Saturday, October 30, 2010

Why I hate Kinect

OK, so "hate" probably is too strong of a word to use in this situation. I can say without hesitation, though, that I'm not a fan of the soon-to-be-released Xbox 360 peripheral.

Why? Honestly, it has nothing to do with me being anti-Microsoft or anti-Xbox 360. (Hell, I plan on buying an Xbox 360 before this generation is over--assuming the system drops below $149 at some point.)

I know I've made fun of Microsoft's "me too" (or maybe I should say "Wii too") Kinect ads and games (Kinect Sports, anyone?), but that's also not what has kept me from getting behind the company's controller-free product.

No, my problems with Kinect are: 1) the peripheral seems to be a buggy work in progress, and 2) the games--with the possible exception of Dance Central--seem boring and uninspired.

Granted, I've yet to go "hands on" with Kinect, so it's possible that both of the above-mentioned "problems" (especially the first one) will be proven to be anything but after it launches on Nov. 4.

See also: 'It's déjà vu all over again' and 'Let's try this again ...'

Friday, October 29, 2010

The best first level ever?

If someone asked you to name the best first level in all of video game-dom, which one would you choose? Nathan over at believes the following is the only answer:

You know what? I agree with him 100 percent, as Super Mario Bros.' World 1-1 does a better job of introducing people to a game's mechanics and rules than any other "first level" I've played.

If you have a minute or two to spare, I'd highly recommend visiting to read Nathan's thoughts on the matter.

I've gotta say, this looks great

When Nintendo of America announced the release of Donkey Kong Country Returns a few months ago, I think I reacted with a shrug and an "eh." (Or maybe it was a "meh.")

Anyway, I wasn't all that interested or impressed, despite the fact that I very much enjoyed the three Donkey Kong Country titles that were released for the SNES way back when.

That said, my cynical attitude toward the game faded somewhat after watching the following trailer:

Actually, it may be more accurate to say my attitude went from "eh" to "hmmm" after watching the trailer above. (I'm an exceptionally emotional person, aren't I?)

It wasn't until I watched the following preview, courtesy of IGN, that the game had my full attention.

Pre-order: Donkey Kong Country Returns

10 video games that made my life gayer (#6): Super Mario 64

Shigeru Miyamoto and his team at Nintendo of Japan sure hit it out of the park when they moved Mario into the third dimension, didn't they?

I remember being absolutely amazed by Super Mario 64 when it was unveiled at Nintendo Space World in 1995. A year later, after receiving a Nintendo 64 and a copy of the game as a birthday gift, I was even more amazed as my college roommate and I played through it during a wintry Thanksgiving weekend.

The fact that my roommate played it at all was amazing in its own right, as he was (and still is, I believe) otherwise completely repulsed by the idea of playing video games. (He's a twink, what else would you expect?)

If that doesn't speak to the game's accessibility, I don't know what does.

I didn't include Super Mario 64 on this list because it's accessible, though; I included it on this list because it's enjoyable. In fact, I'd go so far as to say it is one of the most enjoyable games--if not the most enjoyable game--I've ever played.

The aforementioned roommate and I played an awful lot of Super Mario 64 that year, and the next year my new roommates (all five of them) and I played it even more--and all the while we had huge smiles plastered on our faces.

Sure, we liked how the game controlled and looked and sounded (especially that wacky, hillbilly-meets-Mario "Secret Slide Theme"), but what kept us coming back for more (and more and more and more) was that the game was fun with a capital "f."

See also: all of the previous '10 video games that made my life gayer' posts

Thursday, October 28, 2010

On being an anal-retentive game collector

Hello. My name is Bryan, and I'm an anal-retentive game collector. (All together now: "Hi, Bryan!")

I know, that's not as bad as being addicted to drugs or drinking to excess, but it's bad enough. After all, it causes me to spend a lot more money on games and systems than I should.

Take, for instance, the complete-in-box Famicom cartridges (below) that I recently bought. Although I believe I got them at a good price, I certainly paid more for them than I would have had I bought them "loose" (without boxes and manuals).

The same will be true when I finally break down and buy a trio of PC Engine games that I've been eyeing up for some time. If I weren't so anal retentive, I could pick up loose copies of Gekisha Boy, Mizubaku Daibouken *and* Parasol Stars for little more than it would cost me to buy a single PS3/Wii/ Xbox 360 game. Instead, I'll probably end up spending that amount (or more) on each of them individually.

I used to be similarly anal when buying systems, but I've loosened up a bit in recent years--i.e., I no longer automatically turn up my nose at them if they don't come with their original boxes and manuals.

OK, I've owned up to my shameful, anal-retentive ways. How many of you are going to do the same?

Note: this post originally appeared on my other gaming blog,

Fabulous flash game alert: GunBlood

OK, this one isn't for the kids--nor is it for faint-of-heart adults. If you can handle a bit (or a lot) of blood and gore, though, Wolf Games' Western-shootout-themed GunBlood is the flash game for you.

Play it here.

See also: Robot Unicorn Attack, Treadmillasaurus Rex and Winterbells

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Super Mario Meat

Speaking of Mario, the following t-shirt design is up for a vote (here, for the next seven days) at

Lest you should think the shirt was inspired by the meat dress Lady Gaga wore to the recent MTV Video Music Awards show, designer JFish says:

"I get really hungry when I play Super Mario Bros. Sometimes I get so hungry I imagine Mario is made out of my favorite meats. In this example, he’s made out of a t-bone steak, prosciutto, mortadella (with pistachios), bacon, sausage, salami and capicola. His mouth is a small smooth chunk of pimento."

See also: 'Yep, another t-shirt'

'Foret et Fleur'

How would Super Mario World have looked if it had been made by Claude Monet? Artist Mikaël "Orioto" Aguirre believes it would have looked something like this:

For more information on Aguirre's latest piece of digital art, created to celebrate the 25th anniversary of Super Mario Bros., check out his deviantart gallery.

See also: 'I hear a harp above my head'

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Oodles of doodles

The weather in my neck of the woods was absolutely dreadful (as The Real Housewives of Atlanta's Dwight Eubanks would say) this past weekend, so instead of doing anything productive I spent some time doodling.

Some of the doodles I completed were game-related, so I thought I'd share a few of them here.

I know, they're a bit rough (and monochromatic). Hey, I never said I was a real artist :)

Anyway, check out this Flickr set if you want to see a few more of my doodles. (That sounds kind of dirty, doesn't it?)

See also: 'Happy (belated) birthday, Dreamcast!'

RE: Something old or something new?

You know how I mentioned (in this post) that I'm wasting way too much time pondering how I'm going to spend the birthday/Christmas money I'm sure to receive from my parents in the next few months?

Well, I'm pretty sure that I'm going to blow at least part of that presumed windfall on a red Twin Famicom. The reason: I recently bought nine old Famicom games through eBay. (Six of them are showcased in the photo below.)

A Famicom rainbow :)I've been interested in Nintendo's first batch of Famicom games--released on those iconic "Pulse Line" cartridges that can be seen in WarioWare D.I.Y., for instance--ever since I laid eyes on this photo of Donkey Kong Jr., but the high price of many of these titles kept me from buying any of them.

A few weeks ago, though, I came across a pair of auctions on eBay that included nine of these "Pulse Line" Famicom games, each of which came with their original boxes and manuals. Long story short, I ended up winning both auctions for a fraction of what I would have expected to pay for these particular titles.

Anyway, although I'm now the proud owner of nine (of 14) "Pulse Line" games--Donkey Kong, Donkey Kong Jr., Donkey Kong 3, Gomokunarabe, Mah-Jong, Mario Bros., Pinball, Popeye and Tennis--I currently can't play any of them. Hence, my decision to pick up a Twin Famicom as soon as possible.

In the meantime, check out my Flickr photostream if you're at all interested in seeing a few more photos of my recent acquisitions.

See also: 'Something old or something new?'

Monday, October 25, 2010

As the baddies in River City Ransom say: BARF!

What's worse than the crew at the Home Shopping Network trying to hock the Kinect? Nothing, if the following video is any indication.

Of course, I'm sure their attempts to sell the Wii and the PlayStation Move (man, I really wish Sony had called it 'Gem' instead) were similarly horrible.

See also: 'Oprah pushes Kinect, audience explodes'

'Tour d' Excitebike'

What do you do when you have more copies of Excitebike than you can possibly play? If you're the guy behind, you take them on a tour of Fukuoka, Japan.

Here, for instance, five Excitebike cartridges climb the walls of Fukuoka Castle:

And here the carts enjoy the views (and vessels) of what I believe is Hakata Bay:

Many more photos from this so-called "Tour d' Excitebike"--along with quite a bit of information about Fukuoka--can be found here.

See also: 'Feeding my Famicom obsession'

Does a game have to be challenging to be enjoyable?

Someone over on NeoGAF posed the question above a few days ago in response to the release of Kirby's Epic Yarn (below), which is, according to a number of folks who have played it thus far, a completely charming but not altogether challenging game.

My first reply to said question was an emphatic "no." After all, some of my favorite games of the last few years have been (basically) challenge-free affairs--games like Animal Crossing: City Folk and Endless Ocean, for instance.

I had to revise that riposte, though, after I remembered my unenthusiastic reaction to playing Super Princess Peach a few years ago. Sure, the game's graphics and tunes were enjoyable enough, but the rest of it was a bore due to its overly accessible (i.e., "so easy a newborn baby could beat it") nature.

Anyway, those are my (barely considered) thoughts on the matter. What are yours?