Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Fun Facts

I are a little bored, so I figured I'd post some things I find interesting.

- Grand Theft Auto 3 = first sandbox game? Well....not exactly. Developer DMA Design released a game called Body Harvest for the Nintendo 64 in October of 1998. This game had a third-person view, an open world enviroment, updating objectives/missions which you could choose to ignore, and vehicles that allowed for faster travel across the game world. Sounds very much like a sandbox game to me. By the way, in case you didn't know already, DMA Design was bought out and renamed...Rockstar North.

- The home console market nearly died in 1983. Sometimes called "the North American video game crash", sales of games took a nose dive straight into oblivion. This was mostly due to oversaturration. There were over 10 home consoles with an actively increasing library of games. Amoung these were the Atari 2600, the Atari 5200, the Bally Astrocade, the Coleco Vision, the Coleco Gemini, the Emerson Arcadia 2001, the Fairchild Channel F System II, Magnavox Odyessy, Mattel Intellivision, the Vectrex, and others. Each one of these had its own library of games, with a lot of third party support. Atari in particular had an interesting role in this. Despite the release of the 5200, and the announcment of the 7800, the 2600 still regined supreme. However, thanks to some HORRIBLE yet high-profile games (aka E.T. and the Pac-man port), its reputation began to decline. Unfortunately, nothing had enough behind it to take its place as king, and so the gamers of the time scattered to different consoles, dividing up the industry's potential profits too much for anyone to stay afloat for long. And all seemed lost.....until 1985...and a little console...called the Nintendo Entertainment System. So even if you don't like their games or their consoles, we all owe a debt of gratitude to Nintendo, the company that caused gaming to rise from the ashes, and be born anew.

- The first console to feature an analog stick is often said to be the N64....but this is not the case. The first system to feature an "analog joystick" was the Vectrex, released in 1982. Yes, that far back. The Vectrex was different from other consoles of the day because unlike other home consoles which connected to televsions and rendered "raster graphics", the Vectrex came with a vector monitor which displayed "vector graphics", which many arcade machines of the day used. Since the Vectrex was being marketed as a home arcade machine, it seemed only fitting that it have a analog joystick, just like arcade machines. Unfortunately, this did not save from the before mentioned crash of 1983. Production of the Vectrex halted in 1984, and analog sticks on home consoles didn't take off guessed it, the Nintendo 64.

Now that you're more educated on gaming lore, it's Halolz Day!

Tis true. Nothing can save you from the sniper, including the face of your friend.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Retro Review: The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time

So now, I will do the first of what will hopefully be many reviews, some retro, some current.

The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time was released in 1998, a glorious year in gaming history. (Metal Gear Solid and Half-Life came out the same year) It was the fifth game in the already grand series of games. All Zelda games previous had been 2-D, and this was the jump to the third dimension. So, how did it go?

FANTASTICALLY. Ocarina of Time boldly took adventure gaming into 3-D. It took the average gamer several hours to complete, having 8 main dungeons (one of which you actually had to go through twice) and the final dungeon to battle through. In 1998, that was a biiiig adventure game. Not only that, but the graphics were nearly the finest that the N64 in 1998 had to offer. The storyline was an epic one, involving a king of thieves, civilizations in crisis, a traitor to the evil king who aids you, and of course, Princess Zelda, in danger as usual.

Where OoT really knocked it out of the park was its gameplay. It heralded amazing features that are now standards of the industry. Lock-on strafing, automatic jumping, and context senstive buttons are amoung its achievements.

OoT was released to huge critical acclaim. Despite being released on November 21, only 39 days before the end of the year, it STILL became the best-selling game of the year, selling 2.5 million copies before 1999. Two websites, and, which both compile separate reviews for games to give them an overall rating, give OoT shining reviews. On both, OoT is the top reviewed game of all time, having a 97.6% on GameRankings, and a 99 out of 100 on Metacritic. Nearly every gaming publication around in 1998 gave the game a perfect score. Oddly enough, one of the few (maybe only) publications that was around at the time to give the game an imperfect score was none other than Nintendo Power. It gave the game a 9.5 out of 10.

Personally, this is probably my all-time favorite game. I've played it all the way through at least 7 times that I can think of. It just doesn't get old. To quote Tony Mott, editor-in-chief of Edge Magazine, "Ocarina of Time's position at the top slot in Edge's 100 Best Video Games shows that great game design does not age." Amen to that. This game will forever have a special place in my heart, and currently stands as the pinnacle of gaming. So here's to Ocarina of Time!

5 out of 5

Thursday, April 16, 2009


So the last couple of weeks were crazy crazy. That and I'm horribly forgetful.

So what's been happening? In my world, I hate calculus 2, and my friend had quite the bad week. I'm trying to figure out what I'm going to do this summer. be more accurate, I know what I want to do this summer, it's a matter of figuring out how to do it. Unfortunately I am not a liberty to say anymore than that on the subject. Very hush hush.

Also, I'm terribly proud of Gidgett. She's doing a great job with her weight loss program! And she did great on her recent physics test.

Enough about me! GAMING! While I've been away from blogger, some interesting things have been happening.

- The PS2 is $99! Big news for anyone who never got to taste its glory, or those that can't afford a backwards compatible PS3.

- New Jak and Daxter game! The Jak series was one of the larger IPs that released onto the PS2, and outside of a couple of spin-offs, nothing's been heard from the main story since 2004. Now, Jak and Daxter: The Lost Frontier has been announced!

- Will Wright leaving Maxis! Wha wha wha? Will Wright, mastermind behind SimCity, The Sims, and Spore is leaving Maxis after 20 years. He's joining EA in a new venture, the Stupid Fun Club. No, seriously. Details here:

- Resident Evil 5 DLC This is raising quite the stink. RE5's DLC, in the form of a Versus Mode, was released online, and gamers came to wonder why the download was only 1.86MB for an entire new mode of play. Turns out, the Versus Mode is already on the game disc. It was simply locked away, and you have to pay five bucks to unlock it. I do not approve.

- Nintendo doing video on-demand? Nintendo announced that by combining the powers of your Wii and DS, that you will soon be able to download video on-demand and take it with you on your DS. Interesting.

- EA deals in illegal weapons Well, kinda. To help promote The Godfather II, EA sent out brass knuckles to a number of game journalists. Turns out, brass knuckles are illegal in many states, including California, which is ironically where EA is based. The company sent out a letter requesting that the weapons be sent back to them so that they "can be properly disposed of". Yeeeeah EA.....should have thought that one through a little more.

More things happened, but that's really all I care to go into. Also, I missed a few Halolz Days. I will now remedy this.

If you don't get this clearly need to play more Zelda. funny

This is honor of the passing of one of the creators of D&D...whose name escapes me at the moment.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

My thoughts on OnLive

The recent announcement of OnLive ( has caused quite the stir in the gaming community. I figured I'd offer what thoughts I have on the subject.

For those of you who are not new to the gaming scene, you may recall a console named the Phantom. This console was designed to be able to play any PC game past, present, and future via a download service that would elimate the need to upgrade the console. While it was an interesting and certainly revolutionary idea, it tanked. The console was never actually released.

Now please understand, I am well aware of the fact that OnLive is different from Phantom in some significant ways. I only mean to point out that this is a furthering of the same concept as the Phantom. OnLive promises any game on any platform, not just the PC. That alone makes it very different.

I find a couple of problems with this. First, on the practical side of things, motion sensing is becoming increasing intergrated into games, and I have yet to see a computer capable of reading such input outside of a webcam. This is something that will need to be dealt with if Wii games(and possibly 360 games with the announcement of the Freedom controller) are going to be put on the service.

The larger problem I see is this: some are heralding this as something that will forever change gaming into a utopia where you'll never again need to buy a console, and you can play any game you want as long as you have a computer with Internet. Here's the thing though....if this works...if it takes off like you honestly think that another company won't start one of their own? After all, the American economy is based on competition. So if this works and is shown to be very profitable, it's only natural to assume that another company (or two) will try and get in on the market. They'll start competiting to get exclusive rights to service certain developer's games...and then guess what. We're back to where we started, only it looks a little different. Instead of shelling out a few hundred every few years for your console, you'll shell it out over the course of those years, and still have a limited selection of games. "You want to play Call of Duty 7? Well we have it right here! want God of War 4? Oooo...that's on another gaming service, we don't have the rights to it."

It may seem cynical, but I think it's a likely outcome of all this. But who knows, I'm just a guy that plays games. Maybe it will be a gaming utopia...but I doubt it.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

The Twelve Commandments of Gaming

This is something that every gamer of any genre should commit to memory: The Twelve Commandments.

If you can't read it, here you go:
I. Gaming is thy holy pastime; thou shalt not have outdoor activities before thee.
II. Thou shalt not be fanboyish in the name of gaming.
III. Remember thou keep holy the release dates.
IV. Honor thy PC and thy console.
V. Thou shalt not kill steal.
VI. Thou shalt not frag...without gloating in the aftermath.
VII. Thou shalt lose graciously; thou shalt not bitch nor whine when fragged.
VIII. Thou shalt accept thy dice rolls as the will of the gods.
IX. Thou shalt teabag only in the wake of unquestionable ownage.
X. Thou shalt not cheat nor support the farming of gold.
XI. Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor's rocket launcher; thou shalt not covet thy neighbor's epic mount, nor his video card, nor his high score.
XII. Know thy group function: Thy DPS shalt avoid aggro, thy tank shalt not attempt to DPS, thy mage shalt not forget mana potions, and thy healer shalt not go AFK without notifying thy group.

Dum dee dum

Just got off from work. My bosses are happy with me, as I've randomly improved on my ability to get people to apply for our credit card. Not sure how I did it, but I did. Woot?

Also recently finished a book called Farwell to Manzanar. It's about a Japanese-American family during World War II. While the War itself is just a backdrop and barely discussed at all, it's very revealing on what it was like to be Japanese on America's West Coast during the War. Pretty sad stuff. Got an exam on it tomorrow. Bleh.

Anydangway, it's Halolz Day, so here ya go!

Street Fighter + Super Mario = Halolz.

Sunday, March 22, 2009


Another week of life down, and I'm about to go to church. Had some tasty dinner at Gidgett's house last night. Besides that, not much has been going on in life the past few days. At least in the real world. In WoW, I'm about to hit lvl 60. ^_^

Some fun little video game trivia for you.

- If you didn't already know, professional gamers are on the rise. The youngest signed professional gamer in MLG (Major League Gaming) is six years old. His gamertag is Lil Posion.

- If you do something in particularly bad taste on Xbox Live, Mircosoft will ban your gamertag...and in some cases, your Xbox itself. The longest ban of this type belongs to the gamertag and Xbox of Scar . He accidently downloaded Halo 3: Epsilon, a test version of the game used by Bungie employees to work out bugs. He played while connected to Live, and Mircosoft quickly noticed. His console and gamertag were banned until December 31, 9999.

- There are a number of sources that give ratings to games shortly after they come out, and luckily for us, there are a few sources that compile these ratings to give a game an overall score. The top five rated games of all time (excluding different ratings for this same game on a different console) are as follows:
1. The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time - 97.61%
2. Grand Theft Auto IV - 97.33%
3. Super Mario Galaxy - 97.28%
4. Super Mario World - 96.70%
5. Soul Calibur - 96.26%

- Until recently, the best selling game of all time (including bundles, i.e., copies that come with the console) was Super Mario Bros. for the Famicon, or NES. This was recently surpassed by Wii Sports for the Wii, which as of the end of 2008, has sold 40.5 million copies worldwide.

- The best selling game of all time (excluding bundles) is Super Mario Bros. 3, released in 1988. The game has sold over 17.2 million copies.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

St. Me Day

Just got back from a little St. Patty's get together at Lora's house. Was much fun. A little Irish food, a little hand-and-foot, a little Will Ferrell, and watched Baby Mama. That movie is hilarious. If you have not seen it, rent it or something. Tina Fey and Amy Poehler are great playing off one another. Also got to watch Lora's cat (Emmy? Emmie? not sure what the spelling is on that) play with a laser pointer. That was fun. By the way, I am very much a cat person, hence the daily cat picture over there. Don't have anything against dogs. Love my sister's dog, love my friends' dogs. Just love cats more.

Also, I have decided that Wednesday shall be Halolz Day on my blog. Every Wednesday I'll post a funny game-related picture on here. (most will be courtesy of

For today's picture:

This might be my personal favorite. Why? Well...I dunno.

Monday, March 16, 2009

"Press Start"

So, I'm going to start a blog. Again. But this time...something a little different. While I will post things about my life, I'll also add a liberal helping of my favorite pasttime: Gaming. Game reviews, gaming lore, pros and cons of different gaming aspects, and other things will find their way onto here.

A Great Debate

I'll jump start this sucker with a debate that goes on continuously in the gaming community: What's the most important aspect of a game? Contenders for this position are Graphics, Music, Gameplay, Story, Difficulty,Replay Value, and Concept. I may not have said one that you pull for, but these are all the pieces of the puzzle as far as I can tell.

So, what makes or breaks the game? In the current market, all play a significant role in the success of the game. But they can't all be number one. Let's break this down:


Welcome to the modern world of gaming! We've got great graphics coming out our butts! I mean, have you SEEN games like Crysis, Resident Evil 5, Metal Gear Solid 4, and Little Big Planet? The level that CG Graphics have risen to is simply astonishing. Not only are amazing graphics possible, but they're expected. Especially here in America, land of the ADD people. Let's face it, we're impressed by shiny things over here, and it doesn't get much shinier than this stuff. You wave state-of-the-art graphics, and you will have buyers. Good graphics help immerse you in the fictional world of your choosing, while sub-standard graphics broaden the gap between fantasy and reality.


From the minimal bloops and bleeps of the Atari 2600 to the epic soundtracks of the PS3 and XBox 360, music in gaming has come a long way. Much like graphics, the purpose of music in a game is immersion. A well written soundtrack to a game will pull you deeper into it in the same way a movie's soundtrack does. Similarly, a poor musical score will actually do more to pull you out of the fantasy experience. Also like graphics, music has become more emphasized as time has gone on.


This is the one thing that conclusively draws the difference between a CGI movie and a game. This consists of any and all input from the gamer themselves. This historically has been in a tug-of-war with its opposing side, which brings us to:


The yin to gameplay's yang, the positive to its negative, this is what lies at the opposite end from gameplay. While this is not to say that a game can't have both great gameplay AND a great story, it is VERY difficult to balance the two in such a way that both shine. In the earlier days of gaming, gameplay almost always won out over gameplay. Why? If people wanted a rich, deep story, they'd go see a movie, right? Well, this line of thought has all but died out. With rich epics such as MGS4 and BioShock, it has been shown that great gameplay and a great story can in fact coexist, but only in masterful hands. Traditionally, those who favor grand stories lean towards the RPG, which is rich in story, but has less immersive gameplay. Those who want more gameplay flock towards FPS, platformers, and action/adventure games, which may not always offer a good story, but are bound to have great gameplay.


The people who hold this up as the tip of gaming are few, but enough to mention. The hardest of the hardcore demand a challenge, and they expect their games to deliver. Games that live in infamy here include Devil May Cry (#3 in particular), Ninja Gaiden, and the almost laughable "Impossible Mario". These games are known for their punishingly difficult learning curves, and a graveyard full of controllers broken in frustration over them.

Replay Value

It's hard to argue with getting all you can out of what you paid for, so it's easy to see this being held high as the bar to be jumped. Replay value simply means how many times the average gamer is going to play the game through. This is, however, hard to evaluate, as it is strictly a matter of opinion. While some people (myself included) will play The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion until the disc breaks, some won't even finish a single playthrough. So while this is incredibly important, it's difficult to market towards specifically (outside of strictly multiplayer games), as it depends on the customer's taste in games.


While some may couple this with story, I must separate them. Concept does not refer to the game's story, but rather the idea behind the game as a whole. For example, the game Portal does not have the richest of stories, as there is very little in the game to clue you into who you are, where you are, and what all has transpired. The concept however, is sheer genius, giving you the simple but amazing ability to link any to flat surfaces in space, and running you through an increasingly difficult and clever series of puzzles that must be solved using your portals.

Alright, so the contenders are lined up. Who is it? Who regins supreme as the foundation of gaming?

Before I throw this out, let me state that I believe this is truly a matter of opinion. While each one has arguements, each one is important, and almost every one has single-handedly carried one game, or many.

But, as far as I'm concerned, the winner gameplay.

Gameplay is where it all started. Did Pong have a rich storyline? Realistic graphics? An epic soundtrack? No. It was all gameplay. What is it that made Mario a legend? Mario Bros. didn't exactly have a amazing story, nor realistic graphics. So why is it STILL a great game? Gameplay. Mario heralded the idea of "play control". What made it a great platformer was the tight-fitting controls, such as changing Mario's momentum in mid-air, and running and sliding into tight spaces. To me, gameplay is what it's all about. Story and concept come in a close second, but second nonetheless. Feel free to disagree, because as I said, it's all a matter of opinion. But that's my two cents to launch this little blog. ^_^

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