Your Gaming Personality: Retro

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This post is going to be primarily about the above game, Super Mutant Alien Assault, but will also reflect on other retro titles with similar design choices. The spin on personality fits me, and might fit many of you too, but your mileage may vary. 

If school has taught me one thing, it’s how to pull together an idea and give it some merit rather quickly. In a recent class I gave a written and visual presentation as to why I think it would be beneficial for my “company” to give Anook.com funding to develop a mobile app, citing the ridiculous profit margins the gaming and social network industries have obtained. This company is fictional, of course, but something an executive might have to propose one day.  I managed to pull the writing portion off last week at the drop of a hat, and got my visual presentation in earlier this evening. It’s interesting how I can look at an assignment, and besides instantly wanting to avoid putting in the effort to complete the task, I find that I will formulate an idea quickly and then the pieces just fall together. Granted, this doesn’t have to be super technical or specific, and that’s my field of expertise.

Similarly, I think that the reason gaming is so difficult for one to pin down reasons why they enjoy it, or more specifically what kinds of games they enjoy comes down to a gaming personality. Many members of the blogosphere have posted test results or formulated their own opinions on the subject, myself included. However, I think there is a more philosophical way of looking at it, which I shall propose now.

The reason why games with a retro feel to them are successful isn’t necessarily because of the lower cost of entry — though stylized or pixellated graphic engines tend to be less costly to implement. I believe it comes down to a mechanical feel, something that you can’t really describe on paper. When playing a game like Super Mutant Alien Assault, or SMAA for short, you’re brain is recalling muscle memories from the past. It’s not only that retro visual appeal that is teasing your nostalgia sensors, no, your muscles are recoiling in joy because they remember exactly what they need to do. Finding that special mechanical feel is something that not all games can accomplish, and isn’t necessarily limited to retro styled games — look no further than Diablo for your prime example of a fluidity that is captivating.

Games were special when you initially started playing them. Each new experience was delicious, and you couldn’t get enough. This is part of the problem with today’s society, in that we get that head rush from having the extra money to blow on some desired possession. We want that new game and our dopamine sensors will love us for it — and look it’s on sale! — so of course we give in for that rush. Shortly thereafter, the rush is gone and we want it again. The cycle is on-going.

What’s next? Well, this is leading into a separate point that I don’t really want to get into, but the paragraph above is why I think gamers don’t really know what they want. Clamoring for certain features or mechanics and then once they have them they complain that it’s too similar to something else or not exactly what they wanted. Then they move onto a new game or new mechanic, chasing that purchase high, but also yearning for that muscle memory of old.

I probably sound like I’m on drugs at this point, but if you’re still with me, let’s finish this thought out. 

I purchased the game, SMAA because it was described as being “The Citizen Kane of Super Crate Box Clones,” and that’s direct from their Steam page. If you don’t know what Super Crate Box is, it’s an arcade styled retro game that is reminiscent of the original Mario Bros (Not Super Mario Bros) and made by Vlambeer, who are currently developing Nuclear Throne. It’s free on Steam, so you can download it for yourself. I had that original Mario Bros on my NES, and man I spent hours trying to get further and further in that game. It had no save points, it was truly “get as far as you can with the lives you have and good luck.” Technology wasn’t there for randomization though, and that’s what you get when you jump to Super Crate Box.

SMAA takes things a step further, giving the retro graphics a slight tune up (probably 16-bit) and keeps the action fast paced. Weapons are randomized just like in SCB, however there are additional features such as explosives, sidearms, and power ups. Enemies are unlocked as you progress and added in randomly, along with the levels being random. Some levels also have secondary goals besides killing everything, like carrying fuel to a location and dropping it off. Nothing too crazy, but it makes for a completely different experience each time. Having unlockables adds to the fun. Honestly, it’s that Mario game on steroids, and that’s fantastic for my gaming psyche.

Here’s some gameplay. You’ll notice I seem confused at times because it was literally the second run I made, and I was fumbling with the controls. Still, it’s a fantastic game and great for rogue-like and arcade fans alike.

Did I mention I love the soundtrack?


As I mentioned previously, I am still doing my daily runs and uploading them to YouTube. You’ll only see them on posts when I manage to write one, so you’ll have to subscribe to my YouTube channel so you don’t miss anything!

Horrible start with Random Horror. Managed to keep it going but no health drops didn’t help anything. Got sniped.

By The Numbers: Week 2, 2015

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Bonus post today because I totally forgot to push out this column earlier in the week. The Thursday game already happened, so I won’t bother making a pick for that. The big news for me this week is that the Packers are facing off against the Seahawks — between them and the 49ers the past few years have been rough in the NFC playoffs. We’ve still gone more years in a row, but that last Super Bowl is feeling too far away at this point. Thankfully the Seahawks have some weaknesses, in that Wilson didn’t look that great in week 1, Kam Chancelor is still holding out for a contract, and if the Rams can do it, we should be able to as well. However, Bryan Bulaga is injured once again which means our O-line is down a starter, but on the positive side we got Datone Jones back from suspension and it looks like Morgan Burnett might play this week as well, shoring up our defense a bit. I have faith we’ll finally show these guys what’s up. Here’s the infographic for the week:

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Apparently we haven’t played the Seahawks all that many times, and despite being on a 3-game skid, we’re still ahead by two wins. There should definitely be an asterisk next to that first of the three wins, mainly because that’s the game where the fail mary happened and we ended up helping the league get the real referees back into the game. Wasn’t it the year before that when we got two head coaches fired after trouncing their teams? Seems like the Packers should be called America’s team, because we do more for the league than just play football. I’m looking forward to the game tomorrow, I’m not as nervous as I was at the beginning of the season looking ahead to that game. I know that in the NFC title game last season we man-handled them during all but the last four minutes of the game, so I want to see a repeat performance, but with a strong finish. No more allowing the Seachickens to be in a position to get that benefit of the doubt hail mary play in. No more allowing them to claw back into the game, just to squander their Super Bowl winning hopes by using a pass play from the 1-yard line with the game on the line and beastmode in the back field. Fuck the Seahawks. It’s our year.

Last week I managed to make 7/15 predictions correctly, not counting the Thursday game. I probably shouldn’t have gone with some of the upset picks, but sometimes the hype other analysts spread makes you think shitty teams like the Vikings will beat other shitty teams that actually look pretty good now like the 49ers. But I digress. Here’s my picks for week 2:

Patriots 27, Bills 21
Texans 21, Panthers, 17
Cardinals 30, Bears 20
Bengals 23, Chargers 13
Titans 31, Browns 14
Lions 38, Vikings 10
Saints 34, Buccs 14
Falcons 27, Giants 21
Steelers 23, 49ers 17
Rams 24, Skins 7
Dolphins 27, Jags 13
Ravens 24, Raiders 10
Eagles 28, Cowboys 24
Packers 31, Seachickens 21
Colts 21, Jets 20

Let’s see if I do any better this next week. See you again next week for another edition of By The Numbers.


Bonus video today. I made a normal (non-daily) run on Crystal and made it to the final boss of Nuclear Throne. Still didn’t kill him though. One of these days I’ll actually make a loop!

State of the Game: Retroism

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It’s been quite some time since I’ve written a State of the Game post, and it has to do with the fact that that series of posts I did about my Gamer To-Do List managed to encompass what I would have said. Doesn’t really matter what title you put on the post, if the content is the same it shouldn’t be repeated. At least, not without something new to add.

Anyway, the subtitle here is Retroism, and though I thought I was being clever and coining a term, a quick Google search will show you that I was dead wrong. There’s a service much like the bundle sites we all know and love called Retroism.com, so yeah, I was beaten to the punch. Either way, I have been on a retro gaming kick, be it true retro games or those styled as such or even just in game play mechanics. I think it was a combination of talking about some of my favorite PSOne games, playing a bunch of Nuclear Throne for the last couple of months, along with having purchased some games that are retro-inspired and then playing some remakes in recent months. Playing games that are updated from their past versions, compilations of old classics, or new indie titles that are clearly throwbacks to the 8 and 16 bit generations are great fun, and in some ways I am feeling like there are some superior experiences in older titles. Some that deserve a brand new sequel or envisioning too. We talked about much of this during the new Couch Podtatoes episode, though I’ll be touching on different games here.

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I’ve mentioned Sonic’s Ultimate Genesis Collection a few times in the past, mainly because the Genesis was one of my favorite systems of all time and the collection contains many of my old favorites. Lately I had been craving an old school RPG experience, and though I’ve played those old 16-bit titles many times throughout the years, I still wanted to play Shining Force again. I mentioned it is one of my Evergreen games, and I meant that. I started playing it a couple of weeks ago again, and it’s been a blast. I can also say that it’s been long enough since the last time I played it (probably via Wii Ware) that there’s parts I’ve forgotten and so it’s been a fun playthrough. I’m almost done with it, and I intend to play its sequel as well.

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I played Columns the other night too, and I was breaking the game. I had to let myself lose shortly after taking this picture because it wasn’t getting anymore challenging. I remember the game being more difficult when I was a kid. Dr. Robotnik’s Mean Bean Machine is definitely more challenging in comparison.

As I mentioned, I played through the Gears of War remake with my friend, but I also got to check on the Rare Replay that had been announced back at E3. It’s a collection of 30 games from the now defunct publisher Rare. Honestly, it’s not a compilation that I would have bought, as sampling a handful of the games lead me to this conclusion. Battletoads is still remarkably hard and poorly designed. RC Pro-Am was a game I loved but is plagued by being developed for an 8-bit system (NES) with limited graphical and audio capabilities. It’s sequel fairs little better. Most of the titles were released on Nintendo or Microsoft platforms, both of which I didn’t really own during their development run, so I had no real fondness for anything included. I may sound biased here, but I simply enjoyed more games on the Genesis collection, and the same goes for other compilations of old Midway or Atari games. Rare just wasn’t a company that did it for me.

I’ve also been playing a bunch of Nuclear Throne, and though I haven’t been posting daily anymore (I managed 46 days in a row counting the tail end of July through Sept 12th) I am still doing the Daily Runs and have been enjoying it. I am still posting the videos to YouTube, so if you’ve enjoyed those, head over to my channel and subscribe so you don’t miss a video if I happen to skip posting. I’m falling back into my old pattern of posting several times a week but not every day. Some days there just isn’t anything to say, I didn’t game much, there’s no news, and I don’t want to force out content just for the sake of content. However, I’m going to try and keep as close to daily posting as possible, so you can still expect regular content to read. I just reserve the right to not post if I don’t feel like it. It’s not a question of whether or not I can post daily, rather a question of feeling like it or having something worthwhile to share. So yeah, Nuclear Throne videos daily on YouTube. Here’s today’s run:

I’ve had several new pickups lately, and they’ve been solely free games or super cheap on Steam. Stuff from the Weeklong Deals that post on Mondays is typically a bunch of crap, but there are hidden gems sometimes, and I’ve found a few. The other day Steam gave everyone a free copy of Amnesia: The Dark Descent, and I’ve heard good things about the title, but I have yet to play it. Origin on the other hand, gave away Command and Conquer Red Alert 2 + an expansion. I haven’t played it yet either (nor did I play it back in 2000 or so when it released) but I’m looking forward to trying out a classic RTS to keep up with this whole retro thing I’ve had going. One of the games that I picked up this past week for a whopping $0.15 is called Terra Incognita, and though it’s in early access it looks like a PSOne JRPG and those have always been pretty enjoyable. Hoping for good things from this one.

So that’s about it for this edition. Time to go play something.

Couch Podtatoes Episode 62: Remasters and Compilations

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The first thing you’re probably asking yourself is what happened to the show last week? I made a small announcement on Twitter, but basically my computer managed to crash while editing and I lost the files. We do a little rehash of what we discussed last week before moving onto this week’s discussion. You’ll probably also notice that the intro music has changed, and that’s because after 61 episodes Eri finally admitted to not liking it (but she forgets giving the seal of approval way back when!). She agreed to this new music as well, but we’ll see what she says in a year 😛

So for the discussion this we we’re looking at remasters and compilations, which was spurned mostly from my recent play time with some of these types of games. We attempt to answer the question, “is it too soon sometimes?” That’s all there is to it, so grab a couch and listen in!

 

Download this Episode Subscribe via RSS Download on iTunes Listen on Stitcher

Couch Podtatoes Epsiode 62: Remasters and Compilations (runtime: 42:36)

What are we playing? (starts at 1:18)
Discussion: Remakes/Comps (starts at 11:23)

Host Contact information:

Izlain
Blog: Me vs. Myself and I
Twitter: @mevsmyselfandi

Eri
Blog: Healing the Masses
Twitter: @ausj3w3l

Music Credits:
“Bit Rush” by Riot Games
“8-bit Superhero” by Excision (from the album X-Rated)
“Enchanted Rose” by Bury Your Dead (from the album Beauty and the Breakdown)

Couch Podtatoes is a podcast about gaming, though we might stray into other forms of media. Sometimes we use strong language, but we try to keep that to a minimum. All opinions expressed by us or our guests are our own and are in no way to be interpreted as official commentary from any companies we discuss. You can visit our official podcast page at http://couchpodtatoes.libsyn.com/. Be sure to follow us on iTunes, and/or Stitcher Radio.

Questions, comments and feedback are welcomed and encouraged!

#couchpodtatoes #podcast #gamesdiscussion #gaming

Patch 5.18 + Kindred

As season five rapidly approaches its end (the World Championship is coming up very soon) we’re getting what is presumably one of the last patches before we start the next preseason. There’s a good chance we’ll see another, but then again this could be the last major patch before the season ends. Either way, this patch is primarily a bunch of tweaks and bug fixes, as is to be expected, mainly because Riot has a pattern of lesser patches right before a season’s end, as they don’t want to tweak too much during the course of Worlds, and bigger sweeping changes usually happen during the latter part of the year during the preseason. You can read the full patch notes here. If you don’t feel like reading, here’s a handy TL;DR version of the patch notes from Blakinola, a youtuber who has been doing this for a long time, and makes the patch notes a bit more easily digestible. Shit’s funny too.

The other big League of Legends news outside of this patch and the upcoming championship, is that a new champion has been revealed. It hasn’t been that long since Tahm Kench was released, and here we are again with another new champion. There was a teaser a while back though I can’t remember if I mentioned it here, on Twitter or what (can’t seem to find any mention). Either way there was this swirly symbol and speculation. We finally know that the new champion is called Kindred, and is actually two individuals that work in synergy with each other, in a sort of yin and yang symbolism. Here’s what they look like:

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The white character is a “sheep” and the black character is a “wolf” though they are both clearly spirit like. There hasn’t been a champion spotlight put out just yet, but there is a page where you can check out their kit and lore. Another League Youtuber known as Brofresco that I enjoy has some more of the inside scoop from the PBE, so you can check out the champion in action and have the kit broken down into the easiest to understand language:

Kindred looks to be a jungler the way riot describes them, but I can see a use in any lane really. That kit is ridiculous, and the ult looks hard as hell to use properly, but I think once we get the proper champion spotlight we’ll be able to see its intended use more accurately. I look forward to learning more!


Got stuck with Rogue again, and that means IDPD every damn level, as if things can’t already get crazy enough! Needless to say, I died on world 3.