Confessions of a Classic Gamer



Friday, October 17, 2003

Subject: The Roots Run Deep

Now Playing:
Final Fantasy Tactics Advance (GBA)
Kabuki Quantum Fighter (NES)
Arkanoid (NES)
Kirby's Adventure (NES)
Gradius Gaiden (PS1, Import)
Wario Land 4 (GBA)

I suppose there's no denying your roots. I had found solace in the classics back when I started this whole thing, and now I've come full circle.

I got myself a GameCube, and I've bought many games for it, which have been documented here. Over the last few months I've spent a lot of time with the 'Cube, some time with my GBA, and nearly no time with my classic systems. I was having fun with my new games: Animal Crossing, Ultimate Muscle, Mario Golf, Soul Calibur 2, Wrestlemania XIX, etc. What I didn't realize is that pulling out my NES on a whim and popping in Yo! Noid would make me actually put my GameCube away. I mean, right now it's in a drawer. I try not to keep my gaming area too cluttered considering the limited amount of space in our place. The decision to actually put the GameCube away wasn't a hard one, but I was sort of chuckling to myself as I did it.

Don't you think it's somewhat symbolic? Maybe that's reading into it. It's just ironic. It's nothing that I didn't expect, of course. The 'Cube was nothing more than an addition to my collection, not a replacement. Even still, that's primarily what I've been playing, so in a way, I suppose that it did replace my current systems for a while.

It's good to be back. I've finally gotten through most of Kabuki Quantum Fighter now. I was hung up on the third level for a couple of days, but I'm past it now (I wish that game had a password system). Got much further in Kirby. I'm near the end of the game again. I bought Arkanoid and Kung Fu Heroes. I forgot about KFH being one of Culture Brain's first offerings. I dislike it intensely compared to their later releases, but it was a rare find, so I nabbed it. Arkanoid was great, though. I finally bought it because I found a good looking copy. Nearly new, actually. Good stuff.

New game-wise, I actually went out and bought two copies of Final Fantasy Tactics Advance this week. One for Jessica, earlier this week for her Birthday, and one for myself yesterday. "Time to actually buy it", I told myself. Great game so far, but I've already mentioned all of that. It's just nice to have it in my hands. I dedicated a couple of hours on a single day to the emulated version, but I had just wanted to try it out since I couldn't purchase it yet. Now I'm ready to sit down and make progress. Progress on the emulated version would have been pointless since I never planned to do anything with it. Despite the fact that I've used my GBA emulator a couple of times, I still don't see the point in emulating GBA games. Half the point is the portability. To me, an entire computer isn't pocketable.

A cool thing happened at Gamestop the other day. While picking up Arkanoid and Kung Fu Heroes, I met a guy who was probably 17 years old. He was rifling through the SNES section. He saw me carefully picking through the NES games and started asking me questions. They were quite simple, as most of them were about popular games. He was asking my recommendations and seeing 'which one I would buy' and such. It was nice to see someone who grew up with a Playstation going back to see where it all started. For me, it was a matter of returning to my own gaming beginnings, as I've never been a collector of Atari games or Commodore games or anything: the true console roots. For me, it's always been the NES, SNES, Genesis, Turbo, Gameboy, etc. It was nice to meet someone so young who was interested in the classics.

And on that subject: there have been some employee changes over at Gamestop that I've not been happy with. Now I see more WOMEN working there. Not that there's anything wrong with GIRLS working at a Gamestop, but these are women in their 30's and 40's, and if you think I'm being sexist, well, you'd be dead wrong. I'm speaking based on experience. Women that age rarely know anything about games. They have seemingly replaced our very knowledgable red-headed Manager guy with a slow, uneducated blonde woman... for no apparent reason.

First of all, the store is being rearranged in a non-sensical fashion. All of the GBA games (whose section I thought was too small to begin with) are now in a smaller section. All of the GBA accessories are crammed into a little place, items piled in front of completely different items. The PC games are all on a rolling shelf. I'm interested in what they are going to do with the wall that now has nothing on it. Probably more X-Box games. Makes sense, considering the fact that they already have a big section, and both the 'Cube and the PS2 are outselling it. My sarcasm knows no bounds.

Now, I have seen this woman a few times, but now is the first time I've had to deal with her directly. I stand in line with some new GBA cases (had to rifle through the piles of accessories to find it, whereas it was in a perfectly logical place the day before), and there are two people ahead of me. The first person is looking to buy a PS2 game, and the woman takes about five full minutes to find it. She then has trouble processing his check. He leaves after she can't accept his payment. The next guy also wants a PS2 game. She takes about ten minutes to find it. Now, five or ten minutes may not seem like much time on paper, but if you count it up in your head, that's a long time to wait while just standing there watching her scratch her head. I had time to thumb through a couple of anime mags. As I would find out later, though, it wasn't because she hadn't been working there long or anything. It's because she knows jack shit about games and had no idea what she was looking for.

When I finally got up to the counter, I asked for a copy of Final Fantasy Tactics Advance. This game just came out. It's a highly anticipated release that had some serious preorder activity. She's been there for a couple of months, and she's also the Manager. Despite that fact, she had to ask me what system it was for. Then she had to specify that it was for the 'little' Gameboy Advance. It took her over five minutes to find me a copy of a game that filled half a drawer. I actually watched her have it in her hand two times, but waited out of morbid curiosity to see when she would realize that she had it. Finally, I had to say something when she actually pulled it out of the drawer and had it in her hand, but was continuing to look.

They should require people who work at Gaming stores to know what the hell they are doing before they hire them, especially as management. I'm going to have to stop recommending my local Gamestop to people now, out of respect. I'm severely disappointed.

At any rate, here we are. I've come full circle and everything is peachy. I'm back on the boards, and life is good. Let the retrogaming commence, and may it continue forevermore...

Or... just forever.

Beni - 9:43 PM

Thursday, October 16, 2003

Subject: Time To Blow They Minds

Now Playing:
Kabuki Quantum Fighter (NES)
Arkanoid (NES)
Tetris (NES)
Kirby's Adventure (NES)
Yo! Noid (NES)
Mighty Morphin Power Rangers (SNES)
Gradius Gaiden (PS1, Import)
Soukyugurentai (PS1, Import)
Wario Land 4 (GBA)
Advance Wars (GBA)

Now NOT Playing:
WrestleMania XIX (Cube)

Feels good to be back in the saddle. Yeeeeehaw! *whipcrack!*

Big update tomorrow, guys. You have been warned. It's time to blow they minds!
Beni - 10:26 PM

Thursday, October 09, 2003

Subject: Wrestlemania XIX - One Month After

Now Playing:
Wrestlemania XIX (Cube)
Wario Land 4 (GBA)

So... It's been exactly one month since I aquired WMXIX, and I have yet to post my impressions. It's one of those situations where I spent so much time playing it, I simply didn't want to take the time to review it.

Here we have another dilemma. It's hard to review. I could write a ten-page review on it, nice and thorough, but my opinion on it is somewhat biased. Obviously, I'm a wrestling fan, so it comes from that perspective, and I find it hard to adopt another stance. I will, however, go over some general likes and dislikes about the game in order to convey my impressions. This review is very nit-picky, though. Truth be told, I play it every day and I love it, but it's only fair to warn readers of my issues with the game.

First of all, the gameplay is fantastic. The game's control set gives you an almost 'No Mercy' degree of control over your character, though the game is paced faster. I've not played a smoother wrestling game. Even though the number of things you can do is immense, the controls remain simple enough so that almost anyone can pick it up and hang within about 5 minutes of playtime. For the more intricate details of gameplay, a lengthy tutorial is available, and it covers nearly all of the possible moves and situations in the game. Bottom line: the gameplay is superb. I wouldn't change a thing, except I would have liked the ability to perform specials off the top of the HIAC or a Ladder.

CAW is supremely important when it comes to wrestling games, and this system is definetly the most detailed CAW system I've seen yet. The problem I have with it is the fact that certain options that should have been included were mysteriously omitted. First and foremost is the ability to use custom logos on female characters. Obviously this was to prevent horny adolescent youths from creating a nude skin-toned shirt with nipples so that they could have a nekkid lady. Robbing me from being able to use a logo or custom shirt on a female wrestler is stupid, especially for that reason. Second is the inability to use custom logos on short tights. I wanted to make the Val Venis "V" symbol, and was unable to do so.

Speaking of Val Venis, if WWE owns the rights to his theme song, why isn't his theme in the CAW section? All they have are the themes from the wrestlers pre-existing in the game (sans Matt Hardy, The Dudleys, Victoria, Los Guerreros, Rob Van Dam and Kane), plus 6 so-so original songs. What bothers me about this is that they have CAW animations and moves that are obviously meant to be used to make characters that weren't included in the game. They have every right to use characters' themes. They could use Val Venis, Shane McMahon, Kevin Nash, Jeff Hardy (maybe on this one), and many, many others. They could include classic themes, or old versions of other people's themes. I would kill for the DX theme, or X-Pac's theme. No reason in the world why they aren't included. Very much limits what you can do musically. Another musical complaint is the addition of sound effects and intros to songs, with no option to turn them off. In other words, if you want Chris Jericho's theme, you have to include the sound effects in his Y2J Countdown (the ball going through the tube and everything), even if you don't have his titanitron sequence. Same with the Rock and Matt Hardy. Even if I wanted the stupid muzak version of Matt Hardy's theme, I wouldn't use it because every time my character would come down the ramp, it would be to the sound of a clacking keyboard. Very poor choice.

Next is the inability to make a proper looking sumo. I cannot make a character look properly round enough to pass as a super-heavyweight. I can get close, and I'm fairly satisfied, but with all of the other extreme stretching you can do (like grossly oversized or undersized heads, extraordinarily small limbs, etc.), it's bewildering that you can't make Yokozuna without it looking like he went on a major diet.

The next two problems are really big issues with me, and they are issues that are unresolvable and unreconcilable.

Firstly, is the inclusion of a feature that was, in my eyes, to replace the ability to create multiple costumes for your created wrestlers. It's called the "Locker". It allows you to save upper and lower body costumes with names so that you can quickly hop in and change a characters' costume. Brilliant. Instead of No Mercy's four costumes, you could have many, many to choose from. I was very excited, and instantly made 3 different colored costumes for my high-flyer, "The Blaze". To my horror, when I loaded up the costumes to show Jessica what I had done, I discovered that absolutely none of the color settings had been saved. I used a full set of custom colors, and since the costume didn't change, just the color settings (think Rey Mysterio), I had simply saved the same costume three times. It's just as difficult to recreate a custom color as it is to pick a shirt and apply a logo. In other words, they only solved half of the problem, and in my opinion, it's not a very difficult half to solve on your own. This omission of color setting saving made the Locker utterly useless to me.

Finally, my biggest beef not only with the CAW system, but the entire game, is the inclusion of a paltry SIXTEEN create-a-wrestler slots. Yes. You read that right. SIXTEEN. No Mercy, a game made on a cartridge for the N64 nearly four years ago had nearly twice that. I've never seen such a small number of CAW slots, especially not for such an intricate CAW system. There's no excuse for this. The 'Cubes memory cards are very efficient. If you buy the 256 card, it will take a lot of games to fill it up. I have every game I own saved on one card, and I haven't even used up half the memory. Having only 16 slots is just plain empty-headed. If they had included the ability to spend an additional 20 or so blocks on the card to dedicate to an additional 16 slots, then that would have been great. Right now I'd have about 50 Created Wrestlers instead of 16, plus the one CAW that I wrote down the (lengthy) formula for just to take it off the game for more room. Deplorable.

But... I love the game. The match types are great, and despite so many negative reviews on it, I love 'Revenge' mode. I just wish they had included it in addition to a story mode, and not in leiu of one. That having been said, any wrestling fan with a Gamecube should pick this one up. Even with it's flaws, it's still a great wrestling game. Long live the Wrestlemania series.
Beni - 10:58 PM




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.