Tuesday, February 2, 2016

#‎DealingWithThisForTheRestOfTheYear‬

What they say:
"I don't vote! I hate politicians! They're ALL the SAME!"
What they mean:
"I'm way, WAY too lazy to really educate myself on the differences between the candidates" and/or "I made a half-assed attempt to educate myself, but my cynicism/incompetence prevented me from really comprehending anything I found."


-_-

Monday, January 25, 2016

Headline: "Kanye West Shares Track List For Upcoming Album 'Swish' "

1. errybody look at me
2. i am the greatest
3. look at how great i am
4. my greatness
5. best artist ever
6. living as a genius
7. greatest art genius
8. the genius of my great art
9. be humble like me
10. give me more grammies

Monday, January 4, 2016

Game Reviews: Zelda: Ocarina of Time 3D, Back to the Future: The Game, Tomb Raider (2013), NBA 2K15

 

     


Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time 3D

This is the 3DS's 2011 update to 1998's ├╝ber-masterpiece, Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time. For anyone who's been living under a rock, Ocarina is still considered one of the finest video games of all time. If you've never played it before, stop what you're doing and play it now. (Though, if you've never played ANY Zelda game before, first go play Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past, and then play this, or any other version of Ocarina.)

The graphics have received a substantial upgrade, though they're not what you could call high-definition. And the vast majority of the original game's phenomenal gameplay is unchanged, save for a few tweaks that improve the experience here and there. This game adds options for 3D viewing and for gyroscopic weapon aiming, both of which I turned off because meh.

I really don't have any gripes with this game that I didn't have with the original, and those gripes were almost entirely drowned-out by the game's off-the-charts level of quality and polish. Yes, Ganondorf now coughs up green blood because the original red blood was considered too gruesome; and yes, the Fire Temple's music was made less epic because the original music was considered too close to an Islamic chant. But a Lamborghini with a quarter-inch hail dent is still a Lamborghini.

Overall: 10/10


Back to the Future: The Game (30th Anniversary Edition)

Were it not brimming with respect for its source material and punctuated by moments of sheer brilliance, this game would probably be a 3 out of 10.

It's simply not a good video game. Even though this is a re-release of a game from 2010, Telltale failed to iron out the game's many, many, many bugs and glitches; nor did they smooth out the incredibly clunky and unintuitive controls; nor did they upgrade the underwhelming, cartoonish graphics; and the story is as "un-Zemeckis" as ever.

All that said, I can't not recommend this game to Back to the Future mega-fans, like myself. For starters, they brought in Christopher Lloyd to voice Doc, and he does a phenomenal job. AJ Locascio does the voice of Marty McFly, and he's impressively close to being a dead-ringer for Michael J Fox. Additionally, all 5 'episodes' of the game are packed with incredibly clever references (some subtle, some not) to the movie trilogy.

For anyone who's never played a Telltale point-and-click game: they're not action games. They're puzzle-solvers, and largely dependent on selecting the correct dialogue options during the game's many conversations. There's no way to fail or die, and the comical nature of having a character repeat the same dialogue over and over again when you get an answer wrong kind of pulls you out of the universe. But some of the conversations and their corresponding options are legitimately ingenious, with several touching moments and tense, gasp-inducing dialogue options.

It makes me sad to think of just how great this game could have been if it had been handled by a more experienced (competent?) development studio.

Overall: 5/10


Tomb Raider (2013)

This game was the reboot of the Tomb Raider franchise. For most of the series' history, it's been one part action/puzzles, and one part 'LOL TITS AND GUNS!'. This game wiped all that aside, and made it a narrative-driven, open-world action/adventure game about Lara Croft's journey from inexperienced college archaeologist to bad-ass survivalist and hero.

Lara herself is legitimately awesome in this game, and Camilla Luddington's voice performance was stellar. She is basically Katniss Everdeen meets Indiana Jones. The story is pretty good for the most part, aside from some unimpressive supernatural elements near the end, and from the frequency with which members of the crew Lara was shipwrecked with get kidnapped.

My biggest gripes about this game are gameplay-centered. Some of the gunfights wound up being far more clunky than they should have been, taking multiple attempts just to find where I'm supposed to take cover from and which enemies I'm supposed to shoot when. Playing the game on 'easy' rather than 'normal' difficulty might have mitigated some of that. Additionally, there were unfortunately several instances where I died by failing some sort of QTE sequence or platforming challenge because I had absolutely no clue what the game expected me to do. This led to some pretty frustrating moments during this first time through the game. Maybe killing a player 20 times before they look online to discover that they're supposed to aim for the rock that's a slightly different color wasn't the best design choice?

That said, between the epicness of Lara's story, the impressive graphics, and the gameplay that didn't involve QTEs or dull gunfights, this game is ABSOLUTELY worth picking up. I wanted to play this one before playing Rise of the Tomb Raider, the sequel which came out only a couple months ago and has already garnered several Game of the Year nominations. Hopefully they smoothed out some of this game's rough spots, but either way, I'm already sold on it.

Overall: 8/10


NBA 2K15

This game had a free two-day demo early in 2015, which I tried on a whim and was immediately floored by. It's almost as easy to pick-up-and-play as the old NBA Jam games were - you can play the game with as few as four buttons (shoot/steal, pass/change players, jump/block, and sprint) - and yet it's far, FAR more sophisticated and realistic (and in my opinion, fun).

I actually waited to buy this until 2K16 came out in September, because I knew I wouldn't be messing with any of the career mode features, or the coaching features, or the General Manager features (yawn). But grabbing it for about $20 was a steal, because it turned out to be one of my favorite games this year.

The graphics and gameplay and depth are impressive enough, but here's my favorite thing about the game. The character creation tool is sophisticated enough to create a pretty good likeness of oneself*:


....which, combined with the Xbox One's "RECORD THAT!" command, leads to epic moments like this:



Because my dad and I play this game together sometimes, I created a character for him as well. Naturally, we both play for the OKC Thunder, alongside Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook, and Serge Ibaka. But here's another neat feature: this game features not only NBA teams from the current generation, but it also features NBA teams from other eras. This means it includes players like Michael Jordan, Dennis Rodman, Shaquille O'Neal, Patrick Ewing, Larry Bird, Magic Johnson, Charles Barkley....the list goes on and on and on. What's more, those old-era players can even be traded to modern-era teams. As a result, the starting lineup for the OKC Thunder is now:

• Kevin Durant
• Chris Comstock
• Jack Comstock
• Michael Jordan
• Larry Bird

I have precisely ONE major gripe with this game. It includes modern-era NBA teams, older-era NBA teams, and even European teams. What doesn't it include? The WNBA. No female players at all : (

The main reason this is a bummer is that even though I've created myself and my dad as players in the game, I can't create my mom, sister, or girlfriend. (There's the Thunder's new starting lineup, right there! Sorry, MJ.) I'm as inclined to roll my eyes at Anita Sarkeensian's whiny rants as the next sane person, but this is a legitimate problem. Even if you don't like sports in general, this game is just so damn good that I want to share it with everyone, regardless of gender : /

Overall: 9/10

2015 In Review

Sidenote: This is my 300th blog post :)


In 2015, I....

• Watched my all-time favorite writer retire
• Tried to save liberalism from itself
• Visited Las Vegas, the Hoover Dam, and the Grand Canyon
• Saw Alton Brown's touring live show
• Went to a weather-abbreviated Rocklahoma 2015
• Watched America defend gay marriage and Obamacare
• Said goodbye to Nintendo's Satoru Iwata
• Railed against the horrifying hypocrisy/misandry surrounding Magic Mike XXL
• .....and railed against the gobsmacking stupidity of the pro-gun movement
• Watched Jon Stewart retire
• Celebrated my second epic birthday in a row
• Had one of my best Halloweens ever
• Pointed out that men don't have things anywhere NEARLY as easy as many women think
• Made some recommendations for my friends with brand new Wii Us
• Celebrated another fun Christmas in Enid

Bring it, 2016.




TOP TEN VIDEO GAMES OF 2015
Note: These are the top ten games I played in 2015; many of them came out prior to this year.

Honorable Mention) Titanfall
This game pushed the first-person-shooter genre into new territory. Very welcoming to beginners, and it's no wonder that its movement mechanics have been copied by both Call of Duty and Halo.

Honorable Mention) Earthbound
Had it not come out in the early 1990's, this might be pretty high on the list. It shows its age in terms of gameplay, but the story and writing is as charming as ever.

Honorable Mention) Halo: The Master Chief Collection
With its launch glitches ironed out, this should be the first game you pick up for your Xbox One. Co-op + 'easy' difficulty means ANYONE can experience the first four (and a half) Halo stories!

10) New Super Mario Bros U
The best throwback to old-school Mario games like Super Mario World. No wonder they included its style in Super Mario Maker!

9) Valiant Hearts
An epic 2D puzzle-solver set during World War I. Heartbreaking, but fantastic.

8) Splatoon
The ultimate shooting game for beginners or families! Two buttons, no violence, massive amounts of innovation and fun.

7) Child of Light
An RPG with ABSOLUTELY GORGEOUS music and artwork. Bonus: it only takes 8-10 hours to beat, so it won't suck up too much of your time.

6) South Park: The Stick of Truth
If you're a fan of the show, OR a fan of RPGs that don't take 300 hours to finish, you'll probably love it.

5) NBA 2K15
Even if you're not crazy about sports, this game is tons of fun and quick to learn.

4) Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds
The best Zelda game since Twilight Princess (which, incidentally, is my second-favorite game of all time).

3/2/1) Three-way tie:
Halo 5: Guardians
Super Mario Maker
Batman: Arkham Knight

I tried to put them in order. I really did. Couldn't do it. They're all just TOO DAMN GOOD.

Halo 5's story is far from perfect, but its multiplayer is nearly flawless and utterly sublime. I've put dozens of hours into it.

Arkham Knight might rely a little too heavily on Batmobile sequences, but it's an amazing sendoff for this stellar game series - and it doubles as the ultimate interactive Batman museum (JUST LOOK AT THIS SCREENSHOT).

Mario Maker's online components may be a little lackluster, but good god, building custom stages in the different styles of FOUR ERAS of Super Mario is something every gamer everyone needs to experience.

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Christmas 2015!

As per tradition (2011, 2012, 2013, 2014) – I start my Christmas blog by listing the gifts I received this Christmas, along with the obvious disclaimer that gifts are FAR from being the most important thing about Christmas:



Game: Starfox 64 3D
Game: Forza Horizon 2
Game: NES Remix Pack
Game: DKC Tropical Freeze
DVD: Inside Out
DVD: Wreck-It Ralph
DVD: Batman Beyond
DVD: The Lego Movie
Shirt: 'Restart Life Support'
Shirt: Mario Bros, "Old School"
Shirt: 'I'm not saying I'm Batman'
Shirt: Legend of Zelda (from Danielle)
Shirt: "A Link to the Future" (from Steph)
Gift Card: Microsoft x2
Gift Card: Gamestop
Gift Card: Walmart
Gift Card: Barnes & Noble
Gift Card: Amazon
Gift Card: Amazon (from Aunt Debbie/George)
Gift Card: Nintendo eShop
Gift Card: Nintendo eShop (from Aunt Martita & family)
Gift Card: Fandango/Darden, to Steph/Me (from Stephs stepmom)
Book: Batman: The Long Halloween
Board Game: Telestrations (After Dark edition)
Zelda-themed 3DS case (from Steph)
Flux Capacitor USB charger (from Steph)
Summer sausage sampler
Adult coloring book (animals)
Shaker with cocktail recipes (not pictured)
Breath mints, chocolate
Telescoping back scratcher
Map pencils
Book light
Toothbrush
Hand warmers
Wooden yo-yo
Black tree ornament
Link/Zelda rings, to Steph/Me (from my friend Dani)
Pickled okra (from Steph's Mom)
Batman sleep pants (from Steph's mom)

Not only did Steph get me a USB car charger based on the flux capacitor from Back to the Future, she also got me one of the greatest T-shirts of all time:



As far as the more notable gifts given, Steph got a "Friend of the Festival" pass to the Muskogee Renaissance Faire next year, my sister got tickets to a Mumford & Sons concert in Tulsa, and she and I together made this for our parents (along with getting them a Pikepass for their car):



It was another low-key, stay-in-Oklahoma Christmas this year (although next year's Christmas may involve a cruise!). Steph got a tour of Enid for the first time, including such landmarks as the....er....bowling alley. And mom's food was as obscenely delicious as always:



And I finally got to wear my most festive T-shirt:



This may have been the year when Halloween finally surpassed Christmas as my favorite holiday, but we still had a hell of a good time this year : )

Thursday, December 17, 2015

To all of my friends who have recently bought a new Wii U!

Just thought I'd give some recommendations and tips, if any of you are interested. Some of this will probably be an over-explanation to some of you, so bear with me for a sec....

Your Wii U came with either 8 GB or 32 GB of internal storage, which is used for saving disc games and for storing downloaded games. If you have an extra USB hard drive or flash drive, you can expand that with the USB ports on the front or back of the console. The Wii U can also play games from the original Wii, provided you have the Wii remotes and nunchuck attachments they need.

Downloading games digitally is done through the eShop, which is one of the icons at the bottom of the home screen. The eShop also sells TONS of old-school Nintendo games (NES, Super Nintendo, N64, and Wii, along with original games from independent developers). These classic games are usually $5-$15 or so.

For multiplayer games, you can (in addition to the touchpad controller), usually use Wii remotes or buy "Pro Controllers", which work just like the touchpad controllers, except they don't have the touch screen and they look more like Xbox or Playstation controllers (they're typically about $50 each, although you can find cheaper ones online). If you want to play with me online, my Nintendo Network ID (NNID) is KryssCom.

 


Top 10 Recommended Wii U Games:

1) Mario Kart 8
This is THE BEST MARIO KART EVER MADE, PERIOD.

2) Super Mario Maker
This game lets you make custom Super Mario stages, upload them to the internet, and play stages that other people have made. You can make them in the style of Mario Bros (1985), Mario Bros 3 (1988), Super Mario World (1990), and New Super Mario Bros (2013). If it sounds intimidating or difficult, trust me, it's not. It's EXTREMELY easy, and fun.

3) Super Smash Bros. for Wii U
If anyone doesn't know, Smash Bros is a crazy, hilarious fighting game that takes dozens of characters, stages, and items from 30+ years of Nintendo history and throws them all together in one package. Up to EIGHT people can play this one at once. This is quite literally my absolute favorite game of all time.

4) Splatoon
This is a shooting game for people who don't like shooting games. You can play the whole thing with about 3 buttons, and the goal is less about shooting other players (although that's important too) than it is about covering the most ground with the most of your team's color of paint. It won several 'Shooter of the Year' awards this year.

5) Super Mario 3D World
This is the most recent evolution of the 'Super Mario 64' style of games. It's tons of fun, it looks great, and the soundtrack is modern and jazzy. Up to 4 people can play at once, which is always fun!

6) Legend of Zelda: Wind Waker HD
This is the only really big Zelda game on the Wii U at the moment, but there are two more coming out next year. This one is more about being a sailor on a vast ocean than it is about Lord-of-the-Rings adventuring. HOWEVER: if you've never played a Legend of Zelda game before, I would recommend the two in the next section before trying this one.

7) New Super Mario Bros. U
This is a modern take on classic side-scrolling Mario from the NES and SNES eras, and it's much simpler to pick up and play than Mario 3D World, if you have kids and want to show them the ropes (it supports 4 players as well, and one player can use the touchpad to create platforms for the other players, which makes things easier).

8) Shovel Knight  (eShop only!)
This is an indie game not made by Nintendo, but it was specifically made to feel like a throwback to the NES era of games. It received lots of Game-of-the-Year nominations. It's pretty challenging, but lots of nostalgic fun, and there are tons of cheat codes to make things a bit easier. Coming in January, they're adding a feature that lets two people play at once.

9) Hyrule Warriors
This is a hack-and-slash spinoff of the Legend of Zelda series. The gameplay is fairly simple, and two people can play at once. Steph and I sank TONS of time into this one together.

10) Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker
This game is super cutesy, but also mostly low-stress. It's based on guiding Toad (who can't jump) around these 3D puzzle-box levels based on the same design as Super Mario 3D world.


Top 10 Recommended Classic Games:

1) Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past [SNES]
If you've never played a Legend of Zelda game before, THIS is the one you should start with. No, seriously: STOP WHATEVER YOU'RE DOING AND GO PLAY IT NOW.

2) Super Mario World [SNES]
This is the side-scrolling Mario game with the cape and the Yoshis and the ghost mansions. (Is there anyone who doesn't love it?)

3) Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time [N64]
A lot of people still consider this to be the finest video game ever made. It's more advanced than A Link to the Past is, but also MUCH more epic in terms of scale, graphics, and story.

4) Super Mario 64 [N64]
"IT'S-A ME, MARIO!" <-- that one. (This is the game that basically invented 3D gaming as we know it, by the way.)

5) Super Mario Galaxy 2 [Wii]
Until Mario 3D World came out, this was the most advanced evolution of Super Mario 64. It's basically Mario 64 on steroids.

6) Super Mario Bros. (1, 2, & 3) [NES]
Literally everyone knows these games. Or at least the first one. They're much harder than you remember!

7) Donkey Kong Country (1, 2, & 3) [SNES]
If you like Super Mario World, chances are really good that you'll like these three too.

8) Yoshi's Island Advance [GBA]
This is a Yoshi-centric take on games like Super Mario World. The SNES game it's based on is considered one of the best side-scrolling games ever made.

9) Super Metroid [SNES]
This is a sci-fi side-scroller from the 90's, about solving puzzles and shooting aliens and upgrading Samus's weapons and item so she can access new areas. It captures the spirit of movies like Alien very well. If you like this game, its 3D successor (Metroid Prime) is another game considered one of the finest ever made, and I think you can download its trilogy through the eShop (the only reason that one isn't on this list is that I prefer the Gamecube version, and the Wii U doesn't play Gamecube games).

10) Earthbound [SNES]
This is a turn-based RPG both made in the 90's and set in the 90's – it's not an easy game by ANY means, and it's SUPER weird, but it's also charming as hell and the writing is incredibly clever.