Archives For Nintendo

The Days of Past List

(Aka My Top 10 of Reminiscence)

Cafés are a great place for idea pondering or even the backseat of a car, listening to rock n’ roll while sleeping.  After having a talk about games that I grew up with, I started to wonder about what I would consider my favourite games.  At first I thought how could I even give this list a sense of order and understanding and thought about how many hours may have been spent playing them or even the memories I had of these games.  So let’s start with my two honorable mentions.

Honorable Mention #2: Mario

OH MY GOD! How can I put this down here? What blasphemy?  For me, I grew up with a Sega Genesis, Playstation and a computer, I rarely had access to a Nintendo system and when I did it was when I went to my babysitter’s for the afternoon or night.  Her two sons had it and constantly played Mario; though my memories of game was usually fighting and me sitting on a couch rolling my eyes at them.  Boys will be boys and no one wants to play Luigi it seems.

Honorable Mention #1: The Game That We Had For Sega But I Can Never Remember

As the title says, this game I remember playing but I never remembered the name.  It was a dungeon crawler game that the final boss was a dragon and it was a very dark and old gothic feeling game.  It used to give me nightmares as child and I had a tendency to hide behind the couch or my mum when it was played.  My family used to play on the Sega and the Playstation together, yelling and screaming and enjoying the time together.  I felt like this was one of my favourite games not because I remember how good or bad the game was but the time spent.  If anyone can remember a game that was dungeon crawler with a dragon boss in a keep, let me know. I would love to have this mystery solved.

Word Munchers#10: Word Muncher

A Dos game that I’m pretty sure ever elementary school had or the other game called Number Muncher.  Personally I was more leaning towards Word Muncher than the others because it was easier for me as a child to play with.  This was a game that tied into my love of books and I was proud to say as geeky as it was, I usually had the high score in it.  This game was one of the few that we had in our classroom for the computer until the Apple computers replaced the old computers in the library and the few computers each classroom had were removed.  It was a sad day for all since we couldn’t play on them during a rainy day.

Duck Hunt Dog#9: Duck Hunt

Classic, annoying and pretty sure many enjoyed this game for same reasons.  You didn’t get to play with a controller but the gun for the Nintendo system and EVERYONE wanted to shoot the dog.  Who wouldn’t?  That laugh was so annoying, always taunting you when you missed.  This game was a lot easier to share than Mario was between the boys so I’ve put it higher up on the list.  Good old nostalgia.

American McGee's Alice in Wonderland#8: American McGee’s Alice in Wonderland

Oh goodness this game.  This one has to be one of the first games that I ever experienced gamer’s rage.  My first introduction to this game was in Costco where they had it in such a large bulk on the table.  It was one of the few games that had a box tab and within the creepy images of the Cheshire Cat.  While the graphics weren’t exactly high on the list as the story was.  This game was the definition of cult classic and the story of Alice in Wonderland was a cult favourite childhood story. While Lewis Carroll’s version was a bit more of an LSD trip, McGee took the story to a horror level while appealing to the masses’s hearts on a darker version of their favourite story.

My biggest issues with this game was the controls and why it’s so low on my lists. Oh how many times I fell to my death while kiting.  The controls were either way too sensitive or barely there depending on how you adjusted them.  They would drive me crazy when I first played the game and again when I played it in my first year of college and when the sequel came out.  Gladly the controls for the second one was a lot better, less ragey for everyone.

Mortal Kombat#7: Mortal Kombat

Enough said.

I kid.  I think there is very few people of my generation and those above and below who have experienced this game.  This was the first game many people either played in an arcade or at home.  It was well known for it’s ‘Fatalities’ where you could brutally execute your defeated enemy when the computer told you to ‘Finish Him’.  While the game had an interesting tweak about the finishing moves, it had high level of bloody violence and gore which we were all excited about because not many other games where this crazy.  The series is highly successful as time goes by and the brutality got worse.  In the 2011 Mortal Kombat, the finishing move of Kung Lao against Mlieena is probably considered to be one of the most painful fatalities every created in the game.

#6: Warcraft: Orcs & Humans

Warcraft: Orcs & HumansNo. This is not about World of Warcraft; there is no nostalgia there for that version for me.  This is about the first Warcraft that we have ever experience and it was the first one created.  I’m talking about the real-time strategy one.  My family was big into the strategy games such as Risk and while we did play Starcraft, I felt this one was more nostalgic for me.  I remember when my mum would work nights coming home about 4 in the morning and I would sneak down the stairs to watch her play and spend time with her before she sent me back to bed.  While playing this game with her and on my own, it gave me a sense of strategy that I would have to say I fueled into chess and playing League of Legends and other MOBA and RTS games.  I really enjoyed the phrases and little walk animations of the game; while the small side stories that were developed deeper into the second and third made a place in my heart.

Super Puzzle Fighter II Turbo#5: Super Puzzle Fighter II TURBO!

While this one will tie a bit into number 4 I feel like it has a place of its own, just because it’s just a whole bowl full of awesome for me.  The title is a parody of Super Street Fighter II Turbo and it has a lot of characters from the Street Fighter franchise.  It’s cute and different way of tetris; I’ve still highly enjoyed this game even when they brought out the HD remix of it.  College parties with tetris have never been weirder.

#4: Tetris

TetrisPlusSingle… Double… Triple… Tetris!

Hearing those words bring such memories. One of the first games we ever owned as family was a game called Columns III for the Sega Genesis which was a kind of like tetris but more on the puzzle side.  We didn’t own a pure tetris game until we got the Playstation and from there we had a game called TETRIS Plus.  It had its own version of tetris with a small storyline and 52 levels of puzzle nightmares.  It also had a second game added to the disc which was the good old traditional tetris without the fancy puzzle levels.  Both are quite entertaining and I still like to crack open the case and play myself some old fashioned tetris but I have to say listening to the little professor in the puzzle tetris was quite entertaining.

Final Fantasy VII#3: Final Fantasy VII

I’ve heard it all ladies and gents, why did I pick VII? Simple, it was the first one I ever owned and I do believe the second or third game for the Playstation we owned. I’m quite confused on what came second so I’ll just take a rough guess.  At the time, this game was huge when it came out and was the first game that had a sequel created through Crisis Core which was really a prequel.  It also had a movie… but that has nothing to do with why this was high on my list.  It was the first game to use 3D graphics which made it three discs long!  I enjoyed playing through the game while I was a child and again as an adult only understanding more and more about the storyline I couldn’t as a child.  I enjoyed the franchise of the games considerably, owning and playing through almost all of them.  Hell I even own the animation and model book they released after the movie.

Baldur's Gate#2: Baldur’s Gate

This game was the first game where I was introduced to Forgotten Realms Series of games and to Dungeon & Dragons.  This game was so well loved in our house that the 3rd disc was so over played and scratched that you had to use turtle wax on it to keep it playing.  This game ran on D&D rules for the advance 2nd edition and it had some modifications for it to works as game.  This game was a huge tie in for everything I loved a child: fantasy, lore, knights, magic and DRAGONS! How can we forget dragons?  One of my favourite characters has to be this crazy berserker called Minsc and his animal companion named Boo which he believed to be a ‘miniature giant space hamster.’  Stay crazy Minsc… Stay crazy.

 And finally….

#1: Sonic the Hedgehog

I kind of thought as I was writing this list that I feel obligated and honor bound of putting this here.  My first console was a Sega and with it came Sonic.  I had all the Sonic games for the Sega genesis and had a blast playing them.  This was when they were actually good being with the new ones I find myself more and more disappointed but this is about what I enjoyed.  These games were a good mix of challenging and fun.  Some levels were more frustrating than they had to be while others seemed easy and whimsical.  These games were ones I can still enjoy as much as I did as an adult and that’s why I put them as number one.

Sonic the Hedgehog

This wraps up of the first one my top ten lists, stay tune for the next one. Who knows what it will be about? I’m not even sure yet.

Cheers! Happy Gaming.

When the Xbox One and PS4 pricing were both announced, I made my decision instantly. For me, my path into the next generation was to be determined exclusively by price. Price is what pushed me to pick up an Xbox 360 over the PS3, and price again determined how I’ll be spending my next few gaming years with the PS4. I preordered it literally seconds after the price was announced and preorders were opened. In the months that have followed, my wife and I have had ample time to tuck $400 (plus tax, thanks Maine!) away for the day Amazon ships that sweet, sweet hunk of gear.

But I think I made a mistake. I just finished reading an excellent piece from Eurogamer’s Martin Robinson on USGamer.net. In it, he makes the case that the Wii U is actually the most compelling next-gen console to pick up this holiday season. I have to agree with him, but there’s a catch.

See, the PS4 is supposed to be the “big gift” under this year’s Christmas tree. It’s a fine tradition in the Macy household. Last year saw the Wii U, and the year previous to that saw a pair of 3DS in blue and red. If there isn’t a video game console under the tree, it wouldn’t feel like Christmas. What a lousy precedent we’ve set.

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The pair of 3DSes and the Wii U get used a lot. I mean, a lot. With the release of Wind Waker HD, my oldest son has dove head-first into the entire universe of The Legend of Zelda. He spends hours poring over Hyrule Historia, sometimes late into the night. He dressed as Link for Halloween, and leading up to the holiday, he wore the costume many times to bed. To say he is obsessed might be understating it a bit. His 3DS gets equal Zelda time, with my old copy of the DS title Phantom Hourglass. My youngest son will spend hours on the Wii U playing the Metroid missions in Nintendoland, a charming set of minigames disguising a thorough tip-of-the-hat to Nintendo fans through the ages. Myself, I am enjoying Pikmin 3 much more than I ever expected, along with the aforementioned Wind Waker HD, and a slew of Virtual Console games.

And that’s why I think I made the mistake preordering the PS4. Looking at its launch line-up, I see nothing that my kids will be excited for. There’s really nothing at launch on either next-gen console that excites me. Lego’s Marvel game will satisfy them on any console for which I purchase it, so why wouldn’t I just buy it for Wii U?

The PS4 is sorely lacking a compelling reason for parents of kids under 12 to buy it. It might just be since all the other kids on the playground will be talking about their next-gen systems when the school break is over, but is that really reason enough? I know that, in the life of the PS4, we’ll get plenty of use from it. But the idea that it will make a good gift for my kids, or anyone’s younger kids, when there is the Wii U, seems unlikely.

Nintendo has, and always has had, an ember of magic burning within its properties. Ask someone on the street to name a Nintendo character. I bet nearly everyone you asked could at the very least name Mario. Ask someone to name a Sony character. Or a Microsoft character (that isn’t Clippy). You, reading this, might be able to answer those two questions. But this is NerdSynq, come on now. Mario is a pop-culture icon. He is bigger than the games in which he appears. People have a familiarity with Nintendo’s properties, a fondness, that the other two console makers lack.

Cats and Mario, two of the Internet's fav things

Cats and Mario, two of the Internet’s favorite things

That’s why I feel like the Wii U is THE console of choice for Christmas this year for anyone who has kids under 12. Young kids like the characters, the story, and believe it or not, the history, of the characters with whom they’re playing. For a kid, playing a game is more than just navigating the pathways and puzzles set out by the developers. For them, it’s imagining a whole world, with intricacies that expand beyond what is being presented on-screen. Whether it’s the Mushroom Kingdom or the planet Zebes, or Hyrule, the worlds and characters Nintendo creates resonate with kids and grown fans of Nintendo, alike.

If you’re on the fence over which console to buy, and you have kids, just get the Wii U. They will enjoy it much more. You will enjoy it, as well. There is some modest 3rd-party support. The Eurogamer piece above points out that the Assassin’s Creed IV port on Wii U is great. If you already have a Wii U, as is the case with me, and can’t decide which one of the other two consoles to get for your kids for Christmas… long and short of it, who cares? They’re basically the same. Just pick the one you like more, whatever that reason may be.

Follow me on Twitter, or my personal tumblr, where I write about non-game stuff, too.

Pokémon: The Origin

Surrounds the story around the original Red and Blue Pokemon games. Following the story of Red as he sets out to challenge his Rival for their first Gym Leader, Brock, for his Boulder Badge. When this franchise surfaced I was wholly excited for it. However, containing my excitement to write about it had been hard for the first twenty or so minutes. Nintendo is finally doing it—recapturing childhood in the best way possible. There is no real footage otherwise suggesting Ash or his companions will be making an appearance—seemingly it is a new series altogether. By all means go for it Nintendo, it is about time if you ask me. Seeing as I have been a fan of the First Generation of Pokemon (151) seeing those stories put into animation will be pretty amazing.

And it is done so spectacularly with a completely engaging trailer. Already it is shown to have some pretty amazing art direction, while still affording the growth of seeing our stalwart protagonist reach the apex of his journey. While there is no true telling how closely they will stick to the game, until otherwise proven we can only hope that we get to see a full reenactment.

There are hopes that it is divided into a series of movies to extend this franchise, or at least a short seasonal television stint. There is still much to be uncovered about Pokémon: The Origin, but this trailer is a fantastic start to what could be a step in a great direction. Slated to launch in Japan October 2, 2013 only ten days before Pokémon: The Origin there will only be more bits of news dropping as the months drag on. Maybe the tail end of 2013 will be the year of the Pokemon.

So do you all remember when the Pikachu 3DSes started appearing in the wild on March 24th?  I managed to catch one through diligence, timing and, well, mostly sheer luck that a Toys R Us worker was opening a box of them the moment I walked in.   (Nintendo trolled the stores, only sending them 3-4 copies each!) There was also a game sale, thus I also acquired the freshly released Pokemon Mystery Dungeon: Gates to Infinity.

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It was probably my best impulse buy, ever.

The Pokemon Mystery Dungeon series has been going strong since 2005. This is the 9th installment and first of the series to launch on the 3DS.  The addition of three-dimensional graphics to the game has given it some seriously stunning visuals.  The colors are delightful– very easy on the eyes!  The Pokemon are beautifully rendered and now show their reactions on the screen and not just via avatar square.  But what really hooked me was the storyline. The dialogue is fresh and meaningful enough to appeal to all ages in the Pokemon fandom.  It may even hit a little close to home when they start going on about the sorry state of the world and its Poke-citizens.  For a kid’s game, it gets pretty deep.

You are magically transformed into a Pokemon (you can choose between Pikachu, Oshawatt, Snivy, Tepig and Axew) and, for reasons, you fall into the Pokemon world.  But the despite the happy-go-lucky cuteness and colors, you soon discover that darkness lurks.  It seems that the Pokemon world has become riddled with hostility, strife and deceit.  Here is a direct quote from Gurdurr:

“This world we live in… it’s all about who’s doing the lying and who’s being lied to. Honest folks just look like fools.  In a world like this, you’re the ones who get blamed for being tricked.”

Like I said. Deep, man.  At least they are honest with the kids, right?

Frustrated by it all, your newly introduced bff (Oshawott for me) asks you to help him build “Paradise” so his friends can have a safe, peaceful place to live and play in.  You’ll find he’s a very noble little fellow who probably won’t manage get on your nerves.  You are introduced to other Pokemon (mostly 5th generation) who will join your cause and assist you in your adventures.

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When you aren’t dungeon crawling for glory and prizes, the game has a sort of Animal Crossing feel to it, giving you a sense of pride as you slowly improve your Pokemon Paradise.

Gates to Infinity isn’t terribly difficult overall, but there are some noticeable challenges later on that you may find frustrating. There are extra dungeons that can be downloaded from Nintendo for a small fee, too.  Multiplayer options are there, but pretty limited.  You can team up with another player, but that person must have a copy of the game and be in the same place as you.

All in all, I have found the game to be engrossing, endearing and oddly entertaining.  If you are a Pokemon fan, especially a Mystery Dungeon player, this is not a game you should miss.  You will get your money’s worth and hours upon hours of mobile entertainment.

Also, here is a ridiculously adorable animated trailer of the game!

Metroid Zero Mission

Metroid is a series that everyone who plays games should be familiar with. One of Nintendo’s iconic franchises, it defined an entire genre of gaming, having a very open ended world that you could explore at your own pace, finding power-ups on the way to help you progress to previously unattainable locations. It’s a standard in today’s market, with many indie and retro-inspired games following this model. It also introduced quite possibly one of the most iconic women in gaming history, intergalactic bounty hunter Samus Aran. Today I will be looking at Metroid:Zero Mission, a Game Boy Advance remake of the very first game in the series.

Released in 2004, Metroid: Zero Mission boasted improved graphics and game-play, as well as a streamlined map and objective based story that removes many of the frustrations of the original 1986 classic. It borrows a lot from other games in the series, in particular the massively popular Super Metroid. Despite being a remake, it does manage to capture the feel of the original game, dropping you right into the game with little explanation and allowing you to explore at your leisure.

The biggest difference in this game is the existence of a built in map, which you slowly reveal as you explore, making all the backtracking you have to do in this game less frustrating. The path has been better streamlined as well, with objectives being shown to you on the map. These objectives are mainly the various power ups that you get throughout the game, which of course are a major part of the Metroid series. While this does hurt the essence of the game slightly by making it more linear, I found that having a general idea of where to go made the experience much more enjoyable and cut down on the frustration factor tremendously.

All of the classic power ups from the original game are here, starting with the morph ball, which allows you to roll up into a ball and enter areas otherwise inaccessible, from missiles and bombs and of course the Ice Beam, to the Screwattack, one of the most powerful attacks in the game. The game has also added power ups from other installments, such as super missiles and power bombs, upgraded versions that deal more damage, as well as the Speed Booster, which allows Samus to run at supersonic speeds and destroy special blocks and access other areas. These power-ups are used to aid you in exploration, the largest part of the game-play Many areas are inaccessible until you get the right power up, whether it’s getting the missiles to open up a certain type of door, or bombs to open up a secret passage within the walls, or using the ice beam to create make shift platforms out of the enemies. With the introduction of these power ups, new areas have been added to the classic map, taking advantage of these new items in order to help progress.

The classic bosses return, all with updated designs that make them look more like their future incarnations. These bosses are challenging, and upon beating them they give you a sense of accomplishment, particularly because they’re usually in between you and the next power up you need. Additional bosses have been added to this game, and while many of them offer a fun challenge, they don’t feel very well integrated into the plot like the core three of Ridley, Kraid, and Mother Brain. The final addition to Zero Mission from the original game is the existence of a bonus level after you defeat the final boss, where the Zero Suit is introduced, a now staple part of Samus’s attire, making appearances in many of the games after this.

Overall Metroid:Zero Mission is a fun game and great remake of a classic title, bringing the first adventure of Samus to a new generation of gamers, and as a fun little bonus you unlock the original version upon beating the game. It is available on Game Boy Advance, though rather hard to find now. If you wish to try your hand at the original 1986 Metroid, it is available on the Virtual Console.