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2009-05

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Just over 2 weeks left to enter Metal Gear!

By Brian on May 28th, 2009 under CBC,

One full week of signups have gone by, and so far...only TWO have entered Metal Gear. Just as a heads-up: if too few people enter, I will NOT do the contest. It's too much work to do these for a small amount of people.

So what are you waiting for? It's FREE to enter, and free to play. Why would you wanna pass up a chance at $50 or a video game of your choice? Check out the Metal Gear Contest Page today and find out how to enter, and everything else you want to know about the 10th Character Battle Contest. SIGNUPS END JUNE 12.

In other news, because some of you are curious, below you can see the Overall Leaderboard--the All-Time standings, where everyone who has ever competed in the past 9 contests are listed in order of total points they've racked up. The total list is too big to post here, so I'll show you the top 20 of all time, and give you the link to check out the entire massive rank. The top 20:

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Click here to see the whole damn leaderboard.

Don't wait until the last second to enter, PLEASE. (Although I know it will happen. Always does.)

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When is it time to call it a series?

By Brian on May 27th, 2009 under General,

I'm reminded of this particular question in recent days, having seen and/or played to completion two games for PS3: Metal Gear Solid 4 and Resident Evil 5; the latest installments in their respective series. Both of these series have been long established in the timeline of console games--Metal Gear began over twenty years ago, while Resident Evil got its start in the early days of the first PlayStation, back in 1996. Capcom and Konami have done, by and large, an amazing job with each new installment of these games, and have successfully done what can be a very hard feat in the gaming world: continue along the same story over many games, and in these cases, also over many years. Certainly with the advent of new consoles and new technologies, each successive game aspires to be better than the previous title. And almost certainly, if you've been a fan of a continuous series--ANY continuous series-- since game one, it can be difficult when it finally comes time to end the series.

I feel that, as a fan of a long series like Metal Gear or Resident Evil, once the questions and plot holes raised in the earliest games finally get resolved--once, really, all (or nearly all) the major questions and plot holes come to resolution--the series should end--no more games should be made for the series. I'm sure I'm not the only fan who thinks this--I mean, while it's nice to have more games and keep the story going, there comes a point where it becomes overkill, or the series goes in a direction that's so above and beyond what's been established that you lose fans--Dino Crisis and Mortal Kombat are a couple that spring to mind, examples of series that went to overkill. Final Fantasy, despite spitting out a new game every so often, re-invents itself with each numbered game. Every single game in the numerical series (save for FFX and X-2) are unrelated. Each game has its own unique plot; otherwise, I'm sure I'd be sick of the series by now. By inventing a new story with each game, I continue playing the series.

gameoverMost who know me as a gamer know that I value the plot of a game over any other facet. Game play, music, mechanics, graphics are all important, I admit, but for me…how good of a story does the adventure provide? Does it grip me? Move me emotionally? Does it leave me with an urge to not put the controller down? Or does it make me want to toss the game five minutes into it, like Legend of Zelda: Phantom Hourglass? I can put up with horrible game play and horrible controls if the story's good--I'm looking right at you, Xenosaga Episode II--but, if the story sucks, all bets are off. And this is why I'm hoping that Resident Evil and Metal Gear end right here. In the latest installment of Resident Evil and MGS, the story as we know it comes to its end. Everything finally comes to its resolution in a coherent and well-presented way. The endings left me quite satisfied, with hardly anything lingering. The stories were amazing. And this is why I hope that no more games are made with these plotlines--where else can they possibly go? Everything's resolved.

Unfortunately, we know the reality of the situation. Series and franchises like these are cash cows for their respective developers, and they will be milked for every penny they can get. Final Fantasy VII, for starters, keeps getting wrung. I just hope that future games don't destroy the great stories that have kept us playing over the years and across consoles. But we'll see.

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Everybody's dead, Dave.

By Joshie on May 24th, 2009 under RPG, X360, PS3,

Should not have oversleptA little known fact about me is that I don’t complete many games. In fact, I can buy multiple copies of the same game and still not see those pearly white credits roll on by. It’s not that I couldn’t fathom how to open the boxes shrink-wrap and it’s certainly not for a lack of trying. The problem, as I see it, boils down to a fundamental issue of money vs. attention span. Back in the good old days I didn’t have a lot of this currency thing, so I replayed games. A lot. Hell, I’ve beaten Tombi for the PlayStation at least seven times and I don’t even consider that a particularly great game. Although now that I look back at it, its depiction of evil magic pigs trying to take over the world has an eerie sense of foreboding prophecy about it when you consider the current swine flu pandemic that will turn us all into pork scratchings before the year is over.

Getting back to the topic at hand, issues with my gaming habit started to arise back at college when people started giving me free money. Obviously this cash could, logically, only be spent on one thing, and it bloody well wasn’t going to be a haircut. It’s like giving a thousand pounds to a meth addict. Do you really think they are going to spend a “reasonable” amount of that cash on meth and save the rest for a rainy day? Fuck no. You clearly send word to the little old lady down the street who sells drugs out of her front garage that you’re coming down and you clean her place out. It’s the same with games, but without the questionable legality of buying products from an unlicensed retailer.

For this reason Fallout 3 may just be my game of the year for 2009. I’ve been playing Bethesda’s post-apocalyptic mega RPG on and off since Christmas day last year, which for those of you who failed first grade math class, is five months or one hundred and fifty days ago. During that time I’ve managed to clock a pretty reasonable forty five hours with the game and I’ve yet to be distracted enough by the next shiny thing to give up on it.

I’ve heard people remark that they couldn’t get into Fallout like they did Oblivion because of its dreary and depressing atmosphere, however this may just be why I keep going back to it. As wonderful as the mystical fantasy genre is, sometimes its good to take a step back from it and Fallout 3 is truly a rush of fresh air. From the very first time you step out of Vault 101 into the capital wasteland you are simply blown away by the sheer scale and detail of the world around you.

Sure it’s barren, it’s dead and you’re all alone, but that’s what makes it such a unique title. I’m not saying the games perfect by any means, but the sheer thrill of the adventure you have in this incredible world more than makes up for the little problems it has. Every corner of the wastes has its surprises and every quest has multiple ways to be approached. Just discussing the game with other players can completely take you by surprise, as everyone’s experience will be slightly unique to them, be it from the moral choices they made, to the order they did things or where they went first. I don’t claim to be a gaming connoisseur who has tried the best of everything, but I’m sure I can’t be wrong in saying there isn’t anything quite like this in any other modern generation game.

The game starts with quite a steep learning curve about an hour in where you must quickly get to grips with exactly what items you need to carry and what should be sold or left behind. If there is one thing this game has taught me, its when scavenging a nuclear wasteland, bring a bigger bag.

Also, a single shot in the face makes peoples heads explode. Did I mention this game is hilariously gory for no good reason?

What's so incredible about my time with Fallout 3 is that as I slowly ponder through the ninety plus hour game they provided, they keep making it longer. In the past five months Bethesda has released three downloadable packs which each ads a significant amount of new game play, weapons and skills to the game, the most recent of which even went to the lengths of rewriting the ending. With two more packs due, I can see myself still playing Fallout 3 for a long time to come.

Of course, that won’t stop me buying a third copy of Peggle for no good reason. I gotta spend that drug money on something

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64 bits of Awesome

By Dave on May 21th, 2009 under Fighting, N64,

One of my old flames has come back to me, to blissfully whisk me away to a land filled with dreams, rainbows and blue spiky shells.

Yup, that's right. I bought an N64. A pikachu one at that! My sis wanted to get rid of the one I'd basically been suckling off, so I picked it up at a family discount price.

Man, it's as awesome as it ever was. I mean, I suck at some games (has anyone noticed how weird the Goldeneye controls are? One thumb stick? Crazy), but to be fair I sucked at them back in the day as well.

Due to this, I went on an eBay splurge, finding a few old games that'd stuck in my mind. I'd already been given Lylat Wars and Majoras Mask for free, as well as getting Mario Kart 64 and a few pokemon games when buying the N64, but it wasn't enough!

The first thing that beat me into eBay submission was Fighters Destiny. I'm not sure why, I guess with my 360 recently dying, I needed another method to channel my violence into, rather than shouting at people in FPS's.

Fighters Destiny is a (gasp) fighting game, where you have to gain points during rounds to win a match. Different ways of defeating your opponent in that round award different points, first one to the set amount wins. So you can knock them out of the ring, throw them down, use a special knockdown technique or finish them with a special attack.

Generally, I don't like fighting games that much. It usually just ends up being who can face roll the controller the fastest and get lucky. Fighters Destiny really isn't like that. Fighters DestinyFor a start, you don't really have health bars. You have a bar, with health, but you don't lose when it runs out. You just go into a "FINISH HIM" kinda dazed state when you can only move until your bar fills up again. During this time, you opponent can do a special move on you if they pull it off, awarding the max amount of points you can get in one round.

I guess this was one of the things that really appealed to me. It was way different than most things. It meant that you could get the living crap beaten out of you through the whole round, then pull off a tricky counter-throw and win the points for that round. It really stopped the button bashers in their tracks.
The games combos were pretty simple as well, but not too simple enough that mashing the pad pulled off something amazing. It still required some timing in there, but they were still very doable.

It's just ace and still plays really well even today.

So next on my list was a memory expansion pack so I can ACTUALLY PLAY MAJORAS MASK...bastards...and Perfect Dark, one of Alex's best games evvvvvvveeeer. You could almost say it's his perfect favourite game.

The N64 ended up being a really fun part of my childhood, when I think about it I just get that excited feeling I got back then.

If you have any tips on what games I should get next, please do say.

Perhaps I should pay a certain pig a visit...

Wizpig

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Signups for Character Battle 10 have officially begun!

By Brian on May 20th, 2009 under CBC,

Metal Gear Character Battle Contest

It is officially here, and with that, I bid you all welcome. Welcome to the Metal Gear Character Battle Contest! The theme for this contest was in large part chosen by you last year, as the runner-up in what the next theme should be. This contest comprises sixty-four (64) characters from the Metal Gear series of video games, spanning as far back as the NES, and leading up to the current generation. This is a standard single elimination style, comprised of 64 characters pulled from the series, divided into two divisions. The object here is to gain the most points by correctly predicting winners of each contest battle (a poll in which two video game characters are pitted against each other), in order to win the prize! This post will cover everything you ever wanted to know about this contest. This contest is being hosted on my LiveJournal once again, and also on a brand new web site, Late to the Party.

What's that, you say? What happened to Fantasy World, where the contests have been done since they began? Well, after six years, the brainchild behind it, Joshie (C&T; or CloudANDTidus to some of you) simply no longer has the time to devote to maintaining a community-based website such as FW. However, his devotion to video games and writing about them have not fallen by the wayside, as what can happen in real life, so he has created a new site, one that is more discussion and blog-based (where blog contributors can sound off on all things video games, retro and new alike), called Late to the Party. The site went live earlier this week, and right now, it's looking to expand its pool of blog writers, so, if interested, feel free to express your interest to Joshie at joshuamarketis@clidus.com.

It was also decided by Joshie and I to christen the new site by having my 10th character battle contest on it, and so here we are. The contest will also be held simultaneously on LTTP and LiveJournal, so we've kept the ability for everyone to vote twice per battle.

So what's different in this contest over the last one, Silent Evil? Other than the new site and the theme of this contest, absolutely nothing. The point system and prizes remain the same, where you go to make the bracket is the same, giving returning players the nice familiarity we've come to love in these contests.

To learn what the contest is about, or to refresh yourselves on the points, prizes, and other stuff, including links to begin making your contest entry (and an image gallery of the characters competing), check out the CB10: Metal Gear FAQ today! Returning players may wish to look at the FAQ, as there has been one or two modifications to the rules.

Signups will end at midnight ET, June 12, 2009. I will not accept late entries unless you have a damn good reason. Contest begins around 7:30 ET on Monday, June 15.

As always, fan art is welcome. Also, stay tuned--a series of 5 podcasts for this contest are being planned. Check back when I've posted dates--anyone who wishes to be part of a podcast, let me know. Good luck!

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Retro? I'll give you retro!

By Tania on May 20th, 2009 under RPG, NES,

Ahh, Zelda. Its puzzle-filled dungeons, its multiple gadgets, its hapless princess and its green-clad hero. Everyone loves Zelda. I love Zelda.

Or, well…I usually do.

Blame it on my compulsive completionism, but when I enjoy a series, I need to play every single installment of it. Even the clunky, crappy first ones. So that's how the idea to give Zelda II: The Adventure of Link a shot popped up. Well, that and my purchase of the Gamecube disc that included Ocarina of Time, Majora's Mask and Zelda I and II. I should've known what to expect before even starting. Maybe I don't have the best reflexes in the world, and maybe I fail at oldschool games, but I still have nightmarish memories of the first opus in the series: unforgivably difficult, no story to speak of, and absolutely no indications as to the order in which to do things. Well, Zelda II is the same. Possibly even worse.

Picture a hybrid between Super Mario and an RPG. And no, you don't get Legend of the Seven Stars (if only!). Link evolves in a mostly sidescrolling environment, gets 3 lives and gains experience points in battle. Pretty bizarre for a Zelda game, but that's not a problem in itself. If you die, you lose a life and restart at the entrance to the current area. But god forbid you should actually get a Game Over. Because that takes you BACK TO THE BEGINNING OF THE GAME. Meaning that you'll have to trek all the way to where you were before dying. And 3 lives whisk by very quickly. There's also the slight problem that getting a Game Over is the only way to save. And that you can't permanently raise your life count.

PUT IT AWAY!!But now we come to the real issue: the enemies. Forget about steep learning curves. Or even 90° ones. In this game, the learning curve forms an acute angle. I actually had to give up trying to beat it on my Gamecube and resort to an emulator. So I could, y'know, save. Otherwise, I'd still be trying to finish the first dungeon *waits for all the booing, whistles and cries of ‘you suck!' to end* There are very limited ways of recovering your life and magic in the field, and the enemies are BRUTALLY unforgiving. Especially Iron Knuckles, who have mind-bogglingly amazing A.I. for a NES game. If you thought they were hard in any of the subsequent Zelda games, you've got another one coming. The blue ones are particularly bad. They continuously zap swords at you, of which they seemingly have an infinite supply. This is probably the closest thing to Sword-Chucks that you'll find outside of 8-Bit Theatre. It also looks disturbingly phallic when they switch to leg strikes. Overall, it's like an infernal game of Pong, where you can't reflect the attacks back.

To compensate for the hair-tearing difficulty, the game does offer a few laffs…at its expense. In a bizarre premonitory flash, Link—who is an adult in this game—allows himself some GTA-like escapades. Every town has a woman in a red dress walking around in front of a house. If you talk to her, she invites Link to come in. And then, all you see is his life bar filling up. Hey, even 8-bit studs need their action. However, this becomes a lot more disturbing when it comes to recovering magic. The method is exactly the same, but Link has to talk to a little granny instead…who then gives him her “special medicine”…

A prime example of bad parenting.Among other laff-worthy things, there's the translation, featuring such timeless classics as the “N°3 TRIFORCE”, or “I AM ERROR”, one of the unforgettable responses that you'll get in your baffling encounters with the denizens of the game. Or the Spell spell. I guess Link has orthography problems…There's also the aptly named Fairy spell, which is used to fly over obstacles. It transforms Link into one of those cute lil' fairies that are commonly used to replenish your health, complete with a red dress and a little crown. It's got to be one of the most impressive spells I've ever encountered: I mean, not only does it shrink you and allow you to fly, but you also get a sex change thrown in. I'm sure Tingle would've loved the concept…But gender-bending mana prowess put aside, another thing this game demonstrates is that Link would make a terrible father.

So I only have 2 more dungeons left to endure before this semi-illiterate iteration of Sleeping Beauty à la sauce Zelda finally grinds to a close. Hopefully I'll manage to get through them without terminal finger cramps. And never look back. Thank god that Zelda has evolved since then. That's probably the one good thing I'll be getting out of this experience: a better appreciation of the more recent Zelda opuses. Nostalgia for oldschool games is all well and good…but you gotta be realistic sometimes: it wasn't ALL better back in Ye Olde Days.

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