So now that I have a smart tv packed full of emulators, it seems that I’m going to be playing a lot more classic games again. I won’t be able to take proper videos of the action like I could on the old PC, but eh, whatever. I’ll just have to talk your heads off in this horribly-named new feature instead.

One of the nice things about emulators is that you can play rare translated foreign games or odd little hacks like the Ninja Gaiden 3 easy mode hack version. Most people who played NES back in the day will tell you good things about Ninja Gaiden 1 and 2, but no one will ever say “boy that Ninja Gaiden 3 sure was great!” though. Arguably the biggest reason behind this was the bizarre spike in difficulty in what was already a near-obscenely difficult series. The levels and enemies were even tougher than before, but even worse was the fact that Tecmo had now slapped a 5 continue limit on you, making the game virtually impossible to finish legitimately. This hacked version tones things down a bit and does away with the continue limit, but make no mistake, it’s still an incredibly difficult game.

Unfortunately, even with the difficulty issues removed, it’s just an inferior game to its predecessors all around. The story is goofy nonsense about mutant clones and inter-dimensional invaders and there just isn’t anything particularly new or memorable about any of the levels or enemies. It’s still a classic Ninja Gaiden game, and so it’s not entirely devoid of fun, but it’s just one of those lazy just-more-of-the-same sequels that doesn’t really bring anything of its own to the table.

Fatal Rewind was one of those weird Genesis games that you found randomly at the video store, but never heard of anywhere else. This was back in the day when EA was pumping out a lot of weird, obscure Amiga ports for Genesis and doing a terrible job of advertising any of them. Fatal Rewind dug its own grave even deeper by being unbelievably difficult. The premise is that you’re on a futuristic reality TV show where you have to fight your way through a bunch of deadly enemies in a bunch of deadly levels to survive, but the catch is that there’s deadly acid rising from the floor in every level, giving you a pretty unforgiving time limit to find the exits.

To make matters worse the levels get increasingly labyrinthine and convoluted. I mean shit gets really, really over-complicated. In one later level, where the enemies and level layout are already tough enough by themselves, it also turns out that you need to collect 9 letters scattered throughout the level. Naturally this sounds too easy, and it is, because you can only pick them up using a Collector equippable item, and you can only carry one equippable item at a time, including all the various keys you need to get through a level, and it’s the only one of its kind in the whole level, AND it has limited uses too. Oh good, you juggled the Collector through the whole level and got all the letters and made it to the exit? Well it’s still locked you fucking idiot, because you have to use an unexplained series of switches to operate a weird devices that rearranges letters to spell out a word to unlock the exit. Hope you figure it out before that acid gets here!

This game is just…it’s absolutely impossible without using save states unless you’re some kind of grand master video game savant, and I’m not bad, but I’m not that level. I always wanted to see the later levels and finish this damn game though. Big surprise, there is basically no ending anyway, and it took so long to beat this one that I ran out of time to play any others so that’s the end for now. Oh welllllllllllllll.

Now Playing: Contra series (1987-?) Part 1

Oh, original Contra, how I love thee. Ever since I played you at my cousin’s house, then begged to have you for Christmas, then my grandparents bought me GOLF instead, and I cried like a little bitch. Anyway…Contra is still one of the greatest games ever made, to this day. I’d put it in my top 5 greatest games of all time without hesitation. It was amazing then and it’s still amazing now. I must have played it hundreds of times by now and I still never get tired of this damn game. It is the ultimate arcade shooter with awesome combat, level design, boss design, and music. It’s also one of those rare games where the home version was actually better than the original arcade version it was based on. The arcade version had better graphics, but was inferior in every other way. The music was nowhere near as good, the controls (especially that weird jumping) were a bit awkward, the levels were much shorter, and some of the best bosses were completely missing. No contest. It’s really kind of a shame that there have been so many damn sequels, yet not one of them has ever been as perfect as the original. Still gonna play em all though!

Continue reading “Now Playing: Contra series (1987-?) Part 1”

The Vita Report

Another excellent retro game from Nicalis. VVVVVV evokes memories of weird, crappy old Apple games I’d play on my mom’s Apple IIc, but in a good way. Great, challenging gameplay mechanics and an awesome soundtrack. Very short though. Something like 2.5 hours to get 100% of the main campaign. Fun while it lasted though.

Continue reading “The Vita Report”

Now Reading: Miracleman

Miracleman, originally called Marvelman, was originally a blatant Captain Marvel/Shazam ripoff, but upon his revival in the early 80s by THE ORIGINAL WRITER, he became one of the earliest examples of a superhero comic trying to be painfully realistic. Miracleman confronts his goofy secret origin, meets his creator, wrestles with his own godliness, and reaches the only natural conclusion that a godlike superbeing could reach, that he and the few others like him should run the world. This occurred a bit before Gruenwald did it in Squadron Supreme, and was of course, with THE ORIGINAL WRITER involved, a great deal more graphic about it.

It’s not the greatest work of THE ORIGINAL WRITER, but it was still a very memorable series while it lasted and under the Comico label, was able to deal with much more mature and dark issues than the other mainstream superhero books were allowed to touch on at the time. Neil Gaiman picked up the title after THE ORIGINAL WRITER left, but the publisher went under right before the last issue of his second arc, The Silver Age, leaving us with arguably the worst case of comic book blue balls in history. Amazingly though, since Marvel picked up the rights and reprinted all the old stuff over the last few years, they have finally made a deal with Gaiman to come back and finish the story, which is supposed to be happening sometime this year. Maybe he’ll even get to do the final arc he had planned, The Dark Age. We shall see.

Anyway, despite the way these modern Marvel reprints are disgustingly overpriced and packed full of filler “extras” pages (literally only 50% or less of each volume is actual story), they remain the best, and realistically the only, way to physically enjoy this essential classic series.

Now Playing: Ascension: Chronicle Of The Godslayer (2011-2017)

Ascension is a collectible card game that may look a bit similar to Magic: The Gathering, but other than it being a fantasy-themed card game, it’s actually quite different. You don’t get lands or creatures, you just take whatever cards you get each turn and use them all up, trying to make the best use of whatever magic points, attack points, spells, and etc, that you can before the next turn when you get a whole new hand. Instead of directly attacking the other player, you both compete to gain the best cards and defeat the strongest enemies from the ever-changing center row, until the set number of max points runs down to zero, at which point, whoever has gained the most points wins.

Let me tell you, you’re not going to find a better card game than this for your phone, period. It’s easy to pick up, but has a lot of complex strategy that you can use to your advantage if you learn its ways. The touchscreen interface is amazingly simple and effective. Best of all, this is not one of those fucking free to play games where you can only gain powerful cards by countless hours of grinding or paying out the ass, no, in Ascension there are simply a selection of static sets of cards. Naturally, they all cost money (except the original set, which is still free SO FUCKIN TRY IT), but they’re only about 2-4 bucks each, and once you buy one, that’s it, no grinding or pay-to-win bullshit, you just have all the cards in the set forever. You can play each individual set or mix and match some or all of them together if you want. Play against the AI at varying lengths and difficulties or play online against random people if that’s what you’re into.

I’ve been playing this here and there for 6 years now, over the span of three separate devices, and they’re still making interesting new expansions, with all new cards and mechanics, and I’m still not tired of it. In fact, their latest expansion, War of Shadows, just came out and all the old expansions are on sale for 99 cents each, so now is a damn good time to check this game out.

Now Reading: Scalped

Scalped is the magnum opus of big-time comic writer Jason Aaron. Whatever your feelings may be on his mainstream superhero comic work (I’m of a mixed mind myself, loving his Thor, not really liking his Dr. Strange too much), these mature readers books are where he really shines, and Scalped, in particular, is something every comic fan should see, if they’re not too squeamish for it.

It tells the story of a bunch of people on a Native American reservation: some are criminals, some are the people trying to bring the criminals down, some are just everyday people caught in the middle, and all of them are thoroughly, disgustingly entangled in a complex train wreck of bleak misery. It’s certainly not for everyone. My wife often expresses her disgust in great detail when I play her movies and shows like this, where everyone is basically just awful and all they do is try to screw each other over, and she always asks me what I see in such dark, depressing stories where there isn’t really anyone worth rooting for. I’ll tell you the same thing I tell her: I just like dark shit, bro!

Anyway, also see the currently ongoing Southern Bastards for more similarly delightful Jason Aaron bleak-as-fuckery.

Now Playing – Nier (2010)

Playing the original in preparation for the long-awaited sequel coming out…tomorrow actually. Nier is a strange, strange game that is not for everyone and I’m pretty amazed that it’s actually getting a sequel. Nier is actually an indirect sequel to the first Drakengard game back on PS2. The plot doesn’t really require any knowledge of the Drakengard storyline to understand, but it does help, as the fallout of the final battle in Drakengard is what caused the world of Nier to turn out the way it did. What follows this final battle is a mysterious disease, the sudden appearance of monsters and magic, and a collapse of modern society that leads to everyone living in villages and fighting with swords and etc again. This neo-fantasy world seems simple enough, but as it turns out, the story is much, much more complicated than it first appears.

Continue reading “Now Playing – Nier (2010)”