Monday, August 27, 2012

Mike's Mondays with Mike McGee: Columbo Noire

      You know how some of the stuff your parents are into rubs off onto your interest list like a good simile rubs off my brain area onto my computer’s letter boxes and forms sentence? Well for me, that was an ol’ buddy cop TV show called Columbo, which I still enjoy watching to this day. He was a very quirky type of detective for the LAPD and he’d always solve the crime. In true buddy cop avant-garde fashion, he rarely worked with a buddy, ('cept for that one time that William Shatner guest starred). Just imagine Peter Faulk as a detective and that’s literally the show. I always wanted to be Columbo, ‘cause he was such a cool cat. Luckily my pals at Rockstar heard my dumb hopes and dreams and immediately began making L.A. Noire, of which I have played 24 hours and will be the only game I cover in this week’s MMwMM. For the none of you who care about my content quantity, take it up with Mr. John “MONDAY AIN”T NO WEEKEND, GET OFF MY DAY!” Mikula. So let’s get into it or, in my time-appropriate lingo, “Let’s jimmy this swanky gam!”
I want to BE this!
      As I said, L.A. Noire is the spiritual sequel to Columbo. You play as Cole Phelps “war hero” and a surprisingly poor swimmer (omg, too clever!). You’s a cop, but eventually you become a detective ‘cause you’re not a dipshit and actually use your brain to solve cases. The unique thing about this game is the way that they realistically render facial features and expressions and such. They look prooty good, I must say. And it’s a good thing too, because it’d be pretty hard to tell if Mr. Hopgood is telling me the truth or not if they weren’t. (Psst, he’s not…use the chloral hydrate as evidence). Sometimes the story is told in a way that you [basically] know who is the criminal, but you have to find the evidence to convict. Columbo episodes were set up the same way. You saw who, how, and why the bad guy 'did it' and then the mystery came from how Columbo was gonna piece it together. So I like when that happens but I believe I already mentioned that I like that Columbo progrum. Yep, yes I did, “Well for me, that was an ol’ buddy cop TV show called Columbo, which I still enjoy watching to this day” (McGee 1). I’m having a time with it, a good one I’d even venture to say. I’m designating the next paragraph as the bitching paragraph; so don’t let it confuse you into thinking that I don’t like this game. Also, don’t get your hopes up. It’s not bitchin’ like it’s a real sweet-ass paragraph. I’m gonna complain and whine about stupid stuff…like a bitch.
It was literally as simple as that.

      Ok, so “bitching” may have been too strong of a description. Think of this as a terrible stand-up comedy routine. Ready? Go. ‘Ok, Mike here’s your big chance. Don’t blow it. Remember: Start weak so you have nowhere to go but up.’ So, the AI drivers in LA Noire are some of the most braindead piece of data I’ve ever had the misfortune to interact with. When you have your siren on, the drivers are usually pretty good about getting out of your way. Sometimes, though, you’ll run into (mmmliterally) the guy who just makes the last-second decision to pull out into traffic right as your passing by. You get docked, of course, which can affect your case rating at the end. I once had $13k in vehicle damages and dems 1948ish dollars. Granted, that was a special circumstance…but it still happened. So there are these side missions or “street crimes” which are basically just one-off crimes that can end it a shoot-out, car/foot chase, or…that’s really all I’ve encountered. They usually like to appear on the opposite side of the map so I usually don’t spend the extra 5-10-15 mins driving to ‘em. So what’s messed up is that, even though you’re a police officer, you’re basically killing any criminal that you come across. There’s really no way to keep these guys alive once they pull a gun on you. And they ALWAYS pull a gun...or commit suicide. Shooting ‘em in the leg is the same as shooting them in the head. The worst part is that there’s always a cutscene of the coroner loading a body into his vehicle and Phelps is always there with a look of self-disgust on his face, which is enhanced by the super facial rendering in the game. It hard when a game seemingly punishes you like that, but that’s the “win” screen of these street crimes. Simply baffling. And now for something completely phoned-in.
"Nice job handling this jaywalker, Phelps" - Guy who checks for semen
      Some of the interview questions are asked in a way that it’s hard to tell what evidence that you’re supposed to use to back up your accusation or even what the heck I'm asking about in the first place (i.e. the "title" of the question in the notebook ain't what you're really gettin' at, capisce?) Quick example: I was supposed to connect this guy to a robbery that he committed with a bunch of other people. He said that he had no idea what I was talking about so I was gonna “make” him on it (that’s how they talked, shut it!). But apparently evidence that connected him and his buddies to the robbery wasn’t good enough evidence. I shouldn’t know that the guy’s name being written in some sniper’s book was the better answer. Don't worry, though, I'm pretty pro at it. Some of ‘em take a little thought, and if you get stumped, using intuition points will make it easier to choose between Truth (Obvious), Doubt (They’re lying but you got no prove), and Lie (Bedda ha’ dat evidance!). It also narrows the choices of evidence to choose from if you use your intuition point with ‘Lie.’ When you look at it in hindsight, it makes a heck of a lot more sense.
"You guys sell Corn Flakes?" "Uh...n-no we don't sell that here."
      I think I had another joke to stretch this out but, unfortunately, it’s hard to remember all my jokes. I made myself laugh so hard that I got amnesia…it’s a curse, sometimes. Actually it’s always a curse; I can’t really think of a time when amnesia would not be considered a bad thing. What I never forget, though, is that these weekly posts help me to grow as an individual; learn new tricks, if you will. What could I have possibly learned from this masterfully written article that, at its worse, rocked your brain’s critical thinking skills like a frickin’ hurricane? Well, the most important thing to take away is that I need to spread my game-playing time over several games so that it’s not as obvious when I run out of things to talk about after the second paragraph. I’m still optimistic though, ‘cause I don’t write WSwJM…cuz it sa-suks &nd eye h8ate8 it!!11!eleven!! Remember: Koala bears spend as much as 20 hours a day sleeping. Oh, and Stay Shlocky!

L.A. Noire Final Score: A solid Cole Phelps out of Peter Faulk

Weekly Shlockness with John Mikula

                This Weekend I decided to take a short break from the blog writin’, which is why this post is going up during McGee’s usual time slot. Seeing as how school is out and the mess of projects that I had to get done is now out of the way, I wanted to shut myself out of the world for the weekend, take a quick breather, and spend some quality time with my stock pile of games I need to play. Your uncle Shlocky works hard, children; he needs a break every now and again. However, I do not write empty handed. You won’t have to read about my adventures with the Logo Quiz or any other bottom barrel bullsh*t that you so lovingly put up with for the last few weeks. Nope, this week is shlock full of gamey goodness; and I don’t mean gamey like “damn, son! This venison is gamey!” I mean gamey like “damn, son! These games are gamey!” Let me know when your finished adding that to the list of made up words we use on this blog and I get to telling y’all about the games I played this week.
This is what polo is like...IN HELL!
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                Ok so Darksiders is pretty cool. I bought this game a while back during the Steam summer sale, and I am just now getting a chance to play it. If you’re unaware of what this game is then imagine if The Legend of Zelda had sex with God of War and their offspring has some kind of horrible, baby skin transplant with Diablo 3. What I’m saying is Darksiders plays a lot like a Zelda game with God of War themes and an art style like Diablo 3. Usually when I’m forced to describe a game as when something has sex with something else it means that the game is contrived and not very good; however, this isn’t the case with Darksiders. Somehow Vigil managed to make a game that has become more than the sum of its parts in a way that makes it feel like its own unique experience. When I play Darksiders, I don’t feel like I’m playing Zelda or Diablo, I feel like I’m playing Darksiders and you can’t say that about many other games.
This looks like a pretty fair match up
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                What I really appreciate about Darsiders though, is how mindlessly fun it is. The thing about modern games is that they all seem to be trying too hard to be more than what they are. Assassin’s Creed 3 is supposed to have two and a half hours of cinematics which is longer than most f*cking films. Mass Effect has evolved into some sort of living universe filled with more lore and history than my f*cking history book in high school. Darksiders is just a f*cking game. It’s not trying to fully immerse the player in a dynamic event driven world, or cram so much backstory down our throats that we can’t breathe; it’s just trying to have a fun time. Why am I horseman without my horse yet? Because it makes for good progression. Why is the interior of this seemly normal building very maze-like? Because it serves the level design. Why do I need to complete an arena challenge before being let through a giant door? Because it’s more fun that way. Darksiders really represents that sweet, sweet middle ground of console gaming that has been lost over the last couple of years. I’m talking about the games that may not have been super, triple A titles, but they were still quality products that were good for a fun time. They weren’t super involved or needlessly in depth or even technically innovative, but they had their mechanics, and they knew how to make them enjoyable. Christ, I can’t even play Skyrim anymore because it’s just too exhausting. Don’t get me wrong, I’m as excited for Watchdogs and Starwars: 1313 as much as the next shmuck, but damn! It’s as if you spent the last six years watching nothing but action blockbusters. After a while, you just want a nice rom-com. Darsiders is my rom-com.
It's like that poster for step-brothers, only way less depressing
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                Upon a visit to my local used disk repository and I found me a copy of Silent Hill: Homecoming and I thought to myself, “why not?” Since I finished SH4 last week I need something to fill the survival horror hole in my schedule, and what better than another Silent Hill game. I was a bit nervous at first because I had always been told that this particular series has only gotten worse with age, and since this game was released only a couple years ago I thought I may have reason for concern. I’m happy to say that after playing the game for myself I’m having a pretty fun time with Homecoming. The main difference between this game and let’s say SH2 is that this game is a true to life third person shooter. When you hold L2 a little reticle pops up and you must manually aim your gun instead of just letting the auto lock on take care of it. I think this system works fairly well. The horizontal turn speed is a little slow and there’s no way to change it, but the shooting has a good punch to it and its pretty fun to do. Now that I think about it, Homecoming play a bit more like Resident Evil 4 now than it does a traditional Silent Hill game, which is fine by me because I though Resident Evil 4 played pretty well. The crazy Silent Hill atmosphere is in full force here, complete with a thick fog and its own demented hospital. The story is just as whacky and the graphics are real sharp. The main thing I have to say about Homecoming is that it feels like natural evolution of the franchise to current gen hardware. A buddy of mine insists that Downpour is much better than this game in that regard so I’ll have to pick up a copy of that at some point in the future and see for myself.
Wait...But I though you only existed in Silent Hill 2. What is going on here!
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                I played some other stuff this week but I don’t really feel like getting into any of that right now. Maybe I’ll lie write about them next week even though I didn’t play them that week, but we’ll just keep that as our little secret. Until next time Shlockheads, this has been your Weekly Shlockness.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Mike's Mondays with Mike McGee: ...Trust Me

       Webster’s dictionary defines fox as, “any of various carnivorous mammals (especially genus Vulpes) of the dog family related to but smaller than wolves with shorter legs, more pointed muzzle, large erect ears, and long bushy tail.” That is loosely revelant to today’s MMwMM. But while we’re at it, Webster’s dictionary defines dictionary as, “a reference source in print or electronic form containing words usually alphabetically arranged along with information about their forms, pronunciations, functions, etymologies, meanings, and syntactical and idiomatic uses.” 

       It really Merriam-Webster, but people usually just call it Webster’s, which is a good thing since Noah Webster did all the work and the Merriams came in and just did the publishing when Noah died. This is sad on two counts: one, I’ve spent this whole paragraph not talking about anything that anyone is interested in; two, I actually did research in order to talk factually about nothing. I played Star Fox 64 3D. Fox definition. Brilliance.
crap...I forgot my joke
       Yeah, so many of you have played Star Fox 64, including me. Arguably the best Star Fox game in existence, easily…because you wouldn’t have to argue very long, if at all, about that fact. It’s also long time secret admirer of the show Jon Jafari’s favorite game ever and his second favorite game about foxes named Fox [so much citation needed]. That last sentence really shouldn’t influence you to play the game (shame on you if it does) and you should be questioning its place in this- this…I wanna say informative review, but that’s not- yeah whatever, I’ll go with that. Anyways, I played the 3DS version of the game. It’s less its own game and more of Nintendo’s way of doing DLC update patchwork…I know game lingo. This is definitely the best version of the game available. The graphics and sounds are amazing; it’s all of the charm from the N64 version without the N64 versionness. In case you were keeping track the score is Me:1 Correct semicolon use: 1. Hmm, I should score these better.
So crisp, so clean- clean. Also, not in 3D, just in case you were an idiot.
       The game allows you to play in two different modes “3DS mode” and “64 mode.” The only difference that I can tell is that you can move the 3DS around to control the ship in 3DS mode, but you don’t have to. So they’re basically the same because, trust me, you don’t want to move your 3DS to fly your ship. Just trust me, it’s a pain in the ass. Anyways, in all the times I played this game, I never got the secret ending which apparently this game has. From what I gathered, you simply have to “accomplish” all your missions as opposed to just “completing” them, which results in you taking the topmost path to Andross’s planet, Venom. Spoiler alert: I did that. That way was full of surprises. I met this cat named Katt; she was pretty cool (Me/Correct semicolon use: 2). I have no idea why this is the first time I’ve heard or seem this cat chick. She’s got it all! She’s helpful in combat and she annoyed Falco because she showed him how much a f*cking jerk he can be sometimes. The next surprise. You know how Fox had a dad, well I saw that dude! He looked like Fox but with sunglasses on. You may think that’s pretty speciesist of me, but no, James McCloud is literally Fox McCloud’s sprite with sunglasses. But he helped me escape Andross’s base after I blew up his brain and eyeballs, so it’s all good. Like I said, this is definitely the best version of the game, but, if updated graphics isn’t enough reason to buy this game then, don’t. There aren’t too many new features in this installment, if any. If you don’t own the game already, like me, then get this version…trust me.
Pic of Mike's dad and his rockin' bod
       You may have noticed that I’ve been doing a lot of handheld games. That’s because I’ve been as busy as John has these past couple weeks. I typically only have time play on the train ride into and back from school. So, not fixing a broken *mumble*, we’ve got The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening DX. The DX stands for, “it’s got color…and an ‘exclusive color-based dungeon.’ Whatever that is.” This game stands out from other titles because you’re not collecting Triforce pieces, rescuing Zelda, or even fighting Ganon (Yes, I’m aware that Majora’s Mask doesn’t have that stuff either. You can’t out-fan me, ha!) You’re on an island and you have to collect 7 mystical instruments to get off…No wait! Come back, it’s good! This isn’t the hardest of Zelda games I’ve played (even though I’m currently stuck in the second dungeon), but it still has that classic Zelda feel and charm. I’m not that far into the game, but I got an item that let’s me jump on command. That’s pretty sweet! God, I’m doing a terrible job selling this.
       I’d like to think that everyone had a blast working on this game because it’s just full of goofy 4th wall jokes and cameos from other Nintendo games, including Chain Chomp, Goombas, Kirby, some dude from SimCity, and even more. A lot of elements in this game also seem to have made it into Ocarina of Time, and by “a lot” I mean two that I can think of: the fishing mini game, and the trading side quest. That says a lot about a game that Miyamoto had no creative input into. If you’re a Zelda fan, you should pick this game up and then let me know because John and I started a competition on who can get more readers to play the games that they talk about. So far, we’re dead even at 0-0. First one to 100, wins!
Oho, those crazy Japanese!

       Regardless of how many games I actually played this week, I’ll leave you under the impression that I only played these two. In classic MMwMM, I’ll immediately contradict myself and say that I beat Kingdom Hearts 3D [Dream Drop Distance]. Oh man, that’s a good game. The plot came to together in the end. Holy sh*t, did it come together. This is definitely my favorite plot in the whole series so far. Usually, I’m just like, “Yeah, play the game or don’t, I don’t care. That counts as my opinion on the game, right?” but, seriously, play this game…trust me. And if you’re a Kingdom Hearts fan, there’s no excuse. I know I basically said this last week, but that means that I mean it, right? Don’t forget to let me know that you played the game because of my posts; I really need this win (3/3).

            Happy 24th (that’d be embarrassing if I did the math wrong) Anniversary to my parents! And until next week, Stay Shlocky! (…that’d catch on)

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Weekly Shlockness with John Mikula

                Hey…so um, yea last week…I was totally gonna post a Weekly Shlockness, but I kinda downloaded the Logo Quiz onto my phone and I sorta got caught up trying to figure out what logos go to which corporation. Then I got to the Chevrolet logo and I knew it was for Chevrolet but I kept typing in Chevy cuz I forgot that Chevy is short for Chevrolet and it wound up taking me about 4 and a half days in isolation to figure it out. Sorry guys.
I f*cking hate you
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                NAH!! I’m just kidding! I was actually doing a bunch of programming for out humanities class. That’s crazy, right? The assignment was to construct a game based around this esoteric idea of the ‘unbuilt city’. That’s crazy, right? What’s more, we only have two weeks to do it. That’s crazy, right!? So basically all of my free time has been going to click-clackin’ away at this project and last weekend I seriously didn’t have any time to write anything down for the blog. However, if the game is cool enough Mike and I might make a video about it for our YouTube channel, so something good might come of this after all. We’ll see. ANYWAY! I did manage to sparingly play a few things over the last two weeks and I’d love to tell y’all about ‘em. So grab a seat and get ready for your Weekly Shlockness.
"Tom Cruise! What are you doing with that axe?"
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                I beat Silent Hill 4! YEAH! All was good except for the fact that I got the worst ending possible. But that’s okay because it means my record for getting all the worst endings in the Silent Hill games is untarnished; however, this ending was especially bad in both a ‘bad things happen’ and ‘bad quality’ sort of way. I’m going to start talking the spoiler talk so if anyone doesn’t want to have the worst ending of Silent Hill 4 spoiled for them skip down past this paragraph. Please and thank you. *SPOILERS* Okay so, the final boss is Walter Sullivan which, I don’t know if I mentioned him before or not, is this creepy dude whose been on some quest to murder 21 people for some reason. The fight itself is really weak. You’re in a big arena sort of thing with a giant pool of blood in the middle of it. There’s also a giant flesh creature (who is entirely unexplained mind you) hanging up against one of the sides of the arena. He doesn’t do anything, he just sort of yells at you. Walter is the one that will hurt you. He’s got a gun and will fire at you occasionally, only, you can’t fight back. Walter has become some sort of ‘shadow Walter’ which means he’s shrouded in a black mist and he’s indestructible. The way to beat him is to take these spears that are sticking out of the wall of the arena and thrust them into the giant flesh monster. When the flesh monster dies, Walter’s shadow powers go away and you can blast him until he’s dead. Pretty dumb, right? It gets dumber. The ending cinematic cuts to your room with Walter standing up against the wall. All you can hear is the radio turn on and the announcer starts talking about all the people Walter has killed, the main character Henry Townsend being the last one. So, despite the fact that we killed Walter in the game, he inexplicably lives, kills us, and starts living in our room. I’ve gotten some bad endings in my day, but this one is a real stinker. My understanding is that the other endings are better so if you’re thinking about playing the game, it’s still worth it to try and get one of the better endings.
I you listen to Dark Side of the Moon while playing this game backwards you'll be able to feel your hair growing
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                I also beat El Shaddai! YEAH! Y’all won’t have to worry about spoilers in this paragraph because I don’t know what the fuck happened. There was some sort of motorcycle fight, and a dancing angle dude, and some broad named Ishtar. I just don’t have a clue. What I do know is that the last boss fight wasn’t as bad as the one is Silent Hill 4. It wasn’t great, but it was pretty good. There was a fair bit of challenge involved but no deep strategy or tactics were really needed. The thing I really want to emphasis about the game is the sheer breadth of visual style to be had. It’s incredible. You’ll find yourself is some sort of crazy, future, Tron land one level, and a crazy, floating cube level the next. Description can’t really do it justice; you really just have to experience them for yourself. The gameplay is pretty good as I’ve said before, but the real reason to play this game is for the visuals. If you’re an artsy kind of person, you will enjoy going through this game. The whole thing isn’t very long (maybe seven hours) so it’s not that big of an investment for a relatively good time.
I'm calling it now. Game of the year.
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                I totally played the Logo Quiz! YEAH! I wasn’t lying about that in the opening paragraph, I did download the Logo Quiz and have been playing it a lot more than I thought I would. The game is really simple: you’re shown a huge list of hundreds of logos and you have to type in the name of whatever company the logo belongs to. What’s funny is I would go on the Android game store and look at the most popular free games available and every time I looked the stupid Logo Quiz would be higher on that list. A couple days ago it was second only to Angry Birds so I’m like “fine, I’ll give it a shot”. I’m having a fun time with it, especially because it’s way harder than I thought it’d be. I’d like to give you an example of a hard one, but I don’t know what any of them are so I can’t really give an example, but you have to trust me, it’s a pretty hard game. Now I’m turning into a consumer pig that sits around and watches commercials all day because I gotta find out what these f*cking logos go to. I’ve seen so many subliminal messages the last week I’m going to be broke by the next Weekly Shlockness.

                Well that’s all I’ve got for y’all this week. Maybe by next week I’ll get into that copy of Darsiders that I bought like two months ago, but I’ll probably just play a bunch of minesweeper instead. Until next time Shlockheads.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Mike's Mondays with Mike McGee: Simple and Clean

       So I took my own advice from last week and I literally broke open Kingdom Hearts 3Ds and literally put it in my 3DS and figuratively had a ball while I literally played that game. Unfortunately you have to wait like 3 more sentences before I can tell you about that jank because I was taught that a paragraph had to be between 4-5 sentences. For you guys, I’ll go middle of the road and have this intro paragraph be 4.5 sentences long. This is clearly filler. Now I-
Dammit, Lardopuss! Your eyes were closed!
       If you remember PREVIOUSLY (subtle), I talked about playing the demo of this game. I discussed many a feature and nuance that this game had to offer. Now that I’ve played this game for a while I’m ready to talk about it more. I’ma tell ya right off the get-go’d bat, I’m not gonna say anything about the story, excluding accidental mentions when setting up other points. I don’t want to spoil anything for anyone and I barely understand what’s going on in the first place. The only thing I’ll say about the story is that occasionally they’ll throw in little “Chronicles” which summarize the story of previous installments. These usually become available when they reference a previous game so that you go, “oh that’s where that’s from…maybe choosing this as my first Kingdom Hearts game wasn’t such a good idea after all.” It’s a nice touch and I actually read ‘em, so that should put that into perspective. 
       As you may have guessed or previously known, you get to play as both Sora and Riku in this game, but there aren’t Riku/Sora specific areas. They actually both play through the same worlds. The worlds are like split or something and Riku and Sora are on opposite ends of these parallel worlds that aren’t really parallel. You’ll be playing as one of the hero dudes and then after a clearly indicated amount of time you “drop” to the next character. My first experience with this was kind of annoying because I was fighting a boss with Sora when I dropped and the boss was back to full health when I dropped back to Sora again. Fortunately, you get items that refill your drop meter and slow down how quickly it counts down. It’s really not a problem anymore and it’s a pretty cool mechanic gameplay-wise.
Refighting boss-oh...nevermind
       You’ll be visiting Disney-themed worlds, as is staple. The coolest one so far was The Grid, which was Tron world. They got a pretty good Jeff Bridges impersonator to do of those guys who look like Jeff Bridges in the movie, so that’s prooty cool. The Reality Shift has been the coolest in this world, did I forget to mention that they change depending on what world your in? You basically get to, simplistically, rewrite the enemy/environment code to make them switch targets, blow up, or give you health and munny and stuff. I was definitely off the mark when I talked about the Reality Shifts when I played the demo. These things are invaluable. This world is unique because it’s the only one, so far, that you fight things that aren’t dream eaters. You fight like dudes…pretty sweet. 
JEFF BRIDGES...and co.
       Speaking of dream eaters, which were those things that were following me around in the demo, this feature is a lot more in-depth than I thought. First of all, you can have more than just that fat cat thing. You find recipes and you use these materials that you rip off the exploded corpses of your enemies to make different dream eaters. Each dream eater has an ability path, which gives the dream eater and Riku/Sora access to magic/attack/defense buffs as well as spells and keyblade abilities. These are unlocked by using link points, which are easily built up when you have them in your party. You can have up to three in your party although only two are visible on screen at a time. This definitely adds another 100 layers of depth with all the mixing and matching you can do with these things. It also extends the gameplay time because I could (and have) spend hours petting my dream eaters in their special AR world to build up link points and raise their stats and stuff. Riku and Sora can share the same dream eaters, but why would you want to limit yourself? I can’t wait for the day that I can make myself a friggin’ t-rex and triceratops…someday.
want, Want, WAnt, WANt, WANT!!
       There’s a lot here for fans and newcomers alike. I definitely recommend it to anybody interested…that seems like a useless statement but it’s really not. This is definitely the best entry into the KH (Kingdom Hearts if you’re slow on the uptake) handheld catalog and without a doubt the best one that I’ve play… that is a useless statement due to its redundancy. It’s too early to say for sure, but the story is cooking up to be one of the better in the series. I can honestly say to those who say that I can’t be a fan of this series because I haven’t played KH 1 or 2 that I reciprocate that sentiment your direction in regards to this game. And because I said that I’m not going into the story for reasons, this is probably the last in-depth look at this game that I’m going to give. I’ll give a brief (a sentence or two), general reaction to the game as a whole at the end of a future MMwMM. But until then, do yourself a favor and experience this game by any means necessary that don’t exceed the severity of bodily harm done to yourself or others. Until next time, here’s looking at you, kid.

P.S. I'm not offended by POVs and preferences that differ from my own, but there was borderline too much gay-related content when I searched for pics. Yet I can't tell if I'm upset because I saw it or if I'm upset because I was surprised by it, hmm....

Monday, August 6, 2012

Mike's Mondays with Mike McGee: Speed Run King

       Nice job, Ash! You did it! You beat Gary! It was a great battle and, in the end you trounced him soundly. It’s nice to see that you’ve gained a mutual respect for each other. That was a great Pokémon episode-watching marathon! I’m glad I decided to do this instead of disturbing Kingdom Hearts: Dream Drop Distance from its peaceful sleep inside the Target bag where it’s been for almost a week now – aaaannnnddd crap, it’s Monday…I’m in trouble. I’ve gotta find a way to play some games quick. I don’t want to let the readers down because I was too lazy to play games. Ding! s’perfect! (that was supposed to be a light bulb…not a microwave or the like) Ok, at the risk of relying on the ol’ MMwMMism “I didn’t play anything this week” and then proceeding to talk about stuff that I played, I’m actually gonna say just that and it’s gonna actually be true this time! Then, I’ll talk about speedruns that I watched like they were the games that I played this week. Yep, that’s the joke this week…at least I’m not late, JOHN!!
I'm black for the sake of this joke
       This week I decide to push myself a little and 100% Luigi’s Mansion. With the sequel coming up sometime in the recently-decent future, I decide to purchase, 100% complete, and immediately sell this game. This would explain why you wouldn’t find it in my inventory at present. I breezed through this puppy in about an hour and a quarter so, I didn’t notice too much of the story, other than Mario was kidnapped and Luigi’s gotta find him. It made sound like a direct and shameless rip off of Mario is Missing, but Luigi’s sucking up ghosts with a ghost vacuum in this one. So, in the eyes of this cool guy, it’s actually something completely original in the scope of all media. There are these like “boss ghosts” throughout the game that are actually pretty creative. It’s fun to figure out how to make some of these ghosts appear. Usually, you just have to interactive with the environment (the room of the house), but, sometimes, there’s that extra level of having to use fire, ice, or water power-ups to your Poltergeist 3000. It’s lets you shoot fire, ice, or water out of your Poltergeist 3000…if that wasn’t clear.
I still have to play Luigi's GoombaHog's Day. Heard it was pretty good.
       The game looks really good too. It was a launch title for the Gamecube and it definitely did a good job of showing off what the system was capable of. I mean it’s like this and then Picasso in terms of graphics, need I say more? Also in terms of presentation, Luigi whistling/humming along with the background music was a really nice touch. It’s got some annoyances, like when Boos will jump back and forth between two rooms, adding tedium to the inevitability. Granted, this is only a factor if you’re trying to 100% the darn thing like this champ. I’ve never not 100%’d this game so I don’t know if there’s a difference in difficulty of King Boo (final boos, lololol pun!) if you don’t get all 50 boos. At the end of the game the money you get goes towards building a new mansion. I got the best one, naturally. Hopefully the sequel is harder to 100%, cuz this one’s a breeze!
I knew it! Luigi was a ghost the whole time!
       I was on a 100%ing role, so I decide to go with a game that already owned Pokémon Colosseum. Luckily, I had played this game already because I ended up sleeping through most of this playthrough. It’s not unlike every other Pokemon game, except that every battle is a double battle and that you can only catch “shadow” pokemon; there are 48 of ‘em. Evil bad science made these pokemon evil and you catch ‘em and “purify their hearts” and then everything’s ok. There are some cool ones and some dumb ones, but you’ll get a good party set up pretty early on. It’s a pretty fun game if you’re a pokemon fan and the 3D pokemon make the battles feel even more epic. The moves seem way more devastating, especially earthquake; it’s all like, “ckruaesckaeauhskasK!!” It's really badass! The playthrough took me about 7 hours to do, even with me sleeping through most of it. I did figure out a pretty handy trick to make that pesky pokemon catching a breeze! Once you get the Master Ball, use the first your pokemon’s turn to use the master ball and then, when you have to choose your other pokemon’s moves, go to the item screen where your pokeballs are and switch the position of the master ball (i.e. first position to third, etc.). You’ll use the master ball, but still have it in your inventory. Neat, huh! Gotta cheat ‘em all!
Why couldn't I have this in Pokémon Red?
       Another one done and I’m feelin’ fine! I had so much fun with Pokemon that I decide to buy one of the Pokemon games that I’d never played before. I looked to Japan for the legendary Pokemon Green Version ooohhh! Now I’m not proud of what I paid for this game. I’m not gonna say the exact amount, but it was somewhere upwards of some money. The disappointment started when I booted up the game and much to my chagrin, I wasn’t grinnin’ at what I saw. It was all in Japanese! I know this game basically the Japanese “Red version,” but that’s all I know! Not 4 minutes in, I did something somewhere and ended up glitch the heck outta that sucka! I walked this way and that and then talk to this one dude that was hidden behind some binary and, ShaBam, the credits started a-rollin’. I’m not sure if it’s something that happened on my end or if this is considered a game in Japan. They’re pretty kooky over there. I could probably tell you if I could read Japanese, but, alas, it will probably forever remain a mystery!
Ugh! The text is glitchin' up again!
       After that failure, I decide to tackle a game that I got pretty recently: Donkey Kong 64. This is an interesting little game involving Donkey, Diddy, and the three characters that we never hear from or speak of again: Lanky, the Orangutan; Tiny, the girl one; and the big stupid one. The game is set up so that each member of the DK crew brings different skills to the table in both a forced and unforced way. Unforced in the sense that each character has a specific set of skills that make it easier to complete certain sections, but at the same time, not impossible to do it without them. It’s forced in the sense that each character can only collect a certain color of collectable, which results in a lot of backtracking and ultimately extends gameplay a good 5 hours if you want to 100% the game. I didn’t get much else out of the gameplay, story, or even the levels (there were some instruments or something. Hell, I don’t know), because I was exploiting glitches in the game to get done as fast as possible. No time to enjoy a game, I’ve got a blog to write! I managed to finish the game in about an hour, 54 minutes if you’re keeping track, but not before an amazingly designed boss fight with King K. Rule. If you’re a fan of the show, then you’ll know of John and my recent discussion on platforming boss battles. We weren’t really able to come up with any good ones off the tops of our heads, but I think this one is definitely one of my new favorites. It’s set up as a boxing match and each character goes a round with the fat-weight champion. The sections are designed to utilize each ape’s skill set and there are little cutscenes in between rounds. It’s really good trust me, my brother’s gonna be a doctor.
Tonight on Behind the Music, From Disco King to Obscurity: The Chunky Kong Story.
       That’s it for that nonsense. I’m glad you all really enjoyed this and appreciate that, despite all my laziness, I found something to talk about and I’ve always talked about it in a timely manner. All the speed runs I watch were found at They’ve got some pretty crazy ones; I’d recommend it. I think I’ve apologized in my head, but I figured you actually needed to read a real one for it to count. I’d like to apologize for my extreme laziness. I know nobody reads these anyways, but I still feel like I’ve cheated you. I hope I at least made it entertaining as I recapped what I saw. And, although, I can’t guarantee that this won’t happen again, I can guarantee that I’ll try my best to make you put down the gun, climb off the ledge, drop the toaster…outside the bathtub. After all, I’m doin’ this for you. I sure as hell ain’t doing it for me, cuz I’m don’t get paid! Happy 23rd Birthday to my brother, Warren! He gon be a doctor! See you next week with another winner!

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Weekly Shlockness with John Mikula

                Y’know, I usually make an attempt to get these posts up on Saturday. I don’t always succeed, but the effort is there, and as everyone knows, it’s the thought that counts. This week I didn’t even make that effort. I was so busy on Saturday with a ton of game programming to do and a bunch of bloody homework that needed to be done; then it gets to Sunday and I have to work a nine hour shift. Now, I’m not going to talk down to you, my lovely and talented readers. I know these are just excuses for being really late on my weekly post; however, I feel that they are really good excuses. Out a panel of ten expert excuse makers, three of them said that these were above average excuses. The other seven didn’t actually show up to the panel. One of them had a relative die, one of them had to take their dog to the dermatologist, and someone else was stricken with ‘barfitis’. Really when you look at it, my excuses have a 100% approval rating which is higher than basically any other approval rating ever. Either way, I’m going to need to write quickly before I start getting into Mike’s Mondays territory so I’m going to cut this intro paragraph right here and start telling y’all about the games I’ve been playing this week.
But I don't wanna!
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                For starters, I played a lot more Silent Hill 4. The game is still pretty awesome and much of what I said last week still holds; however, things have stated to become much more intense. The room that you could casually return to in order to replenish some health has stopped replenishing my health. It turns out the ghosts have started to invade my quiet little room. My windows are moving all by themselves, blood is dripping from the peephole, and I can see ghoulish faces poking out from the wall. What’s worse is that if I am to go near these happenings then my health starts to go down. I am now completely reliant on health drinks and med kits to heal me, and those are in very short supply. I can get rid of the ghosts in my room by placing down a holy candle, which can be found scattered around the environment. This makes it so I don’t take damage while I’m there, but it doesn’t fix the health regenerating system for some reason. To make matters worse, when I’m not in the room I’m being chased by Walter Sullivan (the main antagonist), and he’s got a gun that does hella damage. It’s pretty stressful, but also pretty awesome. The game feels like it has some real progression to it; whereas it started out really quite easy, but now I’m struggling to get my health above the half-way point. The challenge is deep enough to the point where I feel like I’m playing a survival horror and not some two-bit action game where I have a hundred bullets and health regeneration. When all is said and done I am still having a lot of fun playing this iteration of Silent Hill and it has become a contender for my favorite of the Silent Hill games, if it weren’t for that f*cking chick who keeps following me around.
"Enter hole? Well, it beats eating at Arby's"
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                That last line was meant to be a witty sign off for that paragraph but it totally brings up an aspect of the game that I totally don’t like. You encounter some woman whose name I don’t remember (Gah! What is this? MMwMM?). She is indicative of Ashley from Resident Evil 4 in that she just kind of follows you around; only this time it is way more annoying. For one, she moves really slowly. Like, if you don’t stop every couple of feet, you will out run her and she’ll be lost. Also, when you go through doors, she doesn’t immediately spawn in that room with you. This means that if you want her to enter a new area with you, she has to be standing by the door with you when you go to actually enter that area; and because she moves so slow, you’ll wind up standing by the door just waiting for her to catch up so you can progress. It’s super annoying, and it’s not like you can just ditch her somewhere because occasionally the game throw up some invisible walls until she is properly by your side. I should also mention that she can fight enemies; which, on the surface sounds good, but then you realize that you have to sacrifice one of your own inventory slots to hold her weapon even though I can see her physically holding it in her hand. It’s a ball ache, and it sours a really good video game package otherwise.
"No! Officer! I know I said I was upset with her, but did not hit her will my car twenty times!"
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                Now, I haven’t been one for handhelds as of late. I have an original PSP, but that was the last portable gaming device I have owned besides my phone. The whole idea just kinda lost its appeal to me. If I’m out and about I don’t really have time, nor do I really want to play a game with any real commitment; and if I’m at home, I have PC and PS3 games I want to play. Handheld consoles don’t really suite my lifestyle and the games don’t always seem worth the investment of a whole new handheld console. I didn’t want to pay another couple hundred dollars for a DS just so I can play the one or two games I thought looked cool…but that was then. At the beginning of this week my girlfriend lent me her DS so I could play one of her favorite games, Phoenix Wright. I might now have to reconsider my decision to not buy a DS now.
"Don't laugh at the judge because he looks like some sort of amorphous, blubber creature!"
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                Phoenix Wright, as it turns out, is a really cool game and it’s pretty hard to describe to someone who hasn’t played it. The idea that is you play as a defense attorney. Now, when I first heard about this game, I was racking my brain trying to figure out how you make a game out of that. Go ahead and take a minute, try and figure out how this game works……………….okay! That’s enough time. Phoenix Wright is broken up into two segments, there’s the portion outside of the court room, and the portion inside the court room. When you’re not actively in a trial, you are out and about, examining the scene of whatever crime the defendant is involved in, looking for clues that show up as items in some sort of inventory system, talking to people about preset topics, and generally trying to figure out what went down. When you find all the clues and progress the story enough the trial starts and you have to do your best to prove the defendant not guilty. This is the fun part of the game. What happens is the prosecuting attorney will bring up witnesses to give their testimony. The testimony is broken up into little information segments that can be examined and flipped through at will. You can request some elaboration on any particular info testimony segment and you ultimately have to try and find a contradiction in what the witness says based upon the clues and evidence you found outside the trial. When you think you found that contradiction, you present the evidence that proves that fact. Do this several times for each witness, answer a few questions from the judge, batta-bing batta-boom and you’ve won the trial. You get five chances to f*ck up by either presenting the wrong piece of evidence, or by answering the judge incorrectly. If you blow those five chances, the trial is over and the defendant is found guilty.

                If my description doesn’t make sense then all you need to know is that the crime scene has become a logic puzzle, and it is up to you to solve it so everything makes sense. I think these systems are really clever, like…really clever. I really admire how they have managed to turn a job like defense attorney and turn it into an adventure. Phoenix Wright has his own rival, there are shocking twists and turns revealed as the trial unfolds, and whenever you discover a sick contradiction the prosecutor looks like you’ve just punched him in the gut. It’s really pretty fun to behold and it makes me feel epic in a setting that I never thought could be so epic. At points the witness’s testimony looks completely solid and you’re flipping through evidence trying to see if anything doesn’t make sense. But then you realize that the defendant couldn’t possibly have murdered the victim because the murder weapon only has finger prints from their left hand! The jury goes ballistic, the prosecution is down for the count, and Phoenix is standing tall. It’s a lot of fun.
Just kidding man! It's totally fun.
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                Occasionally Phoenix will say something like “Of course! The answer is so obvious now. The real murderer is…” and I’ll be prompted to pick a suspect, but I don’t have any clue who the murderer is. I found myself wildly guessing answers in some of these scenarios because the imaginary ties that the game has come up with to link evidence to the proper cues are a little farfetched at times. “That couldn’t possibly be the defendant in that photograph because of this clock!” I don’t know, maybe it’s just me, but some of the logic in the logic puzzles seems a little illogical. Oh well. I still think Phoenix Wright is a great game. The art is competent, the writing is alright, but the game itself is so much fun. I’d say it’s definitely worth a look.

                Oh man! I had better wrap this up soon. There’s only a couple of hours until MMwMM. I hope this super late, super rushed post is enough to last y’all another week. I totally would have written a better closing paragraph but, uh…um, I think I’m coming down with a case of barfitis. Until next time Shlockheads, this has been your Weekly Shlockness.