Tag Archives: splatoon

FGC #228 Turok: Dinosaur Hunter

Here he comes!I’ve been trying to wrap my mind around Turok: Dinosaur Hunter since ROB chose the dang game, and now you’re going to have to read my meandering thoughts.

First of all, if I hadn’t already written that Goldeneye article, this one would be almost exactly what you see there. I have never been “into” FPSs, and, frankly, Turok: Dinosaur Hunter never did that genre any favors. I guess it was the first unique FPS on a Nintendo platform? If we’re not including Faceball? Look, I’m not a FPSologist (I’m still trying to work out the plural of “FPS” here), but I can tell you that Turok: Dinosaur Hunter was a big deal with people that would care about such a thing. It’s like Doom! But for the home consoles! Think of the inevitable rage wars to come! And, honestly, before I played the game, I was kind of excited about Turok: Dinosaur Hunter. I mean, seriously, you can’t go too wrong with dinosaur hunting, and I want to say I was still riding a wave of dinosaur excitement from Jurassic Park, the movie that reaffirmed everyone’s longstanding belief that T-Rexes are cool. Oh, and it’s one of those games that has every weapon from bow ‘n arrows to grenade launcher. I’m always happy to see that.

And then it occurred to me: the only reason I knew about Turok’s better points before it was actually in my hands was Nintendo Power. As I’ve mentioned before, I read that magazine from cover to cover on a remarkably frequent basis (I can probably quote Counselor’s Corner more accurately than my own mother), and if some game made it into that elusive (re: not at all elusive) cover spot, then you better believe I was on board (Well, except Ken Griffey Baseball, I’m not one for the sports). And Nintendo Power spoke of Turok: Dinosaur Hunter in the same excited tones as other N64 hits like Mario 64 or Killer Instinct Gold, so obviously there must be some meat on these dinosaur bones.

GET EMSo I got Turok: Dinosaur Hunter for Christmas and, spoilers, it sucked. It’s not my genre, I know that, but I’ve made it past the first level in a few other “not my thing” games. I’ve never been a big fan of the pre-RE4 Resident Evil games, but I always gave the ol’ college try on those zombie ‘em ups. That didn’t happen with Turok. And, yes, I have to add the caveat that maybe Turok gets better after its introductory stage, and maybe the raptors stop running into my bullets, and maybe any opponent with heavy weaponry doesn’t instantly kill Turok, and maybe, just maybe, the jumping improves from the absolute horror show that inevitably leads to a mountain of Turok corpses…. But I don’t have much hope. I have (had?) friends that were into Turok back in the day, and, as far as I remember, not a one ever mentioned, “Oh it gets so much better after it turns out the whole thing is taking place in primitive Middle Earth, and you’re secretly King of the Dwarfs”.

Suffice it to say, I did not hold out much hope for the ROB-mandated half hour of Turok that preceded writing this article. “Let’s get this over with” was my primary thought on the matter. And then I actually played Turok for the first time in… wow, the game turns twenty this March? Yeesh. Anyway, I played Turok and…

Well, it still sucks.

But I can see where they were going with this. There are arrowheads that, like coins in Mario, lead Turok forward. There are initial “weak” enemies, and then a progression of stronger critters. Initial “sub bosses” and such seem to be easy to take down even if you suffer a few hits. And, while it is still absolutely annoying, the first major “jumping area” is over a shallow lake that forgives misses, and doesn’t instantly lead to total Turok death. There are some… passable concessions to “is this your first FPS?” in the opening areas of Turok, and, given its placement in the grand timeline of videogames, that seems completely reasonable. Turok is still awful, but the opening “soft tutorial areas” seem less… militant about it.

And then I realized what I wanted all along: I needed a straight-up Nintendo produced FPS.

Hot hot hotSay what you will about tutorial stages and golden guide blocks and whatever, but Nintendo is great at “is this your first videogame? Well, we’re here to help!” World 1-1 of Super Mario Bros. and Miyamoto’s “I design world 2 first, then I go back and make the baby training levels” design philosophy have been analyzed repeatedly by smarter men than I, but it seems that you can point to nearly any Nintendo game in existence and see the similar thinking. Star Fox? This is how you play a shoot ‘em up, and, by the way, if you’re feeling saucy, trying flying through those arches, and see what happens. Wii Fit? Let’s start with basic standing, and eventually you’ll be twisting yourself into a pretzel and balancing perfectly. Mario Kart? Assuming you don’t start time trialing Rainbow Road right out of the box, those opening tracks and the 50cc are there specifically so you can learn the ropes and maybe win a trophy while you’re doing it. And that same guiding hand even seems to have been applied to “second party” games, like Pokémon or Donkey Kong Country. Pokémon is the most beloved JRPG series worldwide, and part of that must be because of its general… gentleness in poking the player forward. That, and the sheer adorableness of Hypno.

WeeeAnd now I kinda feel like the entire reason I missed out on enjoying so many FPSs along the way is because Nintendo never made its big “this is the FPS from Nintendo” franchise. Before and after Turok, it was a long time before I played anything that even looked like a FPS that took the time to “train” the player for the hard parts, and, without that base level of skill, I never got into the genre. It’s not Acclaim’s fault. It’s not Id Software’s fault. It’s Nintendo’s fault! You failed me, Nintendo! Where’s the whacky, cartoon FPS that gets me into understanding the genre? Help me get good at death matches, Nintendo!

Anyway, I feel like washing the stink of Turok out of my brain with some Splatoon, so if anyone wants to hop on later, let me know.

FGC #228 Turok: Dinosaur Hunter

  • System: N64 and PC. And I guess there was a remake recently for modern systems? I’m not even going to address that concept.
  • Number of players: Just one. The days of mandatory death matches were still a few months away.
  • Hey, wait, you cited Donkey Kong Country as an example, shouldn’t Goldeneye count, too? Let’s claim Rare was well on its way out at that point, and was taking fewer notes from Nintendo. Yeah, that’s the ticket.
  • ARGHRelics of a bygone age: Oh, my controller pak isn’t saving data properly? I am shocked by this information.
  • Say something nice: Turok climbs vines/ladders/etc like a boss. So fast! A certain Hyrulian Hero could learn a thing or two from this guy.
  • Dirty Rotten Cheater: Like GTA, this is yet another game that is enhanced by its extensive cheat list. Disco Mode? Yes please.
  • So, did you beat it: Actually, I lied in the article. I did play levels other than Level 1, as I cheated forward quite a few times to see what was going on. I was not impressed. I do think I cheated straight to the credits one time, though?
  • Did you know? Turok: Dinosaur Hunter was actually basically a promotional game for the Turok: Dinosaur Hunter comic published by Acclaim Comics. Acclaim Comics came about when Acclaim purchased Voyager Communications (founded by Jim Shooter) back during the 90’s comics crash, and then Acclaim Comics became simply Valiant when Acclaim went bankrupt. Look, what’s important is that Ivar, Time Walker is in the same universe as Turok… or… something?
  • Would I play again: Not even if it meant I could win my own pet T-Rex. And I really want a T-Rex.

What’s next? Random ROB has chosen… Wrath of the Black Manta for the NES! Look out, Crocodile Hunters, the Black Manta is coming to town! Please look forward to it!

Noice

FGC #181 Splatoon

Dance the night awayI dislike anything that looks like a FPS. I’m almost pathologically noncompetitive, not a big fan of guns ‘n ammo, and find the idea of “ranking up” to be tedious.

So why do I like Splatoon?

In fact, why do I really like Splatoon?

Alright, first and most obvious answer is the colors, Duke, the colors. We all know that the FPS genre long ago adopted the gritty, realistic aesthetic and never looked back. My response to this choice has always been some mixture of shock and revulsion. Brown? Bad news, guys, that’s the color of poop. With the possible exception of an emoji or two, “like poop” has never been a desirable trait in any context (see also: UPS). I suppose I understand how some people want realism in their games that involve repeatedly dying and then instantly being reborn exactly the same, but it’s not for me. I’m someone that, for better or worse, painted every room in his house in honor of the great Roy G. Biv. I wore red sneakers to my grandparents’ funeral. I like color, dammit.

Splatoon presses all the right color buttons, and, what’s more, it’s Nintendo-ified up and down. Like Mario, Link, and Donkey Kong, the squidlings are pretty rigidly defined and a bunch of nebulous ciphers. There’s no way you’d mistake a squid girl’s silhouette for anything else, but you’re also free to write a ten thousand page fanfic about the adventures of Mary, Best Squidling Ever (who also might have a tragic past). SwooshThe Splatoon world is typical Nintendo sunny and happy (and maybe post-apocalyptic), and the plot of the single player mode is simultaneously goofy and epic. I doubt the next Marvel Cinematic Feature will involve a malevolent DJ attempting to conquer an old man and two pop stars with the power of octo-beats, but it certainly makes a good capper to some Splatoon times.

Color, engrossing characters, and a fun story? Is that what does it? No. If that were so, I’d be playing Overwatch, which, like many FPSs, I can identify as a good game, but seem to be completely incapable of enjoying the dang thing. So it’s not just the Splatoon universe that gets my ink squirting…

Maybe it’s the fact that it’s not really a FPS. FPS stands for “first person shooter”, and I’ve only really been applying the term here because it “works” so much like other FPS games. This isn’t a first person play experience, the camera is distinctly behind the squidlings, so it’s third person, and thus more… what? 3-D Contra? Maybe something more like Metroid: Other M? Wait, no, I just realized those two games are terrible, it can’t be because I like that perspective if those are the first examples I can recall.

Maybe I just like to jump? I mean, most games that involve jumping I absolutely love (see Mega Man, Mario, and let’s say… Rampage?), and the camera and arenas of Splatoon virtually encourage leaping all over the place. There are moving platforms! And changing water levels! And the fact that it’s not a “true” FPS really helps, because, as the Metroid Prime games confirmed, jumping when you can’t see your feet is maybe not the most fun thing in the world. Not to say it’s impossible in a FPS (I do want to point out that I happily cleared two out of four Metroid Primes), it’s just a tweak more frustrating.

But… there are a number of “FPS games” that aren’t true FPSs. I’ve said before that I’m terrible with “real” genre designations, but is this where the term “Arena Shooter” applies? Or “Twitch Shooter”? Whatever the case, there are plenty of games that share Splatoon’s perspective and general “feel”, and none of them have held my interest longer than a month, left alone a year’s worth of Splatfests.

And it’s not Callie and Marie, because admitting that would be revolting.

No, it’s none of these things that keep me coming back to Splatoon. It’s not the transparently shallow “level up” mechanics, it’s not the easy Miiverse communication in the hub town, and it’s not the flood of puns that threaten to drag Spike the Street Urchin out to sea. No, what keeps me playing Splatoon is one simple thing…

SPLAT

I can shoot the floor. And I’m helping!

I can try to take an objective tone to this problem all I want, but the simple truth is that I’m terrible at FPS games. I have awful aim. My depth perception has always been crap (and it’s a chicken/egg debate as to whether that was impacted by early [continuous] videogame playing, or I naturally gravitated toward videogames because “defined” pixel distances in 2-D games made more sense to my child-brain), and, frankly, I have difficulties with everything from sniping to Pokémon Go (“Yes, keep throwing that pokéball over that Rapidash’s head, good.”). In fact, the idea of a “sniping” based videogame where you sit around and wait to pick off some poor malcontent is right up there with a toenail clipping simulator on the list of games I absolutely never want to play. One of my good friends adores anything that involves a scope, but… ugh, not for me.

And, frankly, I have terrible spatial relations in FPS games. Maybe it’s something about the layout, feedback, or something, but, despite liking SPLATBioshock, my most immediate memory of that game was watching my character’s health drain in a bathroom stall as a splicer repeatedly stabbed me in the back. I know my health is draining for some reason… oh… there you are! Please stop that! I’ve never missed a boo or goomba sneaking up on Mario, but put me in a first person (or similar) environment, and suddenly I have the awareness of a deaf sloth. Splatoon is no different, and the raw number of times I’ve been “splatted” is a testament to that.

And, to top it all off, my brain can’t deal with ammo. I have two mental settings: hoard and berserker. At all times, I am either carefully preserving each bullet like they are precious children, or I’m unloading every last shot into the darkness with the hope that maybe I’ll hit something or other. There is no middle ground. I blame JRPGs and their imaginary insistence that I save that megalixer for some unforeseen threat, but I literally cannot properly ration ammo in a FPS. I’m either going to die clutching that dear rocket launcher ammo, or blow up the entire surrounding area (and myself) inside of three seconds.

This is who I am. And Splatoon helps that person.

Ammo is no big deal, because, while I’m likely to run out, I can quickly refuel in any nearby puddle. I’m going to get splatted, and often, but respawn is quick, easy, and virtually without consequence. And, finally, I need not worry about aiming, because I am WEEEEEEwinning simply by shooting the floor. Heck, I technically don’t have to interact with a single other player if I wander off into some alley and aim down to my heart’s content. Splatoon seems made for me and various neuroses.

Splatoon is an amazing FPS game for people that are bad at identifying/playing FPSs. I’d love to discuss it further, but I’ve got to get back to Inkopolis now. There are some floors that need splatting.

FGC #181 Splatoon

  • System: WiiU, and I hope Nintendo’s next offering involves a similar controller, because Splatoon wouldn’t be as fun without that controller map.
  • Number of players: I guess… eight? I’m going to mark it down as four for the tags, though. Fear of new tags, you understand.
  • What’s in a name? I’ve had the Goggle Bob moniker since high school, so there are a number of people who have been calling me that name for years. This has led to an amusing quirk as my friends started breeding, as now there’s an entire generation of young’uns who only know me as Goggle Bob, as if “goggle” were a title like “mister” or “uncle”. So I was talking to my buddy’s son, an eight year old, about Splatoon. At one point, he asked for my “Wii name”, and I told him it was “Goggle Bob”. He made that Look away“oooooooooh” sound that many kids reserve for when someone says a swear, and he quickly chastised me with, “Goggle Bob, you know you’re not supposed to use your real name online!” I think this generation is going to be alright.
  • Splatfest: I’m going to miss scheduling my weekend around playing Splatoon. It wasn’t about the wins for my team or collecting the shells afterwards, I just liked the idea of people from all over the country coming together to fight for the glory of… Fancy parties? I must have missed that one.
  • Favorite Squid Sister: Callie, you were robbed. Purple and peppy beats green and sullen any day.
  • Did you know? We never received mods/outfits to officially play as Octolings, and that’s terrible.
  • Would I play again: This is one of the few FGC choices that I was basically already playing when it was chosen, and will go back to playing once again after the article is complete. I’m not, like, playing it all the time, but I probably pick it up at least once a month. If you need further explanation of that, please read the article again.

What’s next? Random ROB has chosen… Super Robot Taisen OG Saga: Endless Frontier for the DS! Phew, that’s a mouthful. At least there’s guaranteed to be robots… right? Please look forward to it!

Me too

Year in Review: 2015

I’m making a list!

Disappointment of the Year (that I actually played): Batman: Arkham Knight

I am the nightBatman: Arkham Knight is not a bad game. It’s basically Batman: Arkham City, but with a car… and that’s the problem.

See, I played Batman: Arkham City until my Playstation 3 demanded something new to read. I found every last trophy, solved every confounded riddle, and transformed the criminal underworld of Gotham into some kind of jelly substance. I flew around that city for what seemed like days on end, taking any excuse to play just a few moments more or swoop and tumble across the entire skyline again.

Batman: Arkham Knight introduced the Batmobile, which seems like something that could only add fun to the universe, but, nope, it sucks, and I literally never want to see it again. I mean, I can see why it could be fun, it’s not, like, a game of Deadly Towers every time you hop in the vehicle, but it’s the same thing every car mission (well, one of two things, a race, or a tank face-off), and there isn’t enough variety in techniques or gameplay between Batmobile events to justify the hundreds of times Bruce has to use that… that thing.

VroomSo, after I completed the main campaign of the game, I checked a FAQ to see roughly how many times I’d have to use the Batmobile again to 100% the game. The answer… didn’t thrill me. I put the game away, and haven’t touched it again since.

A real shame the game couldn’t be as fun as its older brother. It’s the Jason Todd of the Batman video game family.

Disappointment of the Year (that I played for a half hour): Animal Crossing Amiibo Festival

I have been told by reliable sources that this game improves as more complicated modes are unlocked, but I played this game straight out of the box with some friends, and, geez, Lawn Mowing Simulator 2015 might have been less boring. For a game that has to share a system and peripheral gimmick with Super Smash Bros. 4, you’d think this one would be just a teensy bit more enjoyable, but, nope, random, boring nonsense all around.

Worst of all, it will likely never see my WiiU again, but I’ll still buy all the stupid Amiibos for this game. Damn Resetti…

Reason to not let me out of the house for the Year: Amiibo

Gaze ye upon my OCD and despair!

2015 Completion

Compilation of the Year: Mega Man Legacy Collection

This category only exists because Rare Replay was a contender, but those Micro Mega Challenges are much better when the Blue Bomber is involved. If I’m being honest, Mega Man Legacy Collection was always going to be a winner, because I will take any excuse to play a Mega Man game. Unlike nearly every Mega Man collection previously released (and there’s practically been one for every console generation), this one is flawless, so no weird controller mapping or graphical “upgrades” to ruin the experience of dropping Dr. Wily. And it’s all available on “new” systems like the Playstation 4, so I’ll be able to flip over to a quick game of Mega Man 3 whenever I want for the next few years.

Honestly, if Shovel Knight (and his frenemy Plague Knight) didn’t partially steal the little metal boy’s thunder, this might have been my game of the year.

But it did inspire a nursery rhyme.

Remake of the Year: The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask 3D

I realize this is sacrilege in some places, but I’m going to say it: I don’t really like Majora’s Mask. I realize that, objectively, Majora’s Mask is a good game, and the innovations it made for the Zelda franchise and all of gaming should be recognized and applauded; but on a subjective level, I can’t stand to play the dang thing. I have a natural OCD Ugly ol' Moonabout video games, and the fact that I can’t save at any time to avert mistakes, or that I have to complete a dungeon all in one try while collecting every last fairy… it drives me insane. Couple this with ancient, blurry N64 graphics and 90 masks to use and only three buttons to use them, and I quickly grow frustrated and roll over to greener pastures.

The 3DS remake, right off the bat, corrects my biggest issue, and now I can save with impunity anytime, anywhere. No, I don’t use it to savescum all day long, but the mere fact that I can puts my mind at ease in a way that’s hard to describe. Then you’ve got the bottom screen inventory that allows for quick mask switching, updated graphics that allow for a draw distance greater than the length of Link’s sword, and various other “quality of life” improvements, and one of my most loathed Zelda games suddenly becomes my favorite.

Way to go, The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask 3D, now I can enjoy this game with everybody else.

Title of the Year: Under Night In-Birth Exe:Late

pure chaosI played all the way through that fighting game filled with forgettable characters (barring anyone from Melty Blood), and I still have no idea what that title is supposed to mean. I’m not certain a single one of those words belongs anywhere near the others. All told, though, I am looking forward to the sequel, Over Day Outside Death DMG:Early.

System of the Year: WiiU

If I was twelve and had the same taste in video games, the WiiU would be my nirvana. Nerdvana.

I am, at this point in my life, a hopeless maniac that buys new video games at the drop of the hat, whether they are digital or physical, because I’m desperately addicted to whatever endorphins get released when I “unwrap” a new game. As a result, I have a backlog that’s simply absurd, and I’ll be lucky if my grandkids ever make it through my PS2 collection alone.

That said, I still remember being a kid (say, pre-16 or so) when I only received a new video game for holidays, and that was about it. Granted, I could probably milk my different family members for a new game each, but past about April, I likely wouldn’t see a new ‘un again until Christmas. This is likely why I gravitated toward JRPGs and their hours and hours of gameplay, A moment in timeand why I initially rebuked games like Donkey Kong Country that would present the final boss inside of an afternoon.

But if I had a WiiU back then? Oh boy.

Mind you, DLC practically didn’t exist when I was a child, nor Amiibos, so I don’t know where they’d fall in the whole “no more games for months” spectrum, but assuming I was allowed a digital wallet, the WiiU’s library would have been pretty amazing for getting the most bang out of any given game’s buck.

Within this year…

  • Hyrule Warriors gained new maps and characters and Amiibo support, granting multiple reasons to return to an already huge game. The last map was released in, I believe, February, but the Ganondorf Amiibo didn’t hit stateside until September.
  • Mario Kart 8 saw new track releases in April, and its last compatible Amiibo, Olimar, was released in September.
  • Super Smash Bros 4 received DLC characters and stages all year, and will continue into 2016. Practically every (over fifty?) Amiibo released was an excuse to fire this one back up again.
  • Splatoon didn’t even require a dime for its myriad of updates, apparently still going into 2016 as well. Combine this with random Splatfests, and it’s hard not to pop that one in every week to see what’s “happening”. Gotta stay fresh.
  • Mario Maker offers infinite content, and has specifically been releasing Nintendo approved courses every week with fun new prizes.

Even though some of these games were released in 2014, there seemed to always be a reason to return to “completed” games for new and exciting content (or at least a neat costume). Compare this to some of the “big” releases of 2016 on other systems that begged you to purchase a “season pass” for maybe one new map or a handful of new characters, and you can see why I find the WiiU’s offerings so endearing.

Game of the Year: Super Mario Maker

WinnerReally, from the Nintendo World Championships on, there was no way this wasn’t going to be the victor.

Despite cursing reams of paper over the years with my own Mario level creations (and a host of unique Mario powerups best never mentioned), I was initially tepid on the concept of Mario Maker. After all, Wario Ware DIY seemed like a wonderful idea back when I purchased the game, but then I learned that I’m an adult now, and simply don’t have the time to create my own fun. Like, I’d love to sit down and design the “perfect” Wario Ware game… but I’ve got so many other things to organize, create, and vacuum… and then it’s six months later and I haven’t done a thing past the tutorial. My time is precious, and when I want to play a video game, I want to play a video game, not tax myself in pursuit of some impossibly perfect creation.

But then came the Nintendo World Championships, which I decided to watch on Youtube for no greater reason than a general boredom on a Saturday night. And there, months before the game’s release, it clicked. Yes, creating Mario courses of my own would be fun, but even more fun would be the host of Nintendo created stages, and, eventually, stages created by people who also knew what they were doing, and then, finally, there would be infinity Mario levels.

So, yes, I’ve created a number of Mario stages, and I don’t think they’re that great, just fun little obstacle courses. But that’s not what has held my attention these past few months; no, what keeps me coming back are all the amazing levels created by people so BARFmuch more innovative and imaginative than myself. I can now fly through advanced levels that require perfect Mario-manship, or saunter through a stage or two with odd, inspired mechanics (like a goomba that releases traps), or new and interesting spins on encroaching buzzsaws. And there’s something new every day, which is perfect for a play session that is ten minutes or ten hours.

There’s a reason I’ve unlocked all those amiibo costumes… and am still begging for more.

Games I’m sure are great, but I haven’t played: Xenoblade Chronicles X, Undertale

Look, I’ve been playing a lot of Xenosaga recently, and I don’t want to get entrenched in another Xeno game before that project is completed. I realize it may be a while, but I don’t want to confuse my chaos’s with my Emma’s, as that could only lead to disaster.

As for Undertale, this is literally the game that, this past December, I picked up a dedicated “gaming PC” to play. I figured that, if I’m going to write about video games, I may as well actually play some of those “third column” PC games, and Undertale seems like a wonderful start. All that said, I’m set up, the game is in my library, but I still haven’t had time to actually sit down and play the dang thing… but soon!

Gogglebob.com Introspection 2015

2015 is the year I started this site. I’ve given a thousand “reasons” that I started this thing over the last year, almost all of them valid, but it boils down to the fact that I wanted to do something Because it's 2015!“creative” with my favorite hobby, and, like a hundred posts later (combining FGC, Kingdom Hearts, and Xenosaga posts), I’m kind of amazed I haven’t lost interest or started loathing the project yet. Maybe it’s the random nature of the FGC, but I actually look forward to Random ROB’s choices, and, like with next week’s Zool 2, I enjoy the challenge of “now how am I going to get a story out of this turd?” I like writing about the games that I enjoy because I enjoy those games and want to share the experience with others (see the entire Gaming 5 series of these past weeks), and I enjoy writing about games I don’t enjoy because they offer a creative challenge to transform into an article. Famous last words, I know, but I keep waiting for this to stop being fun, and it hasn’t happened yet.

Related, it was towards the end of 2015 that I started the Xenosaga Let’s Play, and I’m downright astonished at how much I’m enjoying that project. Like, seriously, I thought it would be grueling, but it’s like I’m playing the game in an entirely different way, and, while it’s not like you are watching me play the game as I’m actually playing it, I’m playing the game with the LP in mind every step of the way, and it’s led to some of my favorite video game writing I’ve ever produced. I like me creating a Let’s Play.

All that said, here’s some favorite articles from 2015:

Christ, I’ve got five and I’m not even halfway through the list? Leave your favorite articles in the comments, I’m turning in for the day before my ego gets any bigger.

What’s Next? Random ROB chose Zool 2 a couple weeks back, so I’ll finally tackle that Atari Jaguar “Classic”. Please look forward to it!

FGC #007 Rygar

You're no FirebrandI never studied Child Psychology, so I don’t know if there is a term for this, but there’s a peculiar period of time that I recall vividly from my own childhood when, having gotten past the whole “the universe started with my birth” fallacy, I moved on to acknowledging that everything I know and have experienced has come before, and, like I am seven years old now, my father was once seven years old himself, and his father before him. There must be a name for this period of development, where the world grows just a little bit smaller, and you know, deep down, that your love of grilled cheese may be, without even knowing the word for it, hereditary. A genetic memory, aided by your environment, to guarantee your life the strophic form of your forefathers.

Then again, I played Nintendo as a kid.

I will defend Nintendo (the company, not the system I referred to in the previous paragraph) until my dying breath, because they keep beach city weird. As I write this, Nintendo’s latest release is taking the world by storm, and it’s all about cute squid girls painting structures with Alec Templeton precision while defending the values of either cats (yay!) or dogs (cretins!). And that’s one of the more straightforward plots from Nintendo, lest we forget the next big Nintendo release features anthropomorphic animals piloting starships that turn into robot chickens to combat a giant brain. Nintendo’s own iconic mascot has a mushroom-dependency problem, but, don’t worry, he’s a doctor.

Hate to see the Dark World versionAnd if you’re reading this, I bet that last paragraph actually made sense to you. In fact, I bet it made sense to you without even having to think about it. Okay, maybe not the Templeton reference. Regardless, thanks to an overexposure since childhood, so much “Nintendo logic” makes perfect sense to our metroid-shaped brains, so imagining a flesh colored creature capable of devouring the stars themselves is not so much scary as it is a gentle reminder that emperor penguins are not to be trusted with food supplies.

The greatest and worst thing about childhood is not having anywhere near the experience points necessary to level up to being a useful member of society. Being a child sucks for being taken seriously, but it does leave a lot of space for magic and wonder and imagining that big, amazing world that’s out there and waiting for you the absolute minute you clean your room and are allowed back outside again. And that kind of thinking, combined with the previously mentioned knowledge that “everything has come before” leads to some weird conclusions.

Koopa Troopas?I’m talking about jumping on turtles.

Playing Rygar as an adult, I have to fall back on that hoary old chestnut of “what were they smoking?” Frankly, I’ve always hated that expression, as it reduces imagination to a substance, as if someone needs external stimulus to produce something as “whacky” as a talking cat (!?!), but in this case, it’s a little unusual that the first thing a Roman warrior encounters on his journey to save his land is… a giant shuffling turtle. But don’t worry, I got this, I know what to do.

Rygar, jump on that turtle.

Here’s where Nintendo (generally talking about the system again) gets dangerous. Rygar is a great wealth of repeats from other video games and sources, and, as a kid, if I saw the same thing twice, I figured it must be some archetypical facet of the universe that I am just now discovering. Much like the Castlevania trilogy taught me that whips are the deadliest weapons ever devised, Rygar confirmed a few sneaking suspicions…

1. Turtles (non-mutant) are nature’s mobile trampolines (see also: Super Mario Bros)
2. Yo-Yos are capable weapons (see also: Star Tropics, Goonies II)
3. Greco-Roman warriors being revived for battle is a normal thing (see also: Altered Beast)
4. Grappling hooks are basically elevators in rope form (see also: Batman, Legend of Zelda)
5. Floating Islands? Completely normal. (see also: All of Japan’s output for a solid decade)

I am eternally grateful that I live in an area that is devoid of turtles or yo-yo stores, as either would have likely lead to my incarceration at a young age.

Okay, that joke was a little woodenWhile I eventually acknowledged that maybe Nintendo games are not a valid way of discovering the world, I did internalize many video game lessons from Rygar and its ilk. I didn’t play Rygar until I was a little older than when I played some other beloved NES franchises, so it may have been my first metroidvania where progression seemed “gated” and deliberate. Remember that childhood naiveté I mentioned earlier? That led to a number of games, Castlevania II: Simon’s Quest comes immediately to mind, working on magic and fuzziness more than actual programming (“That ferryman finally took me where I needed to go! I guess he just does that sometimes. Now, time to randomly jump in every lake!”). Rygar is the first game I can remember ever having a nonlinear structure, but enough hints (in the form of scary bald men) to make everything gel into a much more cohesive whole (and it probably helps that there weren’t villages full of dicks lying to me). You’re literally telling me I need the crossbow to proceed? Oh, good, that means I can stop jumping into this pit over and over again expecting to finally bridge the gap. Many people fault modern gaming’s “tools as keys” and “explain away” design philosophies, but we should all remember that every video game has the potential to be someone’s first game, and an informed gamer is a worthy gamer.

Just watch those gamers around the turtles.

So very uglyFGC #7 Rygar

  • System: NES
  • Number of Players: 1
  • Number of Identical Old Men in Ancient Argool: Innumerable
  • Shield as an offensive weapon: Ill-advised
  • Gonna talk about the sequel? No.
  • Is there a robot involved? You better believe it
  • Did You Know? In the American version, Crash Man is the hero, while Clash Man is the villain. In Japan, Crash Man is the villain, and the hero is unnamed. Air Man works best across all versions. Wait… I might be thinking of another game.
  • Would I Play Again? It was kind of neat playing this again for the first time in ages, but I like to accomplish something in a game sitting. Rygar is impossibly long and completely devoid of a password or save feature, and it’s not really a “pick up” game. I will probably play Rygar again if it becomes the last video game on Earth… and most books have been destroyed. And it’s raining.

What’s Next? Random ROB has chosen… Wario Ware Inc.: Mega Micro Game$. Great. A blog about video games about a video game about creating video games via playing video games. We’re going through the looking glass, people, so please look forward to it!