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Monday, July 28, 2014

Monday Update: 7/28/14

NBA 2K14 (XBONE): Second Appearance, Second Straight Appearance
Well hey this is actually sort of enjoyable now... I've played it for two weeks now, so I figure I should talk about the differences between the XBOX 360 and XBOX One versions of 2K14. So here we go-

The XBOX One version is a much smoother basketball experience. At least on the floor, I find it much easier to score and especially to reach the basket than in the 360 game. Players move much more freely, and called plays are more successful (at least if feels) on the modern game.

Features-wise, the XBOX 360 version is far and away the better game. There's not very much customization on the modern generation game, and The Association mode, the sort of "franchise" mode equivalent (though MyGM mode is similar). The mode that focuses on LeBron is also nixed.

The 'MyCareer' mode was the most important reason that I bought the game, and the modern generation version is superior to the last generation version. On the XBOX One version, the gameplay is mixed in with a series of cutscenes featuring your player, and also features a few practice modes, which is a nice touch. Your team's star player helps guide you as a rookie to reach your potential, and you even have full animated meetings with your coach and GM. At the end of it all, I've enjoyed my XBOX One copy far more than the 360 game due to the improved MyCareer mode.

Wolfenstein: The New Order (XBONE): Second Appearance, Second Straight Appearance
So hey, this is at least a fairly standard World War II FPS only one hour in... That's about all I have to say about it, I got a little irritated by the dogs, which I had a hard time with, so I stopped playing it. Remember I am a child. I'll pick it back up later this week

Destiny (Beta Build) (XBONE): First Appearance
Well I'd love to talk about the online multiplayer for this game but apparently I haven't unlocked it and the single player barely interests me. I may cancel my pre-order.

Other games I played that don't warrant mention
Turok (N64) First Appearance Holy shit, the draw-distance fog in 1997 was nuts. I wonder what it would look like on technology that could actually handle it. Also: How did people deal with it? I get that it's a good game and a new idea for the era, but I mean, people had eyes back then.
Killer Instinct: Gold (N64) First Appearance I don't care for the Killer Instinct franchise all that much, but I might try out the new one that came out for free last year. I talk about how much I like Mortal Kombat 3 a lot, but it had a strong competitor in 1995 with Killer Instinct. The sequel, Killer Instinct 2 (called Killer Instinct Gold on the home port) was supposed to be a system seller for the N64 in the earliest years of the console, but I don't think it holds up too well today.

As a side note, Killer Instinct always had a better storyline (at least in my mind) than Mortal Kombat did. Though the characters could get a little generic (Guys like Glacius, a man made entirely of Ice), I thoroughly enjoyed watching all the end cutscenes on YouTube at 1 AM one night.
As another side note, apparently this bland ass game apparently did warrant mention somehow.

Monday, July 21, 2014

Monday Update: 7/21/14

Well alright here we are, back on Monday!

NBA Live 14 (XBONE): Second Appearance, Second Straight Appearance
I actually sorta like this game, specifically the Ultimate Team mode, which I tried out this week. I never really had tried a mode like this before, but (at least to me with my little experience) I enjoy it thoroughly. I don't have anything to compare it with, but the challenges you can play to earn more coins to buy more players are well executed. Not much more to say about that, I probably should wait until the next game to come out.

NBA 2K14 (XBONE): First Appearance
I'm counting this one as a different game than the one I've been playing since March. This port is far more playable and feels a little smoother than the XBOX 360 version. Also I think I've figured out how to play this game finally after trying this version, probably making this the longest time that I've spent before figuring out how to enjoy any game.
Here is a list of the things I did wrong:
1. Wrong position picked in MyCareer mode. I tried playing with both a 6'7" Shooting Guard and a 7'3" Center. Neither of those positions are good for a novice such as myself, because you can't call plays yourself and I'm not good at getting rebounds. Choosing to be a point guard is significantly easier than any other position at least offensively. I'm not good at defense though.
2. Picked by the wrong team each time - When I played on the 360, I was picked by the Mavericks when I was a shooting guard and picked by the Bulls as a center. You may notice that the best player on those teams are, respectively, a shooting guard (Monta Ellis) and a center (Joakim Noah) (Even though Derrick Rose exists as well, but that doesn't fit in to what I was saying)
3. Player was far too tall - It's basketball, right? Supposed to pick the tall guy. But I did exactly that. It's harder for tall guys to move around quickly in these games. Picking a short guy (I'm not sure how tall but like 6'1 I think is what I picked) allows for better mobility and a faster pick and roll so I've found myself being much more successful and effective with getting shots and assists. Still awful at getting rebounds, though.

This game also comes with a fun story. Wednesday, I bought this game at GameStop, used, for 35 dollars. I took the game home and tried to install it on my XBOX. As I waited, it got to 14 percent and I couldn't get any more installed, for it gave me an error message stating that the disc was either dirty or damaged. It was scratched. So, I took it back the next day to the same Gamestop, and they were happy to take the return. 35 Dollars back.

I then took those 35 dollars downstairs to the Microsoft Store and bought a brand new copy of the same game for 29.99. I profited on it, and got it new. 2 extra dollars, spent upon a pretzel the next day.

Wolfenstein (XBONE): First Appearance
I raced home from the store (I picked the game up out of the basket where it sat for a few days) and I excitedly tore the case from its shrinkwrap (I had opened the game a few days earlier to enter in the code on Id's website so I could have access to the Beta for the new Doom game) and I popped the game in my XBOX and enjoyed several hours of World War II era shooting fun! (It took 2 hours to install and I had to go to bed and didn't get to start)

Trials Fusion (XBONE): Second Appearance, Second Straight Appearance
I don't have anything to say actually. I wish I did. I guess I could point out that I find the commentary from the A.I.s genuinely funny, and I have some sense of shame that comes from that. I don't know why I have that shame, but I guess I'm supposed to feel cooler than that or something? It doesn't matter. This is a good game

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Monday Update: 6/15/14

Next week The Monday Update will be back to the usual schedule instead of being done on a Thursday and then the next Tuesday. Luckily, I do have games to discuss, because on Sunday, I purchased an Xbox One. Here are some thoughts.
-It was surprisingly easy to set up, just the console, cords, and controller
-It immediately updated, which made me wait 40 minutes or so before I could actually enjoy my product
-I couldn't properly log in to my XBOX Live account so I made a new one with my discounted 12-month Gold subscription. Add me on XBOX Live at Golftar
-My Gamertag is a Cheap Seats Reference just so you know
Anyway,

NBA Live 14 (XBONE): First Appearance
We did it. Ladies and gentlemen, I now own a copy of NBA Live 14. It only cost me 16 dollars, which I believe makes it genuinely the least expensive product available for purchase at the Microsoft Store unless I'm missing a few mousepads. Anyway, I played through three games, did two challenges (both Vince Carter and Damian Lillard's buzzer beaters in the 2014 playoffs), and went through one fantasy draft, and let me tell you, this is a pretty average game.
I didn't realize it, but the first game I went through was on the factory default settings, the ones which earned such rave reviews as "one star" and "mediocre" back in November. After that, I figured out how to download the patches released later.
The current version of NBA Live 14 is, indeed, fairly mediocre. There's something exciting about playing a new NBA Live, but it falters in some aspects, most notably these:
-Movement in the post feels sloppy. After playing 2K14, I can't go back to sloppy post play.
-It's far too obvious when an animation begins, especially when it comes to dunking.
-Shooting sometimes doesn't work like it should. I've found good shooters wide open and have been consistently unable to make shots, then again, I've made threes right in defenders' faces.
-I can't get defense inside to work well but that's probably just me.
-I hate all of the camera angles
-Passes get intercepted very frequently
However, movement on the court, especially amongst your teammates feels very good. One of the things I didn't like about 2K14 is how often you'll see your teammates just stand and wait for you to do something, instead of trying to get open. Setting picks works very well and helps open players up. It's very easy for a new player to get into the game, especially when it comes to calling plays.

In the end, Live 14 feels like an experiment above anything else, and I'm looking forward to seeing what Live 15 and 2K15 have in store.

Trials Fusion (XBONE): First Appearance
Well hey, here's this series again. I think Trials HD set the record on my 360 for the most time spent on a demo (also probably on the best OXM Demo Disc I owned). Anyway, this is the perfect game to purchase alongside a new console. Regardless of whether or not the gameplay is good (and it is, it reminds me of the old flash game Free Rider 2, which I played the shit out of), the visuals are amazing. I mean, it's one of those games where you can look and exactly see the graphical capabilities of the new console you just dropped 400 dollars on.

The futuristic settings look great (and shockingly reasonable for a near future in some aspects) and I wouldn't be surprised if it goes all Portal on us and we visit the dark scary side of the future where the lesser people were sent underground but this is a game about motorcycles so I'd like to believe that the future in the Trials universe is nice and fun and contains motorcycles.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

The Mid-Week Update because Joe hasn't had a solid Internet connection all week: 7/10/14

Well hey, it's July already, happy independence day and all that, get ready for Christmas, understand how hot it can truly get under the burning sun, and Share a Coke with Monique.

NBA 2K14 (X360): Eleventh Appearance, Last Appearance 6/9/14
NOT AGAIN. NEVER AGAIN. DO NOT PLAY THIS AGAIN YOU ARE NOT GOOD AT IT. TRY A DIFFERENT SPORT GAME THANK YOU VERY MUCH.

Another World: 20th Anniversary Edition (VITA): First Appearance
When I started doing these updates at the beginning of the year (back when they were on Sunday and not whenever the hell they wanted to be), I played a little game called Heart of Darkness. If you've stuck with me since then, you'll know that I enjoyed almost all of Heart of Darkness aside from the final level and the main character.

I never talked about it back then because the Sunday Update consisted of only about 3 sentences per game back in February, but I figured out what I liked about Heart of Darkness the most: Your character never really feels like they're ever that much stronger than the enemy. You have a weapon, sure, but most of the time it's unwieldy and unreliable.

Everything is trying to kill you, rather than in contemporaries like Doom, Duke Nukem, or even Super Mario 64, where often times the one making the first strike is the player. As Mario, there are many times when you feel like you're significantly stronger than your enemy, be it a Goomba or Bob-Omb or some low-level enemy of the sort. Along with that, in every game mentioned, it takes more than a couple of hits to kill you. I don't know that one single Goomba has ever killed me by itself in Super Mario 64. It may get two hits in at the most, but the player can punch the Goomba right in its fuckin face and then go get more coins if that's the case.

In Heart of Darkness, you die in one hit. You die instantly, and there's no recovery. On top of that, every enemy can kill you in one hit, and most enemies take more than one to kill. With those facts in place, you don't ever feel like your character is necessarily stronger than anything. Sure, you figure out how certain enemies work and how to defeat them easily, but even with that knowledge there's still no certainty in anything. Low level enemies will still overpower you even in later levels if you aren't putting enough effort in. That feeling is pervasive throughout the entire game: You're in over your head.

One-hit deaths aren't unheard of in games, in fact, many early games had your character perish with one hit, from the fairly innocuous Gumshoe on the NES to the infamous Transformers on the Famicom. What set Heart of Darkness apart from those was an incredibly simple tactic that I can't believe I haven't seen more: Checkpoints. Not even checkpoints that you can necessarily see, but just checkpoints where you can start getting through the next bit of the game without having to go back and replay the past 3 minutes. It works so simply, and keeps the player from wanting to quit playing. After a bit, at least for myself, running through the same 2 minute stretch to try one tricky section again is a waste of time.

Anyway, Heart of Darkness did both of those things perfectly. Another World (you'll notice I've gone through 5 paragraphs before bringing up the name of the game at hand, a new record) was created a few years before Heart of Darkness by the same man, √Čric Chahi, a Frenchman. It does all of those things I talked about just as well, and features fully polygonal graphics which lend a certain style to the game that I've never seen anywhere else. It's clich√© to say it, but that art style is linked with Another World and nothing else.

The remake is available for just about all major consoles, and I'd say it's a pretty solid remake. You have updated graphics and sounds, but you aren't forced to use them if you don't want, the controls are simple for modern consoles, and you can earn Trophies or Achievements if you'd like. I'm looking forward to finishing it, hopefully it doesn't disappoint like HoD did.

Monday, June 30, 2014

Monday Update: 6/30/14

Mario Kart 64 (N64): Second Appearance, Second Straight Appearance
I have been very into creating content lately, and with the content I have created, the created content will contently create content. Monetize your youtube views. This is a good game

Mario Kart 8 (Wii U): Fourth Appearance, Last Appearance 6/16/14
I took a week off from Mario Kart 8 until last night when I figured out that 150cc mode in Mario Kart 8 is really, really difficult especially when playing with friends. I don't remember it being that hard on MK7, but then again I wasn't stuck with a Wii Remote & Nunchuck back on Mario Kart 7.

Super Mario 64 (N64): First Appearance
My friend Joe came up with a theory about Juicy Fruit a long time ago. To really understand this theory, you have to understand that Kansas City's airport has a few stores scattered around before visitors can access the terminals/go through secuirty and all that. This is very nice for people who live in Kansas City because going through security is quick and simple, and you immediately end up in your gate. If you are not from Kansas City and, say, have to transfer between two flights that aren't in the same terminal, it's not good at all.

Anyway, Joe's theory essentially states that every time he goes to an airport, he buys a pack of Wrigley's Juicy Fruit gum. He tries a few pieces, then the flavor runs out after like 7 seconds, then he realizes he hates Juicy Fruit. However, he only ever sees Juicy Fruit prominently displayed in airports, and he rarely visits airports, and the 7 seconds of good Juicy Fruit is all that sticks in the mind. So, the next time he visits an airport, he buys more Juicy Fruit, and the cycle begins again. The main idea is this: if you stay away from something enough but still have some fond memories, the longer you stay away, the more you remember the fond memories and the more you forget the negative ones.

Super Mario 64 is exactly this way with me. The Juicy Fruit Theory applies with Mario 64 mainly because of two reasons-
1. It was the first game I ever owned on a console
2. That's it
I always had fond memories of Mario 64, so I tend to go back to it after waiting for periods of about a year. Last time I tried was early June of last year, previously it was September of 2011*, I guess this year it's late June. Mario 64 does not hold up terribly well today. After playing some of Shifting Sand-Land, I figured out what my main issue was - The control! It's basically the first game to control that way, so I understand why it's flawed, but I had forgot how finicky they are. You have to be absolutely precise in exactly the way it wants with very little leeway. On top of that, the camera doesn't stay still for more than about 2 seconds at a time when I need it to do so. Even with all this, I don't think it's terrible, but it's not a good game for revisiting in 2014.

*The phrase "There is no God in Wet-Dry World" comes from the star titled "Top of the Town". Wet-Dry World has two different segments, a large room with a large tower where the water level may rise up and down (the room in which the player spawns), and a second room which contains a small town. From the name of the star, one might assume that "Top of the Town" would be found in the "town" part of the only level in the game which has a town. This is false, as the star is in the first area. It tricked me. There is No God In Wet-Dry World.

Monday, June 23, 2014

Monday Update: 6/23/14

Mario Kart 64 (N64): First Appearance
I'm gonna do something about this game soon. Clay and I enjoyed this title yesterday. Have you ever noticed how amazingly easy it is to fall off a ledge and not be picked up by Lakitu, but end up on the road behind you having lost time and position in the race. This happened to me on Choco Mountain, Royal Raceway, and Frappe Snowland. (actually, on Frappe Snowland, I fell into some water between a jump and the rest of the track and was unable to work up the momentum to continue going so I had to turn all the way around and then build up more momentum because the game replaces you on the track in no position to build up speed). Mario Kart 64 is not my favorite Mario Kart, but damn if it isn't one of the most interesting.

Adventure (Atari VCS): First Appearance
I read a book about this game so I figure I better talk at least a little bit about it.  Crazy how games like that, games that are 35+ years old, can still be readily enjoyed by friends. Clay and I tried streaming it and then figured out that we had possibly the dumbest problem of all time happen, wherein I had the stream itself playing in one window and you could hear us talking and then us repeating ourselves a few seconds later in what must have been the most confusing thing of all time. But hey, Adventure is still enjoyable.

Pilotwings 64 (N64): First Appearance
This is such a weird game but I love every second of it. I never enjoyed flight simulators all that much (except for Microsoft Flight Simulator 98, which was installed on the computers in my 8th grade industrial technology class and was about the only thing we had planned for stretches of about a week at a time). Pilotwings really isn't any typical flight simulator, though. Also if it looks like I'm playing a bunch of N64 games from 1996-97, it's because I am, I'm trying to collect N64 games and I'm going to do it... Chronologically. Starting with the games from 1996 (I currently have 5 of the first 8, missing Shadows of the Empire, KI Gold, and Mortal Kombat Trilogy at the moment).

Tony Hawk's Pro Skater (GBC): First Appearance
I played Tony Hawk's Pro Skater for the Game Boy Color and it went about as well as you'd guess.

So that updates you on most of the things going on in my life games-wise. What a weird ass week.

Monday, June 16, 2014

Monday Update: 6/16/14

Alright a bunch of whatever with little to no substance this week, sort of like... most weeks?

Mario Kart 8 (WiiU): Third Appearance, Third Straight Appearance
Well my sister left for camp for like the entire summer so looks like I have the Wii U and the family's one copy of Mario Kart 8 to myself FOR TWO MONTHS. Looks like I'm just gonna have fun being not all that good at Mario Kart.

I got fairly solid at 7, though never really "great" and I never figured out the Maka Wuhu trick. I was never particularly good at Mario Kart Wii, either, mostly because I never purchased it and instead rented it four weeks in a row from Blockbuster (It doesn't feel like that was too long ago, but hey, it was. Back in 2008 Blockbuster was really still the best option in terms of rentals compared to Netflix (whose streaming service hadn't totally taken off at that time) or Redbox (still relegated pretty much exclusively to McDonald's lobbies). Now, I haven't seen an open Blockbuster in over two years. It doesn't feel that long ago but hey, here we are.

I'm going to start trying online play later this week, so we'll see how that turns out.

Super Smash Bros. for Wii U and 3DS (Wii U/3DS) First Appearance
Oh, no, wait, no I didn't. I stood in line at Best Buy for 3 hours to be told that there wouldn't be enough time to get everyone through and then we had to leave. But I lost at Mario Kart 8 to some random kid and I did this:
also I had to work on Saturday so I couldn't ever make it to try it out. I'm gonna go ahead and say it's the best game I ever played and I've never seen anything more enjoyable in my whole life. Truly the most life-changing game I have ever tried, it will destroy all other forms of entertainment. Music? You have four months to come out with your final album, because the only thing that you'll need coming circa-October 2014 on 3DS and Q4 2014 on the Wii U will be Super Smash Bros. Movies? Stop making them. You're wasting your time. Theatre? Replaced by people playing Smash Bros. Hope you enjoyed the Super Bowl, we're never doing that again. Netflix? It's going the way of Blockbuster. Smash 4 is that good.

Castlevania (NES/GBA): First Appearance
I hadn't played Castlevania for the NES in probably about 15 years in all honesty, but I tried out the GBA port at Clay's house the other day and, unsurprisingly, I'm not good at it. Granted, Clay's Gamecube controller is fucked up, one of those third party controllers with the grips on the sides, and the A button is smashed in so it sometimes presses itself. I always preferred the later PS1 and Game Boy Advance style Castlevania games to the older ones.

Bram Stoker's Dracula (GB): First Appearance
Clay had me play this too. Imagine one of the most atmospheric horror movies turned into a Super Mario Bros. clone somehow.

Super Mario Land (GB): First Appearance
HEY! HEY! THIS GAME IS GOOD. PLEASE RECONSIDER ALL OF YOUR THINKPIECES WHERE YOU'RE LIKE "Hey actually Super Mario Land is bad because the turtles turn into bombs and the fire flower's different" AND JUST ENJOY IT PLEASE THANK YOU

NBA Live 2004 (XBOX): First Appearance
I'm considering an idea called "The Alternate Clay Bennett Timeline" in which the Sonics stay in Seattle due to a random number of coincidences and changes. It'll be like the Butterfly Effect mixed with the Mandela Effect mixed with AfterEffects and everything will be beautiful.

Thank you very much for reading the Monday Update, now go win some soccer games no matter who you are or what country you call home. Unless you're Belgium. I'll never forgive you for the Smurfs