Pre-2012

Below is an archive of all the articles and reviews posted before the 2012 design change.

Articles

The State of Online Gaming

October 01, 2007

Online gaming isn’t a new thing. PC gamers have used it for years. However, it has just recently been simplified so that the mainstream can use it. Most people would say that Xbox live is the best way to game online. I fully agree. Xbox live makes it easy to play with who you want anytime that you want. The only downside is the monthly fee; Microsoft is the only gaming company charging for a pointless price to play on the web. They already make enough money on consoles and games. The only reason for this is to make more money. I apologize if I offended you Microsoft, because you are allowing me to make this website. In other news, Nintendo has the worst online play. How are friend codes helping anyone? They just hurt the experience. Oh, and with no voice chat on the Wii, it’s just like playing with genius AI. That’s something that you can do on the Xbox 360 without a monthly fee. I don’t own a PS3, so I can’t comment on its online. I can however say that PC online is the most basic if you don’t have Vista. If you have it (I don’t) then some games will play just as if they were on Xbox Live. Things were a lot simpler for people back in the N64 days. People didn’t even care about online play if it wasn’t on a PC (not even then really.) They just wanted a good, fun, graphically awesome game.

What to Get: Holiday 2007

October 30, 2007

There are many good games coming out in time for this holiday season. Here are my top 5 recommendations. They are not in any particular order.

Super Mario Galaxy- If you like Mario or platforming games, get this. If you couldn’t tell from the title, you play as Mario in space. You use gravity to your advantage in this game.

(This game is delayed until February. Buy Zack and Wiki instead. I need say no more.) Super Smash Bros. Brawl- If you’re a Nintendo fan, you know this series. Get it for online play, a huge selection of characters, and intense fighting action with popular and unpopular Nintendo characters. Did I mention that Solid Snake is in it?

Halo 3- If you love console shooters, this is the game to get. Plus, it’s already out.

Bioshock- Get this too if you love console or PC shooters. It’s arguably better than Halo 3. This is out now as well.

Metroid Prime 3- If you love games about exploration, or console shooters with great controls, get this game. You don’t even need experience with Prime 1 or 2. You just point to shoot. Make sure to turn sensitivity to the highest available in the options menu to get the full experience. This is out as well.

Use my recommendations if you want, and make sure to get the right games for you or someone special this holiday. Or don’t get games at all. I’m not making any money off of your purchases…or am I? (Queue maniacal laughter.)

Why I Hate the PS3

October 04, 2007

If you wondered why I hate the Sony PlayStation 3, here’s a poem explaining it for you.

Why do I hate the PS3? What did it ever do to me? It has but one game that I want, and many others that I don’t. That game is Metal Gear Solid 4. If it’s not ported to 360, this game I won’t adore. Sony needs some good games. Most of them are considered lame. Don’t buy a PS3 and support my cause. They should use one to torture those who break the laws.

How to Go About Buying Video Games

November 05, 2007

Edit: I have an addition to the below. Recently, I found this great online retail site, http://www.familyvideo.com/catalog. You can buy various new video games and movies at some of the lowest prices around.

See if this sounds familiar. You want a particular game, but fast and at the lowest price possible. If so, this article will be insightful to you. If not, read anyway and you may get some needed buying advice.

The number one place to buy a game at is http://www.ebay.com. You can find any video game there that was at one time or another at retail. The prices can be outstanding too if you look at the right time. Just be sure to read about the auction carefully, and to quickly review the sellers feedback. If you want to start out with a trusted seller, my dad’s account is poetry222. He sells some cool stuff, and I sometimes give him games to sell too. Also try http://www.amazon.com for games straight from the manufacturer, or if ebay is overpriced. For those looking for instant gratification however, these aren’t my top pick.

If the last sentence sounds like you, try Gamecrazy, a retailer, for older used games. At some stores and for some games, you can buy 2 for $5 or 3 for $10. For newer used games try Gamestop, EBgames, FuncoLand (if that one is even anywhere besides near where I live.) These are all owned by one company, so you’ll like one if you like any. That’s all that I have to say. HAPPY BUYING!!!

Tracking What to Buy

November 18, 2007

There are many, many ways to track video games, and to find out which are good buys. One excellent way is to check out video game websites such as this site, IGN, or Gamespot. Just search names like these on Google, or even just tags like “video game articles” or “video game reviews.” These will give you daily insight, but some people can’t go on the internet often enough to feel the benefit.

What if you have limited internet access or you just want your info on the go? Then you can try ordering video game magazines such as Nintendo Power, Electronic Gaming Monthly, Official Playstation Magazine, or PC Gamer. You only need to subscribe online or by using the slip in an issue purchased at the store. There are even some news bits that are exclusive to certain magazines for a while.

Another great idea would be to ask questions about new games at your local video game shops such as Gamstop or EBgames. These people know a lot about the industry from the sources mentioned above. It’s also convenient because you’re finding out the information at the place in which you’re making the purchase. I’ve never done this, but I’ve seen it happen. The only downside is that they’ll try to sell you something, but usually not the worst game that you show them because those are usually cheaper. Stores have to make some money in order to survive.

What Gamers Should Be Thankful For

November 22, 2007

It is Thanksgiving in America today. For all of you foreigners not in the know, it’s the anniversary of the first time in which the pilgrims and the Native Americans ate together. The Native Americans saved the pilgrims from starvation, so the whole holiday is about giving thanks. What should gamers be thankful for? I’ll list a few of the many answers right here.

– Ralph Baer’s creation of the Oddyssey (the first gaming console.) This sparked Atari, and they stole the legal rights to Baer’s tennis game. Britannica even says that Atari created video games. As you probably know, Pong was the first successful video game.

– Nintendo’s launch of the NES first in NYC, and then in the whole United States. This saved the industry from the crash that happened not too much earlier. The cause of the crash was a plethora of crap games released on the Atari 2600. The worst of these was E.T. You wouldn’t be reading any of this now if it wasn’t for Nintendo.

– The release of the Sega Genesis. Nintendo was almost a monopoly until Sega got a head start in technology with this little black box. This pushed Nintendo to become even greater. This also leads to my next and final listing.

– The release of Super Mario 64 on the Nintendo 64. If it wasn’t for this game, all of your 3D would either control just like a 2D game, or be a shooter. Sure, Tomb Raider did the same thing around the same time, but not as well. Control in that game was clunky.

Top 5 Gaming Easter Eggs

December 2, 2007

Easter eggs are the little things you find in technology that serve no usable purpose. Games have had plenty of those. Here are my top five.

5. The Nintendo Gamecube had one neat Easter egg. Holding down the z button when the system was turning on produced weird noises in the startup logo. Also, pressing the a button repeatedly on multiple controllers would result in the logo spinning all the way around.

4. After you collect all 120 stars in Super Mario 64, you can ride cannon to the roof of the castle. Yoshi awaits you there to give you as many lives as you can hold. However, since you would have already finished the game, this is only an Easter egg.

3. In Paper Mario, you can walk into a jar inside Boo’s Mansion, and you’ll come out as Mario from Super Mario Bros. How very retro of you Nintendo.

2. The Secret of Monkey Island and The Curse of Monkey Island for the computer both had a similar Easter egg. In the first game, you could try to enter a stump, but it would say that you must insert a floppy disk that didn’t exist. The game predated CD’s, so you had to constantly swap these square data storage devices. In The second game that mentioned (now on CD), you can peek out of a crypt to see out of the stump from the first game. You can also walk into an underwater scene from the first game by leaving a beach.

1. Banjo Kazooie had the biggest easter egg of all. It was something called Stop’n’Swop.

Below is a quote from Boltdragoon on Geocities.

“What is Stop N Swop? To answer this question, you must go all of the way back to the “taunts” of B-K. We all remember the Ice Key in Freezeezy Peak, swirling around and untouchable. Sharkfood Island was only a few millimeters away, except it was behind the invisable barrier of the Cove. Finally, there was an unbreakable door in Gobi’s Valley. Mumbo Jumbo shows us pictures of getting the Ice Key and getting inside of the island and door. We were told to wait until Banjo-Tooie to get these items.

We did, and we were disappointed.

The Icy Key and the 2 eggs were in Banjo-Tooie, but not like we expected. They were in bouncing game packs, half their B-K size, and not in the levels! It seemed as if Rare lied straight in our faces. Well, they didn’t.

Ever since Mumbo showed the pictures, people have tried to get them in the game. How? With a gameshark. I never tried this because I feared of my game being damaged. I was even told by a friend that his game was ruined after he sharked the key. Then I read on another site that Kazooie talks after getting the key. Why would Rare make a character respond to something that you cheat to get? This made me believe that there was a way to get them legally.

As it turns out, I and many others were right. Thanks to some game hackers, the Cheato codes to get the key and 6 eggs have been discovered. Along with them, something else was too… STOP N SWOP!

Though no one knows what it was for sure, SNS seemed to have been some way to link BK and BT and transer the Mystery Items between them. Unfortunatly, this interesting feature was dropped. Nintendo says:

“The Stop N Swap option was not implemented in the game, and although we know there is a code that opens this menu, it does not do anything at all. And as much as I would like to be able to answer your question about why it was not implemented in the game, this is not information that our Consumer Service Department has access to.”

That brings up the current question…

QUESTION: Why was SNS dropped, and why isn’t Rare saying anything about it?

Bolt’s Theory (Theory 1): (See the main page for a final word on this)

We discovered the Stop N Swop menu using a videogame enhancer called a Gameshark. Videogame companies hate game enhancers, because they are used to hack their games. Different versions of games come out partially to foil the effects of enchancers. Companies try at any cost to stop people from using them. For example, Nintendo says that using a gameshark to get Mew in Pokemon can permanetly ruin your game AND the Mew won’t be like the real one that they can give you. That statement is a big lie. You’ll only ruin your game if you don’t know what you’re doing, and the Mew is the same as the “official” one.

We all know what type of people Rare is made up of- a bunch of jokesters. Nonetheless, they hate game enchancers just the same. If we never used a “hacking device” in the first place, we would have never known about Stop N Swop. Remember, Mumbo said that we would get the items in BT, NOT go back into BK and get them. So we were naughty and hacked our way into something that was really none of our business. Combine that with their personality, and you get why they aren’t apeaking:

Rare isn’t speaking because THEY DON’T HAVE TO.

This is what Rare is probably saying: “We’ve told you time and time again not to use those stupid Gamsharks to cheat in our games. Now only do you still do that, but you hack into the programming to find things that are really none of your beeswax. Were you ever supposed to know about the SNS? No. Did you do what we asked? No. Do we have to say anything about our project that you had no right to know about? NO! Maybe one day you’ll learn…”

What does this have to do with them being jokesters? Instead of saying the above, they’ll just say “Stop N Swop? What is that?” They’ll pretend like they don’t know what SNS is, so any emails about this mysterious thing must have been sent to the wrong address, and will be deleted. =P

Theory 2:

(From Green Mamba)

“I’ve been thinking about Stop ‘n Swop for a while. My theory is that Stop ‘n Swop was dropped fairly early. The three secrets that they kept–The Pink Egg, the Blue Egg, and the Ice Key were kept because they wanted some sort of preview for Banjo-Tooie, but didn’t know what to show. So, they took some remains from Stop ‘n Swop, and put them there. Since they had left it in there, Rareware thought that, maybe they could get it with the items that were shown at the end of Banjo-Kazooie. However, they realized that they said that you’d be able to get the eggs and key in Banjo-Tooie, not Banjo-Kazooie. So, when Banjo-Tooie came around, they didn’t even try to put the Stop ‘n Swop in the game. The logic behind that is, well, Rare usually leaves old stuff that aren’t needed in games, and there is no evidence that Stop ‘n Swop was going to be used in Banjo-Kazooie. As for the base egg programming in Banjo-Tooie, maybe they were going to be that big in the first place. If that were Stop ‘n Swop, then where is the super huge Ice Key?”

Basically, Green Mamba is saying that the secrets at the end of B-K and in B-T are not linked to SNS, but instead are remains of it. Isn’t that interesting?

Theory 3: The Backwards SNS Theory! (derived from mine and Green Mamba’s)

This theory states that SNS was dropped very early, before the game was released. Rare, however, wanted to do something in BK to make people want BT badly and start drooling; kinda like a preview. They decided to use remains of their old project, Stop N Swop. The tools? The Ice Key and 2 eggs. They would show us these items and say we could get them in BT. They also showed us the original way to get them in BK to make use more anxious. Remember, we were never supposed to know about SNS. We were to get the eggs and key in BT and be happy.

As soon as a game comes out, people are able to start hacking it. Rare knew that the remains of SNS would be found. Being the evil people they are, they decided to get revenge on the hackers. They figured we would assume some swopping of data. This is why they used words to manipulate and lead us down a path with nothing at the end. We assumed more than reality. Did we get the items promised? Yes. Did we get them in BK and use them in BT? Yes, literally. Did we get what we assumed? ‘Course not! Rare even drove us more insane by putting Mumbo’s pictures across BT.

To recap “The Backwards Theory of SNS”:

– SNS was a dropped project

– Rare used its remains to keep people interested in BT

– Rare gave us the items but taunted us while doing so

(Why is it backwards? Because instead of the items leading to SNS, SNS led to the items as we know them.)”

2007 Game Awards

December 9, 2007

The end of the year is closing in, but what games come out on top? You will find out my opinions on that right now. Here are this year’s top five games that I’ve played. Unfortunately, Mass Effect couldn’t be added due to a still ongoing delivery from BestBuy.com. Please note that all of these are picked on their relevance to their release, not on how good they are.

5. Bioshock is the game that brought a modern PC quality shooter to the console for pretty much the first time. It did it well too. I’m not too big a fan of this kind of game, but I’m on the last level and I kind of like it. My only complaint is that it can get a bit too tensing.

4. Halo 3 is the end to the Xbox’s fantastic trilogy. And to top it off, it pushed us into an era of streamlined user created

3. s.k.a.t.e. is the perfect alternative to shooter on the Xbox 360. The skateboarding genre was in need of some innovation, and this was it. If more games like this are released, the 360’s audience will broaden.

2. Metroid Prime 3 showed that shooters can be done well on Wii. I really only put this up because the controls are quite revolutionary. I’m not the biggest Metroid fan.

1. Super Mario Galaxy saved a genre from obscurity. The platformer is back and better than ever with gravitational physics. Let’s just hope that Banjo Kazooie 3 follows in its footsteps.

Best Movies That Became Games

December 22, 2007.

The movie game is usually a bad one. They are almost always rushed to meet the movie’s release date. Otherwise, the teams of designers probably suck. There have however been some good gems caught up in the negative feedback to making films into movies. Here are my top five.

5. Alice in Wonderland for the Gameboy Color was a little late for the tea party by about fifty years. However, it got a very good review from picky Gamespot. I even played it and it was pretty fun.

4. Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix lets you live a year in Hogwarts as the title character himself. Could you ask for more in a movie game?

3. The playable version of Indiana Jones: The Last Crusade was an exceptional adventure game. If you’re smarter than me with puzzles, go track this one down.

2. Star Wars: Nights of the Old Republic revolutionized the roleplaying genre. The more recent Mass Effect improved it even further.

1. Goldeneye 007 came out two years late, but what a game it was. 3D Shooters were now proven to be possible on consoles. You’ve probably already played this one because it was such a huge success.

Best Games Nobody Played

January 25, 2008

Not all great games are noticed by consumers. Some go completely under the radar because of bad marketing. Below is a list of some games that you should track down.

The Secret of Monkey Island (PC)

Where: Google, Ebay, Amazon

Note: Go to http://www.scummvm.com to find out how to run it.

In this comical swashbuckling adventure, you play as Guybrush Threepwood, a wannabe pirate. After completing “The Three Trials” for becoming a buccaneer, your love interest is kidnapped by the ghost pirate, Lechuck. Your goal is then to rescue her on Monkey Island. That is the main brunt of the game, but so is the well pulled off humor. You will practically be rolling on the floor in some instances. Just remember to have that Gamefaqs.com page open for the tougher puzzles. I would also recommend Monkey Island 2: Lechuck’s Revenge, as well as The Curse of Monkey Island.

Sam & Max Hit The Road (PC)

Where: Google, Ebay, Amazon

Note: Go to http://www.scummvm.com to find out how to run it.

This game follows a psychopathic rabbit and his mature dog friend as freelance police. From the get go, you can see this game’s random, warped, and sometimes disturbing sense of humor. Your main goal is to track down a missing big foot. However, this is no easy task. Again, use Gamefaqs. You should also get Sam & Max Seasons One and Two from http://www.telltalegames.com.

Conker’s Bad Fur Day (N64) or Conker Live and Reloaded (Xbox/360)

Where: Google, Ebay, Amazon, Retail

On a stormy night, Conker gets intoxicated. This causes him to get lost and fall into an evil plot to fix a milk table. Conker must face ridiculous creatures such as an operatic giant pile of poo, and a boiler with big brass balls. As you can tell, this game is filled with South Park-like humor. Though, it also has movie parodies and a British charm akin to that of a Monty Python movie.

History of Banjo Kazooie

February 15, 2008

In the closing days of the SNES game system’s lifespan, Project Dream was conceived. This little cancelled gem followed a boy who had to fight pirates. The game was later moved to the N64 and completely changed. The boy was replaced with a bear and the pirates with a Witch and her minions. The bear, Banjo, had a backpack that did nothing in early production. However, wings and legs were put in to pop out of it. These body parts eventually became a full-fledged bird named Kazoo. Though due to copyright issues, her name became Kazooie. This was the birth of Banjo Kazooie.

The game was a 3D platformer in the style of Super Mario 64. Still, this game’s charm, graphics, music, and overall expansive worlds kept it original. The game still holds up exceptionally well for a ten year old product. With the success of the first, it was time to make a sequel.

Banjo Tooie was actually announced in the first game’s secret ending. If you collected all 100 jigsaw pieces (jggies,) the character Mumbo would show you pictures of Banjo Tooie. These photos were of areas in Banjo Kazooie that were unreachable without entering codes that hackers found. Cheat devices weren’t needed. The rooms were in fact not accessible in Banjo Tooie, but the menu that held the items in the locals was called Stop’n’Swop. This led people to believe that you were supposed to swap them into Banjo Tooie somehow. This was in fact confirmed by the company involved, Rareware, but the process was replaced with breakable Banjo Kazooie cartridges in the sequel. These held the objects in question.

As for the game itself, Banjo Tooie made the game bigger, darker, funnier, and somewhat better looking. The only problems were that the worlds were maybe too big, and the framerate didn’t hold up to them. Otherwise, this was an improvement.

Two GBA games followed the release of Tooie. These were Banjo Kazooie: Grunty’s Revenge (a bridge between the N64 titles) and Banjo Pilot (a Mario Kart-like airplane racer.) But, the most exciting announcement was the third game in the series. Originally slated for a Gamecube release, the Banjo game without a name will be coming to the Xbox 360. This is because Rareware was bought out by Microsoft in the Gamecube’s early days. The third installment is slated for a holiday 2008 release.

The End of the World?

February 21, 2008.

A matter of days ago, I discovered a dark secret. Nintendo plans to end all sentient life in the universe. Just look at this image from the Wii’s calendar.

End of World

In blue, I’ve circled the end date of our world. In red, I’ve circled the remaining dates on which Nintendo destroys all life in space. These last five days on the calendar are not accessible on the Wii’s message board, thus proving this article true. This is because blowing up our planet would also obliterate video game consoles.

When asked about the issue, scientist Gordon Freeman had this to say. “They are using the energy of the Nintendo Wi-Fi Connection to power a destructive spaceship. The ship can travel at 1,000 light years per hour. After the craft is powered up, it can last for seven days. Then it will explode. I know this because I built it.” Gordon Freeman disappeared one day after I contacted him. His information is just as credible as this article. Don’t believe a word of it.

New Xbox Experience

November 8, 2008

Today I got a surprise email from Microsoft. I had been selected to beta test what is is possibly Xbox Live’s biggest update ever. When I logged in to my account the fun began.

It started out with a new looking interface. Gone are the ugly and intrusive blades. Instead, you get a blue square in the center of the screen that pops up when the tab on the left used to. It looks sleek on my 32″ HDTV.

After the update installed, I was asked to create an avatar, or digital person representing myself. I was able to make him similar enough to how I am, but with way cooler clothes. Once the update reaches everyone else, you will be able to see the picture that I took of his head as my gamerpic.

Everything else in the update functions just like you remember. It’s just easier to navigate to. The descriptions are very easy to understand for the beginning gamer. If I had to rate the update, I would give it 9 out of ten because it should have been like this in the beginning. My one gripe is that the themes are now changed in the My Xbox Channel and not in System Settings. The change was made very unclear to a long time dashboard user like me. You can look forward to this update when it hits on November 19.

2008 Game Awards

December 24, 2008

Twas the night before Christmas, and all through the net, everyone was deciding what games they should get. It’s that time again gamers. The time to announce what games are hot and which are not is upon us. Here are my personal awards for one of the greatest years in gaming history.

1. Best Music Game

Guitar Hero: World Tour

Some people may say that Rock Band 2 has better features, but the new Guitar Hero has one thing that keeps me coming back for more. The music creator is a grand addition that adds to the replay value. Even if you really (dare I say) suck at making masterpieces, you can always hop online and see what others have to offer. My favorite pieces are the ones from other video games. They really quench my thirst for retro goodness.

2. Best Action Game

Far Cry 2

This game hit me by surprise. You see, I wasn’t a big fan of the first Far Cry for the PC. Something about it felt too generic. The bold new direction into open ended gaming was a huge hit with many other gamers as well, as for me. You can literally choose your path for most of the game. You have to figure out what to do next. This feature reminds me of the first Legend of Zelda. However, Far Cry 2 holds your hand just enough to make it work even better than Link’s quest.

3. Best Role-Playing Game

Fallout 3

If you loved The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion, this game will make you soil your pants. Bethesda Games was right to take over this already good franchise and make it even better. The move to full first-person 3D brings the Fallout series alive like never before. Exploring a post-apocalyptic Washington D.C. feels even more thrilling than the time that I first escaped the Imperial Prison. Everything comes together fluidly, including the combat system that is a combination of turn-based and real-time gameplay.

4. Best Racing Game

Mario Kart Wii

Say what you will about Nintendo’s last console entry in the series (Double Dash), but this game tops all of them. Let’s start with the controls. Purists can still use a Gamecube or Classic Controller. However, the game really comes alive with the Wii Remote or the glove-like Steering Wheel. Even better than that is the new lag-free online mode with fantastic rankings. All of this and the addition of retro racing levels make this a must-buy for any real Nintendo fanboy or fangirl.

5. Game of the Year

Fallout 3

This was a really hard pick. There were so many great games that came out this year, and way too many to mention. Overall, I felt that Bethesda deserved this award for practically perfecting their already good formula. Until next time, this is Screath, signing out.

Why I Love the PS3

August 24, 2009

This is a follow-up to my similarly named poem. After I actually got my hands on the Sony PlayStation 3 my opinions changed.

Why do I love the PS3? Is it because it looks great on my HDTV? I guess I have to say that everything looks grand in Blu-ray. However, graphics don’t matter as long as you have exciting gameplay on a platter. Thanks to the many exclusives, a PS3 gamer is never bored. You’ll never be without something to do, whether it’s shooting with the GunCon 3 or using a ninja’s sword. Remember, online play is free. You’ll spend nary a dime to face me. Let’s not forget the grandest of all. Little Big Planet has a more robust level editor than Super Smash Bros. Brawl. The PS3 has almost everything that you want, and very little that you don’t.

Damn. I should be Sony’s PR guy.

Best Gaming Soundtracks

1/3/2010

One of the things that I love most about video games is how much effort is put into the music. If done well, a soundtrack can pull you deep into a game. Some soundtracks are better than others. This is why I’ve picked five fantastic gaming soundtracks that you can obtain and listen to wherever you please.

Video Games Live Vol. 1

It may not be as good as going to the actual concert, but it’s the next best thing. This album features songs from various video games (ex. Halo, Tetris, Castlevania), but performed by a live orchestra Instead of just midi’s. Any fan of classical music or video games should love this.

Super Smash Bros. Brawl OST

Unfortunately, Nintendo never released this soundtrack on CD of remastered songs from a lot of their games. To to hear Brawl’s glory outside of the game your only viable option is to download it from the link provided. I’m sure Nintendo won’t care as they are unlikely to release their own version this late.

Super Mario Galaxy Original Soundtrack

Mario Galaxy has been praised countless times for it’s moving score. Luckily, Nintendo released an official soundtrack for this one. However, everyone outside of Japan will have to import it. This can get expensive. If you can find the CD at a cheaper price than the one in the link above, then it might be worth it.

Distant Worlds: Music From Final Fantasy

Nobuo Uematsu is known for his phenomenal work on the music of the Final Fantasy series. These works were even preformed live in concert in the same style as Video Games Live. If you want to hear this concert, then the Distant Worlds CD is for you.

The Legend of Zelda Ocarina of Time Symphony Album

The Zelda series is renowned for its amazing music, but Ocarina of Time is where everything truly shines. The protagonist, Link, was given a magical instrument to play, and with it came one of the greatest score in the history of music. The CD in question has all of the best songs in the game in orchestrated form. This was an official Nintendo soundtrack that came out around the time of the game. The link that I provided has more information, but I recommend looking on Ebay for a better deal.

Reviews

Kameo Elements of Power

October 30, 2007

Rareware has a very good history as a video game company. They made Donkey Kong Country, Banjo Kazooie, Goldeneye, and many more. One of their more recent games is Kameo Elements of Power. It’s a fantasy game in which you get to transform into various characters and fight trolls. It may look like a fairy tale kid’s game, but fans of any action or fighting games will eat this up. The first thing that I have to say about this game is that the graphics were good for two years ago when it came out. The Xbox 360 had yet to be fully tapped then. You will see no jagged edges. Also, if you have an HD setup, prepare for a huge boost in resolution. That’s what I’ve heard from people who didn’t play it on a crap 20 inch screen anyway. The sound is incredibly epic. I even thought that one of the songs played in the game could have been put in the Lord of the Rings trilogy, and people would’ve liked it better. The gameplay is very fun if you like to do things your own way. You can pick your favorite transformation to play as, and kill the games enemies that way. I thought that the story was pretty good until the end. After that, it got way too confusing. Just be sure to listen to what is said really fast. Overall, get this game if you love Rareware, fairy tales, or action/fighting games.

Rayman Raving Rabbids

October 30, 2007

I have no idea why the title is Rayman Raving Rabbids, because the word “rabbits” is used throughout the game. It’s a Rayman game, but the character is completely upstaged by these villainous critters. This game is great for any gamer that just loves to sit back, have fun, and laugh. The game is a bunch of minigames strung together by a story. Most of the humor is in the minigames themselves. Only get the Wii version though. I can’t imagine the minigames games being any fun with Nintendo’s Wiimote and Nunchuck combo. That’s not to say that all of them are fun. There were about three that I thought the controls just didn’t work for. Also, most of the multiplayer games can’t be played with the whole family like in Wii Sports. The graphics look stylized, but are simplistic even for Wii. I know that this is a launch game, but they could have at least made it look as good as Zelda. The sound is excellent in the fact that it forces some laughter out of you. Overall, get this if you have a Wii and any sense of humor.

Halo 2

October 30, 2007

Halo 2 is a pretty good game. If you’re a gamer, you’ve no doubt heard of it. Let me start with the graphics. They are some of the best on Xbox, and a worthy improvement over the first game, but pop in occurs during cutscenes. The developers have stated that they didn’t have time to iron that out or add a last level. I agree because the hype for the game would have been lost if they delayed its release. The sound is the best on Xbox (END OF DISCUSSION!!!) The gameplay is fabulous in multiplayer if you can find people to play with now that #3 is out. However, something about single player makes it worse than #1. Maybe it’s because of the way they tweaked the weapons, took some away, and allowed dual wielding. The story has a lot more going on in it than the first game because you play as a Covenant Elite now. If I didn’t have this game now I would just skip it and buy Halo 3. You can read a good story summary of the series on the internet.

Skate

October 30, 2007

Skateboarding games go back to the arcade with a game called 720, and more recently Tony Hawk. If you’re looking for a game that plays as well as the first two Hawk games did back in the day, this is it. The controls are mapped to the analog stick in order to make the skating experience feel new again. The graphics look amazing, even on your grandma’s old SDTV. You will see beautiful sun reflections on every object that would have it in real life. The music fits the mood perfectly, but I reccomend using custom soundtracks as well. The sounds of your skater moving, and the hustle and bustle of the city are as real as they can get. The real fun lies online. Gather some friends on your list, and play however you want. Get this game if you love skating games or real skating even the slightest bit. It’s better than even the first two Tony Hawk games, which in my opinion are the runners up for the crown.

Halo 3

November 11, 2007

Halo 3 is a marvelous multiplayer game and a good single player one too. The story picks up just moments after the ending of Halo 2. Don’t read the next two sentences if you don’t want the ending of that game spoiled (even though it’s been out far too long for it to count as one.) The 2nd Halo ring has sent a signal that will fire off all of the other rings when activated at the arc. Meanwhile, Cortana is trapped on the flood infested covenant ship, High Charity, while Master Chief has hijacked another covenant ship to get back to Earth and “finish the fight.” The story ends on a satisfying note, but only if you play on at least the normal difficulty setting and watch the scene after the credits roll. There is even more to the scene if you beat at least the last level on Legendary, the hardest difficulty. Like in the other Halo games, Heroic and Legendary are way to hard for myself going at it alone. However, The slightly easier Normal difficulty was perfect for my skill level. I wouldn’t stoop to easy though. Only pick that if you’ve never played a first person shooter. The gameplay is similar to the other games in the series, but the “if it ain’t broke don’t fix it” approach always seems to work for gae series that are comprised of fewer than four games. The graphics look like the natural evolution from Halo 2 to 3. It’s an even better leap than from Halo to Halo 2 in my opinion because of the sharper visuals even on an SDTV. If you’re a gamer, you know enough about this game to buy it based on the opinions of myself and other reviewers. Get this game if you agree with me in the slightest bit because once you beat the pretty damn good single player mode, you’ll have a blast in edited multiplayer games.

Super Mario Galaxy

November 25, 2007

If you’re anything like me, you’ve been waiting for Super Mario Galaxy over ten years now. This is the true successor to the ground breaking game that is Super Mario 64. Sorry Super Mario Sunshine, but you’ll always live in the shadow of something greater. This game is like a gourmet steak. Everything was prepared and tested to near perfection.

The first thing that you’ll notice is the shear amount of visual quality. This is probably the best that Wii can process, and it’s not too shabby. This game’s graphics can be compared to the likes of Kameo, which was a launch game for the Xbox 360. However, the sound is even better. Sure, you’ve got your usual Mario fare. Coins ka-ching, jumping on Goombas make a cool sound when jumped on, but orchestrated music ups Nintendo’s standards. As soon as you arrive at the overworld, you will be treated to my favorite video game song ever. This song belongs on a Mozart CD. Of course, there are many other good songs. Some are even interactive. Don’t worry though. I won’t spoil those for you.

You probably don’t care so much about all of this. Mario games are supposed to be all about the gameplay. That is very true in this game. Everything that you love about platformers and more is included. You’ve got your common levels, but with a twist. There are some very interesting levels. For example, one has a number of spotlights, but everything outside of them disappears. And since you’re in space, gravity plays a big role in the game’s mechanics. You can jump off the side of a celestial body, and you may end up on the other side, or on another object.

Overall, get this game if you have any good appreciation of Nintendo. You will not be disappointed. I can’t say that for Sunshine.

Bioshock

December 16, 2007

Have you ever dreamt of being trapped in a failed underground utopia? Hopefully not. Bioshock brings you to the world of Rapture in the 1960’s. The place was built in the 1950’s as an escape to the world’s problems. By the time the protagonist Jack gets there, it’s far worse than any other place on Earth. Your goal is to escape Rapture. Along the way, you’ll have to make the decision to save or kill mutated little girls. The latter will grant you more currency for the game’s many abilities faster. The former will reward you with rewards both around the corner later in the game.

The game controls like your typical pc or console shooter, but the abilities that I mentioned earlier, plasmids, change things up a bit. They allow you to pretty much tackle enemies however you like. They also make the 360 version feel like a pc shooter. This is because pc games usually let you carry more weapons than console games. Bioshock lets you carry many plasmids at once with upgrades, and all of your weapons anytime. This game pretty much bridges the gap between the two gaming options.

The graphics are excellent on both systems, but if you have a computer that isn’t exactly high-end, I would recommend comparing the two demos to see if the pc version looks nearly as good as the Xbox 360 one. I would recommend the pc version if it does because the controls are slightly better. As for myself, the pc version looks like it spewed up from a last-gen console on my rig.

If you’re like me with skill in shooters, you should play the game on normal until the end draws near. You’ll know this because you’ll have gone to the last bathysphere location. The game can be a bit tensing on the normal setting even before this. Be ready to respawn at the reviving Vita Chambers several times if you’re as bad as me in this game. Overall, fans of shooters and games that discuss history will not be left unsatisfied. For skilled gamers, there is no better option right now.

Mass Effect

January 2, 2008

Mass Effect is the best roleplaying game that ever graced the Xbox 360. It plays in a similar fashion to the game Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic by Bioware. In case you didn’t know, Bioware is an exceptional game development company that has made great rpg such as Baldur’s gate and Mass Effect. My point is that they’ve perfected the conversation trees. You simply select a thought from the little menu on the bottom of the screen, and your character says a similar comment or question. Sometimes this will even result in an automatic action such as shooting a character, but I won’t spoil anything for you. Just know that the conversations flow like real ones. Also, what you say and do in the game affects the outcome.

If you don’t care about game dialog, there is also a real-time combat system. It plays like Gears of War in that you must shoot and use biotic abilities from cover. However, it just isn’t as good as the company’s previous inclusions. It doesn’t suck, but it could have been better if it was a mixture of turn-based and real-time combat.

The graphics are the best on Microsoft’s console no matter what resolution your television can handle. The sound is just as good if you have decent speakers. As for the story, the dialog system, your impact, and the true cinematic narrative bring it all together. You will want to play the game at least twice to see everything. That is because you can either be a good cop (paragon) or a bad cop (renegade.) Overall, all hardcore 360 owners should get this game. Well, what are you waiting for?

God of War

January 23, 2008

God of War is a marvelous game. You play as Kratos, a Spartan from Greek Mythology. The protagonist is tasked at killing Ares, the God of War. Plot developments about Kratos’ past eventually ensue. These help you understand where he is coming from. By the end of the game, you will want Ares to die too. The game is also presented in a very cinematic fashion. You could easily compare some of it to the recent film 300.

For a PlayStation 2 game, the graphics are breathtaking. Every scenic object streams in seamlessly. The game looks even more amazing on a widescreen display. However, an HD set will blur everything up a tad. Though, I have yet to test it in 480p because I don’t have the optional PS2 component wires.

The sound is equally incredible. Although it is Dolby Pro Logic and not Dolby Digital, it is still akin to that of a movie. The monsters sound like monsters, and the soundtrack is fully orchestrated.

The gameplay is literally bloody good fun, but not for the faint of heart. You have various weapons and powers that you can use to kill Kratos’ foes. You can rip them in half, throw them, zap them, and turn them to stone. Along with that kind of stuff, there are little mini-games that allow you to do more elaborite kills. You just have to press the “O” button when its icon appears over the head of your enemy.

With four games already out in the series, this game must be played by those who aren’t too squeamish. You will possibly be hooked on the series and its dark take on Greek Mythology.

Super Smash Bros. Brawl

March 16, 2008

Super Smash Bros. Brawl is the kind of game that I have not played since the Nintendo 64 days. Games have taken a big fall recently, but this game has changed that. Even those classic 64 BIT games lost their touch after a while. The goal of the game is simply to smash your opponents off the screen. You do this through attacks that weaken their defenses and send them further each time.

What makes the new Smash Bros. game so great is that it takes everything good about Nintendo games and stores it in a single disc. All of your favorite first party characters are there in some form. Captain Olimar, Toon Link, even R.O.B. the robot is playable. That of course wouldn’t be naming all 35. You can probably guess most of them if you’ve played Super Smash Bros. Melee, but the newcomers are very welcome indeed.

Not every character is controllable. The Pokeballs return along with their equivalent, Assist Trophies. Both of these items summon characters that help you.

First party Nintendo characters aren’t the only ones present. Sonic the Hedgehog and Solid Snake are excellent additions to the roster. Snake brings his large inventory to the brawl, and Sonic takes his speed.

Many of your favorite features from previous iterations are here as well. The only ones removed are Race to the Finish and Board the Platforms. I didn’t care that much for those anyway. You might as well sell that old copy of the previous installment. It will just collect dust otherwise.

These things are all well and good. However, there are two new additions to this game that really make the experience. The new Smash Ball item changes the mechanics of fighting just enough to be interesting. Almost every character has a unique Final Smash that they can only use when you burst the ball. Just press the special attack button when you are ready. Other characters just share somebody else’s.

The other welcome addition is online play. Sure, you need to exchange friend codes to play with whoever you like, but fights with random people are always fun. The only problem is that you might experience lag and errors because Nintendo is having server trouble. These will of course be fixed in good time.

There are way too many good things about this game. Well done retro and modern video game music, gorgeous computer generated cutscenes in the extended single player mode, and more make this piece of software my favorite in a long while.

Banjo Kazooie: Nuts & Bolts

11/17/2008

Before I start my review, I have one thing to say. I did not finish this game. These opinions are solely based on my playthrough of a good chunk of it.

Banjo-Kazooie is a series that started out as a typical 3D platformer. Just like Super Mario 64 before it, the game had you exploring worlds and collecting items to unlock more. It’s edge over everything else at the time was charm.

When the second game came out, things got more complex. Collecting most jiggies, the equivalents of the power stars in the Mario series, would require intense reasoning. The same is true in this, the third main installment.

The big component of Nuts & Bolts is a vehicle builder. Like on the back of the box, “if it steers, floats or flies, you can build it using over 100 unique parts and blueprints!” Just collect the parts in the hub world, Showdown Town, and you will eventually be able to tackle any challenge.

The problem with all of this is that you’ll want to have everything at once. Some of the tasks would require less skill if you had the needed assets. It really breaks up the game.

Another problem for me was the need for creativity. If you want to do well at this game, you will need to use you head in order to make the machine that can do the job. For instance, one challenge has you knocking blocks off a platform. I used all of the best possible vehicles that I had, including the ones that the game gave me. However, I still fell short of the top prize. Maybe I could could have done better if the game would let me collect more parts without having to wait so long.

One plus side to the game is the music. The first two games both had their fair share of memorable tracks. This game tops the charts with orchestrated remixes mixed with new tunes to behold. It’s saddening that the main composer, Grant Kirkhope, left the company for bigger and better things. I wish him luck.

The trademark humor is back as well. There are many inside jokes for longtime fans of the company. Newcomers shouldn’t worry. There are plenty Monty Python style jokes and jabs that will make most gamers at the very least smirk.

Although Rare took away most of the classic platforming, what they gave us a robust and open ended experience. I really like the game. However, it can get tedious and repetitive at times. Get it only if you’re ready to spend some serious time with the whole package.

Ghostbusters: the Video Game

August 3, 2009

Do you find that things are going bump in the night? If so, you know who to call. Now you can even join these paranormal fire fighters in their latest adventure, Ghostbusters: The Video Game. Picking up where the second film left off, you play as a new cadet for the team. Throughout the game, you’ll be using experimental ghost fighting weapons. However, ultimately, you will help the Ghostbusters save New York City for the third time.

The story is as frantic and humor-filled as you would expect. Some of the dialog feels a little forced, but the game still remains its charm. Of course, saying more would spoil much of the experience.

The game plays like a third-person shooter. You’ll have only four upgradable weapons by the time the credits roll. However, the act of capturing ghosts is still exciting all the way through. I especially love the slime because of the creative use of using it like a sticky rope to latch onto objects and even enemies. The capture beam is also nice, but just killing bosses and miniature enemies the old fashioned way feels more natural. If you have the PC version, (the version I’m reviewing) then you may find the combat harder to control with the mouse and keyboard. A much better method is to use an Xbox 360 controller.

Where the game really shines is in its atmosphere. The Ghostbusters movies aren’t known for being outright scary, but this game is downright unsettling. From spider caves to cemeteries and even a giant castle, I almost cried for mum.

The audio in this game truly stands out because all of the characters are played by their original actors. The music is also ripped straight from the movie, including that catchy theme song. The graphics are also on par with other games of the current generation. I especially like the use of shadows and darkness.

If you love the movies, you’ll love this game. Any competent gamer can finish it on the casual difficulty because the game is very forgiving. Despite long load times on the PC, you’re sure to have a good old time. Just remember not to cross the streams.

The House of the Dead: Overkill

August 27, 2009

If you’ve been playing video games as long as I have, chances are that you’ve heard of the classic House of the Dead series of games. Older versions used light guns that allowed you to kill zombies in a roller coaster-like shooting gallery. Think of it as Dunk Hunt with a 3D camera and gore.

The new exclusive Wii version, Overkill, allows you to experience the same gameplay on modern televisions. You’ll be using the IR sensor bar in conjunction with the Wii remote.

What really sets this game apart from its precursors is the overall direction. The game takes cues from the movie Planet Terror and does it well. Expect B-movie intros for every level, hilarious profanity-filled dialog, and a soundtrack that will have you in stitches.

All of this would go to waste if the game weren’t fun. Thankfully, the shooting mechanics are spot on. The levels may not be exciting as in previous House of the Dead games, but they still are pretty exciting. My favorite is a carnival complete with a spook ride in which you much shoot mutants as they are called in this game. The levels are especially fun when played cooperatively with a friend.

This game brings back memories of quarters long spent. In fact, the game even lets you spend coins in place of inserting money to continue. I don’t see a reason why any hardcore Wii owner shouldn’t own this fantastic foray into arcade-style gameplay. Remember to go for the headshot.

Pokemon Soulsilver

March 19, 2010

I’ve been playing Pokemon games for years (since 1999 to be exact). That’s why it saddens me that the series has changed so little over the course of nearly two decades. There are only so many times that one can attempt “Catch ’em all!” before repetition ensues. There are just too many of the little buggers to keep track of.

If you go back to 2000 however, things were different. Most everyone was awaiting the sequels to the Gameboy’s hottest games (Pokemon Red, Blue, and Yellow). Our golden chariot to gaming glory finally arrived shortly thereafter with Pokemon Gold, Silver, and eventually, Crystal. Everything was just dandy. There were still few enough Pokemon to keep track of and new features to boot. You could carry more items, and a real-time clock allowed you to participate in special events at certain hours and on certain days. There was even a virtual radio and cell phone. Then in 2003, Ruby and Sapphire came out. It lacked most of the new features that made the second generation of Pokemon so good in the first place. I was devastated.

Why I am telling you all of this? Well, let’s just say that Pokemon Heartgold / Soulsilver lets you party like it’s 2000 again. There are less Pokemon, the same fabulous features, and shiny new graphics. Most remakes are good enough on their own merit, but these games also have working save files. That’s right, the save battery in most of the Gold/Silver/Crystal cartridges died out because of the heavy use of an internal clock. Another benefit is that you can now trade over Pokemon that can’t be found in the fourth generation cartridges. DSi can owners rejoice because you don’t need a GBA slot anymore.

These games bring back memories. I was even able to pick Totodile as my starter again. Soon he’ll become a Feraligatr that will be able to follow me around, along with any other Pokemon. I guarantee that your jaw will drop when your former Magikarp follows you around as a hulking Gyarados.

Halloween the Movie

*This article was written by guest author, Rajan.

December 4, 2010

When I was 11 and I first saw this movie, it scared the bejesus out of me. I kept jumping out of my seat whenever Michael Myers popped up. Halloween is my favorite horror movie of all time. Although, I hate the Rob Zombie remake because it was a piece of crap.

The movie begins with Michael walking outside, behind his windows, seeing his sister getting it on with her new boyfriend. Michael Myers goes berserk after the boyfriend has left. He then kills his sister.

For 15 years Michael Myers was locked up in a sanitarium. He escapes, and heads back to his home town. The rest of the movie has him stalking two babysitters on Halloween Night. Meanwhile, Dr. Loomis is Michael Myers’ doctor who is now looking to lock him up again. I will not tell you more because I don’t want to spoil the rest of the movie.

The thing I liked about the movie was that Michael Myers is the ultimate evil and the boogeyman. Michael Myers is scary already, but John Carpenter’s music made the villain even scarier. The choking scene is a good example of this. You can really feel the tension.

This was Jamie Lee Curtis’ first movie role. She played Laurie Strode, one of the babysitters that Michael Myers stalks. You don’t find out her relationship with Michael until the second movie, which explains a whole lot. Also, this was the best actor to play Michael Myers. His mask and the trademark walk stole the show.

All horror fans should really see this movie. Michael Myers is a classic horror villain. If you watch this movie, you will fully understand why.

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