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A minute for Space Station: Silicon Valley

In my post about being cold, and cold games, Falling-Starflower brought up the forgotten N64 classic Space Station: Silicon Valley. Not a snow covered game throughout, but as Falling-Starflower mentioned, there were some memorable arctic moments in the game. Besides, how often do I get to talk about SILICON VALLEY FOR THE NINTENDO 64!?

I remember seeing previews of this game in Nintendo Power and EGM I believe (Wish my old gaming magazines weren’t packed away, or else I would just look), and just reading about a game that was so unrealistically ambitious. Even my seventh grade mind was feeling a bit skeptical, but much like Peter Molyneux fans might feel today, the ideas the game designers had for Silicon Valley were just way too damn awesome to question.

Those high minded developers were the folks of DMA Design, creators of Lemmings and another intriguing N64 game, Body Harvest. They are better known today as Rockstar North and have been working on some little game series called Grand Theft something or other ever since.

Long story short. By my measure, a very fun game, and definitely another forgotten N64 cult classic. Too bad the ambitious ideals of the programmers led to a bit too much hype at the time it was released. All the parts are there for a sequel/remake though, just saying.

Crossing the X’s and Dotting the Y’s part three: Shiny Pokemon

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Recently I have been on the hunt for some shiny Pokemon.

It’s bullshit.

There is no other way to put it.

This hunt has continued since I returned to the land of Pokemon back in the DPP (Diamond, Pearl, Platinum for the uninitiated) days. Never ran across any shinies in the hundreds of hours on that game. Same goes for White 1. Hundreds of hours, never saw a shiny anything anywhere. Now I have gone so far as to hit 999:59 hours on White Version 2 and still nothing!

So I am working the “Masuda Method” and even got the shiny charm, but my odds are still piddlingly low and after a few days of egg hatching, still nothing. The repetitive but worthwhile nature of Pokemon has become bleak and never ending, and still repetitive.

I get the idea, shiny Pokemon are rare, but this is really a bit much. I put my hours in dammit, and I want my shiny Magnemite!

On a slightly related note, I wish Pokemon names allowed for much more characters, so that shiny magnemite could one day be known as “Bite My Shiny Metal Ass”

A minute for a cutscene from Tales of Phantasia

gabi-hime said: Yeah, I can think of games with important snow landscapes and plot events, but not a lot of games that are just snow and winter all the time.

There are likely a few memorable scenes like that in all the games I have played, but one comes readily to mind. A small moment in between saving the world in Tales of Phantasia. While resting up in a northern, snow covered inn, instead of just immediately resting for the night, then scene change to waking up, an entire cut scene takes place.

I was lucky enough to find the scene from the GBA version (I originally played the fan translated SNES version, but a hard drive crash kept me from finishing the game. I eventually did get the chance to finish the re-released GBA version).

It’s not the greatest scene ever, but damn good for SNES era, and came at a pretty hefty time in the game when you are questing so fast and so hard that you sort of forget what it is all for and how it all got started. 

Crossing the X’s and Dotting the Y’s part two

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So this Pokemon thing is pretty crazy right? I want to expand on the idea of TOO MANY POKEMON! 

I argue that there are not nearly enough Pokemon! The issue is how incredibly difficult it is to get so many of them now. I have never seen such fervor for people to go back and play all the previous games they didn’t originally play. 

“Man, this game is good, but I want to go back and play a previous, more cumbersome version of this game just to catch one Pokemon character out of a possible one hundred/two hundred/six hundred possible Pokemon.”

If the goal is to collect them all, that is a noble goal, but even with a network of pokemaniac friends it can still be nearly impossible to catch many of them, or even see all of them.

As someone who has recently “caught them all” (in Pokemon White Version 2 for the Nintendo DS) I can say that finding them all was beyond ridiculous. Even now I don’t still have them caught, because my friends wanted them back. I guess it is more reasonable to say I have “held them all, for a small, non consecutive amount of time.”

Basically, I want to own my own Moltres again! This shouldn’t be such an unfair request. SIGH.

So in conclusion, make as many Pokemon as your GAME FREAK heart desires, just LET ME CATCH AND TRAIN THEM TO FIGHT ALSO!

Something I haven’t seen anyone asking about Nintendo

That thing is release schedules. Specifically, no one has been talking about how Nintendo will keep up with releases on two systems that require so much energy to develop for. Perhaps we are feeling it already as the Wii wimpers and the 3DS slowly ascends to prominence.

Once games began to come out for the 3DS there has been a very noticeable lack of first party games on the Wii. Though the beginning and end of hardware cycles are hard to quantify, it will be interesting to see how Nintendo handles so many expectations to deliver Nintendo quality content across two large scale platforms (the Wii U and the 3DS) with heavy development time and costs.

What I want to discuss is basically the ideas surrounding these questions.

  • Can Nintendo create great experiences across two platforms that require such a large amount of resources to develop for?
  • If so, how will they do it?

Totally called it! Microsoft renews Killer Instinct trademark

I published “Most Wanted Game Reboots: Killer Instinct” on August 8th, 2012.

Microsoft had their trademark for Killer Instinct renewed on September 17th, 2012.

Coincidence? Not even a little.

A minute for Puyo Pop Fever / Puyo Puyo Fever

I am working on another article, a bit related to Puyo, but before that I have to pay tribute to Puyo Pop Fever specifically. It came out on the DS very early on in the portables lifespan. It was definitely one of my most played games throughout the DS lifespan (I even played it on my 3DS a few times). I even imported Puyo Puyo Fever 2, and 15th Anniversary.

Among other things, like the game being great, this game felt like the final refuge of the colorful, over the top dreamcast era of game design from Sega.

Soon after this game was released, Sega would go on to have humans kissing hedgehogs and all hell breaking loose on Earth. I think that is what happened.

A minute for Theatrhythm: Final Fantasy

Well, a minute to write about it at least. In many hours with the game, I have earned 40K of Rhythmia, got six characters maxed out at level 99, and just listened to who knows how many Final Fantasy songs (especially Somnus). The game is definitely amazing.

Beyond that though, it has reminded me that, hey! I know I haven’t played an entry since FFIX, but wow, I used to really love Final Fantasy!

Not even a year ago I was sick and tired of hearing FF remixes, orchestrations, arrangements, or OSTs or anything. It felt so overdone. It must have been my general weariness with Final Fantasy itself that seeped into my disdain for the music. Either way, I have now listened to a ton of FF music, and am pining for the good old days when I truly, wholeheartedly anticipated a new Final Fantasy title.

Theatrhythm has perfectly captured me in a fit of nostalgia, and I want more. Theatrhythm: Chrono Trigger? A specific title like Theatrhythm: FFVII? THEATRHYTHM: MARIO RPG!?!? Or, how about forget the nostalgia, and make a completely brand new RPG based on the mechanics of Theatrhythm?

I’m not sure what Square-Enix should do next, now that they have re-entangled me in Final Fantasy, RPGs, and amazing RPG soundtracks once again, but my mind is now boiling over with ideas…

Robotube’s Jason Cirillo creates ‘Space Invasion’ for Petit Computer

Got Petit Computer on your DSi/3DS? Grab a remake/tribute to Space Invaders via this long list of QR codes!

PokeRehabCenter

After four days, these are the first words I am typing (not really, I had to edit them, but it was true in the rough draft). I tend to write far more often then never, as you might imagine. So why did production come to a stop? Pokemon of course! It’s always the Pokemon (except when it’s SimCity or Rune Factory or Advance Wars or…). It has all been so dark the past few days. I am writing this now, as if I woke up from a drug binge, or am recovering from some debilitating illness. For several days the most important thoughts in my mind sounded something like, “Do I really need another dragon type on my team? Maybe one that could learn a fighting attack. Although if I can bring in a dual type fighting/lightning, then I can switch out my Eelektross for my Gallade and have two fighting types. Are there any fighting/lightning types? Better do some research…”

I remember last playing Pokemon White months ago when it had first been released. I defeated the Elite Four, saved all the Pokemon from Team Plasma, and then some. I didn’t accomplish everything though. A Pokemon Trainer’s work is never done. I moved on to fresher gaming pastures relatively soon after defeating Pokemon White, and was free from it’s spell. At least, until a few days ago.

It all began when I was feeling particularly ill one morning. Too sick to climb out of bed and hop on the computer. Too withered away to even stare at the television. I slowly rolled over, and in the darkness I could see the dim blue power light of my trusty DS by my bedside. I reached out for it, and suddenly the bright glow and rocking bicycle music of Pokemon White lit up the room. I lied in bed and began playing. It took a moment to get a grip on where I was in the Unova region, and what I had yet to accomplish. Suddenly the original time with the game began to flood back in. I was raising a new team. I had eggs to hatch. I had battles to fight. I had to buy some revival herbs. I had to play Pokemon. In an instant I had become entangled in the six hundred and forty-nine tentacles of the latest Pokemon game.

The Unova Region

I have tried to ‘catch them all’ on several non consecutive occasions. Each time I placed a Pokemon cartridge into the current portable Nintendo system that is currently on the market, I have been consumed by it. There was the classic red, and many a tale can be told of that, then there was my return to a world long forgotten when I bought Pokemon Diamond. This journey into the land of Unova marks the third time I have devolved into a blathering PokeManiac.

Friends were abandoned, responsibilities shirked, and thoughts of non Pokemon related events dropped to an all time low. Any responsibility that couldn’t be avoided, was done methodically, and in a way to incorporate the most repetitious aspects of Pokemon. Chores like laundry and eating became tests in multitasking. Tests I often failed as my food often went cold and/or uneaten. Although, I’ll mention that my shirts came out as colorful as ever, in case you were worried about the laundry.

My mind easily made the transition back into the daily routine of things. I hit up Amanita on her PC and grabbed the Pokemon I wanted. I stopped by all the daily events, read the animated sign between routes to search for Pokemon, and fumbled my way through a handful of battles. With my reintroduction to the games mechanics now over, it was time to be the very best.

Like being the best at many other things, it all began with some research. I pulled up Bulbapedia by typing the name of a random Pokemon into Google. Soon my browser was bursting at the seams with tabs of innumerable varieties of Pokemon, along with move descriptions, abilities, and a few random maps of Unova. My Pokemon fueled Euphoria left little time for anything else. Days were spent searching for the perfect group of fighters, though I didn’t EV train them, because that is a load of BS. My days were divided between reading, training, battling, hatching, raising, and outfitting a ragtag team of fighters culled over generations of Pokemon games. As epic as that all sounds, it actually comes down to pressing the same sequence of buttons repeatedly for a few hours. There is nothing quite like the thrill of holding the up button for ten seconds, followed by pushing the down button for another ten seconds.

Here is me pressing the 'down' button.

When a game requires a heavy dose of repetition, and then I do what is required, over and over, I forget whether I am actually enjoying the game or not. I am still playing it, sure. I can’t stop playing it. Am I enjoying playing it though? It’s difficult to quantify, to say the least. There are enormous lulls in the action that can be a chore, but at the same time, destroying someone with a team of Pokemon you raised yourself is definitely gratifying. Of course, you do lose sometimes, and that isn’t fun either.

A weeks worth of writing was lost to these pocket monsters. Not to mention hours of playing Driver: San Francisco, and Kirby’s Mass Attack, two articles I should have presented you fine readers with some time ago. Even at work I was pulling up the PokeDroid app on my phone and imagining other great teams I could build after the one I was currently raising. All the while in the back of my head, I was well assured that putting this much effort into the game is a complete waste of time and resources. Despite such notions, I continued to flip open my DS at every opportunity and grind my way to the top. Through the years I have learned that my mind can focus in on one subject or game with an unquenchable obsession. It’s nice when that obsession is the intricacies of medical science, but not so much when it is the variability of stats in imaginary creatures who are born with different natural moods and abilities.

Unlike other addictive games like Animal Crossing or Harvest Moon, there is a real passion that comes with Pokemon. It’s something I can feel proud of, not like how many fish I’ve caught, or how many tomatoes I’ve planted (although I am proud of that stuff too). Simply put, a desire to be the greatest. To be a Pokemon Master. The slogan is “Gotta catch ’em all!” not “Gotta catch most of ’em!” A nerd lives and dies by the Pokemon team he raises. I didn’t hide a Gameboy in my backpack, and risk having it confiscated by a teacher while I battled opponents during lunch just to send out a level 28 Exeggcute. Unacceptable. A team consisted of six Pokemon, always including the one I started the game with (I always go with Grass starter, if you must know). These Pokemon would go on to be a well rounded and unstoppable force I captured, trained, and traveled alongside, and nothing could stop us. Not Team Rocket, nor the Elite Four, or even the most powerful Pokemon in Kanto. I’m not sure if these feelings I have stem from a healthy viewing of the anime alongside the original games, or just my own brain filling in the blanks of another sporadic storyline. What I do know is that in 1996, Satoshi Tajiri and his company Game Freak, alongside Nintendo, combined to release a powerful combination of collecting, trading, and battling that has yet to stop being compelling fifteen years and several portable game systems later. Not even in pinball or toy form.

Luckily (at least in this case), the force of my obsession is tempered by the finding of new things to feel passionately about. So I have since pulled myself from the intoxicating beast that is the Pokemon franchise. At least long enough to write this article. The Pokemon team I trained still remains between the levels of sixty and ninety. There are many an unhatched egg sitting in Amanita’s PC. Not to mention, my Pokedex is far from full, even the regional one has some gaps in it. It may stay that way for a while, but likely not forever. The siren song of Pokemon is always singing seductively in my ear. Hopefully I can maintain my sanity long enough to fight through the deluge of releases over the winter months. Though, depending on the level of content in Pokemon Rumble Blast (which releases October 24th for the 3DS), I may find myself once again enamored by the hundreds of beasts that we call Pokemon. I hope I can get a few more articles written before then.