Confessions of a Classic Gamer



Friday, January 31, 2003

Now Playing:
Dance Dance Revolution - Konamix (PS1)
Yo! Noid (NES)
The Legend of Zelda - Link's Awakening (GB)

'Don't you know I'm all that and a bucket of wings?
I'm on the jazz, when I feel the need to shake my groove thing'

Yes indeed. I have DDR at home, finally. Went out and bought a dance pad and DDR - Konamix, which is a compliation of Konami's original music in DDR. There's about 50 or so songs in this mix, which is no MAX2, but it sure as hell is great to have at home. ^,^ I expect to lose a lot of weight this way. I'm having a great time, and Jessica and Jeff are even learning. Wheeee!

Anyhow, that's not all I got. I finally, FINALLY landed a copy of Yo! Noid, which is a fantastic game. If you don't know who the Noid is, you're far younger than I. The Noid was Domino's Pizza's mascot for a long, long time. He's like a bucktoothed wierdo in a red latex bunny suit.


Anyhow, despite appearances, the game was actually made by Capcom. They just overlaid pizza themed stuff over some parts, and didn't even bother in others. All in all, it's one of the best platformers ever for the NES. Tons of fun. ^_^

In the spirit of the upcoming GameCube game 'The Legend of Zelda - The Wind Waker', I went ahead and bought Link's Awakening for my newly aquired Gameboy Pocket. The GBP was only ten bucks, and it was red, so there was no reason not to buy it. I got tired of playing my only Gameboy game (Pokemon Red), so I nabbed up 'Awakening'. I'm only through the beginning of the game and the first dungeon, but I'm already impressed. This was very good for it's time, and has a feel that seems to be part 'A Link to the Past' and part a game all it's own. I'm enjoying it immensely, and it takes me back to my original joy of exploration in the original Zelda. Awesome.

I'm counting down. It's just over two weeks until I get my Gameboy Advance SP. I'm freakin' out over here! ^_^ I had a writeup on my procurement of an import preorder on my other Blog, since I really had nothing to say 'me'-wise, and I was so excited at the time. Check it out, if you like.
Beni - 3:44 PM

Wednesday, January 22, 2003

Now Playing:
Final Fight (Arcade)
Aliens vs Predator (Arcade)
Cadillacs & Dinosaurs (Arcade)

I have started on my first attempts at beating a beatemup with a single credit. I decided on the classic game that (for me) started my obsession with beatemups: Final Fight. Not the most balanced game in the world, but it was definetly an innovator for it's time, taking the concepts laid down by Double Dragon and taking them to a much more playable plateau. Plus, Cody is a great character, and there's a little more depth to the game than I had originally conceived, though I've played the game time upon time.

Anyhow, despite the fact that my focus for the last few days has been Final Fight alone, I've already lined up my usual suspects of faves for the list. Once I have mastered a game, I plan to write a one-credit FAQ for it for others to peruse, since it seems that none exist. Maybe I'll make it visual as well, with pictures and a step-by-step walkthrough, and include it as part of the site. I could go ahead and do a text version, then refer the reader to my site for the visual version. That would probably work well.

Anyway, the site design has been a real hassle, since I only know basic HTML. Jeff suggested I give PHP a try, so I'm going to research it this weekend. Jessica still plans to learn Java, but it will probably be quite some time before she does. When she learns it, I'll probably learn it right alongside her, so that will be nice for when I redo the layout of the site, but for now I'm going to try this PHP thing.

I've been playing a lot of MAME games since I got my Microsoft Sidewinder, making Arcade gaming a lot of fun again. I hope to one day be able to buy Arcade boards for my favorite games, but that's a dream that has to wait until I have more space and more money.

I may end up buying a second one, so that Jessica can enjoy these games with me. I'm sure she would like that. =)
Beni - 4:56 PM

Sunday, January 19, 2003


Now Playing:
Gigawing 2 (Dreamcast)
King of Dragons (Arcade)
Aliens vs Predator (Arcade)
Blade Master (Arcade)


Sorry it's been a while since my last update, but I've been pretty busy. In the time that I've had, though, I've made it to the final point of Gigawing 2 before the big show. I've gotten to the final boss without continuing, but from this point, it's just a lot of study and a lot of practice, and I've decided to take a break. After playing nothing but GW2 for over a week, I'm trying not to get burnt out on it. Sometimes the best thing you can do is take a breather, and I've decided to use this breather to begin production on my Beat 'em Up website.

I've been toying with this idea for over a year, and it would already be made if I'd had a computer for the last 6 months. Before, I was compiling information to make the site, but because of all the problems I had during that time, and the loss of my computer, not much progress was made. Through the magic of Emulators I'm now able to play older beat-em-ups and do reviews and such, and that's going to be the main focus of the site: to chronicle as many beat-em-ups as humanly possible and review as many of them as I can. However, I'm going to need help, and that's going to be one of the things I'm trying to get. If I can get the site to be popular, then maybe people will start to submit things that I may not know about, and that would be great.

The whole idea came about when I found, a comprehensive Shoot-em-ups website that operates much in the same way that my site would. I wanted to find a site like that for beat-em-ups, but there wasn't even a fansite for them. That's why I hope to make my site as big and comprehensive as possible.

Now I'm spending a lot of time working on the site design, since I now have content to put up. I'm working pretty hard on it, but it's taking a lot of my time away from other things, so don't expect much outta here while I'm doing that. =)

Anywho, that's what's up.
Beni - 4:33 PM

Monday, January 13, 2003

Now Playing:
Gigawing 2 (Dreamcast)

Dave Navarro - Rexall

Can you say 'mild obsession'?

Now that I can get through 90% of Gigawing 2 without dying, let alone continuing, it's just a matter of working my ass off to finish the game on one credit, default settings. I'm using the Raijin-Kai, and it's coming along really well. I've taken to taping my games, so that I can analyze my mistakes and see where I fall into problems.

Because I'm just playing Gigawing 2 at this point, I don't really have a lot to say, other than that I won an auction for Gigawing 1 the other day, and I'll be adding that to my list of games really soon. =)

Beni - 12:04 AM

Wednesday, January 08, 2003

Now playing:
Giga Wing 2 (Dreamcast)
Gunbird 2 (Dreamcast)
Xardion (SNES)

Mostly sticking to my usual suspects at the moment. I’m giving Evolution a break for now. If you’ve kept up, you know why. A funny story I mentioned in my other blog made me trip and fall on the other game.

I was on the Shmups message board, reading up, and someone asked a trivia question about Xexyz. For some reason, that popped the name of a game in my head: Xardion. I hadn’t played the game before, but I remember wanting it when I was younger. All I remembered was that you switched between three different robots, and there were shmup-like sequences. I decided the next time I went to GameSpot, I’d keep my eye out for it, even though I had scoured both GameStops that are close to our location and pretty much knew what they had. I hadn’t seen the game for sale.

.Jessica and I were in GameStop, naturally, last night. She found a copy of Life Force for me (awesome ^_^ - been years since I played that one). She kept mentioning certain games as she picked them up, but I just shrugged them off. Other than finding a copy of Demon’s Crest, nothing was making me waver away from trying to find Xardion. I told her, “I’m looking for something specific”. She naturally asked, “What?” So, never taking my eyes or hands away from the stacks of games, I simply said, “Xardion”.

Just then, I lifted three cartridges in my hand to look at the ones beneath, and lo – there was a copy of Xardion down there. I definitely disturbed the mookish employees with my insane stutter-giggle. It was fucking hilarious. I say the name of the game, and viola, there it is. I need to try that again sometime. =) Too bad the game is clunky as hell. I’ll give a full review of the game when I get further into it.

Thanks to a member of the Shmups Shooterforum, I now know how to safely rotate my TV screen so I can play shmups like Gunbird 2 in vertical mode. It’s like playing a whole new game. Any shmup fans out there know how annoying it is to have your games redone in such a truncated fashion when they make it onto the home systems. The Saturn featured many shmups with vertical capabilities, and I just so happen to own a Dreamcast game that lets me play in vertical. =) I’m going to really get serious with Gunbird 2 now, since I’ve been playing it ‘wrong’ for so long now, I have to unlearn everything and get it right, which should be fun. No, seriously. ^_^

Also, I have spent many months playing Giga Wing 2. However, my main goal hasn’t always been to better myself, but also to unlock all the great artwork and extras so I can appreciate the entirety of the game. Now, however, after all this time, the time has come for me to truly get serious with the game and learn to play through with a single continue, then down to a single credit. I have to find the ship that will take me there, and so far it’s a five-way tie. The Neo Stranger, a ship featuring two penetrative laser cannons, has been a staple of mine for a long time. However, I feel like that’s not the ship for me. The Kingfisher was my first ship, of course. First one selectable for the first character would certainly be a good one. The Raijin-Kai is Kart’s other ship, and it’s very unique, firing waves of powerful energy out at the diagonals forward, but weak shots straight on. It has potential in that way. In the same fashion, so does the Widerstand 2, Ralugo’s second ship. Cherry’s second (who’s name escapes me) is very powerful, but it’s probably going to be the first one I mark off the list.

It’s often the less-obvious models that fit me like a glove, and I’ll be working hard to find the right one for the task. Of course, my ultimate goal will be to do it with all the ships, but hey, I have to start somewhere.
Beni - 3:37 PM

Sunday, January 05, 2003

Now Playing:
Evolution: The World of Sacred Device (Dreamcast)
Gunbird 2 (Dreamcast)
Axelay (Super NES)
Super R-Type (Super NES)

Music: Magalena - A Perfect Circle

After much hullabaloo involving publishing (if you've kept up with my personal blog, Grey Eyed Demon, you know this) I am finally able to post to this site again.

Well, I beat Castlevania: Bloodlines several times over now. First, I beat it using John Morris on the Normal difficulty setting, then with Eric Lecarde in Expert mode, and then again with John in Expert mode. Now that I've thoroughly played the game, I can truly give my final impressions. Honestly, it was a lot of fun. Less frustrating than most Castlevania games, but nowhere near as easy as Symphony of the Night. Even on Expert mode, the bosses were really easy. If their patterns weren't so simple, maybe it would have been harder. The final form of Dracula, which usually presents the greatest challenge, turned out to be easier than several bosses from earlier in the game. In fact, I'd go so far as to place most of the sub-bosses on a higher level than the main bosses, including Dracula himself.

His first form is much like it is in every other CV game. He disappears and reappears at ground level, opens his cape and throws out some sort of fireball. You'd think after centuries of being defeated by the Belmonts, he'd realize that the ol' fireball-spewing cape trick just doesn't work on them. Anyhow, it's even easier than normal, as you can whip his head before the fireballs are loosed and they never come out. I saw a few different fireball patterns on the odd occasion that I mistimed the whip, but with how easy it is to avoid them totally, I can't see it being that hard to dodge.

His second form sees him transform into some sort of cloaked figure, casting spells. He floats around the screen, occasionally tossing one fireball from each side of the screen (easily jumpable), and every now and again, raining columns of fire-colored light down on you. However, the columns never appear where he's floating, so you merely have to stand below him 90% of the fight, and jump, whipping upward with John, or simply stabbing upward from the ground with Eric. He's toast in seconds.

His third form is usually big and demonic, and this time is no different, but I actually found the entire fight comical. He has three phases, all three of which feature exaggerated and easily avoidable patterns. He turns into a bowlegged demon about two-and-a-half times your size, whose animations largely consist of jumping and slobbering. In the first phase, he tosses mini-sickles like Death did during your fight with him. All you have to do is DUCK. It doesn't matter where you are on the screen. He throws out four, which explode around you, and all you have to do is duck and the only one that gets close to you will whizz overhead. Then you jump and whip. Repeat until he starts to fly a bit higher. Now you just aim upwards when whipping. His body starts to stretch longways at this point, making him look silly.

About 1/3 of the way through the fight his skin tone turns red and he begins firing waves of flame from his mouth. This consists of a single arch of fireballs swooping down from his mouth and curving upward about mid-screen. Guess how you avoid it? Jump. Whip. He stretches even more. No, he never deviates from this pattern.

Still another 1/3 of the way, he reaches the final phase. His skin turns ashen and he begins to spit up cartloads of bones while jumping around the screen in an erratic pattern. Still, even the mild unpredictability of this phase belies the telegraphic nature of his jumps. He flies high up, and the bones never seem to be aimed at you, rather they aren't aimed at anything at all. You only have to worry about them if you aren't paying much attention, and you could easily win this fight while half asleep. While beating Drac this easily may seem boring, it was sort of a relief coming up on his last form during my treks in Expert mode, where a couple sections of the final level became really tough. Having passed that, you pray you don't get sent back to the beginning of the level to have to do it again.

All in all, despite the easy bosses, it's a good game. It's very unique, and it stands out among CV games for having things in it that aren't in many others. First of all, no other game lets you select from two completely different protagonists right off the bat (other than the Saturn version of Symphony of the Night, which features 3). There's no character quite like Eric Lecarde, wielding a spear and featuring multi-directional stabbing and a pole-vault jump. The game was almost too easy with him, though, as he had many advantages not given to John.

Anyhow, the animations for the monsters are quite different and exaggerated. Even familiar favorite enemies get upgrades. Skull Cannons are big and menacing and Medusa Heads are better animated. The death animations are also very good, whether exploding into flame or shattering into pieces. Almost every enemy has a different death animation, and some of the death animations for the bosses are breathtaking, like the Gear boss from the Munitions Factory level, it's metallic gears clanging and bouncing about postmortem. Very nice 3D simulation for the hardware involved.

Speaking of the graphics, this game has some very gruesome things in it not present in many of the CV games. Bodies are hung by chains and drip blood onto the floor below. Crows pick dismembered corpses apart, then scatter in a flutter of feathers when you approach. After beheading a harpy, the neck constantly spurts blood until you put the bitch out of her misery. Like I said, much more gruesome than usual, and I like it. It adds to the games' atmosphere, which has been cleanly gothic for far too long. With the decay and rot of the castle itself, and the fact that in most of the levels you are not in a familiar location, the added gore of the atmosphere does nothing but continue to illustrate the fact that this isn't the Castlevania of old.

Now, continuing with major differences before moving on to Sound, the levels are much longer than the other level-based CV games, and by contrast, the bosses are much easier. Each one features an easily exploitable pattern. However, even at it's worst, the game is still way too easy. As far as replacing Castlevania 3 in my #3 spot, it probably won't, in retrospect. The game is just too damn easy for that. Yes, I died a lot in Expert mode when traversing the 'broken mirror' room and the upside down room (damn orbs of light!), but I spent about twice that time just getting through a couple of the tougher areas in CV3. I like the longer levels, and I admit it was probably smart to have easier bosses so you didn't have to do the entire, extra-long level over again once you get to the cheap-ass boss. Still, they shouldn't have been as easy as the mini-bosses.

That's another thing that was different. Only 6 levels, but 3 times the number of mini-bosses in ANY Castlevania. In the second level, you fight three in a row! There's more than one in each level, I think. On the last level, you fight three bosses from previous levels, Death, and two forms of Countess Bartley before fighting the actual boss. I consider those to be mini-bosses, so the final level has six mini-bosses. 0_o That's a lot. I like it, but, again, the main bosses shouldn't have been THAT easy. Easier is fine. This was too easy.

The music has always been a very important part of the Castlevania experience. It's no different here, even if the quality isn't quite up to par. Several of the tunes sound similar, and the boss music is uninspired, but other than that it features a nice mix of old-style and it's own unique melodies. Despite the inferior Genesis sound chip (inferior to the SNES and TG16, anyway), the Genny still manages to pump out a few good tunes. It's really hit-and-miss, though, and on the whole I think they could have done more than they did.

The game had it's share of very memorable moments, good backgrounds and interesting effects for it's time. I grinned my way through the game the first time, like I always do. It's a genuinely good CV title, and deserves attention from any true CV fan, if only for it's uniqueness and modification of the original CV formula. Bravo, Konami.

Anyway... I decided to put CV: Bloodlines to the side after nailing Expert mode with both characters and becoming 'master of the vampire killer'. I've played almost to the end of Evolution, and the weaknesses in the title began to show up... not just a little, but they came all at once. The 10 level ruin I had passed previously seemed lengthy, but the tediousness of what was to come... let's just say I was not prepared for it at all. 14-15 levels of the same tired background. I'm getting sleep just thinking about it. I had no new parts to get new specials with, and I discovered that you need less than 1/4 of the ones you're presented with to easily pass most enemies. Note that the enemies are getting tougher to fight, and for the first time in the game I had a few faintings, but I still have yet to actually have the party wiped out. It's unchallenging, and repetitious. I hope the second game is better. Finishing the game seems like it's going to be a chore, now, and that's disappointing because I'm still in love with the characters. The game would be better as a platformer I think, or at least an action RPG. The characters are endearing, and the fact that they're placed in a game that had so much promise, but now seems to be a repetitious chore is a damn shame. After I finish the game, I'll likely never play it again.

I'm also playing the usual suspects of my shmups, including the wonderous Gunbird 2 (and now that I know how to safely rotate my TV, I can play in vertical mode, which is SO much better), and the furious and inspired Giga Wing 2. I tried (again) to get through R-Type, but it's very frustrating for me. Good game, but frustrating. I played my way through Axelay, which remains my favorite shooter. I wish more games had the atmosphere and ingenuity that Axelay presented us with so many years ago.

Anyhow, we'll see what the next couple of days brings, as I now am looking into getting a few import shmups for the Saturn. That's the main reason I had wanted one, since it's considered to be one of the best systems for shmups. If I can get my hands on a Pro Action Replay, I can play imports on the Saturn, and pick up some really nice ones. My first purchase is probably going to be the original Gunbird.

That's all for today.
Beni - 2:10 PM

Wednesday, January 01, 2003

Now Playing:
Castlevania: Bloodlines (Genesis)
Evolution: The World of Sacred Device (Dreamcast)
Mortal Kombat Trilogy (Playstation)
Mortal Kombat Gold (Dreamcast)

Music: Fuckin' Up My Christmas - MC Chris

Welcome to the first edition of Confessions of a Classic Gamer. This, as I mentioned before in my personal blog, Grey Eyed Demon, was supposed to be a nice little chronicle of my retrogaming. Before I get started, I'd like to give you a little background. I'm 24 years old, and therefore well within the Atari era, but most of my gaming was done on the NES (Nintendo Entertainment System). I was totally obsessed with video games, and while the rest of my friends went on to become jocks and assholes, I ended up alienating myself from popularity by reading Nintendo Power every day at school. =) Thank goodness for that!

Because of the loss of my friends, I dove deep into gaming, playing all day, every day. I had beaten over 100 games by age 11. In retrospect, I'm truly amazed I was able to beat such games as Castlevania, MegaMan, Gradius... many games that I still find some challenge in today. Gaming is about adaptabilty. Being able to adapt to ever-rising challenge and overcome your obstacles. If the game is made properly, that is. ^_^ I could go into a rant here about Death, second-to-last boss in Castlevania, but I'll save that for another time.

Anyways, after the NES I moved on to a Turbografx 16 (by NEC), SNES (Super Nintendo Entertainment System), got a Sega Game Gear (portable) and then a Sony Playstation. It wasn't until after I owned a Dreamcast that I had a Genesis, Saturn, or Gameboy. Through some good buys and generous family members, my wife and I now own almost too many systems. =) Yet, we have yet to own a GameCube, Playstation 2, or X-Box. I'll get into the why's of that later on. Anyhow, needless to say, we don't have a shortage of games to play.

Progressing through my systems, I had the same belief that most gamers have, especially nowadays: bigger, better, badder. The newer the system, the cooler the game. The graphics and sound coming from each new system were incredible, and surpassed each passing generation by a large margin. However, as my teenage years passed and I headed into my twenties, I was suddenly unable to play my Playstation. I had fallen in love with a girl on the internet, and I sold my Playstation and most of my games to a friend of mine so that I could continue to fund our communications over the phone and internet. It's a good thing, too. She and I have been living together for several years now, and are quite happy. ^_^

A side effect of this was having to step backward into the Super NES for my gaming. I rediscovered the quaint charm of the 16-bit graphics and the fun of the games I had loved before. I suddenly wished I still had my NES, which was in the possession of my sister. I would later discover that she had left it behind to get sold in a garage sale, and gave all my beloved games to a friend of hers. Oh well... I've replaced almost all of them since then. Anyway, moving on...

Even after I got another Playstation, and an N64 on top of that, something still seemed missing. When the Dreamcast came out, that was what I needed. The Dreamcast offered many great games, a great deal of them with old-school feel. I loved playing the DC, and I still play it nearly every day. It left the public stage prematurely, in my opinion, but then again, I don't own a gaming company, and I'm not a very good representative of the modern gaming community. Anyhow, the death of the DC left me wondering... what next? Must I go buy a PS2? Must I bury myself in new games?

Upon receipt of my third SNES (bought from a friend's step-aunt) I figured out what I wanted. Why not go back instead of forward? Why not go and re-collect the games that I loved in my youth, and discover games I never had the opportunity to play before? It was this, the death of the Dreamcast, that forced my hand. I picked up that SNES controller once again, this time with a glee I hadn't had since screaming at the top of my lungs the day I beat Metroid on my NES. From that point, I considered myself a classic gamer, or retrogamer. Despite the fact that I still plan to buy a GameCube, most of my time, money, and effort goes into playing older games.

Now that the next generation of gamers are being raised in a world without having a Sega system on the market, a whole slew of games are being added into what is considered 'classic'. Most recently, I've gotten back into playing a classic fighting game series, Mortal Kombat, a favorite in my teenage years. I would have never imagined MK as a 'classic' before, but it seems strangely appropriate now.

So here I am. Collectively, my wife and I own a Gameboy, Game Gear, NES, Genesis, SNES, Saturn, Playstation, and Dreamcast. Soon, I will be hunting down a Turbografx 16 so I can once again play hucards (still, in my opinion, the coolest gaming medium), and I imagine by the end of the year, my retrogaming will be at it's peak. My wife, too, enjoys the classics, and I'm glad I can share them with her, and show her games that she's never even heard of, but can get into and enjoy.

For the record, I'd like to list my favorite genres and a few of my favorite games. I love platformers, shooters (especially verticals), and the occasional RPG. My favorite series of all time is Castlevania, but I'm also a big fan of MegaMan. I love shooters like R-Type, Axelay, and more modern (but still old-school) shooters like Strikers and Gunbird 2. Of course I love Mario and Sonic, Zelda and Metroid. My favorite RPGs are in the Dragon Quest (Warrior) series, but I'm also a fan of a few Final Fantasy games (nothing past part VI barring Final Fantasy Tactics), and tactical RPGs like Tactics Ogre and Vandal Hearts. Speaking of Vandal Hearts, which was a Playstation game and not precisely classic, I also like a few modern games and/or series. I'm a big fan of Resident Evil, which is a prime purpose in getting a GameCube, other than the fact that it's the last bastion of old-school values in the next generation of gaming. I could go on, but I'm just giving you a taste of my preferences. As time passes, you'll learn more about what I like (Castlevania!) and don't like (anything Microsoft makes!).

So, that's my introduction. Now that we've been acquainted, I can tell you what I plan to do here. This blog will serve as a hub for my ideas on classic gaming and modern gaming alike. I will review games new and old (mostly old). I will give my thoughts on the state of gaming in mainstream culture, and how sometimes getting what you wish for isn't necessarily good... you know, universal concepts like that. =) Also, as my life changes, so does my gaming and my preferences. This blog will also chronicle those changes, for my own information as much as for poking and prodding by anyone who chooses to read this.

Anyhow, since I'm here, I might as well tell you about what I'm playing now, and why.

Game - Evolution: The World of Sacred Device
System - Sega Dreamcast
Release Year - 1998 (Japan) 1999 (America)

I got a $50 GameStop giftcard from my best friend Jeff for Christmas, which was very nice of him. He knows how much I love that place. It's the only store that still sells NES, SNES, and Genesis games. I went ahead and picked up a couple of titles for the DC while I was there. I haven't played an RPG in a while, most notably I haven't played an RPG that I have never played before recently... does that make sense? Okay, in other words the only RPGs I've played lately are ones that I have played in the past. Evolution was one of the first (and only) RPGs made for the DC. Two parts were made, and I went ahead and bought both on the same day. Obviously, I haven't played part 2 yet, but I'll get to it soon enough.

Evolution is the story of young Mag Launcher, the child of two famous adventurers from the prestigious Launcher Family. In this world, ruins exist where treasures and artifacts from ancient civilizations may be found, but the ruins are ever-changing and dangerous for the unprepared. There exist devices called CyFrames, which were created by this ancient civilization, that are weilded by adventurers lucky enough to have one. Mag is one of these, having been given a CyFrame featuring a giant robotic arm that comes over his right shoulder. One day, Mag's parents left on an adventure (presumably to find the legendary ultimate CyFrame, Evolutia) and never returned. A young girl showed up on Mag's doorstep with a note from his Father. The note told him to make sure that nothing happened to the girl, who's name was Linear Cannon. An adorable girl, Linear was very withdrawn and never spoke. Soon, due to Mag's never-ending supply of energy and enthusiasm, she began to like him, but still she could not speak. She went everywhere he went, even on his adventures into the ruins, and displayed amazing magical powers of healing and preservation. Mag made her smile, and she cared about him a great deal.

Mag is cared for by the Launcher family butler, Gre Nade (yeah, everyone has weapon-based names), who is trying to help Mag pay off the Launcher family debt to the Society, an organization dedicated to the exploration of ancient civilizations. It is from the Society that Mag gets new missions, putting him deep into the ruins to discover lost treasure. The game follows Mag, Linear, and several other characters on their journeys into these ever-changing dungeons.

The game has a simple premise: it's a turn-based RPG that has you spending most of your time in combat in randomly-generated underground lairs. Maybe this is boring to some (one person who didn't like it I met at GameStop before I'd even finished purchasing it), but I'm enjoying it. I'm now in my third ruins, and I'm totally in love with each and every one of the characters. They all have TONS of personality, and Linear is the cutest character EVER. She has totally replaced Sasami as my favorite girl in anime/gaming. I also really like all the other characters as well. Gre Nade, Pepper Box, Chain Gun, and of course, Mag Launcher himself are all very well animated and look almost like they were ripped right out of anime. Their myriad facial expressions and exclamations (in Japanese of course) show that this was very purposeful. The story is progressing very slowly, but that's simply because the emphasis isn't on story, but combat. Combat is fun and well-concieved, and it can be as simple or as deep as you like. It's almost like playing a CCG, where you can use the characters to play off of one another to great effect.

The game is extremely enjoyable, and has the two of the most important things to me in a game: great music and awesome atmosphere. If a game has good atmosphere, I'll usually still enjoy it even if the mechanics of the game bite. Example - Omikron: The Nomad Soul. The music is very old-school inspired and is rousing and enjoyable. It repeats a lot, but I never mind. I'd say I'm about halfway through the game now, and I'm still having a blast. More as I come closer to completion.

Game - Castlevania: Bloodlines
System - Sega Genesis
Release Date - 1994

I just started playing this last night for the first time ever, so bear with me.

First of all, this is one of the only Castlevania games that I've never played. The reason that I never played it is because I never actually owned a Genesis until earlier this month. I had a friend with one in my youth, and so I got to play many, many classics, but still I never got to play this one. It's actually a very good game, with some intense animation and character design.

After overcoming the elation of playing a new Castlevania, I discovered that it's actually a really fun game, but it has it's flaws. Small characters and tinny sound (a big no-no in CV) make it not as impressive as Dracula X (to me anyway), but the neat enemy animations and unique character designs make up for it. Playing as Eric Lecarde, a spear-weilding Spaniard, makes the game very unique. You can also choose to play as John Morris (son of legendary vampire killer Quincy Morris!) if you want something more traditional. What can I say? It's Castlevania. I love it. Time will tell if I like it more than Dracula X or Symphony of the Night, but I doubt it. Not that I dislike it in any way, but I'm simply not as impressed. Still, I like the fact that it takes place at the point of time closest to our modern era out in any CV game (1917), and that you travel the world, rather than simply exploring the castle itself. This makes it stand out from the rest. Nice animation, and a Belmont descendant from Texas. I couldn't ask for more than that!

I'm also playing two Mortal Kombat games. Hey, what can I say, I like violence. ^_^ Seriously, they are fun fighting games, and I've always loved MK. Many a quarter have I plunked into MK1, 2, and 3 machines in the arcades. That's why I like MK Trilogy so much, too. I look forward to playing the new MK, Deadly Alliance, when we finally land a GameCube.

Well, that's it for today. I may put in another update tomorrow. Until then, keep your games close, your favorite games closer.
Beni - 6:15 AM




As gaming sinks further into mainstream mediocrity, I choose to step out of that vile mookish black hole... Going back to a time when we gamed for gaming's sake.