we logged thousands of hours fighting each other and perfecting our techniques. It became the deepest fighting game that was as much of a psychic battle of wits as it was a technical ballet of the fingers. Smash was representative of all conflicts in life, and like Miyamoto Musashi wrote in the Book of Five Rings… uh.. a bunch of very insightful stuff about battle and stuff. Smash became a kind of hyper chess that we played every fucking night, and it bound us together like a cult. My friendships with my fellow Smashers have not deteriorated even with years and miles between our meetings. We will meet again, and we will Smash again.

1. Super Smash Bros. Brawl / X – Which brings us to the present day. It was to be expected that we would all get the new Smash Bros. game even though we lived thousands of miles away from each other, but Brawl lets us continue to play over a Wi-Fi connection, which is really great. Though we can never truly replicate the summers at the turn of the century, at least we can use Gamecube controllers.  Smash has also always been like a kind of museum of Nintendo’s greatest achievements, and if you thought the number of collectible trophies in Melee was insane, Brawl lets you basically mount every one of Princess Peach’s pubes on pedestals for posterity. You can read the history of old games and characters, and even play demos of some of their classic titles right there in the game. You collect soundtracks. You collect stickers to modify character stats for the fully-realized adventure game included. So many goddamn characters to play and new strategies to explore. Items, stages, music music music. This is the game used for Smash tournaments where I live now. I have met fighters from across the world and observed their techniques and learned more about my fellow man through the advent of Super Smash Bros. It is the ultimate game and deservingly takes the number one spot on this list for its beauty, its playability, its sense of tradition, and the effects that it can create on your outlook on life and way of living. Well, at least my outlook on life and way of living. Which is all that really mattered in the first place. Do you even Smash, bro?

So there you are, fiends and neighbors. Play and play well because there is obviously a lot out there, and a significant amount of it is actually worth checking out. Someday, maybe today, you will have a list like this of your very own. I kind of want to kill some items on this bitch so I can squeeze in Leisure Suit Larry 6 and Gabriel Knight 2, but perhaps someday there will be a revised version up here. Oh fuck that. It took forever and wasted a lot of person’s time. And now it’s over and I can get back to trying to finish Quest for Glory IV here at work while nobody’s looking.

The 100 Greatest Fucking Games (part 03)

March 12, 2014

How many games are there in the world, do you think? My guess is that by now there are well over 100,000 and fast approaching half a million. Huh. That’s a lot of games. The aliens will think we had no responsibilities in our lives but to enjoy ourselves, and how I wish they were right. There are almost certainly other games that deserve to be on this list, but I just haven’t been able for whatever reason to play them yet. Anyway, continuing on with the rest of the best 100 motherfucking games of all time we have:

  1. ICO – When I moved to Osaka, my company roommate had a PS2 and was good enough to let me crack out on this game when I didn’t have a social life or even a console system of my own. I was instantly smitten, because big well-constructed castles make for incredible game settings. The gloomy atmosphere and immersive plunge into its other-worldliness is no easy feat, because we’re all such jaded gamers that it takes something truly brilliant to even move us, and ICO does it wordlessly.
  1. Shadow of the Colossus – Well, yeah – I mean, it’s the same studio as ICO, and quite possibly the same world. But instead of making ICO 2, Fumito Ueda and his gang of nethertects take us to the forbidden zone of the gods where each boss is the stage itself. The concept of “climbable bosses” was never done to this degree before, plus the creeping feeling of wrongness as you slay them is a weird feeling, dirtier than anything resulting from even my trespasses against life in GTA. An important game that should be part of the curriculum in all public schools.
  1. Castlevania II (There, take that, Flashback!) – The first game that I purchased after receiving the NES in the Christmas of my eighth year on earth. I don’t know what I was expecting, since I never even got to the third stage of the first Castlevania, but it didn’t matter because this game was almost completely different except for the character and his whip. You started off in a town, and there were regular townsfolk and merchants in addition to Dracula’s legion of horrors from beyond. With a backtrackable map and puzzlemaze dungeons, this game stands alone, at least in my mind, as the most RPG-like of all Castlevanias. As a side note, in 2001 I mapped out the whole game in a notebook to prep for a speed run and get the best ending.
  1. Out of this World – Known by several other titles, but this is what the box at Videoland said it was called. Very interesting animation for character sprites at the time, giving it a cinematic feel that was quite rare. Listened to a lot of R.E.M.’s Out of Time album while playing this game, and never actually beat the damn thing until I got it for the iPhone like 20 years later. “My tuba!”
  1. Mega Man 2 – Quite possibly the perfect Mega Man game. Also, the karaoke of Mega Man games because every tune is memorable and you can’t help but sing along. They are to this day still making games trying to imitate Mega Man 2 for all its simply awesomeness, but they’ll never fucking do it, and they don’t really need to. How much Mega Man do you actually need in your life?
  1. Metal Gear Solid – Because the two NES Metal Gears were rad in concept but impossible to play, MGS was a blessing from on high, because you could continue from a reasonable spot whenever you died, which was a lot. It’s always been a kind of a dream of mine to be super awesome at a game like this and be able to beat it without killing anyone or going undetected, but it will probably never happen.
  1. Metal Gear Solid 3 – The Snake Eater opening theme was so great because it was so over the top, but only hinted at being a joke, reminding you that you are allowed to take the Metal Gear series only as seriously as you’d like. While fighting the Cold War with boots on the ground is some serious shit, eating birds and repairing broken bones in the jungle is obviously very silly. I didn’t like MGS 2 because there was a boss who rollerbladed around on a rooftop throwing bombs, and I thought that was bullshit, so I guess we all have our own tolerance levels for nonsense.
  1. Brave Fencer Musashi – This Squaresoft game didn’t get a whole lot of love, but I thought it was fucking great and I’ll be honest and say the reason I played it was for the action figures. Yes, you could buy action figures in the game of characters and enemies in the game. They all had packaging and you could choose whether to take them out or not – but if you did, there was no putting them back in. High-level shit!
  1. Soul Edge – aka Soul Blade, this was the first title of the Soul Calibur series, and frankly, I think this was the best one. At least as far as first installments for long-running fighting franchises go, this is the best. Its key point was that every fighter had their own weapon which they were masters of, and they were all after the cursed Soul Edge. When I had it for Playstation, I would turn it on just to watch the intro movie and try to record the song with a handheld tape recorder. Then I’d go and try to collect every weapon for every character. Fucking great fighting game, and not so fucking complicated like today’s.
  1. Killer Instinct – this was a fighting game that tried to teach you long-form combo memorization, and though it was really hard and awkward at times, pulling them off would make you feel like a god. Impossible in the arcade, the SNES port made this much more possible, and I’d print out endless volumes of moves and combos that I’d find on our primitive internet, just in time for all the KI cabinets to disappear from the arcades.
  1. Mortal Kombat Trilogy – See what I did there? I’m not going to waste three whole spaces just for the MK series, which however shaping and pivotal to my performance as a player of fighting games, is almost lucky to snag one spot. What separated this from the others were the Itchy and Scratchy-esque finishing moves, which had the chance to become a finishing movie ending with your opponent’s disfigured corpse if you were slick about it. I realize now that that’s not really important, but it was fun then and makes me a little nostalgic.
  1. Super Mario 64 – We were all blown away by the idea of a 3D Mario game, and I guess it shows, since 99% of adventure games made today are in 3D. It was a radical re-imagining at the time, though, and I was in love with the open environments and all the promise that accompanied them.
  1. Street Fighter Alpha 3 – If I had to choose a Street Fighter game to put up here, or rather, take to a deserted island to play until rescued, it would be this one, for the Saturn, no less. Weird choice, probably, but this is the Street Fighter game that plays most comfortably for me. Maybe the only one where I could sense the value of having three different strengths to the punches and kicks.
  1. King’s Quest – The first digital game I ever owned. We had it for the PC Jr., which in 1986 was some pretty hot shit, as it was a computer that could display 16 separate colors – and that’s eightfold of what was considered standard. An adventure game that made you type what you wanted to do, this game got me familiar with the PC keyboard and taught me to spell. An unforgiving game that took months and months to beat if you played it through trial and error alone. A game that made me, well, a game player.
  1. King’s Quest III – Somehow I skipped II, and even though I liked II when I played it, the puzzles were so fucking obtuse it almost makes me sick with rage now. King’s Quest III, while hard as hell was a very different game with a character other than Graham, so I didn’t even make the connection to the first two games until much, much, much later. I honestly had no idea how to get through this game for the first probably six months that I had it. Instead, I became fascinated with its spell book and components, and began creating my own magic potions out of various household and bodily fluids. One of them made the grass at the school grow really tall and spiky.
  1. Gold Rush! – This was a Sierra game where you have to get from Brooklyn to California to find your brother and a shitload of gold! Great historical setting with three different ways to get there, each more treacherous than the other. Completely unforgiving about time, items, and even luck, but fun stuff nonetheless.
  1. Donkey Kong Country – I’ve talked about what a drastic improvement I thought the 16-bit SNES was over the NES, but somehow Nintendo upped the game again by adding something like 64 trillion megabytes of memory to their most graphically ambitious game yet: Donkey Kong Country. And while Nintendo Power magazine never gave me a copy of Dragon Warrior, they did send me a promotional VHS tape that previewed the game and its making, which my friends and I watched obsessively until it came out.
  1. Metal Slug Collection – Ha! Bitched in another anthology. Metal Slug games are the greatest side-scrolling arcade games for their smooth animation and weapons and blood and rush and destruction. The first stage can be beat on a single credit, so it’s always been a nice way to spend a quarter in the arcade.
  1. Super Castlevania IV – Still the best linear action arcade-style Castlevania. Play this one. A perfect Sunday morning for me used to involve watching Salute Your Shorts on Nickelodeon, playing this game, and having spaghetti for lunch; a ritual surely powerful enough to counter the resurrection of Count Dracula himself.
  1. Starfox 64 – This is kind of a proxy for the original Starfox, since 64 is almost a remake of an ugly game with great ambition. Spaceship and dogfight combat across land, sea, fire, and the great Cornelian nebulae. Easy to play, tough to master, with multiple paths you can take to victory and plenty of secrets to keep you coming back.
  1. Berserk (Dreamcast) – This DC game is based on a Japanese comic that I had never heard of, but instantly loved once I played this game. You play as Guts, a big bad dude with a sword like Cloud Strife’s, slashing everything to hell and occasionally blowing people away with an arm cannon. Bloodfest 2000; aka a wonderful afternoon.
  1. Pokemon (first generation) – As a freshman in college, I was enamoured with everything related to Japanese culture, and one of the most easily accessible animes was Pocket Monsters, because episodes played every day on the WB. It was only a matter of time until I picked up the game itself and decided to go on that great quest to catch ‘em all. Very easy to obsess on, and I guess to some degree I still do. Remember that TPP spectacle? Jesus, has it only been two weeks or already been two weeks?
  1. Zelda: Link to the Past – Holy fucklunch, I nearly forgot to add this one to the slew of great Zelda games previously mentioned. Now, Zelda II was a pile of shit. Come on, we’re all older now and we know that that one was a travesty, but hey, even Nintendo makes a shitty Zelda game (a modern take on the proverb “Even the monkey falls from the tree”). But because the SNES more or less made manifest the dreams of every NES player, it was only natural that the Zelda series would pick itself up and find itself at the forefront of fantastic adventure gaming in its brand new 16-bit mantle. I remember sending away for “Zelda 3” as it was listed in some shady looking games dealer in the pages of Gamepro, only to receive the game in the mail something like the weekend after it was announced! Perhaps the greatest SNES game out there, I would play it every summer listening to the audiobook of Stephen King’s The Library Policeman. Three-time member of the 000 club, I’m proud to say.
  1. World of Warcraft – I only played free trials of this game, but it was a lot of fun. I occasionally fantasized about the life I’d have if I forsook all human relations and played this game to the extent real online players tended to, but somehow managed to stay my hand when it came time to actually pay to continue. Still, each time was something like a week spent romping about, meeting interesting people, collecting treasure, making shit, and listening to long playlists of albums that I hadn’t heard in years (like the Anticon Giga-Single). RPGs, I learned through WoW, are really great for getting back into to music if you’ve been away for awhile.
  1. Shivers – What the fuck is Shivers, you ask? Well, it’s a first-person puzzle adventure game made by Sierra that puts you in a weird museum where you’re locked in for the night and you end up finding what happened to the guy who built it and solving all kinds of interesting and sometimes old-school puzzles. And you could die. The atmosphere was pretty goddamn spooky in my memory, and I wish that I could play this one again. Too bad they didn’t make it for DOS – I still have the disc, for god’s sake!
  1. Dark Forces – Around the time I was way into Doom and maybe even Quake, I learned of Dark Forces, which was a Star Wars game that played just like those other shooters. There was something extremely appealing to me about shooting Stormtroopers instead of demons and zombies, and this is the game – nay, the very trigger – that made me watch the movies as a teenager and become a hopelessly obsessed Star Wars nerd. Everything changed after Dark Forces.
  1. Knights of the Old Republic – A Star Wars RPG with great D20 mechanics and character specialization that allowed your character to become strong with the Light or even the Dark Side of the Force. Just great stuff in a completely original Star Wars setting 4,000 years before even Episode I. Bought this one for like $3 on Steam last summer and can’t wait to play it again, but I will wait because I don’t feel like playing it now, so I guess that means I actually can wait. Never mind. I’m not nearly the Star Wars freak that I was in high school or even in my 20s anymore. On a side note, how great would it be if Episode VII turns out to be good?
  1. Vendetta Online – This is a game you can still play, and as far as I know they still have free trial accounts. Your avatar is your ship, and you fly it through space either transporting goods, taking out enemies, or mining for supplies. It sounds boring, but it is actually very relaxing to turn off the lights and just pilot your way through space because the physics and vastness of space are just so spot on. I’d plot flight courses and pretend I was Han Solo smuggling spice with yet another music playlist in the background, drink some booze and believe I was drunk in space. Apparently you can play it on the Oculus Rift now, which has to be fucking insane, and I can’t wait to try it out.
  1. Grim Fandango – The swan song of Lucasarts PC adventure games, and what an incredible, beautiful odyssey Grim Fandango was. Noir mystery in the land of the dead? That’s a fucking great idea, now can it be made into a great game? It was. It was a great game, and the only problem with it is that it crashed all the god damn time on my computer and I was only able to finish it once. Luckily, I still have the discs, so I hope to enjoy this one again sometime soon. If anyone has a good, easy-to-follow way of getting Grim Fandango to run on a Mac, give me it and you will be rewarded in fish or beans or something nice.
  1. Ghouls and Ghosts (Genesis) – Another case where the original was too fucking hard, but its sequel is a little more playable, not to mention stunningly beautiful by compare. I still love this one and weep for the souls who never played it.
  1. Revenge of Shinobi (Genesis) – Hells yeah, that’s right! The Genesis came out before the SNES, didn’t it? My best friend moved back into town in 1990 and brought in tow with him a Genesis, and this was one of the highlights from his collection. EVERYTHING was fucking great about it. The graphics were sweet and the bosses were straight out of Hollywood, the soundtrack was fucking amazing, and I knew a code for infinite shurikens. Hard as hell; probably never beat it. Holy shit, I have this on Virtual Console, don’t I? I’m going to play it when I get home.
  1. Sword of Vermilion – In the early 1990s, this game had what we kids called “awesome graphics.” Unfortunately, we weren’t very good at RPGs, so getting to the actual boss fights where you could see these good graphics was very, very rare for us. The game was hard. You really had to grind your levels up, but it turned out to be worth it, and I remember getting quite far – until I learned that being poisoned can reduce your MAX HP, and I rage quit that shit. You can’t take away my MAX HP, you son of a bitch! That’s mine, you ass-slurping, fuck! Bastard balls! Cunt nugget! Doggy! Ah, shit. Another killer soundtrack that makes me want to be 11 and play this fucking game again right now.

And so here we are at the top ten. Last ten. Whatever. Stay tuned and go fondle yourself pleasurably or something. I know nobody’s reading this. They’d have given me instructions on how to get Grim Fandango working by now if they were.

The 100 Greatest Games (part 02)

March 7, 2014

Remember, it doesn’t matter if you start with this list and go on to the next.  The only reason I put numbers on them is to make sure I don’t put more than 100 up.  Which I end up doing regardless, so fuck it let’s meet the leet:

  1. Day of the Tentacle – When it comes to the PC, I grew up a Sierra boy, but Day of the Tentacle made me recognize that there was a lot more potential for PC adventure games than what I’d cut my teeth on. DoTT is like playing the greatest cartoon ever, the time travel was done smartly, there were Star Wars references, the puzzles were hard as shit but you felt really awesome when you figured them out because they were just so damn clever and made sense unlike some of the comparatively random and idiotic solutions to the puzzles in some other games I won’t call out quite yet. Also, you couldn’t screw yourself in a way that you would have to start over or even restore a game – 100% deathproof play for a 10000% immortal adventure game.
  1. Sam & Max Hit the Road – You can kind of see how my mind is mapped out with this list because I can’t really mention Day of the Tentacle without bringing up the virtues of the first Sam and Max game. So colorful and smart. The dialogue was hilarious. It inspired a memorable road trip that my friend and I took to Stuckey’s which was like an hour away from our town. I bought a Stuckey’s T-shirt there.
  1. King’s Quest VI – This was the best King’s Quest game for absolute sure and all the ones that came after it sucked stupid balls. I played the version that came on twelve 3.5” floppy disks and had no voice acting, and that’s how I liked it. Navigating the Land of Green Isles with a magic map to unravel the great royal conspiracy was the focus of nearly all my mental energy one summer. Eventually I ended up buying the hint book and spoiling every damn puzzle in the game, but somehow it made me love it even more and inspired me to start doing speed runs and write my own hint book which talked down to the player like: Q: I’m on a beach, what do I do? A: What do you do? Look around, asshole – there’s shit on the ground, why don’t you try clicking on it instead of consulting a hint book like a little bitch.
  1. Bayonetta – I don’t know why I thought of Bayonetta at this point, but this game was off the fucking hook. Took me a while to warm up to it, but damn am I glad I did. I still think that she’s the first legitimately hot video game character ever. Full write-up here.
  1. Quest for Glory IV – Another golden Sierra series that reached its peak before finishing in disgrace, this was the most memorable QFG for me. In fact, it may have been the first one I actually played. Mordavia – the Transylvanian countryside with a past involving a Cthulhuian cult is once again gearing up for the dark times, and you get to be the one to dig everything up and set shit right. This game was fucking scary. Navigating through that castle at night freaked me the hell out, and I was genuinely relieved when I could finally get out and creep back to my room at the inn. I really need to finish my current game of III so I can import my supermagical thief character into this game and play it again.
  1. Super Mario World – The first game that came with the Super Nintendo, and holy shit was it awesome. The upgrade from 8-bit to 16-bit was just so real, and the potential for incredible games seemed endless. I had played a hell of a lot of the other Mario games, but they always kind of felt like required coursework and more of a challenge than actual pleasure – that would come later, but I fucking loved playing Super Mario World because it was just so goddamn enjoyable. Yoshi, cape flying, secret switch palaces, star road challenge stages – Nintendo upped their game and it was fucking on.
  1. Skyrim – That’s an easy one. What’s not easy is making a fully explorable map the size of Wyoming complete with interiors and interactive objects, thousands of characters with dialogue and books full of lore, a compelling story with gigantic flying dragons you fight, hundreds of different items weapons and spells, a craft system, an enchantment system, a dozen playable races and multiple character development paths and basically holy shit what the fuck. Go assist Bethesda in having an orgasm right now.
  1. Goonies II (NES) – The first stage’s music is an 8-bit version Cyndi Lauper’s Goonies song, and that’s all it took for this 8-year old fan of the movie to become an obsessed player of the game. In retrospect, it didn’t necessarily have to be about the Goonies to be a great adventure game, and hardly felt like the movie at all but for Anne Ramsay’s digital countenance coming up and challenging you to find all your friends. Crazy map, large assortment of items, great challenge, and new Goonies lore. What, you don’t remember Pipsqueak Fratelli and Annie the Mermaid?
  1. Faxanadu – I never beat this game, but I wanted to be able to so badly. The music really sets and sells the mysterious fantasy tone, and I sometimes wish I were a music journalist so I could describe the weird counterpointed melodies that lace up like Celtic patterns pissed into fresh snow. You know? Yeah I don’t really know about that one, either. But I do know that you have to put in some serious fucking time to make the coin necessary to buy the armor, weapons, and keys necessary to conquer this game, and I just couldn’t do it. The penalty for dying is literally the fact that you have squandered an hour of your life and have nothing to show for it. I might actually have to take this one off the list if I think of another game that deserves props.
  1. Shadowgate – Ah, now here’s a point and click game that came into its own when it reached the NES. Thanks, Kemco for rebooting it and adding that amazing, a-ma-zing soundtrack to it. Now if I said Day of the Tentacle is a game where you can’t screw or even kill yourself, the polar opposite would be King’s Quest V, but this would be a close second. The correct way of playing Shadowgate is trial and error, aka learning by dying hundreds and hundreds of times. Took forever to beat this game, and I managed to do it without a hint book, although Kemco did have a hint line, and get this: it was a 1-800 number, so it was FREE. Imagine that – getting free hints on how to solve puzzles? Get the fuck out of town. Now.
  1. River City Ransom – Renegade was too hard, and Double Dragon was too one-way but River City Ransom let you beat the shit out of hundreds of people and walk around a huge city with hardly any restriction of movement. Plus you saved up money to go eat at sushi places and buy books that taught you hyper punch and kick techniques. So fucking fun and brutal.
  1. Contra – Never beat this without the Konami code, but for me, there’s something fun about just smashing your way through a game from beginning to end, even if there’s no real challenge to it. Oh sure, I probably thought I was an actual bad-ass after beating the Red Falcon on my fifty-first goddamn life back then, but now I can appreciate what a true challenge it is in addition to its music, stages, and highly disturbing alien bosses.
  1. Life Force – Everything I said about Contra only with spaceships and body organs.
  1. Bad Dudes – The 1980′s were a time when I was easily impressed by leaps in technology such as putting a human voice that sounded like it was being ground up by a wood chipper into a video game. The true prize of beating a stage in Bad Dudes was getting to hear the Dude say, “I’m bad!” This game was in the arcade a pizzeria waaaaay across town, but I would beg my parents to take us there so so I could play Bad Dudes and hear that amazing quote after killing Karnov boss or the guy with the mask and longclaws. Don’t ask me how badly I shit my pants when this came out for the NES and they kept the sample in.
  1. Wizards and Warriors – I love how misleading the title and the box art are compared to the actual game of Wizards and Warriors. The real title should be Jump Around Like a Fuck in a Suit of Armor. Still, there was a lot to enjoy about this game such as the boomerang dagger, the levitation potion, and I don’t know. Just an all-around smooth arcade-y adventure game with a reasonable learning curve and finishing time and let’s not forget: tunes.
  1. Police Trainer – I had to kick Kid Icarus off this list when I remembered Police Trainer. If you were lucky enough to have this game in your town with perfectly calibrated guns, shooting your way to the head of the police force was a killer goodtime throwdown. I played so much goddamn Police Trainer when I was 17 that I could finish it on a single quarter, and it should have gotten me a lot more pussy.
  1. Metroid – The Kraid stage music alone could put this one up on the list, but there is a lot going on with Metroid that makes it one of those important games that we should never forget. I actually forgot what I was going to say, but the concept of a fully explorable and back-trackable map with a variety of weapons and suits that allow you access to new areas was certainly innovative. Good one, guys. Shit, I just remembered Castlevania II and now I’m going to have to kick something else off.
  1. MYST – Hell yeah. No instructions, a minimal intro, and a silent first-person perspective made a good case for thinking you were the actual character in the game. Although if it were actually me in there and I didn’t have a pen and a notebook, I probably would have just flung myself off that really tall gear on the first island. Spooky immersive atmosphere (great soundtrack, natch) – totally worth playing again once you’ve forgotten all the puzzles.
  1. Resident Evil 2 1 (GC remake) – The first one was way too fucking hard. I liked 2 better, even though the idea of crests and gems fitting into reliefs to open secret doors began to feel a little silly since we’re talking about a fucking police station here rather than a mansion of eccentrics where such contrivances are plausible. Still, Capcom pulled it off and was successful in extending the Biohazard franchise to almost inexhaustible proportions after this. Actually, when the remake of 1 came out for the Gamecube, that made it a lot more fun to play. Yeah, I think I’d like to take 2 off the list and replace it with the GC remake of 1. Fuck 2.
  1. Resident Evil: Code Veronica – Aw yeah, I bought this game for the Dreamcast before I even owned a Dreamcast. It was only like ¥500 and I had seen it played before and knew that this was going to be the badassedest Resident Evil ever. And it was. Maybe this was the best one. Puzzles were quasi-plausible again, the challenge was hard but not impossible, and since I was only in my fourth year of studying Japanese, I learned a lot of words just by playing this with the other people who lived in my dorm at the time. We had to combine our knowledge of the language to figure out the puzzles and it was one of the most rewarding experiences in gaming I’ve ever had.
  1. Crazy Taxi – Another practically “free” game for the Dreamcast, because the system had just begun to tank in Japan and a lot of these games were made in such surplus that the used video game stores couldn’t get rid of them fast enough. I wouldn’t be surprised if this one only cost like two dollars when I got it. How only two Offspring songs and one Bad Religion song were enough to sustain a game that we played for hundreds of hours, I’ll never know. I just know that when I first played this game in the shitty Wal-mart arcade back home that the chaos of driving was the same rush I got from GTA and if I could ever play this game forever without having to pump money into it each time, well, that would just be motherfucking marvelous.
  1. Dragon Quest VIII (sorry Space Channel 5 – had to boot your ass) – Okay, so I didn’t play a single Dragon Quest game after the first one, because I tried II, and managing multiple characters and enemies just wasn’t the same, and I hastily regarded it as horseshit, but I never forgot the fun of the first one, and was shocked to see just how much HADN’T changed since the first one when VIII came out. To make that great leap to the PS2 and still have all those old school sound effects and beeps and bloops and the same main jingles showed me that Enix (now Square-Enix) had a strong sense of loyalty and tradition. What a beauty. If you haven’t played a Dragon Quest in several years or even EVER, this would be a perfect one to start with. Apparently you can buy it on an iPhone now.
  1. Parappa the Rapper and Um Jammer Lammy – Yeah, I combined them. Is there a problem here? I’m going to go out on a limb and say they’re similar enough and short enough that they could fit on a single disc, and should, and this game is good. Hey! That rhymed. Rappity rap / jammity jam. My introduction to the rhythm game genre and my, what fresh, stylized game art you have! How in the fuck am I supposed to do either of these games justice in a shitty little blurb like this? I can’t. I think I have to stop again.

Come back for the other 43 greatest games like.. later or something. Oh wait, let’s do one more.

43. Pop’n Music Animelo 2号 – Wha…? Yep, this is number 43. It’s a game I saw a lot at arcades my first year in Japan that has nine big colored buttons which you push along to a song, and all the songs in this game are from old Japanese animes. They’re as catchy as fuck, you’ll get a really good grounding in basic anime titles if you play it to win, and learning these songs is a huge cultural in. I can say with 85% surety that I wouldn’t be married to the same woman I’m married to now if I never played this game. Games have that kind of sway, over my universe and yours.

The 100 Greatest Games of All Time Because I Played Them And They’re Fucking Great (part 01)

March 5, 2014

Lists are good, right? Everybody likes lists. I thought there should be one here listing the 100 greatest games, because everybody likes lists and lists are good.

To be completely truthful, I was playing Pokemon on my laptop here at work, but the battery ran out, so I had to think of something else to do, and decided to make this list.

So yes, making a list of top games sounds just right, but ordering them by quality is almost always wrong. Even if I were to waste the next two hours trying to rank these games by greatness, the only thing that I would truly stand behind would be the #1 game because there is a special reason for it. In other words, the next 99 items you read (and you will read them, because if you die, you will go to hell where this blog is the only thing you have for entertainment) will be completely meaningless according to their number, but make no mistake: these are the greatest 100 games ever.

At least until I think of another game that needs to be up here and I have to kick one’s ass the hell out.

100. Dragon Warrior – A fine RPG, mono e mono battles, began the Dragon Quest series, what can you say? A lot of people got this game for free by subscribing to Nintendo Power magazine, but I didn’t because I already had a subscription. Thanks a lot, fuckholes.

99. Final Fantasy IV – You may know it as “II” for the Super Nintendo if you’re not up on things. Cecil? Kain? That one. It was such an improvement over the NES graphics and gameplay that it was an absolute joy to play. Good everything, and I used to fly the airship all over the world and pretend I was a tour guide, stopping at the various towns and castles.

98. Secret of Mana – Say you wanted an RPG where you level up and get stronger, but Zelda-style overhead slashing action? Secret of Mana was the perfect answer to that request back in the day. With its amazing music and variety of weapons, I whiled away many an hour playing this while listening to the first Ween CD I ever owned.

97. Rygar (NES) – See, if this list were actually ranked according to greatness, this game would have to go into the top 10, easily. Side-scrolling and top-down action, a rudimentary leveling system, incredible badass soundtrack, and the mocking reality that this game CAN be beaten in under two hours if you know what to do. But you don’t. But you should.

96. Strider (NES) – Turn on the NES and the theme song starts right up – and what a track. Hell, I could easily make this list the 100 greatest video game soundtracks and 75% of these games would end up on it. Strider is a fucking badass, and I don’t care if you think his scarf looks gay. Cipher-slashing, attack sliding, magnet boots, plasma beam, Zain project, pneumatic tubes wiring a pyramid and the Blue / Red Dragon bases made this game so rad even though it’s buggy as shit.

95. Strider (Genesis) – Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha.. ha… ha… haaa.. haaaaaa… haaaaaaaw… haaaaaaaaaawww. That’s what you hear when you start the game as the Grand Master Meio kidnaps the earth. Then fly into Russia on a robotic hang glider and start slashing and flipping around battling crazy mechs and manipulating gravity against the backdrop of one of the most powerful soundtracks of all time. Capcom makes you practice your balls off to beat a game like this and it’s totally worth doing.

94. Final Fantasy VII – Everyone’s played this and knows why it’s on the list. If you haven’t, just wait until a remastered one comes out. The graphics are laughable now, but the music and story are pretty goddamn good. I like this one because the last boss is not ambiguous. Too many Final Fantasy games have you fighting some supernatural nutsack who you don’t even know anything about, but here it’s like “YOU’re going down because YOU have been fucking ME over and pissing ME off almost the whole game.”

93. Final Fantasy IX – A beautiful, beautiful game. I love Final Fantasy IX, and would totally marry it.

92. Final Fantasy XII (Intl. Zodiac System if you can get it) – People didn’t like this one so much, but I think it’s fucking great. It’s rather non-traditional because you don’t have random battles while walking around on the overworld, and basically you see a monster and run around deciding whether to attack or not. Feels kind of like World of Warcraft only with beautiful graphics, an epic story and backdrop that makes the Star Wars prequels look like a 4th grade short story contest reject, and you can program you other team members to act not with artificial intelligence, but act based on YOUR intelligence and ability to strategically organize your priorities. Trust me, it’s fucking sick.

91. Final Fantasy VI – yeah, this one belongs up here, too, even though it gets fucking long in the tooth and I’ve only beaten it once though I’ve gotten 100 hours in at least three times. So many characters, great presentation, oh – and a non-ambiguous last boss who is a total asswipe and you’ll definitely feel good about killing him.

90. Fallout 3 – Oh, post apocalyptica, thine charms doth shine or something. What a crazy long expansive and explorable game this one is. Survival in a post nuclear wasteland has never been so appealing, and the culture is something charmingly sinister. Easily went over 150 hours TWICE on this game with content still left to explore.

89. Fallout – New Vegas – just like 3, only in the desert. Different flavor of beast and greater selection of moral / alignment decisions. Used to freak me out that I wouldn’t get a game’s whole content by choosing one side over the other, but instead of seeing what I’d miss by making certain choices, I just let the NPCs convince me whether they were worth helping or only worth robbing and killing. Shit gets real in the nuclear desert.

88. Half-Life – I remember repeatedly playing this game all night long during the summer of ’99 as I dubbed about 100 episodes of the Pokemon cartoon onto VHS tapes. My lack of sleep and shitty posture resulted in the pinching of a nerve above my left shoulder blade, and the skin around that area is still numb. Fucking loved Half-Life.

87. Half-Life 2 – Dyaaaamn. Sequels usually don’t get to be better than the original, but I think Half-Life 2, besides being the perfect 1st-person shooter also has one of the most compelling dystopian sci-fi plots ever. The hideous Combine empire, years into their occupation of earth has made the place unforgettably stunning in its ugliness. Kick fucking ass. Great weapons and a GRAVITY GUN for god’s sake.

86. Portal – This was the reason I wanted the Orange Box in the first place. Hell, I should have just doubled up Portal and HL2 to save a slot, but it should be known that these are two entirely different games. While HL2 is a 15-20 hour rampage across hell and back, Portal is a three hour game in a research lab and is so incredibly fucking clever, people still make “The cake is a lie” references. Don’t they? The computer guiding you is probably the greatest non-human video game character of all time. This game is dirt cheap now, and everyone should have it. It would be worth replacing all of the Gideon bibles in hotel rooms with download cards for Portal, I just think it’s so right.

85. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (The Arcade Game) – If you were a TMNT fan when this game came out, it was just about the most amazing thing ever created. The TMNT game for the NES made by Ultra was a total joke and fucking disappointment, but the arcade game was full color sharp-ass beautiful proportional turtles who looked exactly like their characters from the cartoon, and the action was perfect, the bosses were right, and all four turtles could play at the same time. Make no mistake – this was the best cartoon to game adaptation ever made.

84. The Simpsons (Arcade) – Everything I said about the last game only with the Simpsons. Konami had the fucking knack for making great arcade games based on existing franchises, and nobody has ever done it better before or since – not even Bandai.

83. Animal Crossing (Any of them) – Whichever; I’m not picky. They all have charms and challenges and I could easily amuse myself on a desert island until I starve to death by playing any game from this series. Build a house, collect furniture, go fishing, pay your rent. This game teaches you how to live a double life with weird animals.

82. The Legend of Zelda – The game that really started it all. No offense, but video games just weren’t that damn deep until Zelda came around. The mythology of the Triforce was an entirely original fantasy that beckoned the first generation of Nintendo players to go beyond their insert-coin gaming mindset and think critically over an extended period of time. What they came up with is: This fucking rocks, what a great game, I think we need to have video games forever now. And the Triforce granted that wish, yet people still have the nerve to give Nintendo shit for not making a profit for their goddamn whiny opportunist shareholders. Hey shareholders: FUCK YOU!

81. Zelda: Ocarina of Time – Best game for the Nintendo 64, probably. First to take the Zelda series to that 3D space and introduce “Z-targeting” making for some extremely innovative combat and exploration. 64 graphics look kind of terrible now, but for some reason, this game is forgivable in the same way Final Fantasy VII is. It gets kind of fucked up dark and creepy in this Zelda game, too, and its rare that a game fills you with such tangible dread. I remember staying at this dude’s house once, and he had the game paused at this part in the forest dungeon all week and I would occasionally just turn over to his Nintendo 64 channel and listen to the music for a while and get creeped out.

80. Zelda: The Wind Waker – Zelda at sea. What a miraculous graphical upgrade from the 64—this game is fucking gorgeous! At first you may not recognize it for Zelda, but once you’re in a dungeon, you know that the makers have not strayed far from their roots. So much to do and explore, and though the end drags a little, this one is probably the most brilliantly conceived games of all time, and Nintendo deserves a party every day of the year for making something this wonderful. No more talking about how the Wii U isn’t selling as much as the Wii did anymore, okay, you dildos? They made this game and it’s better than 99% of all the bullshit that comes out of Hollywood and you give bad toothy blowjobs to all those shitheads who make movies twice a year at your goddamn movie award shows. Shut the fuck up and celebrate Nintendo for their genius and don’t be such a dipshit concerned with their finances. Assholes.

79. Zelda: Twilight Princess – yeah, I’m on a bit of a Zelda tear, but believe me, all these games need to be up here for their own good. Twilight Princess revives Link in yet ANOTHER badass graphical style. This game introduced motion controls, and that wasn’t really necessary, but it was a fantastic launch title for the Wii. Beautiful game, awesome dungeons, and you get to turn into a wolf. That’s new and seems a bit out of place, but it hardly takes away from the hard classic core of a console Zelda game.

78. Zelda: Skyward Sword – yet ANOTHER graphical style? Yep, they did it again, this time in watercolor pointillism. They also improved the motion controls to actually make them the preferred way to play. I’m playing this one with my son right now for the second time, we love it that much. Some of the contrivances for dungeon mechanics are mind blowing in their execution. If I tried to explain them, you’d say “What the fuck?” and I’d say, trust me – they teach you how to work them all without even saying anything. Crazy fantastical shit that has to be experienced to be understood. Unfortunately, most stupid fuckbags don’t have the sack to pick up a Zelda game let alone decide to go all the way through with it. And if they do, they put it down right after beating the last boss and move onto the next fucking game without even thinking back on what they just experienced, and certainly never play it a second time through. The same people who say Nintendo is slipping are the same shitheads who treat a Zelda game like a $20 hooker, blow their load inside them, and then have the nerve to complain about having an itchy dick without even washing it until they get home. You stupid bastards don’t understand anything and you’re probably out buying the new Xbox because you like to waste money and you never fucking learn because you’re incapable because you’re retarded.

77. Castlevania: Symphony of the Night – the first Castlevania where you can actually level up the main dude and give him different armor and weapons. A customizable Castlevania adventure with Metroid-like exploration makes SoTN one the greatest games ever, for sure. Soundtrack is top tits – Michiru Yamane is a name that needs to be known the way the name of any currently performing musician does not. Could literally play this game any time, and now I want to.

76. Metroid Prime – A lot of people got mad when Metroid went not only 3D, but first-person. Fuck those fools. This is the only way to explore an alien planet and actually feel like you’re on an alien planet. And unlike the two sequels to this game, they make it almost believable that the technology on this planet works the way it does. Chozo lore, space pirates, spider balls, and phazon-powered metroids are some serious shit, and though playing this will make your hands and arms sore, it’s worth every moment of carpal agony.

75. Doom – “Whoa,” I said to computer at the nearly empty Radio Shack, “It’s like Wolfenstein – with carpeting!” I will always remember when I first encountered Doom, and it is more or less exactly like I described above. It took that fun but kind of shitty Wolfenstein, and made it look fucking bad-ass. The interiors for Doom really were incredible, and shooting the monsters while trying to memorize all the secret passageways was at the very least, un-fucking-forgettable. This was also the game that popularized the word “Deathmatch” and once we learned how to play deathmatches in our school’s computer labs, a big tumorous chunk of our innocence fell away from us all.

74. Doom 2 – Probably could have boxed this up with its predecessor as a single entry, but Doom 2 had its own flavor, I think. It was a lot more Satanic, and just fucking ridiculous in its attempts to be dark and outrageous. I recognized pretty early on, I like to think, that most of the imagery was just a bunch of bullshit and stage dressing, and the real game was about conserving ammunition and not dying. The story was pretty silly, actually, now that I think about it, but still fondly remember playing this one particular winter, faking sick with the house to myself, listening to Ween’s “The Pod” on repeat. Memories.

73. Earthbound – Also known as “Mother 2” in Japan, this was one of the first RPGs to be self-aware and break the fourth wall by poking fun at some of the genre’s most traditional stereotypes. The thing that really drew me in and made me want to play nearly four years after it came out was that you could name yourself, your friends, your dog AND your favorite food, so that every time you came home, your mom would be like “Welcome home, dear! Here have some of this SHITPIE that I just cooked and go up to bed!”

72. Mother 3 – The sequel to Earthbound, and never released outside of Japan. Luckily I spent years studying Japanese so that I could enjoy games like this, and it totally paid off when I experienced the heart-wrenching joy and sorrow of Mother 3. Yes, it will make you cry like a bitch. And the soundtrack is too good to be true. I remember listening to the sound test as I took long walks through Nara on my way home from work with the Gameboy in my pocket. Go get a Gameboy Advance emulator, the ROM and the fan-made English translation patch from an Internet near you (I hear they did a wonderful job translating it).

71. Final Fantasy XIII – I hesitated to put this up here, because deep in my heart, I don’t really feel that this is part of the same series to which FF’s 1-12 belong. However, it is a beautiful game, and my memories of playing it are vivid and precious. I played it for the first time at a dear friend’s place in California, drinking fresh Mojitos as my wife cooked curry for everyone and my 1-year old son got to drive a truck. It was a pretty crazy afternoon. And this is a pretty crazy game. I’ve written tons about it. Another time, I had a rare afternoon to myself and I think that this might be one visual interpretation of heaven.

20140305-072552.jpg

70. Kingdom Hearts – At first I was like “Huh?” and totally skeptical that this was just some bullshit crossover aimed at wealthy Disney fans, but it turned out to be a legitimately enjoyable and moving action RPG. It was epic when I first played it on the PS2 in the summer of 2002, and it was epic when I played it together with my son in the summer of 2013. I guess if you hate Disney you shouldn’t play it, but personally it was worth letting go of my cynicism towards them.

69. Kingdom Hearts II – This was a kick-ass sequel to a sweet-ass game. Memories are hazy, but this was a colorful enchanted romp through some classic and more recent Disney grounds. God damn, there was a Lion King stage, wasn’t there? I can’t fucking wait to play this one again when the HD version comes out this year.

68. Grand Theft Auto: Vice City – I have fucking loved Grand Theft Auto ever since the first game, because to me, a game where you can mow down innocent civilians and fight the police was basically the ultimate game. Like Ash’s Lilliputian clones in Army of Darkness, sometimes you get sick of being a little goody TWO-shoes all your life, and just want to cheese out with some wanton destruction. While 3 was how I always imagined a GTA game should play, I didn’t have a PS2 until Vice City came out, and it was my chance to truly crack out on the new style. And we did. The freedom to steal and kill was unlike any gaming experience, and the fact that my friends and I got drunk and played this every night for months says something ridiculous, too.

69. Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas – The map was to be three cities large, it was the 90s, you could get fat and tattooed – this one promised to be the ultimate GTA experience, and in some ways it is still unparalleled. I was so hyped for this game that I wired the money to my friend in America to send me a US PlayStation 2 and San Andreas so that I could have it with me in Japan the week it came out. Funny how that works, since usually the best games come out in Japan first, but by “funny” I guess I just mean that it works both ways.

68. Grand Theft Auto IV / V – meh, one or the another. They’re kind of like the same game, and I could enjoy either one without the other existing. Yes, I’m cheating by giving them the same spot, but the best GTA game would be a combination of these two because the story was awesome in IV and the environment was epic in V. It could be that I’m getting old, but the thrill of stealing and killing wore off considerably after finishing IV. No big deal, and I still support Rockstar for all the despicable behavior they have allowed me over the years, but.. well, I’ll just say thank you and move on.

67. Gabriel Knight – Holy shit, PC games get to go up here, too? That’s right, motherfucker, and Gabriel Knight is one of the greatest point-and-click adventure games ever made. While kids 20 years earlier looked up to the Fonz as the embodiment of “cool,” I had Gabriel Knight running around New Orleans solving the Voodoo murders as only he could. I remember the titillation of when after completing a certain chapter, the girl comes over to Gabriel’s and spends the night and how I told all my friends at school how “I got laid in a game last night!” just in time for a fellow classmate to say, “Oh yeah, guess what I did in real life last night?”

Shit I’m getting tired from writing this. Is it time to go home yet? All right then, the first of this series is done with. Come back for the other 66 fucking games some other time. Did you go download Mother 3, yet?

U Down With TPP?

February 26, 2014

It was not my intention to become invested in the quest known as Twitch Plays Pokemon, or “TPP,” but once every few refresh cycles, we see the alignment of two nebulous digital bodies and what comes pouring forth from the void are indescribably luscious fruits from their holy union. When a certain game becomes such a phenomenal shared experience, it can be like like a communal hookah or a cookie jar full of crack rocks. There is enough to satisfy all, and yet a hunger that can never be sated.

I hate when I miss these things as they happen.

I remember back around 2007 seeing “The cake is a lie” pasted about the internet like a kind of “Frodo lives” tag among gamers and subsequently learning the ins and outs of Portal before even trying the game out for myself. There was that time in late 2011 when “taking an arrow to the knee,” meant “it would probably be for the best if you dedicated a couple hundred hours to Skyrim, yourself if you really want in on the joke.” And I would arrive at these parties very late, indeed, with the hookah still burning, but no one to pass the hose to.

Twitch Plays Pokemon, to sum up in 50 words or less, is 50,000 people playing a single shared game of Pokemon Red for the Gameboy by inputting commands via Internet chat. And it’s fucking bonkers.

Hey man, I played Pokemon Red back in the day, and though I never managed to catch ‘em all, I had a healthy respect for its solid RPG structure and the initial thrill of its gameplay. It’s very weird to see it being played today in this bizarre collective experience, and even weirder to cop to the fact that I’m playing it now. Again. With all these people.

You can see it being played out here: http://twitch.tv/twitchplayspokemon on a live stream and the endless stream of commands from its viewers directly to the right. “Up down A B B start anarchy down B A left,” is an example of a single second’s worth of commands in TPP, and only a fraction of those actually being submitted. With such an impossibly large number of players, the gameplay is erratic, but not by precise definition “chaotic,” as progress is actually being made.

The law of averages is on the side of those with a common goal in mind, and by true grit they have captured Pokemon common and rare, named them, trained them, fought seven out of the eight gym leaders, and managed to keep the game going for almost two weeks straight.

Folks often refer to a shared effort like this as that of the Internet’s “hive mind,” and it is fascinating indeed to see its character revealed as the generally well-intended schizophrenic wisecracking self-destructive asshole genius that it is.

They have additionally managed to throw away valuable items, release Pokemon that can never be encountered again, waste thousands of dollars of in-game money, and create a fervent religious dialogue surrounding the game by deifying its creatures and items.

It’s this last bit that really compelled me to see just what in the fuck was going on here. Sometime around the eighth day in, I noticed the phrase, “Praise be to Helix” popping up all over the place and I could immediately sense the in-joke like reefer burning in another room. The Helix fossil is an in-game item that can later be “revived” as the ancient Pokemon, Omanyte. And somehow, Helix/Omanyte had become the players’ incarnation of God.

It was easy to laugh and joke about it at first, but I was surprised at how much flak I received for the trespass of using the Helix’s name in vain on a certain Internet message board. I do believe I might have been burned as a heretic, were the congregation any more corporeal. There was something more serious at work here, and where there was once a playful division between “Helix followers” and “Dome followers” (Dome being the other fossil you have the chance to acquire), it was clear that conversions to Helix were more or less becoming the price of admission for anyone claiming to be “for” the completion of the game. Those who intentionally thwart the efforts of the party by making the character suicidally jump off ledges and tangle up the gameplay by trying to access the start menu were not just trolls, but wicked followers of Dome.

I learned to show some respect and it was with great anticipation that the team eventually reached the important scientist who would revive the divine Helix. It not only took a long-ass time, but just a couple of days before, the team had accidentally released a whole shitload of valuable and beloved Pokemon into the wild due to communication fuckups (and of course, followers of Dome). There were fears that the same fate might befall their lord and savior. This picture pretty much sums it up for me:

pokecide

But praise be to Helix, He survived the extraction process and now lives and fights with the team as they make their way to the final gym, and on to Victory Road.

They’ll probably crucify me for saying this, but I learned that it’s really fun to have a made-up god and to create a mythology around your existence. It’s probably how a lot of actual religions got started, and this one, for all its mock-seriousness is pretty fucking fantastic at not only creating salutations among community members but also rallying the people toward the common goals of success and survival. There will someday be religious studies courses that point to TPP in order to further examine this social phenomenon, and I won’t be able to take it, but perhaps my grandchildren will. To be present for the moment of the Resurrection is an event that I hope to recount to them someday when they’re playing whatever weird games they get up to, most likely involving Mario Party and bungee jumping from IV tubes full of psychedelic drugs not yet invented.

It’s a weird time to be alive, all right. I can’t believe I’m about to go play more Pokemon now.

Dual Flurry Fantasies

January 6, 2014

Happy New Year, at least I fully anticipate it to be, and plan, in fact, to berate like an impotent softball coach should it betray my expectations in any way.

Last year, I started no less than seven different Final Fantasy games and finished zero of them. This year, I’ve already begun two. I’d just like to talk about these two to kick off this year of entries and hope to finish with an appetite to vomit up more about the kind of EpicuzitrY going on these days.

There’s probably like 24 more hours to pick up Final Fantasy V for the iOS on the App Store at half price. The game usually goes for ¥1800 which always seemed too high, although I would jump off a moving train to get it for the Gameboy Advance at that price. Weird, right? Well, for ¥900 this game became mine shortly after the start of the new year, and has a lot of shit going for it besides just being a kick fucking ass classic FF from the golden SNES era.

I like the clock. At first I didn’t know what it was, because there just were four numbers displayed in a 2×2 grid pattern in the upper-left corner of the screen that seemed to have no bearing on the quest, but as they changed, a pattern emerged, and I realized it was the time of day in the real world. It is not intrusive, and I like it.

I can do without the graphics update which makes the characters look cartoonish and goofy. The Amano artwork in the dialogue bubbles is sweet as pussy sugar, but the sprites do not reflect this flavor at all. In FFV, the four main characters take on various “jobs” like White Mage, Ninja, Barbarian, etc., and each job has its own costume which usually looks cool. However, the sprites do not wear their job costumes in the overworld, which is some pretty lazy shit if you think about it.

Touch screen battling is easy enough to pick up, and mastering it can really save your ass, especially if you choose to go ATB instead of having all characters and monsters wait for each other to take their turns. You can switch between both battle modes at any time, too, and I thought it was really benevolent of them to offer both options.

However, the truly fantastic element of this particular incarnation of the game is that you can listen to whatever the hell you want through your earphones, and not worry about the game’s BGM cutting in. I listen to a hell of a lot of podcasts and radio shows, and sometimes even the sound of music, and it is often when I want to listen to when I play long, grind-heavy RPGs. Final Fantasy for iOS allowed this at first, but then some update fucked it all up and suddenly I was stuck listening to the same old game music again. Again, no offense to maestro Uematsu, but after hearing the FFI battle theme for the 397,000th time, you crave any kind of variety. With this version of FFV, not only can you keep an external app on your device playing, but you can also adjust the volume of the game’s BGM and actually listen to both without the two soundtracks shitting all over each other. It’s fucking wonderful and has guaranteed that this game will actually be finished sometime this year.

So that’s FFV. The other new game was also purchased at a holiday discount. For one day only, at only five copies per GEO store, Final Fantasy XIII-2 was to be priced at ¥999. I kept this information quiet and lined up at the store 15 minutes before it opened. The only other people doing the same thing were a young Japanese couple. When I left the store, they had a copy, I had a copy, and GEO had no more copies. I wanted to high five them, but thought the dude might be high on speed because it was freezing cold outside and he was wearing sandals without socks.

I liked Final Fantasy XIII well enough. I don’t really consider it an RPG, but it is a kick-balls fantasy adventure (with a killer soundtrack), and there’s more roaming freedom than what a lot of folks would have you believe. I only vaguely remembered the ending, and as it turns out, that is the ideal way to begin Part 2. You’re not sure about the events that happened, and neither is the main character. Things she thought she knew have become mysteriously forgotten by all the people around her, and it’s like a lot of shit never even happened, when it’s actually all up in the air. Time travel and destiny cementing and all that. I suppose the only way to really determine the ending of XIII is to play XIII-2, which is kind of the point of a sequel, isn’t it?

I’m playing it in Japanese, which slows me down some, but I find I’m a lot more tolerant about listening to dreamy, melodramatic ramblings if they’re not in my native language. Possibly because they’re easier to dismiss, but I think it actually has something to do with Japanese theatrical convention that has actors go over the top to match a sort of caricature voiceprint, while in English we tend to demand a dramatic rendering that is indistinguishable from reality. Not only do you lose a lot in translation, but the actions of the characters do not reflect what actual people do, so the illusion quickly evaporates in a game where one minute they’re doing backflips from a dragon and the next, they’re crying, punching the ground, and looking up at the sky repeating some platitude like “I promise,” over and over.

Okay, basically I hate Snow. However, in the brief flashback I saw him in, I could kind of buy his character thanks to his over-the-top anime voice in Japanese.

The only other shit I have to say is that it’s a beautiful game. Watch anything on YouTube. Also, I hope you like that weird-ass frenetic combat system, because it’s back in full force.

So begins 2014. Let’s eat a horse.

20140106-103704.jpg

The Day the Games Died

June 21, 2013

It was a weekday morning. I slept in, meaning that I woke up at six to play video games rather than five. It would be a shortened session, but my flames of passion for Skyrim were only burning at a comfortable simmer now that Jacqwhortz the dark elf owned a house and I considered the game won. I made my coffee and got together all of my traditional preparations for my morning session, and retrieved the controller from under the couch, next to the futon my son and I slept on. (It’s been a devilish hot June in Osaka, and we’ve all taken to sleeping in rooms our single air conditioner touches.)

The PS3 was already on. Apparently, my youngest son of 11 months, Louis, had handled (and mouthed) the controller the night before, and had managed to turn and leave the thing on all night. When I opened the front of the TV cabinet to change out the Kingdom Hearts disc for Skyrim’s, the air around the PS3 was incredibly hot, and that was not cool. But the game started up from the autoload and I found myself pushing the circle button on the controller repeatedly just to get through that damn autosave warning and title screen as fast as possible. The next thing I knew, I had started a new game, and the loading screen told me I was at level 1.

Well, that’s kind of fucked up, I thought, the cursor is always on ‘continue’ by default. I should be loading up my last game right now, and that number is about 35 levels off. I quit the game to get back to the title, and cannot tell you the horror of not seeing a ‘continue’ or even a ‘load’ option among the title screen options. “No,” I said aloud, realization dawning, “It’s gone.”

IT’S GONE, IT’S GONE, IT’S ALL FUCKING GONE!!!!! ALL MY SAVE DATA IS FUCKING GONE!

You can hear your heartbeat in your ears in the quiet calm of morning. Mine raced and pumped wildly as if to fill with blood the void left by the hundreds of hours of gaming that had simply vanished in the night. Gunter and Jacqwhortz were no more. I quickly switched discs back to Kingdom Hearts, hoping, praying, begging that maybe it was only the Skyrim saves that were missing, and that this disaster had left me and my son, Guy’s great adventure untouched..

This was when he woke up. He saw what I was doing and smiled at me. We were going to play some early morning Kingdom Hearts, just the two of us, in the secret hours of the morning. I looked back at him with my worried eyes, hoping not to see what I feared on the screen. “Guy,” I said, “My Skyrim saves… they’re all gone.”

“All gone?”

“Yeah. Totally gone.”

“You’re going to have to start from the beginning?”

“I guess so. If I ever play it again, that’s the only place I can start.”

“Why? What happened?”

“I don’t know… I just hope…”

And that’s when the game asked me if I would like to create a save file for this game called “Kingdom Hearts 1.5 HD” which was being played for the first time.

“Oh no. Oh no, oh no, oh no. Guy… Our Kingdom Hearts saves are all gone, too.”

“WHY!!?”

“I don’t know! I don’t know! They were here last night – did anyone touch the controller last night?”

“No!” And then he thought what I had been thinking the whole time. “Oh, Louis did!”

“But how could Louis erase every save file on the PS3? It’s impossible!”

Guy started to cry, and I sat down on the futon with him and hugged him close to me, stroking his head, getting ready to cry right alongside him. I rocked him back and forth telling him that it was going to be all right. His eyes which look so much like mine leaked with the tears of a boy who understands, maybe for the first time, that he has lost something forever. But it wasn’t true, right? We still had the games, and we could still play them. We’d just have to start from the beginning, like he said. But I knew that we were both thinking about how far we had come together in Kingdom Hearts, and I knew just how close we had been to seeing the end of the game.

It was a moment for me that I knew would be crucial in my role as a father. I thought about my own father, who would never despair in front of his children. He was always a pillar of strength, and could be counted on to keep a cool head, even if the whole world were to dissolve into panic around him. I decided I would not lament the loss of these saves any further. GTAIV, Xillia, Orange Box, Fallout, Bioshock, Skyrim, L.A. Noire, Final Fantasy XIII (Oh dear god, not Final Fantasy XIII..) — the things that I accomplished and achieved for myself in these games were gone. I would accept that. The fact was that if I were to play these games again, it would be just as my son said: from the beginning. And yet, there were so many games in this world yet unplayed, that the beginning would be where we would have to start them anyway!

“Guy, do you want to start one of the other games on this disc? There’s Chain of Memories and..”

“Chain of Memories,” he said, sniffling.

“All right, then,” I said, “Chain of Memories it is.”

And so it was that on this dark morning that Guy and I began Kingdom Hearts: Chain of Memories on the PS3, our spirits determined not to be sundered by the mere loss of a few megabytes of data. And if my infant son was responsible, then I would not love him any less for it. Guy would learn to forgive him, too, and I would show him how.

The game opened with a montage of familiar scenes.

“Guy, they’re showing everything that happened in Kingdom Hearts One – there may be some serious spoilers here.” And there were. We got glimpses of the last boss and parts of the ending. God damn it, oh well. I guess we’d kind of have to know what happened in order to play the continuation.

I’m going to try to make this short so I can get to the main point of this whole sick episode. Chain of Memories’s tutorial is way too fucking long because the card system used to play the game is way too fucking stupid. I can guarantee that that game will be no fun. But luckily, we’re not bound to playing it. Here’s why.

When my wife woke up, I explained to her how we lost all of our save data. Ms. Epicuzi doesn’t even play games, but she immediately knew what a devastating loss it was for me, and had nothing by empathy for me and Guy, because she knew how hard we had worked at our game and what it meant to us. As we talked and walked through the steps of how Louis had gotten the controller, a possibility entered my head. It was not only entirely possible, but just like that stupid fucking razor theory, the most likely thing in the world that all of our saves were safe and sound!

I got excited and told everybody that everything was going to be okay. Just wait – you’ll see. I turned the PS3 off, and then on again, and this time made sure that I was logged in with my main account. I started up Kingdom Hearts and told Guy to load our game; for behold! All of our files were there. Everything was in its place, and not a single bit of data was missing from anywhere.

It turned out that Louis, in his wild bid to wield the PS3 controller had simply turned the machine on and logged into my alternate account that I use for the Japanese PSN. None of my disc games had been ever played on that account, which is why there were no saves for either of the games when they loaded up under it. My wife told me to apologize to Louis for doubting him, and I did. I apologized to him, my wife (hey, she had every motive to get rid of those files!), Guy (who I never really suspected, but as long as apologies were being dealt out..), and even God himself for ever thinking that they would destroy my goddamn fucking stupid retarded fuck-it fuck-it save files.

So there you have it. Faced with the possibility that I had lost something valuable, I saw through the dark turdwater and managed to see what I still had, and how valuable all that stuff was. It really is the moments like these that help you put your life and priorities in order, and I don’t care how cliche it sounds: it taught me a valuable lesson.

Nothing in this world is permanent. Always be prepared for not only the possible, but the inevitable loss of that which you hold dear. Also, keep the fucking controllers out of reach of babies.

@epicuziplayit

…and happily lived out the rest of his days in sweet Solitude.

June 18, 2013

Good news, I finished Skyrim again!

No, Jacqwhortz did not fight and defeat the dragon, Alduin and fulfill the destiny of Dragonborn. He bought a house. As far as I’m concerned, he won the game, and this fucking adventure is over. Possibly.

Jacqwhortz took a liking to the town of Solitude early on in a burglary quest for the Thieves Guild, and had been finding more and more excuses to visit it. After assisting the Jarl and some of the court at the Blue Palace, Jacqwhortz was given the right to buy property in the city. The only house for sale, however, was Proudspire Manor: a three-story piece of stonework located next door to the Bards College. It would provide shelter and storage, and it was considered to be one of the finest properties available in Skryim, if not all of Tamriel. Also, it cost 25,000 septims.

“What a fucking ripoff,” Jacqwhortz muttered to himself as he lugged his every heavying load of wares and crap across the land. For as long as he could remember, Jacqwhortz had been a nomadic wretch staying only at inns and at the camps of slaughtered men. He and his horse, Frost were travel buddies on a neverending road trip. His Thieves Guild armor and the blessing of the Steed Stone allowed him to carry massive amounts of loot until he could sell it back to the Guild or at some lucky fence, so carrying capacity had never presented too much of a problem. But the notion of a home appealed to him all the same.

He saved and fought and bought and stole and sold and fucked around for months. He became a Nightingale. He became head of the Thieves Guild. He became Thane in at least three reaches and the first mortal to speak with the Greybeards in centuries. He killed dragons and met with foul gods. He broke into countless homes and businesses and left them empty penniless shells. He killed men and women and beasts of the land, air, and sea. He forged something like 300 daggers.

One day, he finally had the money and said, “Fuck it. I’m retiring. At least as a full-timer. I can’t do this shit forever. It’s fucking taxing and everybody wants to goddamn kill me all the time. Enough. I want to learn the drum.” He visited the Blue Palace, and Falk Firewhatever was there to greet him.

“McGlockenspiel! Good to see you again, my friend. Come in. Have some wine?”

“No. I’m here to buy a home.”

“Ah, you mean Proudspire Manor! Finest house in the city, next to mine, Erikur’s, and maybe…”

“That’s the one. I’ll pay cash.” Jacqwhortz lifted the bulging child-sized sack of gold from the folds of his dark cloak. It folded over itself in his arms like a too-filled sack of potatoes and a mountain of gold coins poured out onto the floor of the Jarl’s audience chamber. “Ah fuck,” Jacqwhortz swore.

Falk looked at the heap of gold and the dark elf in disbelief. “Uh, we’ll uh… We’ll count it right away. Guards! Secure this area and fetch the chief beancounter. We’re going to be here a while.”

Jacqwhortz shrugged and upended the rest of the gold onto the pile. “Have the keys and deed delivered to me at the Bard’s College. I’m going to drum class.” And with that, the elf was off. A great weight had literally been lifted from him, and Jacqwhortz fought the surges of panic from having parted with so much of the precious resource that could buy anything from a hot meal to a new blade, influence, and perhaps kingship itself. Broke, alone, and finally free, Jacqwhortz McGlockenspiel turned and walked away.

“McGlockenspiel!” Falk called after him. “Have you sealed away the Wolf Queen yet?”

Jacqwhortz halted and sighed. “God damn it,” he muttered. “That’s right.” He turned to Falk and said, “I’ll head to the Temple of the Divines after a good night’s sleep in my own home. Not a moment sooner.” He walked away and said some more bad words. “Tomorrow,” he said. “I’ll destroy that bitch and finally, truly retire tomorrow.”

Dungeons and Dumbshits

June 15, 2013

So it’s been an exciting week for video games, hasn’t it?

All right who cares.  Here’s another crass story of Skyrim survival from Jacqwhortz McGlockenspiel:

Jacqwhortz McGlockenspiel traveled to a cave near Falkreath to locate a lost drum. The bard at the college said he’d increase every one of Jacqwhortz’s warrior skills if it could be retrieved, as he had been looking for (ie, lazing around and hoping someone would go fetch) the thing for over 20 goddamn years. Once inside, Jacqwhortz spied a pillar of raw ethereal energy beaming up from an altar near the entrance. Being careful to avoid the fates of the two idiots that had obviously touched it, Jacqwhortz slunk inside the cave’s inner chambers. It was full of ghosts clad in iron, and they fell before the destructive fire of Jacqwhortz’s spells one after the other. Everything was going well, and before long he found himself in the central inner room with the jerk ghost of some jerk named Haldir or Hullderr or some old fuck. Hulfhumper the ghost made three ghostly clones of himself, and each of them wielded a different destructive magic. The fire one cast exploding spells, the electric one did shock damage, and the ice one sapped stamina with his frosty fuckfacedness. It took many attempts and potions to destroy the clones when Halderp himself reappeared and Jacqwhortz started hacking at him with a fully charged Nightingale Blade. It was so fucking sweet because charging the blade increased his enchantment skill, and the hacking itself increased his one-handed which pushed him over the top just enough to level up, increase overall stamina, and add a one-handed perk that would increase his attacks by 20%. Hurgdump fell and Jacqwhortz retrieved the drum and all kinds of nifty shit from the battle chamber.

Now the best way out of the room was a trap door in the floor that would drop one into the first room with the energy pillar, now extinguished. Jacqwhortz flung it open, hopped down, and grievously shattered his pelvis, his legs, and skewered six or seven of his vital organs with the mess of long, pointed bone segments, and died.

The game had not been saved after the battle, and we regenerated at the approach to the boss room. It really fucking sucked having to fight the ghosts of Buttfuck again, and when I did, and I didn’t even level up when he was finally vanquished. Not only did it lack the style and flourish of my previous victory, but as a result, I couldn’t increase my stamina, and ended up maxing out my carrying capacity and had to leave a bunch of the nifty shit behind. Mother to the fucker. It was better the first time in every way except that I didn’t mangle my body beyond repair on the way out.

On the way back to Falkreath, a wood elf on skooma jumped out of the woods and attacked me for no reason. I beat him into bloody junk and took all his drugs. After that I felt much better and had a nice nap.

Ffffffffffffffix

June 3, 2013

Me and Final Fantasy IX, Final Fantasy IX and me.

I’ve told the story of our love affair, back in the cracked out summer of 2001. There’s no going back to that year or the setup we had then, but playing Final Fantasy IX can fill your heart with the breast-like warmth of life if you play it in good times.

This is one of those times.

I abandoned my Final Fantasy VII quest (abandoning the initial equipment challenge as well) right around where Cloud’s in the clinic and you have to go and find the huge materia before the Shinra Electric Company gets ahold of it. I figure it will be a fine place to pick up from whenever I get the urge to play FFVII again. And I will.

I began a new game of Final Fantasy IX on the same PSP just because it’s fucking wonderful and I needed a change of pace. I adore everything about Final Fantasy IX up until about the fourth disc, and then the story just gets too fucked up to believe and the last boss never made any sense to me. Saying his name could not possibly be a spoiler because at no point in the story could you ever guess it was him. Here, I’m gonna say it: Necron. See? I’ll bet that if you never finished the game, there’s no way you could possibly suspect the involvement of such a random asshole. Everyone’s always clamoring for an HD remake of FFVII, and though that’s long overdue, it would be just as great for IX to get its due and be re-released with a brand new ending.

Still, the game looks really good on a PSP (even better on a Vita, I hear!), and is a happy companion to have. This game will never scratch, skip, snap, or get lost unless I lose the whole PSP, or in essence, the third chamber of my heart, which will not be happening.

The PSP has seen a huge revival in my daily gaming, being the go-to system when out of the house, whenever possible. My commute to work is much shorter this year, but I find ways to either plug headphones into the PSP on the train, or keep Howard Stern and UYD playing on my phone while I play my game on mute. The latter is fine for FFIX most of the time, but the former is necessary for my newest acquisition: Patapon.

Patapon is a fucking awesome game. My friend bought it for me at the same flea market where I bought FFIX for the PS1 all those years ago. That is a major coincidence, and was completely unexpected. Unexpected and delightfully welcome. You play drums to advance a small band of little dudes who collect supplies and fight hostile tribes and monsters. It’s really cool, and I had no idea. More on Patapon later.

Ah, but Final Fantasy IX. You’re really something. Still crazy after all these years and so on. There’s a real challenge to it, and balancing the advancement of your characters’ stats with the advancement of the wild story is a sexy dance around the ring of fire. And with the PSP, you can pick it up and put it to sleep at will, and I can’t express how wonderful that really is. Anyone who gets sentimental for old games but has a tenuous relationship with old hardware will know, and I’m telling you, this game is for you. Them. Whatever. I’m at work. I could go to the toilet and play for the next three hours, but I won’t because… uh… I would like.. never do that or something.

Hey, look at the time!


Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.