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Saturday, March 25, 2017

Favorite Tunes #178: Blast From the Past

Two weeks without Favorite Tunes? What gives? Well, you see, this game came out and it has made it really hard to not only play other games but do usual blogging. I'm pretty sure you know what that game is. *Ahem* Anyhoo, there's music from Gradius Gaiden, Blaster Master Zero and Space Megaforce among others.

Area 2 - Blaster Master Zero (3DS, NS)

Despite owning the original Blast Master both physically and digitally, I have never really played much of it. Blaster Master Zero, the remake, however, I have invested hours into and it is already shaping up to be one of my favorite games of 2017. The soundtrack is straight fire! I could be predictable and give the glorious Area 1 remix a spot here, but I really like the theme used for Area 2.

Speed - Gradius Gaiden (PS)

Regarded among some fans as the best game in the series, Gradius Gaiden was originally released on the PS in Japan only but would make it's way to the states in the PSP Gradius Collection. Being a big fan of Gradius, the is one of the few Gradius I've yet to play. The music is really freaking cool and this is hands down my favorite track from the game. With Konami making their way back into console and PC gaming, I'm hoping Gradius Gaiden sees another re-release.

Destroy Them All - Life Force (NES)

From one Gradius game to another, Life Force was released one year after Gradius in arcades and was ported to the NES where it recieved a few features not present in the original arcade version. The power up bar from Gradius was implemented, making it easier for the player to customize their power ups. Being a solid port, the game also kept the arcade game's difficulty so Nintendo Hard is in full force but the Konami Code does make finishing the game a bit easier. Life Force's soundtrack sounds pretty dang good on the NES. In particular, the final stage theme sounds a lot better than the arcade version.

Stage Select - Bomberman 64 (N64)

Bomberman '93, '94 and Bomberma Hero had all recieved Virtual Console releases but Bomberman 64 was left out in the cold. At least, until now. Bomberman 64 recently hit the Wii U eShop so if you don't feel like hunting down a copy or getting out the N64, you can buy the game digitally. Bomberman 64 is certainly one of the most challenging entries and you really have to put in work to get the game's true ending. It also has some of the best music. Here's hoping Bomberman 64: The Second Attack gets re-released as it is an incredibly rare title.

Hateno Village (Day) - The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild (Wii U, NS)

Like so many others, Breath of the Wild has taken up a huge part of my gaming time. Whether you're staving off Lynels or just exploring the vast open world, BOTW makes for a truly unique Zelda experience. I really like what Nintendo has done with the music in this game. This game has some really great town thems. Kakariko Village is a theme I love, but I have to give the nod to Hateno Village.

Boss Battle 2 - Space Megaforce (SNES)

Oh man, if ever there was a shooter that was in dire need of a re-release it is Space Megaforce, known as Super Aleste in Japan. This game could very well be my favorite Compile shooter and it fetches insanely high prices on the second hand market. It plays excellently, looks fantastic and the soundtrack is crazy awesome. Is this rock theme not the sickest thing you ears have ever been blessed to hear?

Favorite Tunes Database

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Motion Controls are a Thing and Gamers Need to Deal With It

The way we play video games has certainly come a long way in the short time the medium has existed. We've got rumble feedback, analog sticks to control the speed at which characters move and it is standard for all controllers to have two or four shoulder buttons. There was once a time we would mock our parents for waving the control around in failed attempts to get more movement the characters. Now? Well, in the past ten or so years, moving the control around in a lot of games is actually required to get the desired response. And for something that has been around for a decade, you'd think more gamers would have gotten used to it. You'd think, anyway.

No developer has been as big on motion controls as Nintendo. Since the Wii made them a huge deal during the sixth console generation, Nintendo has been very amendment at making them an integral part of the gaming experience, much to the annoyance of gamers that cannot stand the very notion that they have to do more besides press buttons to play a game. Some even refer to motion controls as waggle, which I guess is supposed to be some kind of dis or the short term for motion controls, but it really just shows their unwillingness to adapt to a style of play that has been around for a long time now.

ARMS supports motion controls as well as
the option to play without them.
There's one game we can point to that will made very motion controller hater say "See! This is why motion controls are a cancer!" I'm of course talking about 2016's Star Fox Zero. Fans waited ten years for the Star Fox team to return and when the crew finally came back on the Wii U, it was with motion controls and there was almost as much gripping over a certain open world game that is getting perfect scores and a certain YouTube personality that gave said game a 7. Star Fox Zero was by not without it's flaws. I'm one of the few that liked the game but even I have to admit that yes, there certainly was a learning curve to the controls. Star Fox Zero should have been one of those titles were you could have played without motion controls because as much as I do enjoy them, there is no denying that they were detrimental to the game's low sales and those low numbers.

Not all of Nintendo's games demand motion controls. The upcoming ARMS, allows for motion and non motion controls but if ARMS motion controls are much more beneficial to the player than the standard control scheme, a la Splatoon, those that are using their arms to throw punches will probably have a huge leg up over someone that isn't using them. Motion controls in Splatoon are freaking awesome. Aiming is so much faster than using the analog stick and it isn't hard to spot a player that's playing without them as they make for super easy targets. I haven't really played any of the 3D Zelda games that have implemented motion controls outside of Breath of the Wild but aiming a bow in that game just feels so natural and I cannot imagine aiming in a Zelda game or any 3D game without them now.

There's a reason a lot of gamers prefer FPS on PC: the control setup far more optimal on a keyboard and mouse than it is with a controller. That isn't to say FPS games cannot be enjoyed with a controller. It's just that aiming and shooting is much more intuitive. Rail shooters saw a revival on the Wii thanks to motion controls. With the Wii Remote, there was no need to have a gun peripheral to shoot up mutants because your standard controller made pointing and shooting as easy as breathing. (Man, I wish House of the Dead: Overkill sold better)

I get that there are times where you want to just sit back on the couch, hold the controller and press the buttons. But the thing is, motion controls are not a gimmick. The control pad has been a gaming staple for over three decades now. Rumble, shoulder buttons, analog sticks, all of those things are firmly cemented as a part of the way we play games. Of course every game that uses them doesn't do it perfectly. 3D camera angles still aren't flawless but they are a heck of a lot better than when they were first introduced. Motion controls are not going away, no matter how much gamers want them to.

Friday, March 17, 2017

Fanboys Losing it Over Breath of the Wild 7/10 Score is Just Sad

Have you seen review scores for The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild? Everywhere you look, it is 10s and 9s. I wouldn't call BOTW the greatest game ever made, but it is an incredible title. The game has one of the highest ratings on Metacritic, sitting at 98. And then Jim Sterling reviewed the game and gave it a 7, bringing the game down a number. Hoo boy.

I don't think I need to elaborate on who Jim Sterling is, but for the three of you that are unaware, this is the abridged version. Mr. Sterling is a YouTube personality who makes a living ragging on the stupidity that frequents the video game industry. But it isn't all negativity as he does offer praise where it is due and while he has bashed Nintendo numerous times, he's also had good things to say about them such as the quality titles they make and how Nintendo handled DLC in Hyrule Warriors. Having said that, one would not be completely in the wrong for calling Jim a shock jock. Jim is a pretty funny guy but I definitely don't agree with him on everything and not every aspect of his humor is for me. Still, the by no means does the man deserve death threats for giving BOTW a 7 out of 10.

The man currently on raging Zelda
fanboy's hate list.
It really is pathetic that a portion of the gaming community, regardless of the size are so invested in a game or the score it receives to the point of it getting anything less than what they feel it deserves can cause them to riot. I mean, honestly, that is one 7 versus the throngs of 10s. People actually want blood for Jim bringing down BOTW's Metacritic score by a single freaking number in spite of the fact that it is still one of the top five highest rated games on Metacritic. The fact that there are people out there willing to kill over a 7 is straight up lunacy.

What really gets me is that a 7 isn't even a bad score! Reviews are placed on such high pedestals that anything that isn't an 8 or a 9 is deemed awful and in the case of a game that so many others have given high marks to, makes it seem as if Jim were saying BOTW is a bad game.

I love BOTW. The game is amazing and it can be tough to play so many of the other great games I was playing prior to starting it. But by no means do I think it is perfect. It has frame rate issues and the weapons breaking can get tiresome, but the good far outweighs the bad and I'm enjoying the game far too much to get upset that Jim does not 100% agree with his peers. Perhaps Jim just doesn't go ga-ga over the game like so much of the gaming community has. I mean, opinions do differ, hard as that might be to comprehend.

Jim Sterling has his fans as well as people that hate his guts. He's no stranger to controversy and his score of a 7/10 for BOTW is getting him just that. No such thing as bad publicity and all that so those that loath him, he's having a good laugh at this whole ordeal, which probably isn't even a big thing to him. I highly doubt it is the first time Mr. Sterling has received death threats and I doubt it will be the last, which makes me sigh with disappointment, when all these haters could, you know, just go off and enjoy the game.

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

All These Game Flavors and Players Choose to be Salty

Hoo boy, 2017 is looking like it is gonna be the hotness! I finally got my PS4, recently found out it is region free and I'm already spotting games I wanna import. Yakuza 0 is awesome and I could not be happier to discover the wealth of old arcade perfect games on the Arcade Archives series. There are tons of what looks to be great indie titles on the way this year and after taking Blaster Master Zero for a spin, I can't wait to play more. So we got all this good stuff going on and rather than play some games, people would rather join the ever growing ranks of the hate parade.

Two of the biggest titles for Sony and Nintendo dropped recently, Horizon: Zero Dawn and The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild. Both are mind blowing open world titles and should make anyone that owns a Wii U, a Switch or a PS4 happy. But instead of playing these two amazing games we have a bunch of fans arguing over which of the two is better, something I couldn't honestly give two craps about. Breath of the Wild is what I think about all day every day, but I still plan on picking up Horizon and all the other sweet PS4 titles I can finally play now that I own the thing. We've also got a bunch of butthurt  Sony fans that are raising all kinds of havoc over the plethora of 10s Breath of the Wild is getting, furious over the game's near 100 score on Metacritic. People are actually going to the site and giving it the lowest score possible in hopes of giving it an overall low score. Really, is that what it is going to take to satisfy these people? I fail to comprehend how a game that has already received wide spread critical acclaim getting a lower score will make one sleep better at night, but I all sorts of stuff keeps people awake in this day and age so whatever. Breath of the Wild having a higher score than Horizon on Metacritic does not make Horizon any less of a stellar game.

Haters could be playing this amazing PS4
title but they are too busy crying about Breath
of the Wild getting an overall higher score.
I guess what really sticks in a lot of people's crawl is all the positive energy Nintendo has been getting as of late. The Switch is a much talked about console that is being heavily advertised and Breath of the Wild is a huge success for the Big N. Haters are looking for any bit to chomp at to dissuade other people's enjoyment. "The launch lineup is so small!" "It isn't as powerful as the Xbox One!" "The screen is easily scratched! and my personal favorite "Ha ha, the Switch is defective, worse Nintendo system ever!"

Yes, the screen being scratched so easily is a serious eff up on Nintendo's part, one owners are already looking into ways to avoiding. While the  occasional faulty unit sucks to anyone that has this happen to them, haters sure are quick to forget that launch XBO and PS4 units suffered from the same problems. One of the issues ti take into account with being an early adopter is that the risk of defective units tends to be higher, especially in the era of HD gaming.

Some say it is a great time to be a Nintendo fan and while I do agree with that, I'd also like to say that it is a great time to be a video game fan in general. There is way too much good stuff currently out as well as on the way to sit back hating on others and what they enjoy. I got way better things to do with my time and hopefully, you do too. Happy gaming.

Thursday, March 9, 2017

Regarding the DuckTales 2017 Reboot Negativity

Responding negatively is practically a knee-jerk reaction to finding out something from our childhood is being reinvented. Be it a movie, a game, or in this case, a beloved Disney cartoon. When I found out DuckTales was going to be rebooted in 2017 a year and a half ago, the panic button immediately went off in my head. DuckTales was a huge part of my childhood. I had already known of Donald Duck prior to watching it, but DuckTales introduced me to Scrooge McDuck, Gyro Gearloose, Magica De Spell, the Beagle Boys and a host of other characters from Carl Bark's legendary Duck universe. DuckTales was the reason I took an interest in finding and collecting those old Barks Duck stories and it is a cartoon that in this day and age, still holds up marvelously. If Disney didn't do the new DuckTales series justice, heads were going to roll.

In 2016, the first image of the the DuckTales reboot surfaced. The image alone distilled a lot of my fears. True, it wasn't using the same art style from the 1987 cartoon, but the style looks clean and I like the art direction the creators chose to go with. Further still, a trailer was released, showing us the the art style in motion along with the new voice cast. This trailer lit me up like a Christmas tree and needless to say, I am really looking forward to summer 2017 when DuckTales airs.

The DuckTales crew in 1987...

...And in 2017.
Two of the biggest criticisms labeled against DuckTales 2017 is the aforementioned art style. Why is it getting flack? Well, for the three adults that never saw the 1987 cartoon show, I can't imagine them having any gripes with it, but for everyone else, it is a visual betrayal. The new art direction is largely hated because it isn't a carbon copy of the original. The other complaint is the new voice cast, which is, you know, not the original crew.

Just about every voice actor from the original DuckTales cartoon series came back for 2013's DuckTales Remastered, but getting the original voice actors together for a game is far less of an undertaking than it is for an ongoing cartoon series. Alan Young, Scrooge McDuck's voice actor was in his 90s when he voiced Uncle Scrooge again and June Foray, Magica De spell's voice actress, is pushing 100 years of age. While DuckTales Remastered was a remake of the classic NES game, which was based off the original DuclTales cartoon, DuckTales 2017 is not the original DuckTales series and this is something a think a lot of us older fans are having a hard time understanding. Besides,

Launchpad and Scrooge made quite the pair
so here's hoping for more hilarity ensuing
whenever the two are on screen together.

I'd like to bring up two shows on Cartoon Network to debunk the complaints regarding DuckTales 2017. Two infamous cartoons. Yeah, you already know the ones I'm talking about, Teen Titans Go and the Power Puff Girls 2016.

The new PPG show does use the art style of the original PPG show. Is it any better for? Nope. Using the original art style cannot hide PPG 2016's many shortcomings such as horrible fight scenes, terrible writing and having the girls twerk, which apparently fine, but Ms. Bellum has to leave the show because she's too much for young children. Gah. The Blossom, Bubbles and Buttercup all have new voice actress and I think they do a fine job, in fact, they voices in PPG 2016 is the least of that show's problems.

Donald made sparse appearances in the old
cartoon so I'm hoping he pops up more often
in the reboot.
Meanwhile Teen Titans GO! Actually does have the crew behind the hit 2003 Teen Titans series reprising their roles. Annnnnd the show is still a massive train wreck. It may primarily be a comedy show, but many of the jokes fall flat and if this show is trying to teach kids any sort of lessons, it is failing miserably. The thing with TTG! is that it wasn't meant to be a reboot, but it's own show. Lots of fans of the 2003 series hate TTG! with a passion, viewing it as a mockery of the original show. When Cartoon Network had their DC Nation block one of the numerous series of shorts to air was Teen Titans, which were comedic and had the Titans looking very much the way they do in TTG! The big difference from those shorts and TTG!? Those shorts were actually good. And funny. Two key things TTG is not. The 2003 voice cast isn't even close to being enough to making TTG a quality cartoon.

DuckTales 2017 has a different art style from the 1987 series and a new voice cast and I don't think those things hurt it in the slightest. David Tennant, the new voice for Scrooge, really surprised me in that trailer and I cannot wait to hear more from him. I'm hoping we get to see more characters from the comics that never made it into the old show and I really hope Donald Duck appears far more often. This new DuckTales series seems like it has the heart of the old show and ultimately, that is what really matters.

Monday, March 6, 2017

Konami: Is Winning Back Gamer's Trust Possible?

It is no secret that Konami has not been seen in a positive light over the past few years. Canceling Silent Hill games, chopping up Metal Gear Solid V, giving Hideo Kojima the shaft, treat employees like garbage and banishing the Hudson IPs they absorbed into some realm of darkness. Make no mistake, Konami deserved every single bit of ire gamers and critics sent their way.

When Konami was revealed to be on the list of third party developers making games for the Switch, a lot of us, OK, pretty much all of us were skeptical of what Konami could possibly bring to the table. They wrote off console gaming to go frolic in pachinko land. But after the Nintendo Switch showcase in January, Nintendo dropped a ton of trailers for games that didn't get much attention in the direct. One of those trailers was for Super Bomberman R, the first new Bomberman game in seven years. I never thought we'd see any of Hudson's old IPs again or anything else from Konami that wasn't some half attempt at a Metal Gear game. A lot of people picked up The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild at launch and it is being talked about like the second coming of Ocarina of Time but I've seen tons upon tons of photos on Instagram where Super Bomberman R is right along side Nintendo's new baby. So if that is any indication, lots of people were looking forward to Bomberman's return.

Months ago Konami said they wanted to win back gamer's trust. Not an easy thing to do when they burned so many bridges to the point where the company was being viewed as the new Activision of gaming. Super Bomberman R is a wonderful gesture to try to get back in good graces with fans. Does it make up for all Konami's past bull bull? Certainly not but it is a step in the right direction.

I've felt that something else Konami could do to make things right would be to re-release their older titles. Besides the usual NES suspects that are Super C, Gradius, Castlevania I-III. On HAMSTER Corporation's Arcade Archives line, the scope for Konami's retro titles is a bit broader. On the PS4 they've released the arcade versions of Contra, Gradius, Gradius II, Life Force A-JAX, TwinBee, MX5000, and Mr. Goemon . Some of those titles are definitely on the obscure side so kudos to Konami and HAMSTER Corporation for giving us easier access to these games.

When I jumped on the Wii U eShop about a week ago, I was surprised to see Bomberman '94 and Gradius added under the label of new releases. The version of Gradius I'm referring to is the TG16 version, which was never released digitally outside of Japan. These were the first two TG16 games to hit the Wii U eShop, followed by Neutopia and Dungeon Explorer. The Wii enjoyed a host of TG 16 titles as well as Genesis games. I always felt it strange that for the longest time, the Wii U was home to only Nintendo systems when it came to releasing retro titles. Great to see more former Hudson IPs get re-released even if they came at the end of the Wii U's life cycle. I greatly enjoy the TG16 version of Gradius and I may scope out the aforementioned titles.

Now of course it takes a lot more than re-releasing old games and a new Bomberman title to get fans to smile in your face again. But, ya gotta start somewhere and giving gamers easier access to those old classics and putting Bomberman back out there isn't a bad place to start. I think Konami could do a lot better by getting the Silent Hill series back into the spotlight and not chop the next Metal Gear in half at the expense of making a quick buck. And while the company is giving us old games, can we get the NES version of Gradius II? And how about giving us Snatcher and Policenauts? Hey, a guy can dream, right?

Saturday, March 4, 2017

Favorite Tunes #177: Synthetic Life

I'm assuming many of you have picked up your Switch and are enjoying Nintendo's new baby. Me, I've gotta wait a few months before I can get one. Anyway, this Favorite Tunes features music from that Zelda game everyone is talking about, FAST Racing NEO, and Gradius II among others.

Zora's Domain (Day) - The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild (Wii U, NS)

I really don't need to go on and on about the praise critics have showered upon Breath of the Wild. It could very well be a lot of people's choice for game of the year. I hope you're all enjoying the game. I gotta wait til Tuesday to get my copy but I cannot wait to go exploring. I have sampled some of the music, however, and I love this beautiful arrangement of Zora's Domain from Ocarina of Time.

Rare - I Am Setsuna - (PS4, PSV, NS)

So apparently this RPG called I Am Setsuna is a thing. A thing I was oblivious to until I saw the trailer for the Switch version of it. Setsuna must travel with her friends, knowing her life will be ended via sacrifice for peace. It turns out the soundtrack is piano based and while a lot of the themes are quite good, I can see why the song Rare was chosen for the trailer.

Synthetic Life - Gradius II (ARC)

If you thought the first Gradius was tough, Gradius II easily has it beat. Being made on more powerful arcade hardware, Gradius II swarms the player with enemies and in some areas, when you die, you really are screwed since it becomes impossible to survive without being half or fully powered up. Nevertheless, Gradius II is still a fantastic shooter. I'm very familiar with this tune because stage 2 is super hard for me and it is my favorite track from the Gradus II score. This game's synth is lovely.

Alphine Trust - FAST Racing NEO (Wii U)

I'm a bit jealous of my UK gamers. They got a physical release of this amazing, super fast racing game while we in America only got the digital version. Still, I'm happy to have the game at all. It looks great, the sense of speed ins mind blowing and the soundtrack is ace.

Battle - Bomberman '94 (TG-16)

I cannot tell you how happy I am to see Bomberman return and looking as cute as a button. If you didn't or couldn't pick up a Switch to play Super Bomberman R, Konami re-released Bomberman '94 on the Wii U eShop. It has multiplayer support for up to five players and you get to jam out to this theme while blowing your friends up. What more could you ask for?

Octopus Dance - Nintendo Land (Wii U)

What is largely viewed as the techo demo for the Wii U, Nintendo Land was one of the best games to make use of the GamePad. In Nintendo Land, you visited numerous attractions inspired by Nintendo series such as Super Mario, Pikmin, F-ZERO, and Metroid to name a few. Even the Game & Watch series received some form of representation in Nintendo Land. Why this track wasn't used on a Game & Watch stage baffles me.

Favorite Tunes Database