Category Archives: nintendo

Deluxe Is Not Always Better

I used to play the original Elevator Action all the time. The concept had the player controlling secret agent Otto in a 2D vertical scroller as he went from the roof of a building dozens of floors down to escape from the basement in a cool car. Along the way you used elevators and escalators to descend while finding secret plans behind doors, jumping and shooting enemy spies. It was fairly simple but I loved it, and I was good at it. I could play for hours on just a few quarters, and always got through more than a few buildings.

I think there’s an NES version of this but I recall it was just not the same. There just certain tricks to the arcade game that just didn’t carry over. This seems to be by far the case with the PS3 version, called Elevator Action Deluxe. The deluxe in the title refers to better I guess, or at least it seems that’s what the creators want you to think. I think not. If PS3 made the old arcade game, just the way it was, I would be happy as a cat in a tuna factory, but that wasn’t the case.

In this case, the deluxe meant 3D rather than 2D, giving the game a whole new, and not necessarily better look. They also added in bombs and bigger guns, but when you can’t ride on top of the elevators and do other such tricks, what’s the point? This version is still fun to play, easy to beat, but if I’m being honest, I’d rather play the original. Anyone know where they still have an arcade machine of this one?

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The Demo, Not the Movie II

Continuing my quest to play videogames based on movies and not get disappointed, I decided to give Back to the Future – Episode 1: It’s About Time a shot. Firstly I was put off by the ugly cartoony graphics and even moreso by the punny title, but let’s put that aside.

I did like the music from the movies, and the voicework, all originals I think, in the opening cinematic. Or is it just the opening cinematic? This is actually a whole lot like watching a movie with choose-your-own-adventure capability. It gets old pretty quick – especially when you don’t know the right answers or choices. It’s a lot like being an actor in a movie where you didn’t get the script, and nobody else is prompting you.

Unfortunately, or maybe fortunately, I only have the demo so I didn’t get to play much, but I don’t see it changing later on. Good mystery, good plot, I like the music and voicework quite a bit, but all in all, a bust.

Finally, Ghostbusters: Sanctum of Slime gets the prize for being the loudest and most annoying game of all, and that’s even before one hits the start button. As I scroll through all my downloaded games, bits of music and backgrounds from the games come up as I pass the titles. Every time I pass by this one, the refrain to Ray Parker Jr.’s “Ghostbusters” screams out of the television, making anyone not prepared or warned jump out of their seats. This game almost made it onto The Rejected list just for this several times.

Thankfully the music in the actual game is of a lower volume. The Ghostbusters portrayed in the game are not the ones we know from the movie or the cartoon series, although they are outfitted in the same way. The opening depicts these new anime-like Ghostbusters in a comic booky intro before actual gameplay begins. Gameplay is pretty lame however in my opinion. The characters are small and distant, similar to Voltron reviewed earlier, or the first versions of X-Men and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles for the NES. Not good.

Taking Inventory

With the addition of the PlayStation 2, I felt it was time to take inventory of exactly how far down the rabbit hole The Non-Gamer has fallen since this started. The first problems were that Ray also gave me PS2 games with the PS2, then I bought a few myself. Damn you, GameStop, for liquidating your PS2 games at buy-two-get-one-free.

Of course I started this blog after the purchase of a PS3. So far we haven’t purchased many PS3 games actually. I got one of the Ultimate Alliances because I really wanted to play it. I bought DC Universe Online as soon as I learned it was going to be free to play. The Bride bought Disney Universe and Sing It, and then there are all those games Ray lent us. There have been a few other games, but for the most part we have been downloading them.

The PlayStation Network provides an amazing, ever-changing selection of demos and trial versions of games. At last count, we had over eighty games in our system, including at least a dozen we have purchased. Pain is one of my favorites to this day. Whenever I open the PlayStation Network, I will end up playing it for at least a little while, good for a bit of stress relief.

Now even though I call myself The Non-Gamer, and this blog started with the purchase of the PlayStation 3, I do own other game systems. As I’ve mentioned I bought an Atari 2600 back in the 1980s. We have almost two of the old Atari game shelves full of the little cartridges

Once we got married, one of the big deal buys we made was an old Nintendo Entertainment System along with all the bells and whistles, not to mention about thirty different games. While I love stuff like the Mario games, there is always the problem of “turn waiting.”

We also have a Super Nintendo as well, but only two games for that, Justice League Task Force and Super Godzilla. Yeah, it was a Christmas gift, and was feeding two of my peculiar obsessions. It did not get much play as no instructions came with the game system, or either of the two games.

I haven’t even thought of the dozens of games on iPhone if they count.

Wow, I guess I’m not much of a Non-Gamer after all. Now, can someone please tell me how to turn off the PlayStation 2?

So Who’s This Zelda Chick Anyway?

Nothing hits home with the admission that I am a non-gamer more than when I am confronted with stuff I don’t know, and worse yet, stuff I know I should know. Like Zelda.

The Dark Crystal recently invited me to a big orchestra event where they would be playing the music from the Legend of Zelda videogames. The inference in the invitation is first, that this was a big thing, and second, that everyone knows who Zelda is. I do not, and I felt stupid.

Even my buddy Ray had recently given me a hard time because I admitted not knowing who Zelda was. Apparently he was further incensed because it was a game even I could play. Ray was ashamed of me. I was crushed. Who was this Zelda chick, and why was she ruining my life?

I did what everyone does in this situation, I visited Google, and then Google for dummies (that’s me apparently in this case), Wikipedia. Turns out she’s not just anyone named Zelda, bitch is legend, as in The Legend of Zelda. I knew she was a Nintendo product, but I had no idea she was the star of some sixteen different games on at least a dozen different game systems. Zelda gets around.

Now here are the facts. Zelda was named after the famous Zelda Fitzgerald, wife of the even more famous F. Scott. Game designer Shigeru Miyamoto thought it was a pleasant sounding name for a princess. The game itself is based on the designer’s own experiences as a boy where he explored the hills, lakes, forests, and caves around his home.

As inferred by Crystal’s invitation to a concert, the music of The Legend of Zelda is also quite famous and distinctive. Koji Kondo, a legend in music and audio for Nintendo composed the soundtracks for much of the game series, including musical clues and cues throughout. His work can also be found in the Mario and Starfox games.

The story of the game is fairly simple, or at least I’ll dumb it down quite a bit here. You play the hero Link, and you have to quest for stuff in the land of Hyrule to rescue the princess, Zelda. Like I said, I streamlined this baby. It gets more complicated the more you get into it. Link is sorta a cross between Peter Pan and the elf from Gauntlet in appearance, and has been parodied on Cartoon Network’s “Drawn Together.” Hyrule is your typical fantasy land, and Zelda, is usually the damsel in distress, only there to be saved or served. Later versions of course are playable, and more independent.

Well now that I have a little foreknowledge, and won’t be made to feel as stupid as before, maybe I’ll play one of these games in the future…

More Sonic

Well, it’s time for more Sonic. No, not that Sonic, with their great shakes, burgers, fries, and onion rings, but that danged hedgehog again. When we last talked about the furry blue menace, I tried to play Sonic the Hedgehog CD and Sonic Generations. This time, I’m going to give Sonic the Hedgehog 4 a shot, or at least just Episode I as this game demo is subtitled.

First a few words about Sonic, as I had questions last time around myself. The hedgehog was created in 1991 by Sega in hopes of designing a mascot for their games much the same as Mario was for Nintendo. Now the similarity in the games makes a little more sense, as Sonic was in essence, Sega’s Mario. He began as more round, spiky and hedgehog-like then became more humanoid and streamlined as time went on, but has always been a super-speed rolling dynamo. Sonic has starred in more than two dozen games, in multiple comic books, and in animated series where an entire mythology exists for the character. He’s bigger than I ever would have thought.

Now let’s go on to the game. Last time, I was on Green Hill, this time I started on Splash Hill, and whatever that means, I don’t know, sorry. Sonic, it should be noted, is a very impatient hedgehog. If you don’t start right away, he’ll tap his foot, look at his watch, and eventually lie down, looking annoyed the whole time. Hey, my game, my pace, bucko. But then again, maybe he’s tired of that music too. More annoyingly, he’ll do it if you stop during a game too.

This version of the game (4) is a bit more upfront and easy to understand. As a matter of fact, this resembled the first Sonic game I played almost as much as it did Super Mario Bros. There was one difference I noticed, and again, perhaps that was the Non-Gamer playing it wrong, but Sonic seemed to be led by circumstance and situation more than Mario. It’s been a little while since I played any of the SMB games, but it always felt like I had more free will than in this Sonic game.

These Sonic games were fun for a bit, but I think I’ll leave them to my nephew from now on. Enjoy, kid!

Lions, and Robots, and Anime, Oh My!

I don’t get Voltron. I mean I get it, I understand it, but I don’t get it. It holds no nostalgic value for me. It came out some time after I traded cartoons for girls, you know, waaay back in college.

For those of you in my situation, I’ll refresh your memories. “Voltron: Defender of the Universe” was an animated series in the early 1980s that was edited together with segments from two earlier Japanese animes called “Beast King GoLion” and “Armored Fleet Dairugger XV.” It was done in much the same way “Power Rangers” was put together, only not live-action. In the American compilation, the Voltron Force are five individual who fight the forces of evil in five different colored robot lions, that can combine into one giant robot and fight the bigger badder menaces they can’t on their own. It was a huge hit here in the States for boys and girls.

As I said, it was past my time, much like G.I. Joe or Transformers. Still, I like giant robots, and especially monsters, when I saw that a game called Voltron: Defender of the Universe was available for free download from the PlayStation Store, I thought, why not?

The game starts with a whole lot of animation, old animation, which makes me think it’s probably from the original American TV series. There’s a bunch of it, so much of it, that you expect that to be what the game is like, but no, that’s not the case at all.

Had the game had a Japanese anime feel to it, it might have been a bit juvenile, but it would have worked. The game however is nothing like that. It’s like a crisp high definition version of what the old 8-bit and 16-bit video games for Atari and Nintendo used to look like. If you were told that blue and red pixilated blur was supposed to be Superman, you just nodded and blindly accepted that.

This stolen-from-the-web pic is 100% clearer than what I saw in the game…

It’s like that here. After about five to ten minutes of running my black segmented blob of shiny metal through bad obstacles and having it gobble up good obstacles, it occurred to me that might supposed to be the Black Lion. Yeah, it’s like that. What I was able to see of the game was pretty, indistinguishable, and pretty primitive. I gave up out of boredom, not frustration. If there are giant robots or monsters, I wouldn’t know. I didn’t get that far.

If you got a hankering for Voltron, get over to Netflix, not to your PlayStation, just my opinion.

Infamously Better

One of the reasons I have never been much of a gamer, and the PS3 with its aversion to multiple player games is a big culprit, because I dislike the ‘turn wait.’ That is to say, I don’t like waiting for my turn at a game when the other player is infinitely better at it than me. This reared its ugly head back in the Nintendo days when The Bride and I used to play Super Mario Bros., and her turn would last for hours. It was also the reason I preferred Dr. Mario as we could both play that at the same time.

The night I talked about a while ago when Jeff and Crystal came over and played the demos, they just didn’t whup my butt at Zombie Apocalypse and Nucleus, they also tried their hands at Watchmen and my favorite, Infamous. I was not disappointed by the long long looong turn wait.

In Watchmen, I had gotten past the wonderful Dave Gibbons motion comic animated art from the original Watchmen comics that form the introduction, but had barely moved anywhere in the prison break. I did find it annoying that whoever you picked to play – Rorschach or Nite Owl II – the other would just stand there doing nothing. Not realistic. Jeff and Crystal ripped through the prison break like they were the real characters.

Then they moved on to the Infamous demo. I had never gotten past zapping folks and cars with electrical powers, and riding to the first station atop the train. For those who don’t know, that’s really not far. Fun, but not far. That keen mutant skill, of both Jeff, and Crystal, derived from years of gaming experience, kicked in and soon they were sailing far ahead in the game and fighting bad guys that I had never even glimpsed in my hours (yes, hours) of playing this game.

The Bride who had watched me play the same two or three scenes from Infamous multiple times, was treated to almost an entirely new movie never seen before. The turn wait was starting to get to her as well, so then they moved on to Little BIG Planet 2. Three people can play that at once.

This turn wait was much longer. I went to bed. When I got up in the morning, I swore I was gonna practice. Years of experience can’t be that hard…

First Contact, First Blood, Lego Batman

The night the PS3 came into our lives, we had folks over. Friends Ray, Jeff and Crystal were there for the installation and helped with all the technical stuff. They also went to the store to pick up accessories, as well as a game or two and maybe a Blu-Ray to test out the system. They knew I wasn’t thrilled with the purchase, so stealthy steps were taken to soothe me.

First they, and The Bride, got a Blu-Ray, our first Blu-Ray, Megamind, a film that I actually liked. Those of you who know me, know that’s hard to find. We watched, I was amazed by the crisp, clean, clarity of the picture, and was somewhat soothed. This was close to what I wanted (a Blu-Ray player or a Roku), after all.

The second purchase was a game, one that preyed upon two of my favorite things – comics and Legos. It was Lego Batman The Videogame. We’ve talked about me and comics before, but Legos I have always been fascinated by. It was a toy I never had when I was a kid and was always so jealous when I saw the other kids with them, so as an adult, I became a collector of sorts. Nothing hardcore, like with comics, but I have a couple building sets, and of course all the Lego (and Lego knock-off) versions of my favorite superheroes. Sigh, it worked. Sure, what the hell, let’s play this.

I love the animated Lego commercials and OnDemand has something called The Lego Channel where you can see animated shorts featuring Lego versions of Indiana Jones, Star Wars, and yes, Batman. These are just darn good fun. The introduction to this game is similar to that, and quite enjoyable. The game itself is also like that, but let’s face it, once you’re playing – you can only do cool things if you know how to do cool things.

Like the bits on the Lego Channel, there is no dialogue so that anyone from any culture can understand what’s going on. The problem is, with no English, it also makes it hard on nimrods like me to play it properly. Yes, I do know about the online instruction manuals on the PlayStation Network – and once I figure out how to navigate that, I’m sure that’s a useful suggestion. And I sure hope you like the Danny Elfman theme music from the Tim Burton Batman movies or you’ll have to play this one on mute.

The game itself is kinda hard once it starts. I don’t know what the hell I’m doing. Why? Controllers. I think this will be a recurring theme of this blog, I just can’t get my head around the controllers. I am quite honestly better acquainted with Atari joysticks, and maybe a little less so with NES controllers. To me, the PS3 controller is like giving an MP3 player to a caveman. I can push buttons, but I have little idea what they do. So I just push all the buttons and move the levers every which way and hope for the best.

I love the mime personalities of all the Bat-baddies, especially Clayface. It’s a hoot, until you’re actually in play. I was able to play a two-player game with The Bride that first night while Crystal was there to walk us through everything and tell us what buttons to push when. Hey, we actually got through the first level.

I have to admit though, I had more fun using my Batman to beat on The Bride’s Robin. Yeah, that’s pretty cool being able to fight other players. And when you ‘kill’ them (as much as there’s a kill in Lego Batman) they just fall apart into their component Lego pieces. That always breaks me up, pun intended. When I play by myself days later, I get nowhere near as far as I did that first night, but I loved busting up Robin, over and over and over again. Too much fun.

There is hope, of course, that I will eventually learn to play correctly. As soon as I figure out how to get this disc out of the damned machine…

The Non-Gamer

The non-gamer – that’s me. I’m old, horribly horribly old, almost fifty. Gosh, it hurts to even type that. Like I said, I’m old, and I’m not a gamer, at least not by today’s standards. So if I’m not a gamer, why am I writing this blog? Good question.

My background in videogames is being around for the birth of Atari, specifically Pong. Yeah, you remember Pong, and if you don’t, you probably saw pictures of it painted in animal blood on cave walls. Pong was the first of the Atari 2600 videogames, and the shot heard round the world that triggered an electronic revolution in the world of games and hobbies.

Pong was followed by fun stuff like Space Invaders and later personal favorites Starmaster, Adventure, and Yar’s Revenge and even Donkey Kong. That last one was a keeper. It triggered the jump to the next generation of videogame, and also the point where I got lost. I had an Atari 2600, but I didn’t get a Nintendo system until 1998, way beyond when it was cool or even cutting edge – and even then it wasn’t my idea to get the system. I was dragged kicking and screaming into the videogame age.

A Super Nintendo system followed later, but only so I could play geek favorites of mine – Justice League Task Force and Super Godzilla, notably the only two games ever purchased for the system. Up until a few weeks ago, that was as cutting edge as I got. Then the PS3 came into the house.

This was a surprise, but apparently something The Bride had been thinking about for a while. I had initially asked for a Roku or a Blu-Ray player for Christmas but Santa was not accommodating. The Bride thought a PS3 would service both functions and have games so she got one. And here we are.

There’s an old joke that the only thing that separates a full-time freelance writer from an unemployed bum is a videogame system. To keep that balance from claiming me, I’m starting this blog, recording my impressions as a decisive non-gamer into the gaming world of PlayStation. I’ll try not to be too stupid or naïve, and maybe we’ll all learn something. Welcome to my nightmare.