Monday, November 29, 2004

"Top 5 games"

So rummaging through some old crap, I found this little gem from sometime in early 2004. For no reason at all, I polled random people on my AIM list. I asked them: "NAME THE TOP 5 GAMES OF ALL TIME OFF THE TOP OF YOUR HEAD (ANY SYSTEM)." Here's what I got back from my spontaneous poll:

[All comments are Rob's and therefore 100% true.]

Top 5
[#1] 6 votes: Street Fighter II (Series)

This proves that I have the smartest people in the world in my AIM list. If you didn't vote for SF2, you probably suck pretty bad at it and resent it. It wasn't the first 1-on-1 fighting game ever made, but it's truly the only one that really mattered. It had a great, clean, uncluttered, and FUN fighting system, memorable characters, and even memorable music and stages to boot. SF2 is truly deserving of
the top spot.

[#2] 4 votes (tie): Final Fantasy III (i.e. VI in Japan)

Thist game was to RPG's what SF2 was to fighting games. If you voted for any other RPG and FF III wasn't on your list, I can only hope that you haven't played FF III.

[#2] 4 votes (tie): Quake III (+ mods)

Undoutedly, this is only in the top 5 because a lot of my AIM list is comprised of Quake 3 players. :) Even still, I firmly belive that Quake III is the epitome of First Person Shooter DEATHMATCH games.I say deathmatch, because it's single player experience is lacking. That's because this game was designed for deathmatch, and no other FSP game can say that. Except for UT, in which case it can say that it was designed for sucky deathmatch with mining weapons of the future! Multiplayer deathmatch catapults Quake III deseverdly to the top 5.

[#2] 4 votes (tie): Super Mario 64

The first game to successfully take a franchise from it's 2D greatness into the 3D realm. It was as revolutionay as the original Super Mario Bros. Hands down the best 3D platformer ever created.

[#5] 3 votes: Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past (i.e. Zelda III)

Eschewing the Zelda II suckiness and goint back to its roots, Zelda III simply kicked ass. Like a lot of Nintendo franchises, it was actually successfully converted to 3D on the N64 and GameCube Zeldas, but nothing quite beats playing Zelda in its original top-down form. A classic.

Also Receving Votes:
2 Final Fantasy VII - Give it up you sony dweebs. I konw you played this first, but seriously... III > VII.
2 Herzog Zwei - I can only say that Kevin is 'teh rulez' for being the only other person to give this game props.
2 Pac-Man - OK, this game was boring. Ms. Pac-Man > Pac-Man by like 100 times.
2 Quake (+ mods) - Surpassed by Quake 3 for balanced Deathmatch. Single player was good.
2 Starcraft - I never got into this game, but I'm not Korean... so... I mistakenly think that Red Alert > *.
2 Super Mario Bros. 3 - Awesome game.
1 Battlefield: Vietnam - This game is too new. I mean, will you play it years from now?
1 Capcom Vs. SNK 2 - Good, but flawed fighting game.
1 Chrono Trigger - Ehhh. Just couldn't get into this. Lack of a huge set of characters for your party hurt it.
1 City of Heroes - See Battlefield. Seriously, these type of games has a short (but intense) lifespan.
1 Civilization - I liked it, but I don't see what all the fuss was about.
1 Contra - Nice.
1 Deja Vu - WTF? I've never played this game? Hmmm... I'm gonna have to track a copy down now.
1 Dig Dug - Ummm... it might be Top 5 Material if this was like, the early 80s.
1 DooM - Very good, but id has made way better games since then. Take off the nostalgia glasses.
1 DooM II - See DooM.
1 Dungeon Siege - I never played it, and I don't think I will. Thanks.
1 Earthbound - Awesome game. Kris is also 'teh rulez' with Kevin.
1 Excitebike - Very fun game. But top 5 ever? Nah.
1 Final Fantasy I - The game was flawed. But it eventually spawned Final Fantasy III, so it should get some props I guess.
1 Final Fantasy II (i.e. IV in Japan) - Almost as good as FF III, but not.
1 Final Fantasy X - See Final Fantasy II.
1 Galaga - Great shooter, but again with the nostalgia glasses.
1 Gauntlet - The only thing I can say is: "Elf needs food, badly!"
1 Goldeneye - There are these things called PC's where you can use a Mouse and Keyboard for FPS games. Look into it.
1 Gran Turismo - If I liked 'realistic' racing where you can slam into stuff and not get damaged, this would be my choice.
1 Half-Life - Nice single player mode, but you also spawned Counter-Strike. So you are automatically 'teh suck'.
1 Halo - See Goldeneye.
1 Homeworld 2 - I liked the first one a lot. Didn't play this, but I can't see it jumping into the top 5.
1 Kingdom Hearts - Looked cool. Never got around to it.
1 MechWarrior 2 - Good PC game.
1 Metal Gear Solid - Creating the stealth genre was a good thing.
1 Metroid Prime - Props for making it still 'feel' like Metroid, but how aobut a decent ending without needing 100%??
1 Morrowind - Ryan sucks.
1 Quake II (+ mods) - Slooow rockets. Blaster Pistol? Pfft. 'Nuff said.
1 River City Ransom - I still want this game. :(
1 Serious Sam 2 - You're kidding, right Brian?
1 Shining Force - Nice. Nice. Props to old school RPG/Strat games... but this isn't a Top 5 game.
1 Soul Calibur 2 - Nice.. umm... animation. Solid control for a 3d game. But if you do ANY damage by mashing buttons...
1 Star Control 2 - Underrated. Still, top 5? Naah.
1 Super Metroid - Maybe if I liked Metroid 1 more...
1 Super Bomberman 2 - The ultimate Party game to this day!
1 Uru - Ummm.. wasn't this like Myst 3? Shouldn't that automatically disqualify it?

Voters: Rob,Ricky,Brian,Ryan,Kris,Brad,Jon B.,Jesse,Kevin,Pat,J.C.,Brent.
"Nintendo DS"

So I picked up a Nintendo DS on the day of release. Actually, I picked up more than one (ebay time!), but that's not the point of this entry. Nope, for today I will simply share with you my initial impression of Nintendo's newest gadget.

First Look:
Opening up a new game system is always a great feeling. The crispness of the plastic, the perfectly twisty-tied cables, the minty manuals. Ahhh... so fresh. :) What was I saying? Oh, yeah... first look. One of the first things I noticed is how big the DS itself is. It's about the size of the original wide-version GBA, but double the thickness. This isn't a "Pocket" system unless you have fairly large pockets. It's a nice color I guess, but Platinum doesn't seem like it would hold up to scratches very well. What I will say is that it is a step up from fucking purple. Good game, Gamecube. It also feels a little "cheap". Dunno, that's just the feeling I got from holding it.

I was pleasantly surprised that my DS came with a pre-charged battery. Good deal. I was able to fire it right up. The battery life of the DS is said to be between 6-10 hours. That's good enough for me as I don't see myself playing for more than that many hours at a time. I was actually kind of surprised by the battery life as I was expecting the DS, with its powerful hardware and dual lit screens, to chew right through the battery. No complaints here.

The screens themselves are adequate, but I was somewhat disappointed with the visual quality of the touch screen (the bottom one). It looked noticeably blurrier than the top one. I chalk it up to the fact that it is touch sensitive while the top one is not, and I have to admit that it is by no means a bad screen. As far as the usefulness of Dual Screens... Well, so far it's a joke. The DS is a 3D gameboy with a permanent map screen that can also be used as controller, or to be more accurate, a fancy stylus-pad. I think I would have rather had them make a Gameboy 2 or something with a smaller, single-screen setup and kickass 3D capabilities with a true analog controller... hmmm... wait a minute! I guess what I'm saying is that I'd rather it had been a PSP!

Having the option to use a stylus is kinda nice, but having to use the stylus on every game just because Nintendo wants to push it as a selling point is not. Seems to me that they could have made a Metroid DS game that controlled better than it does now if they hadn't had to incorporate that damn stylus. While they do have a non-stylus control scheme, it sucks balls. This is akin to the GBA connectivity thing. Nintendo gets it in their heads that whatever wacky thing they just thought of is the coolest thing ever, and they push it hard at the expense of the game (4 player Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles or Zelda 4-swords, anyone?) I like that they have 4 face buttons now, but I can't ever fucking use them because I have the damn stylus in my hand. At least the control pad feels OK, the Start and Select buttons are easily reachable (they finally took them out of the bottom middle and put them by the face buttons), and the L/R buttons work just fine. Honestly, the most annoying thing about the control interface is that every fucking menu keeps telling me to "Touch the Screen". I ignore their illogical commands and use the good ol' A button whenever possible.

The first time you power on your DS, you set your name, the date, time, etc. No problems there. After that, the DS boots into a menu system by default. I found out that you can actually boot directly to a DS game, but I left it booting to the menu. The Dual Slots (omg, DS again?) are nice. It can accommodate a GBA game down low and a DS game up top both at once. Hmmm.... Doesn't that just put a nasty thought into your head? Anyway, so if you're planning to use it as much as a GBA as you are a DS, it's best to let it boot to the menu so you can choose what you wanna play. However, if I was designing this thing, what I would have done was incorporate a "hold down A to autoboot DS software, B to autoboot GBA software and X to autoboot the system menu" kinda thing. But what do I know? I've never let my market share slide from a near monopoly to 3rd place. I've never launched flops like the Virtual Boy, e-Card readers and connectivity cables. I've never managed to pigeon hole my company into a kiddy-only market. So, yeah. I'll just keep my opinions to myself. ;) Anyway, moving on... as far as basic system functions is concerned, you can use PictoChat (See below) or Set an Alarm. Whee. That's it. No Phonebook, daily planner, note taker or virtual post-its. I'm sure they're on their way, but that shit should have been built in, right? If they're smart, they'll put that shit out on a GBA style cart so you can leave it in the GBA port full time. But, they're Nintendo, so they won't do that because it makes too much sense. Please make me buy your personal organizer on a DS cart so I have to swap it out whenever I want to play a game... oh, and while your at it, might as well make me us an Organizer only stylus for good measure.

As I already mentioned, PictoChat software comes built into the system. You access it via the main menu and, well, you do nothing. You can only chat with other DS's up to 30 feet away. That's great if you are in grade school, but for the rest of the world, it's useless. (It'll be useless to grade schoolers too since the DS will be banned from classrooms across the world in no time at all.) What they need is to have standard LAN compatibility so you can chat with anybody on the Internet who's connected via Wireless LAN. This has been hinted at by Nintendo, but who knows if and when they'll do that.

The second piece of software you get is a demo of Metroid Prime Hunters. The focus of this demo is obviously multiplayer. Unfortunately, I haven't had a chance to try it out with any of my DS-owning friends yet. But I will. So far, it seems like it could be fun. The single player missions are basically "training" missions. They're short, but still kinda cool. MPH shows promise. I like it despite the stylus control scheme.

And, of course you know that I picked up the obligatory Mario launch title: Super Mario 64 DS. Now, is it me or has Nintendo just completely forgotten how to make an original Mario game? They need to stop re-hashing their old shit... and quick. The Mario Advance Series for the GBA is a joke. And I wouldn't be surprised to see a Super Mario Sunshine DS in the near future either. So, yeah... Super Mario 64 DS is basically what you'd expect. It's SM64 plus some mini games and new playable characters. The extra features and multiplayer are nice, but seriously, an original Mario game please!

I'd have to say that if you haven't already run out and bought one... don't. Wait until better software appears or the price drops to $99. It really is a nice 3D gameboy. It's just cluttered with unnecessary crap.