Wednesday, June 20, 2012

FIFA '04: Mini Review

Since I now own a quasi-working PS2 I've decided to pick up games for the system again. This started after yesterday's trip to the Goodwill Outlet store, where I found 3 football games, 2 Madden and 1 FIFA. Sure FIFA is Football, just not to the US.

I started playing the FIFA series in late 2009 with a demo of FIFA '10 on my Xbox 360, which I still have. The game was fun and there was an extreme rush of adrenaline when I scored a goal, thus I was hooked. Later I happened upon a FIFA game for the SNES, and even with it's isometric point of view it was still pretty playable.

This lead me to venture out into Nintendo's Soccer for the NES, as well as Technos' World Cup Soccer, both of which I like. Although I don't fall into the whole need to own every FIFA due to the ever changing roster, I will pick them up due to technical enhancements through the aging of the game. But I don't need every football game ever made.

FIFA '04 isn't really that far apart from it's 6 year younger brother FIFA '10, although a great majority of the changes are undoubtedly due to the whole different system in which I'm playing it. The graphics and gameplay are a bit choppy at times, but overall pretty much on par with what I expect of a game from 2003.

My only real complaint is the over saturation of shitty Euro pop music in the sound track. This isn't an issue strictly with FIFA as EA loves to license completely irrelevant music for games that these songs have no business in. Need for Speed Underground 2 is pumped full of easily licensed, yet completely worthless, rap songs, and they don't make turning them off an easy task.

The reason why this review seems to have very little to do with FIFA itself is the simple fact that FIFA 04 is simply good enough to stand on it's own. It has minor flaws, as all games do, but since I don't know much about football I can't really make judgement on anything other than the gameplay I experience, which is thoroughly enjoyable! FIFA '04 was well worth the pick up and perhaps if I find a newer version I'll give it a try as well, I just don't see myself going and paying retail for any FIFA game.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Gran Turismo

Nothing gets my blood pumping like a good old run through Gran Turismo. I don't mean adrenaline, I mean this game pisses me off like no other, especially with the critically impossible license tests! The racing can be frustration, but the absolute worst are those fucking license tests, considering you can't do much in the game without getting your license first.

The whole series is plagued with this fatal flaw, the equivalent of asking someone to take a Ford Tempo and do a 30 second lap around the Indianapolis Motor Speeday. It can't be done! Oh yes it can, if you wish it to be! -- Sure Gran Turismo, sure!

Why the licenses are so aneurysm inducing is because it doesn't play by any of the rules that the rest of the game has to follow, and its a good thing too because if the rest of the game were this strict nobody would play it! But why do we need to follow rules that don't apply in the real thing, the license tests are too much like someone suddenly being burdened by a mathematical equation where they first need to figure out the numerical value of L. Oh sure they taught you that in school, but 99% of the active populous NEVER have to use it.

Tests that require me to apex 3 or 4 corners in a few seconds are frustration as they sometimes set the out of bounds exactly where I need to aim, but what really pisses me off are the whole lap tests. If I aim too far on an apex and get sent back to the starting line, I can do it over and over again, frustrating but no big deal. But when I'm 2 minutes into a 2:20 jaunt around a track and I slide into the wall because the severely under powered car you've sent me out in won't pull out of an over steer, well I want to fucking slit your fucking tires and piss in your gas tank.

You start off with shitty clunkers and they set such impossible goals, its as if they had a robotic Ayrton Senna set these times. They're also quite unapologetic about how hard it is to get gold. I'll take bronze all day long, as long as I don't need to repeat a single test all day long, which is almost what happens the higher up you get.

Gran Turismo makers, cut the shit and lighten up on the fucking license tests. We know how to play the game, just stop being unreasonable about the demands for licensing. Prime example of how a great, fresh idea can be taken way too far and turn a game from a great idea into a complete waste of time.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Oh, aren't you just the coolest?

I don't understand the fanatical lust for branding and it's subsequent consumerism. I will however take the time now to brand myself guilty of loyalty to almost anything video game related: Nintendo branding, Sega branding, etc, but I don't take it too the extremes as some people feel, or even deem, necessary. But I feel as though those companies are worthy of having such a dedicated following, a TV show is not!

It isn't a new concept, most notably wrestling associations are well known for this, but they are essentially travelling shows and need to promote themselves as much as possible. But even so I don't see the extreme degree of fandom brought on by this than I do from what I'm writing about today. This level of fandom blows my mind!

The second I saw the commercials for the series, before it even hit the air, I knew I wasn't going to watch it, and haven't. The show in question here is Sons of Anarchy, a show about a group of "outlaw" bikers, and as I've never watched the show that is all I know about the series. Throughout many years of having access to the Discovery and History channels I've learned there are large numbers of real motorcycle groups with whom you want nothing at all to do with, but lets face it, a group of highly paid actors isn't going to be anywhere near as rough and tumble as a true group of brothers living what the actors are trying to portray.

Since I've never actually wasted my time enough to watch the show, I'll ease off and get back into the fanatical consumerism that came from this show's birth. Now, it seems, I can't go into any store without some fat, bloated couple with spray tans hopping off their freshly washed Harley dawning a leather vest with a "Sons of Anarchy" patch and local chapter patch adorning the back. I'm going to step out on a limb here and say due to numerous possible lawsuits, death threats and assorted other things, Sons of Anarchy is more than likely a made up name for the television show, rather than a real biker group. So who would be so completely and totally stupid as to pretend they're in a group that doesn't exist!? You're so bad, join a real one!

Another good one is Tapout, a clothing line endorsed by the UFC, or the other way around either way they're affiliated in some way, officially. I used to watch UFC and that isn't my problem here, my problem stems from walking through a store and seeing a fat 10 year old crying to his mother how he wanted more candy, and he was wearing a Tapout shirt. I fear the only ultimate fight for tubby will be his battle with obesity, and I bet he taps out first!

I will support a brand I use, or something I feel strong enough about that deserves the attention, although I believe it needs to be done in the right way. Making sew-on patches for a fake TV biker gang doesn't make you anymore of a biker gang than watching Dr. Quinn makes you a medicine woman. And try as I might, no matter how much I watch Red Green, Kids in the Hall, This Hour has 22 minutes, CBC News, Curling, Hockey and the Trailer Park Boys, I am NOT going to magically become Canadian, eh!?

My Sega Master System.

For the first time in months I spent a great deal of time playing my Sega Master System, and for me that is a big deal. Back in December I had a little extra money saved up so I decided that I was going to buy myself a present, that just so happened to be my Sega Master System. I searched high and low, lost numerous auctions on ebay and finally found one being sold locally, and when I got the thing home I almost couldn't put it down!
Over time the system has started to collect dust, much like the rest of my systems tend to do until I feel the urge to play them again. I play my retro systems quite a bit more than my newer systems, mostly because the newer the system is the less it works (!!!), but I often find myself switching back and forth with systems I haven't played in a while. But what really drives me to desire one system over another is games, the hardware couldn't do anything if not for the software that utilizes it.
As for my Master System I don't have many games so I don't really want to play it as often as I do the system I own more games for, and the Master System is almost impossible to find games for. The only ones I've seen were a few loose carts at Disc Replay and another handful of (overpriced!) boxed games at a flea market. To be honest, the only Master System I ever saw besides my own was one in a glass case at Disc Replay, and my very first game was a loose copy of After Burner I picked up at another Disc Replay.
I was sure that somewhere along my many trips through flea markets and thrift stores I would eventually come across a Master System or games, and short of what I mentioned above I've found nothing! Despite not being able to find more games for my Master System the 11 games I do own, including a complete copy of After Burner in addition to the loose copy I bought before I even owned the system, just don't force me to want to play the system as much as I wish they did. That isn't to say the system's library is lacking, it simply means mine is!
I entered a contest on youtube and had high hopes to win 2 Master System games that I had wanted for a while now, but as it always seems to go I didn't win. Maybe this is yet another way of life telling me that I'll find them somewhere down the road at a good price, but that could be a long shot. But lets move away from me whining about my lack of games and delve into why I don't click with the Master System as much as I would my NES, or even my SNES or Sega Genesis.
I have to say that since I owned my NES, SNES and Sega Genesis well before I owned my Sega Master System, these systems are what I used to judge the Master System. Comparatively the Master system has a few setbacks, albeit minor, when you look at it's overall design. Modern day techies have learned to modify their Master Systems to overcome these setbacks, but I don't even want to take mine apart let alone modify it in any fashion, which leaves me stuck with the original design flaws.
Chief among which is the pause function being literally ON the console itself, as where every other system I've encountered has a pause button function somewhere within the controller. Even the Nintendo Famicom, released 2 years prior, had pause buttons integrated into it's controllers, although they were hardwired to the system and the Master System's controllers were interchangeable. But without the clutter of the two extra buttons the Famicom and NES provide the Master System controllers were comfortable, even with their square, blocky shape.
Even though they didn't add a pause button Sega did release more options for Master System controllers, as well as a light phaser that I personally feel is superior to the Nintendo Zapper. The Sega Control Stick was what I can only assume an attempt at being ambidextrous, an ass backwards controller that had the control stick on the right, instead of the left, as well as the buttons on the left, instead of the right. I do own one and I simply can not use it, mostly because the stick just doesn't feel comfortable. Had they just made a reverse controller like the normal one, perhaps that would have been a success.
Another interesting feature, although it doesn't seem to stand out in the system's favor, in fact it was removed from the model 2 Master System, is the card slot. From what I understand card based games were released as budget titles, and as we've learned through the follies of other systems that budget titles are either good or terrible! I've never personally seen a Master System card game, but if I can find one for cheap enough I'll snap it up, for sure!
With all it's flaws the Sega Master System was still superior to the NES in many ways, but it just couldn't overcome Nintendo's sales power. I prefer the scenery in my Master System games than I do many of my NES games, but still the NES has just a slight edge over the Master System, in my mind. If I owned some of the solid titles that would keep my interest for hours on end, instead of putting it down after 5 minutes and switching to another game for 5 more minutes, I feel that I could really get to the heart of the system and understand it even more.

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Ah! The Temptations!

The desire to own things is essential within all humans, although it isn't a natural desire its more of a learned desire as we grow up. There are literally thousands, if not more, things I would love to own and I have to say that I've been greatly lucky to have obtained most of the things I currently have and I appreciate that luck. But there are a handful of things that I really, really want to own that I actively seek to obtain, although I've never seen or even touched them in my life.

First and most important on that list would be the NES top loader, it isn't that I NEED an NES top loader, I have a perfectly working NES as well as a modded backup. So it isn't something I absolutely can't live without, its just something that I would go completely and utterly insane to find at a great price. Other things include NES and SNES video games, again things that I don't NEED but they sure would be awesome to own. I know that somewhere out there these things have my name figuratively written on them, its all a matter of when I will find them.

I'm upset to see others obtain things I want, although I do live a vicarious joy through their happiness. But when they act callous toward a bounty sprawled out before them I feel contempt toward their ignorance. I think we should all be so lucky to have things given to us or be so fortunate to be able to obtain such things by all means, and to act as if it were more trouble than it truly was shows me that person shouldn't have gotten those things in the first place.

I spend a large amount of time on youtube, mostly searching through pick up or other video game related videos. Sometimes I come across stories that make me jealous but I'm happy for that person, while other times I watch videos that boil my blood to a vapor. Some of the most spiteful, hateful and ungrateful pricks get the coolest stuff and it just makes no sense as to why a person who leads a simple life and stays to himself gets fucked on a daily basis while people who just couldn't give a shit less are thrown shit at their very feet.

Without pointing fingers directly at anyone I'll give a general, beat around the bush, description of what the video was about. So this person finds a box of video game items sitting outside next to someone's garbage and takes it home, upon opening it the person seems completely ungrateful throughout the rest of the video, scrutinizing everything as they pull it from the box. Mind you everything was FREE to this person, regardless of whether they already had any of this stuff or not, its still free and should be greatly appreciated!

By the end of the video I wanted to crawl through my monitor and just beat the living fucking shit out of this prick, but I can't and it would just be a waste of time even if I could. Like I said I've found some great stuff and I feel extremely lucky to find the things that I've bought, I say bought because I have rarely found anything for free. That isn't to say I haven't found anything for free, I have, its just the fact that I put everything into my collection and end up forgetting what I've paid for anything.

I would love, LOOOOOOOVE to find a box of the things this person found, and I too would make a youtube video in which I didn't sound like an ungrateful prick as I pulled everything out of the box with a sour look on my face. Even if it were all things I already own, every single piece were something I already owned, I would want to pay it forward to those who aren't as fortunate as myself so that they can have cool things as well. Sure I would probably sell things to make a little profit to support the game hunting habit, but I sure wouldn't be ungrateful to have found them.