Gaming without your brother

Category Archives: SNES

Remember when I talked about a game-a-thon for charity awhile ago? It was a terrible, meandering post about just losing meaning in my life a little bit (maybe the post wasn’t so much about that, but in hindsight that’s the attitude it was written in). This is about that.

I recently tried to get more involved in the Rooster Teeth community. It has . . . been going okay, still haven’t worked up the courage to game with anyone on the site even though I joined a couple of groups for that specifically. Slowly but surely! The best connection thus far has been a Salt Lake City group. One proactive site user in the Salt Lake area has started a team for Primary Children’s Hospital in Salt Lake City, as a part of Extra Life, and I joined!

The link above explains the details of Extra Life, if you haven’t heard of it before. My donation page is here.

Why donate? Why am I doing this?

A) I feel really strongly that all charities should give 100% of their proceeds to who they’re trying to benefit. Check, Extra Life does that.

B) The Children’s Miracle Network of Hospitals uses all of its money to let patients stay at their facilities cost free. On the list of noble causes, that’s pretty high up there. They deserve some help for that, doncha think?

C) I get to play video games for 24 hours in a really cool locale, Gamerz Funk.

I understand that part of the challenge of getting donations is that it’s for a very specific, local hospital. The factor that I think could transcend geography is that it’s helping kids, right? You might not know a kid in Salt Lake City, but they exist right? Kids that need help. So if you have a couple bucks and want to encourage me to last the full 24 hours, consider clicking the link above and donating towards my modest $200 goal. The SLC team I’m a part of has a $5,000 goal that my $200 will contribute towards.

Thanks, you know I love you all despite my absence in the blog-o-sphere,

Laurie

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I started this draft awhile ago, and originally the title was “I will buy a Wii U for Donkey Kong Tropical Freeze.” I am the ultimate sucker for anything Donkey Kong Country related. Have you guys played Donkey Kong Country Returns? Dat game! So good! I don’t know what the critics ended up saying about it, but it had so much charm and the jammin-est tunes since the original Donkey Kong Country, I don’t know how people have survived without playing it. And yeah, I’m being hyperbolic, but Donkey Kong Coutnry Tropical Freeze looks so good and a beloved video game company is doing so poorly . . . I just want to help somehow.

I’ve always been a Nintendo kid. My pedigree includes the NES, SNES, N64, Gameboy Color, Gameboy Advance, and the Wii. I’m a sucker for all Mario, Donkey Kong, and Zelda-themed games. I’m constantly on the fence about splurging and jumping into the portable Nintendo world again, just for a taste of some more Mario KartZelda, and Super Mario Brothers. My frugality has won out so far, but with all of the headlines Nintendo has been making recently about a deeper and deeper plunge into the red . . . my heart breaks a little as I acknowledge my bank account is desperately incapable of helping even the amount of the price of a new console.

I used to think Nintendo was invincible. Even when the 360 and PS3 started eclipsing the Wii hardware, I thought “No way – Nintendo still has something novel here.” And even when the Playstation came out with the Move I thought “Too little too late, suckers.” When Microsoft came out with the Kinect, I thought, “Whoa. That’s pretty cool . . . but Nintendo will pick it back up shortly, they just need a few months.” Time passed, there were more and more reboots of the same IPs and still Nintendo stood in the shadowy plane of 720p behind it’s competition.

When they announced the Wii U, I thought there were some  cool features (different functionality on the controller screen versus the main monitor, playing from the controller and being able to give up the TV on demand); unfortunately I knew deep down it would be up to developer buy-in to really launch Nintendo’s console over the moon. People were worried about release titles, but I sagely remembered that no consoles have good titles at launch, so who cared? Then, the hardware specs came out. All so disappointing. All so subpar. All so definitely not next-gen. Was Nintendo losing its touch?

Time has shown . . . that perhaps they have. I’m not saying I won’t still buy a Wii U at some point, but a Playstation 3 is definitely higher on my list, as are a lot of games. But where does that leave this title, and my favorite franchises? I don’t know, to be honest. It’s with a heavy heart and a hanging head that I doubtfully look at the Wii U price, and games available for it.

This is all very rambley and I know it. Grief is rambley. And of course this is all a little over-dramatic, a little tongue-in-cheek, but honestly at the end of it, I do feel anxious about Nintendo’s future, and how little they’re motivating me to help. I’m undecided if one classic title will be enough to make me pull out my wallet and jump to their aid.


Two posts in one day? She’s gone mad!

Quite the contrary. I’ve gone focused. And this comes and goes, so who’s to say how long this bout will last but I just applied for a game writer position with a company and I think the mix of it being near my hometown (which I’m quite desperate to get back to) and it being a job listing that didn’t explicitly state that I need five years of game writing experience on AAA titles only has me wanting this one really bad. So bad that I don’t think I’ve ever drafted a more passionate cover letter. It may be over the top, I’m having my personal editor check it out for me (thanks, brother) before I do anything drastic, like submit a first draft, but I figured this raw passion should be remembered somewhere.

I figured the first paragraph had to address some of the specific skills they mention that I believe fall under my particular skill set and previous work experience (like copy writing and editing). Everything after that I thought “what could I write that would make me want to hire me? I would want to see someone who wants this so bad, they’d do anything.” So that’s what I wrote.

___________________________

I imagine your ideal candidate for this position would be someone with extensive experience in the gaming industry. Luckily, I am just that candidate. I landed on Zebes along with Samus when I played the original Metroid on my brother’s Nintendo Entertainment System. I hunted ducks and stomped goombas and got a sword from an old man because it was too dangerous to go alone. As the years progressed, I lost some rings to Dr. Robotnik, picked up some upgrades from Dr. Light, and I even traveled through time with Crono, Marle, and Lucca. I’ve raced karts, memorized the Konami code, assassinated Templars, and I even defeated some zerg.

I have learned from the best video game writers because I have played some of the best video game narratives. Red Dead Redemption, Ocarina of Time, Portal, and the list could go on and on. I took creative writing courses in college and I have read voraciously for as long as I can remember. Given my deep interest and immersion in video games, fiction, and constant writing of my own, I am positive that I can make a powerful contribution to your writing staff.

__________________________

The closing paragraph went on to say that I’m trying to relocate, not just willing to, and that they should call me because I’m the best, etc. etc. I’ve written a few other cover letters like this, where I try to punch it up with humor and video game references to show that I’m a passionate gamer, not just another schlup looking for a job. But this one felt different somehow. I don’t think I was really trying to be funny, I think it was one of the few times I was trying to yell through paper, without caps or bold or italics or underline or exclamation marks. I am a gamer, I am a real gamer, I have played real games, and I unabashedly say that I love them so much. Let me love what I do everyday. Please.

If one of you doesn’t get me a job soon, you’re just gonna keep getting more posts like this. Ha, see how I put this on you now? Suckers.


I’ve heard the name Rayman for ages and never had the dough to give the series a whirl. I had heard Rayman: Origins for the Wii (released in 2011) was the best one yet, and I thought what I saw during Ubisoft’s E3 demonstration looked pretty cool for the next installment in the series. So GOG.com read my mind and put 1-3 on sale this past weekend so I could blow $6 (which if you’re as poor as I am, that should be going towards bills or something lame) and give the series a try out.

Rayman Forever is the title of the first installment, and everything I thought and subsequently write while playing has to be taken with a grain of salt because the game was released in 1995. Instantly I love the adorable protagonist with his floppy hair and handkerchief around his neck. So French. The music throughout is sparse and when it does pop up it’s relaxing and light. Of course, I haven’t gotten that far in it but I did listen to the soundtrack thanks to the bonus material that came with my GOG.com purchase. Additionally, I liked the incremental powers. First I could punch, then I could hang on ledges. I thought it was a smart way to prolong the introductory levels a little bit. Overall, it was fun. Very 1995 gaming, what can I say?

Look at that bad mama jamma with his floppy hair!

Look at that bad mama jamma with his floppy hair!

And if you don’t know what I mean by that . . . think the Aladdin game. Gameplay from the mid-90s is all about jumping across platforms to beat levels, hanging from ledges is a big deal, you can do a few auxiliary moves like throwing things, and the art is very cartoon-y. Personally, I love it, which might just be nostalgia from becoming cognizant of video games for the first time around 1995, but it was also just a great stepping stone to the great animation and 3D build-up we got in the N64 just a few short years later.

But for all of that nostalgia, I did have some beefs with Rayman Forever. We’re given no background to our little Frenchman! I have no idea why he’s punching creatures or why he wears his scarf or why I’m trying to fight my way through this place. Additionally, for all of the great things about gaming in the mid-90s, it was still pretty difficult, like many of the early NES games. I get bounched back when I get hit by something but bouncing me back puts me straight in the water which is insta-death. Not cool, Ubisoft. And 1995 games had their place in 1995. In 2012, I was getting a little bored and was hoping the next installment would be a little more engaging.

Ef everything about those stupid monsters with teeth. EF THEM.

Ef everything about those stupid monsters with teeth. EF THEM.

I had actually decided to wait to buy the other two Rayman games until I had a decision about #1. Skeptical of my own boredom with the game, I read about Rayman 2: The Great Escape’s reception when it was released in 1999. Wikipedia said it won awards and sold millions of copies, so I knew I was at least in for game numero deux (that’s right, I know French). And I was thoroughly delighted with my purchase. The classic N64 block style on the cusp of making graphics actually look good (maybe not quite to the cusp, but . . . approaching it) brought back a flood of memories playing Goldeneye, Super Mario 64, Mario Kart 64, Star Fox 64, and others. I liked the backstory I was given, the puzzles, and the music was still great, albeit a little more prevalent and exciting.

The “voice acting” is a little disconcerting because sometimes I feel like the characters are cursing me under their breath . . . but otherwise, this game is 100% a great purchase. I may never revisit Rayman Forever, but I plan on playing Rayman 2: The Great Escape all the way to the finish. If you want to “start at the beginning” of the series, I’d recommend just starting with #2. However, the one thing that #1 did provide me some backstory on was Rayman “gaining” his powers (which he has to do again in the beginning of #2). I recognized that as a nod to the previous game, and appreciated it.

Look at those hard edges! Nothing quite like the choppy 3D of the N64 to bring back the memories

Look at those hard edges! Nothing quite like the choppy 3D of the N64 to bring back the memories

I did purchase, Hoodlum Havoc and was excited to give it a go last night for a few hours but unfortunately I ran into some technical difficulties. However, I’m really trying to stay on this three-posts-a-week bandwagon, so I figured I’d regale and delight you all with the first two games and my thoughts instead of prolonging the post and waiting for GOG.com support to get back to me. All in all, this was a fun romp in the past to cover some old games that actually weren’t on my list but are considered by many to be classics as well.

Have you guys played any of the Rayman series? Thoughts? Hate ’em? Love ’em? Leave a comment!


As I alluded to in my first post, I’m graduating from college soon, but unfortunately I still have the hurdle of finals week to jump through. I wrote my first post because it was on my mind and I wanted to at least get things going, but I knew that after that the blog would be stagnant for a few weeks while I wrapped up a hellish semester.

My last day of classes was on Wednesday and my first final is on Saturday. The intelligent person would have spent the past two days writing his or her research paper. Unfortunately, I am not the intelligent person.

Yesterday I tried out AirMech which is in alpha testing in the Chrome web browser, so it’s free! I didn’t do my homework, so I’m not sure if Carbon Games plans to keep the game free or not. Anyway, it’s fun enough, but almost exactly like League of Legends except you’re a robot/airplane instead of a mythical creature . . . I’ll probably keep it in my Chrome apps but I doubt I’ll revisit it any time soon. Having said that, I love everything indie, so props to Carbon Games for putting out a good product in a popular niche that people are playing a lot these days.

After I gave AirMech a run through, I tried out the Command & Conquer: Tiberium Alliances browser game (also free and in beta testing right now). I never actually played Command & Conquer back in its hey day so I don’t know how much of this iteration is just the old game put in browser, but for a C&C virgin like myself, so far it’s been fun. Lots of base building, not a whole lot of action so far, but you get to battle other players and join alliances with others as well so I think it has some potential to be entertaining enough.

And then earlier this afternoon I saw a Kotaku headline about Shigeru Miyamoto toying with the idea of making a sequel to A Link to the Past for the 3DS. My nostalgia gland went into overdrive as I thought about how fun that game is to play, and how (you guessed it) I never finished it so it’s on The List! I played it for about 6 hours tonight and got through two castles in the dark world before I realized a) I should write about this and b) I need to sleep.

NOSTALGIA

NOSTALGIA

I think it would be pointless to review this game: everyone should play it, it’s incredibly fun and is just a well-made game with an engaging story. If you don’t play it . . . I almost said something really rude, but I’ll keep that to myself. Just play the game. What I do feel like sharing though are impressions as I delve back into this world.

A) Wow, Twilight Princess was really just a remake, huh? Dark world, light world? I recently heard someone say they hated the Zelda series because everything is pretty much the same, and actually, I had to acquiesce to this person’s point. However, I say if it’s not broke, don’t fix it. Obviously people love the rote gameplay of Zelda (including myself) so more power to Nintendo. The last Zelda series game I played was Twilight Princess so it has been cool to see the origin of a lot of the ins & outs of TwiPri (is that a thing? I don’t want it to be but I’m gonna leave it) in ALttP (that can’t be a thing, but again, I’m just gonna abbreviate).

B) That music! As it all started up again I was loving it! Bobbing my head, chair dancing, making syllabic noises along with the instrumentals! And then I realized every theme is no more than 12 bars repeated, over and over and over . . . Granted that’s true of a lot of videos games now, and particularly a lot of earlier video games. But still, it’s an interesting comparison between music now and then. And who am I kidding, I still love it. NOSTALGIA.

C) I watched my brothers play this so often that I know where everything is even having never beaten it before. It’s fun pretending that I’m really good at video games.

How did people ever find this?

How did people ever find this? Granted, it's kind of random so logic would say "just try to bomb it" but man, the no-crack-in-the-wall bomb spot . . . good thing I remember my brothers blowing it up.

D) You guys, I am really bad at video games. Throughout the quests for the 3 pendants and even all the way up to fighting the wizard in the light world, I was cooking! I don’t think I died once, I was just going to town on all of those baddies. Then I hit the dark world dungeons and I died about a million times. Give or take a few hundred thousand. Seriously, I am bad. I’m confident I’ll get better but man. There was much swearing. And much wishing I could mod armor or something modern gaming-ish like that for Link. Although I gotta say, the Master Sword with full health is always a fun combination.

2nd Crystal Dungeon Boss

This clown took me way too long to even get to, and I feel bad about myself because of it.

E) The modern gaming notion of hording and checking every nook and cranny for potential items is great to apply to older games. I was grass cutting and bush whacking in every frame and got 999 rupees in no time. And then I bought the Zora flippers and spent the rest of my dough increasing my bomb and arrow maximums, and then I got 999 again.

Anyway, that’s all for now. My “official” ALttP post will be up once I finish the game but, in an effort to actually pass my final exams, that may not happen for a week or so. If you have any commentary or questions about Zelda, AirMech, or C&C, leave a comment!