animal crossing

Sorry for a lack of updates these past few weeks. A whole lot of shit went down. The five year anniversary of a shitty, transphobic harassment campaign that completely fucked my reputation up, and ruined the lives of my friends. Some IRL issues popping up with estranged family members. An endless news cycle of doom. Generally having mental problems. A lot of things. I guess fate decided that I was overdue for a breakdown. As such, I wasn’t really in the mood for things. Didn’t want to write a bunch of super angry stuff on here; I’d like to think that part of this site is over, but I also wasn’t in the mood to sit down and write super positive things. But now I am! So here we go.

Like seemingly everyone else on Earth right now, I’ve been playing a lot of the new Animal Crossing. I was pumped for New Horizons. I played the shit out of Wild World, until my DS started giving me problems. And then I played the shit out of New Leaf, until my 3DS’ analog nub started giving me problems. Nintendo’s handhelds used to be so much more durable. Anyways. I’ve been playing New Horizons, and loving the shit out of it. But this post is not meant to be a review of the game (REVIEW: it’s really good). Rather, this is more of a loose diary/showing off designs/an excuse to make another music playlist.

So, this is me. Standing here in my living room, with my TV, my tarot set, my Nintendo Switch, a painting of Slimegirl, and the covers of every Black Dresses album. I have other rooms, but they’re not really worth showing off at the moment. Too small, not enough cool shit in them.

Oh, and the Space Invaders shirt was made by me. I’ll be posting all of my designs later.

A cool things about New Horizons is that, holy fuck, other people actually play this fucking game online now. Wild World? Forget it. New Leaf? You had to perform arcane rituals to get other people into your town. New Horizons? Pretty sure I’ve seen my friends running around more than the neighbors who actually live here.

This is me at my friends Gabi’s house. She’s the one with the Nintendo 64 hat, and I’m the one with the dumb expression on my face. This was how her shit looked almost a month ago, I should go back and get some shots of how good her island looks now.

And here I am with my other good friend, Charlotte. We were running around and fishing at 3 A.M. Why were we fishing at three in the morning? Well, mind your fucking business, that’s why!

I put this cool zen garden in front of my house. I like how rain actually causes the rocks to get darker. Good job, Nintendo!

My neighbors say things. Often cute things. And sorry, Keaton, but I sleep in a big bed with my wife.

They also like to hang around the town square and sing, or do yoga, or even aimlessly Naruto-run.

I attempted to give myself ICP face paint, but it doesn’t work. As such, I take it back FUCK THIS GAME!!!!!!!!!! WOOP WOOP!

So that’s been the last month or so of Animal Crossing. I’d like to do more of these in the future. These have just been random screencaps I’ve taken. Next time, I might even have a structure or theme for these!

But in the meantime, here’s my custom designs:

Now the big part of this post: music! I’ve been wanting to make a playlist of songs that fit the whole concept of living on an island. Good weather, good friends, good times. That sort of thing. I was originally going to have 24 songs on here, one for each hour of the day, but uhhhh no. I cut it down to 12 tracks: 6 to represent the day time, and 6 more for night.

compilations

Let me begin this with a, I don’t know, a confession: I originally wanted to do a post on Space Invaders, and why I love Space Invaders and why that little game is incredibly important to me. But something happened yesterday that took my attention, and I felt like it was important enough to talk about instead.

Yesterday, I spent $4 on this bundle of games. I mostly got it just so I would have The King of Fighters XIV in my collection, if I ever got the hankering to play it and not have to drop sixty big ones on it. One of the other games in the bundle was the SNK 40th Anniversary Collection. I was a bit curious about it, if only because I had been informed that Ikari Warriors and Guerrilla War had a new control set up to deal with the fact that, because of their unique “twist-joystick” controls, were pretty much impossible to emulate without being a real pain. I’ll spare you a big review and say that, at least on PC, the controls are fucking shit. Characters spin at the lightest touch, sometimes not being able to face certain directions, or straight up stop moving for no reason. Guerrilla War is already hard enough without having to fight the controls, too. Let me Hail The Heros Of The Glorious Revolution, dammit!

But that wasn’t the worst thing about it. Though this complaint is more directed at game compilations in general. Even if the games themselves are ported well, the most you get in terms of extras are usually some concept art and a sound test. Fucking nothing else. For things that are supposed be celebrations of classic games, there’s not much of a party going on. Doesn’t matter if it’s SNK, or all those terrible Sega compilations that have come out over the years (though shout out to M2; their Switch ports are amazing), they fail to fill the hole left by the greatest retro game compilation ever made. Something that nobody, even the company that actually made it, has managed to surpass or even match in twenty years.

I’m talking about the Namco Museum Collection on the Playstation.

What made these five compilations so sick was that you didn’t just get all these classic arcade games on one disc. No, you also got these entire 3D virtual “exhibits” that showed off various aspects of the games in question. Yeah, you got your artwork and advertisements, but you also got scans of rare merchandise that’s no longer available, pictures of the PCB boards, breakdowns of scoring systems or game mechanics. Later entries had Japan-only promo videos. All of these things were shown off in a very cutesy, low-polygon style, rather than a cold menu that felt tacked on.

Now, just as something of a disclaimer: I don’t want to throw around the “L” word. Contrary to popular belief, there’s no such thing as a “Lazy Developer.” Limited budgets, time constraints, publisher meddling, Konami losing the fucking finished source code for Silent Hill, can all lead to a disappointing or even outright terrible end result. Namco clearly had the time, money, and vision to put these five discs together, and I’m incredibly grateful for it.

I won’t do a big breakdown of each of these, as they mostly follow the same format: a handful of old arcade games, each reprogrammed for the Playstation (so these aren’t emulated ports, for better or for worse), and each with their own cute exhibit and personalized “game room” housing the arcade cabinet, all of which are done in that amazing PSX-quality that still holds up today.

Volume 4, though, is my favorite. This is when Namco decided to get weird with it. They had already put various versions of Pac-Man, Galaga, Pole Position, Xevious, and all these other games out there. So with volume 4, you get off-beat and even outright bizarre shit. Ordyne, a relatively obscure shooter that was Namco’s attempt at combining Fantasy Zone with Gradius. Pac-Land, not a bad or even all that strange a game; it served as a direct influence for Super Mario Brothers, but when you think “Pac-Man,” you don’t think “Pac-Man taking a leisurely stroll down the street, putting a fairy in his hat, then running home, now with the power to levitate.” Assault, a top-down shooter where you control both the left and right treads of your tank with the d-pad and face buttons, respectively (continuing with my trend of comparing these games to other games, Assault is like a mechanical predecessor to Katamari Damacy). Assault Plus, which is an updated Assault that’s actually hidden in this compilation. The Return of Ishtar is an action-RPG where you control two characters at once, which is less awkward than Assault, somehow.

Then there is the crown jewel of Namco Museum Volume 4: Genpei Toumaden.

Genpei Toumaden, if I were to describe the game to you, would sound pretty normal. You are a samurai, brought back from the dead, to save Japan from various creatures in Japanese folklore, as well as Japanese historical figures. You move left-to-right, you run, jump, and swing your sword at things. Playing it, though? Genpei Toumaden is a fucking dissociative nightmare in video game form. The music is weird. The graphics are creepy (and surprisingly detailed for the 80s). Level design is haphazard at best, with alternate paths with no real on-screen indication of what you did or where you’re going. Some levels even have Minamoto-no-Yoritomo, the game’s antagonist, appear in the background, larger than the mountains in the level, and try to smash you with a paper fan. I don’t want to sound like one of those “they must have been on drugs when they made this!” assholes, because fuck them, but this is still a strange game, even in English.

Keep in mind, despite me maybe making this game sound appealing, it plays like fucking shit, and it’s hard as balls on top of that. I have never been able to finish it in all the years I’ve tried. At the end of the day, it’s an 80’s arcade game, and it wants your money. So it’s not an overlooked gem, but I’m still endlessly fascinated by the game and its existence.

Plus, the exhibit is really cool, with a couple of hidden things for you to find by looking around carefully.

But I do kind of want to mention the other exhibits. Mostly Ordyne and Pac-Land.

Ordyne’s is cute. It’s made to resemble a fast-food restaurant in the style of Ordyne’s in-game shop. And if you look carefully, you may notice on the menu that smiles are always free!

Pac-Land? It’s just Pac-Man and Ms. Pac-Man chilling out on a beach with the Pac-Land fairy, a cocktail arcade cabinet, and a boombox playing a really peaceful remix of the Pac-Land theme.

It is the most chill thing. It is, as the kid’s say, aesthetic as fuck. Seeing this one scene in an old issue of Tips & Tricks way back when made me want this game so fucking bad. Kind of a weird tic I have, but I find hub worlds to be the most peaceful, calming in video games. This probably dates all the way back to playing Chrono Trigger and making it to the End of Time. The Playstation really added to that, as my concept of a calming space in a game got really generous, to the point of including the Library from Echo Night, or this one very particular part of the map in Bushido Blade, in addition to normal shit like the town in Mega Man Legends or Brave Fencer Musashi. I was a very weird kid. Either way, Namco Museum, especially the later entries, are like crack for my weird brain. I can walk around these miniature dioramas of a video game, looking at things, even interacting with them in some cases. The games themselves are almost secondary, even though most of them are absolute classics worthy of the price on their own.

It’s just too fucking bad that Namco Museum Encore lacked pretty all of this cool stuff, which is even worse when you consider that that compilation included goddamn Rolling Thunder. Or that subsequent Namco Museums on other consoles, even the Switch, don’t have the virtual museum. The Switch one includes, again, Rolling Fucking Thunder The Best Arcade Game Namco Has Ever Made, and Splatterhouse. Splatterhouse! I’m not even a big fan of that game, but a digital exhibit for it would be amazing! You could even have it be less of a museum piece and more of a haunted house! But no. Unfortunately, we are no longer allowed to have nice things.

Honorable mention for the second best classics compilation goes to Sonic Jam on the Sega Saturn. It’s second best because the ports/emulation/whatever fucking suck, and the games sound and run worse than the original Genesis games. But at least it has those really cool animated movies, commercials, the Sonic timeline, and Sonic World.

You could run around, picking up rings, launching off of springs, hitching a ride on Tails, doing small time trials (pick up X number of rings in this amount of time, etc), and finding codes and secrets for the actual Sonic games on the collection. It’s really cool, but I wish it wasn’t this excellent accoutrement for what is ultimately a big let down of a compilation.

In any case, Namco Museum. It is bar none the best compilation of games you could possibly play, so long as you stick to the initial five volumes.

monster hunter

When I haven’t been working on various art/game projects, I’ve found myself becoming addicted all over again to Monster Hunter. Specifically, the Switch port of Monster Hunter Generations that I picked up about a month ago.

Now obviously, this is not my first rodeo. I’ve been playing these games since the PSP days, when I got a copy of Freedom Unite at my old job. I played it for a bit, had no idea what I was doing, and put it away in my PSP case, going back to Mega Man Powered Up and that version of Final Fantasy VII on the Playstation Store. A few years later, I would get back into the game. Sort of. You see, this was before the days of fan wikis being so widespread, or YouTube tutorials that broke down every aspect of a game about five minutes after it comes out. I had no fucking clue how to play Monster Hunter. I ran around with a Long Sword, wildly swinging at things, wondering why evasive rolling didn’t work literally the same as in Demon’s Souls.

Cool thing here, while I’ve long since lost the old blog posts I made about MonHun, I still have the screenshots I took on my old PSP memory stick. Let’s take a look at them!

So, because I had in my head that this game was no different from Demon’s Souls. This included not giving a fuck about the armor I wore, to the point of going out and literally fighting in my underwear. If you are new to Monster Hunter: DO NOT DO THIS! You need those full armor sets so you can get the abilities they have. Another thing I didn’t bother with that you should do: UPGRADE YOUR ARMOR! You need that defense boost, too!

And I would eventually wise up but putting on a full set of armor. Just not uh, a full matching set.

kut-ku, velociprey, and bullfango armor does not work together

Needless to say, I had a hell of a time getting through a number of hunts. I didn’t know how armor worked. I didn’t know that eating before a hunt would give you stat boosts. I didn’t even know that hitting monsters with paintballs would mark them on your map! I didn’t know about hiring Felynes to help me in fights! I was a dumb fucking noob, for sure.

But what fucked me up the most? Hunting the Khezu.

This Eldritch looking worm thing kicked my ass so many times. I failed so many hunts. Keep in mind, this was before Monster Hunter had online play included. In this game, it was either local, or you learned how to get good. Well, slight correction: you could play online, through a third-party app on the Playstation 3 that was Japan-only (until the end of the system’s life anyway), and when you got on, you would find more people interested in playing Final Fantasy Dissidia than anything else. Bleh.

i eventually got one

As a result of my ineptitude, and the Khezu killing me a bunch, it ended up becoming (no pun intended) my white whale. In subsequent games, I would gun for Khezus as soon as I could, hunt them, then wear armor and carry weapons made from their parts.

Monster Hunter 4 on 3DS was the next game I played after MHFU, and this is exactly what I did. I even did the same when Red Khezus started to appear, with my hunter dressed head to toe in a bright pink rubber suit.

Quick tangent here: this will probably get me some heat, but can I just admit to thinking that the 3DS was not a good system? Like, it had great games that I spent a lot of time with (MonHun, Resident Evil, Animal Crossing, Megami Tensei), and it had a few neat features, but I feel like the system was plagued by too many games that tried to push the system to its limits, and did not succeed. I mean, I’ve never gotten very far in Pokemon Moon, because the battles are slow as shit, running at 5 FPS, because I didn’t go out and drop another $150 on a slightly better 3DS. Not nearly as fondly remembered by me compared to the previous generation’s DS and PSP. Plus for a system so reliant on online connectivity, it probably would’ve helped if it weren’t complete shit that lagged and disconnected if the wind was too strong that day.

As far as the original MH Generations went, I liked it, but I think by then I was so burnt out on MH4, and the awkward touch screen controls, and the bad internet, that I ended up not getting very far in it. Then I didn’t touch the series again until World came out. And World is amazing. A great game. But I feel like, in its desire to make the quality of life changes that it did, it kind of moved away from the spirit of Monster Hunter. It’s smooth, moves really quickly, and handles a lot of the pre-hunt prep for you. I find myself preferring the original slow, methodical pace, where getting ready for a hunt is just as important as the hunt itself. I like doing a little flex every time I heal. I like having to go from section to section on the map, instead of following the Dead Space line straight to the monster.

So I guess it’s a good thing I picked up MH Generations on Switch when it was on sale. It’s scratching all those itches. And holy shit, it really shows just how much better these games are on consoles, instead of hunched over, squinting at a handheld screen, with your hand in an awkward claw position to navigate both yourself and the camera. The online is actually not that bad, given the system it’s on. It is like night and day considering how much better Generations is on Switch than on 3DS, which ties back to my point about developers trying to make the 3DS do things it was clearly not meant to do.

what a difference seven years makes

I admit, I have been hooked on this game probably every day since I bought it. There’s always one more thing to do; one more part to collect to make a new weapon or piece of armor, or one more quest to finish to raise my Hunter Rank, or one more something. It is so fun.

My current problem is the amount of choice. I can’t decide on a weapon to stick with! Right now I’m bouncing back and forth between Hammers and Light Bowguns. Do I try out Dual Blades? Sword and Shield? Go back to Long Sword? They’re all so great, with their own pros and cons. Except for Insect Glaive. Fuck the Insect Glaive. Zoe’s shitty rapist ex (yeah, I know, I know, which one?) was always going on about how great that thing was when we all used to play MH4 together, so he killed that weapon for me. For all I know, it could be the best weapon, that suits my playing style to a T, but I don’t care. It’s ruined for me. But everything else? Reduces me to the most indecisive bitch on the planet.

The main reason I made this post, aside from waxing nostalgic about the PSP again, was to let/remind people how fucking good old-school Monster Hunter is. I informed one of the Discord groups I’m in that Generations was $20 a while back, and was met with “old Monster Hunter sounds like a nightmare!” Yeah, World is great, but there’s so much more satisfying weight and heft to the old games. What I’m saying is, if you’re my friend, you should be playing this with me. I’m tired of idiot randos knocking me out of combos while I’m trying to swing a hammer at a monster’s head. And plus, World doesn’t have Khezus in it, and that’s bullshit.

always wearing the khezu gear

hydlide

Let me begin this post by saying the following: I actually legitimately, unironically love Hydlide. To a lot of people, this sounds ludicrous; like my myriad of mental illnesses have finally taken over to the point where I will say with 100% sincerity that Hydlide is a good video game.

This sounds ludicrous because, outside of Japan, Hydlide has been a running joke for so many years now. Frequently torn apart in reviews, most notably with the Angry Video Game Nerd and, ugh, ProJared. Given that its two biggest detractors are a gimmick not meant to be taken seriously, and a guy who got caught showing his dick to children last year, I feel like the game deserves better in the English speaking critical world. Which is why I’m here.

I’ll try to avoid going too in-depth in Hydlide’s history, since you can just read up on that on Wikipedia, but maybe a bit of context is necessary. Hylide was released in 1984 on Japanese computers, and along with Falcom’s Dragon Slayer and Namco’s Tower of Druaga (all released within months of one another), it kicked off the whole Action-RPG subgenre. So like, The Legend of Zelda would have been a game influenced by Hydlide. And also, strangely enough, Metal Gear Solid 5.

It was a big hit in Japan. However, over here, we did not get Hydlide until 1989, five years later. So we’ve already played at least two Zeldas, Faxanadu, and several other action-RPGs that long since expanded upon Hydlide’s foundation. Hell, Hydlide 2 and 3 were already out in Japan, with the Sega Genesis port of Hydlide 3 coming out in the US later in the same year. As a result, and without any context regarding Hydlide’s influence, all people saw was this game that looked worse, sounded worse, and arguably played worse (“arguably” is an editorial insert) that games that had come out in the past half decade.

But with all that said, I still like it. Charm and personality go a long way for me. I mean, the main character is a knight named Jim. Hardly a heroic name, to be certain. Jim the Knight has to rescue Ann the Princess from a demon named Varalys, who uses his magic to turn her into three fairies, who have been displaced across the country. It’s a very simple, stupid story that I can’t help but like it. It’s a game made during a time when technology and experience wasn’t really there to put together a compelling narrative. You combine that with its very lo-fi art style that I find to be very cute, and it’s a good time.

Admittedly, a lot of my love for these old, obtuse games tends to be superficial. Lo-fi graphics, nonsensical progression that sometimes feels like you’re accidentally making progress, big fan of all that. And Hydlide is full of it. Having to find a cross out in a field, so you can fight the Vampire in the castle. Searching a grouping of trees to find the right tree that contains a fairy, the others containing a group of dangerous bees. Having to defeat the Wizard by hitting him and his magic duplicate with a single “Wave” spell, which only travels horizontally, and you have to fight in a small vertical space. Avoiding a massive dragon, burning down a tree that blocks entry to the castle it’s guarding, also the only time you have to use magic on something besides an enemy. Like, this all sounds like a game design nightmare, but I love it. I’m not sure what it is about this era of esoteric cartoon logic design, but it’s extremely appealing to me. Probably because I grew up in a time where you needed to crouch and wait for a tornado, or blow up random walls, or stand in front of a waterfall for five minutes in real time. Probably because I’ve fallen back in love with obtuse shit in a post-Demon’s Souls world. Although, quick side bar: Falcom’s Legacy of the Wizard goes way too fucking far with that shit. There is a limit to what people can take.

Here’s a secret thing for you here: in this section of the desert, you have to hit three worms with one wave spell.

And when you do, these dinosaur footprints appear in the sand, and you get a full magic meter and unlimited magic for a short time. Of course, outside of two specific instances I’ve already mentioned, magic is more or less completely useless (it was added to the Famicom version to give it some added appeal to an audience more than familiar with the PC original), but it’s cool that it’s there.

So much like me, the game is cute and weird. And also like me, it has its problems. For one, something that will make itself readily apparent the moment you start the game is that fucking music. An irritating ten second loop that’s nearly a note-for-note ripoff of the Indiana Jones theme. It’s actually the title theme to Hydlide 2, but some rocket scientist at T&E Soft thought that a short loop originally meant for an opening “PRESS START TO CONTINUE” screen would be appropriate for the length of an entire game. My advice would be to turn down your emulator and listen to something a little more appropriate. Or at least something that doesn’t even last a full thirty seconds. That being said, it may as well be Yuzo Koshiro’s entire catalogue compared to the PC music, which is best described as a five second loop of noise.

Another complaint is that, because the game is so short, the grind for experience so bosses and higher-level enemies don’t immediately kill you can be long and tedious. I’ve alleviated this by using the Hydlide Rebalance ROM Hack, which reduces the grind by a significant amount.

You may have noticed that I’ve been talking about the Famicom port, and not the original computer game. This is because I skipped over it in favor of its 1999 remake. Yes, Hydlide has not one, but at least two remakes.

And the Hydlide remake is pretty much the same thing, but with new graphics and some new sound effects that sound as though they came from AOL Instant Messenger.

Main difference is that the magic system is not implemented here, so a couple of things are slightly different. For one, to defeat the Wizard, you just have to stab him and his clone after he’s shot you with his fire spell five times. And for the castle at the end, you just hit the space bar on the empty space in front of it.

The other difference is that rather than fixing the grind of the original game, the developers instead opted to include an “Overdrive!” mode. Press O on your keyboard, and you pretty much become completely overpowered, take almost no damage, and gain experience several times faster than you would normally. You can even one-shot the final boss while in Overdrive. So yeah, Hydlide Remake literally has a “win” button.

But it does have a neat feature of being able to switch back and forth between the new graphics, and the original PC look.

You can nab this version over at the Internet Archive. Keep in mind though that it does not include the arranged CD music, so you have to live with the shitty five second loop I mentioned earlier.

There was another remake on the Sega Saturn released a couple years earlier called Virtual Hydlide. It’s really good, but I feel like it’s deserving of its own write-up, due to how vastly different it is from the original (think along the lines of Resident Evil on Playstation compared to Resident Evil on Gamecube). I did do a stream of it last year, if you got a couple hours to kill and want to watch me play the game and make jokes the whole time.

Looking through the manual for Hydlide on the Famicom, there’s something towards the end that may catch your eye. Admittedly, this is actually the main reason I made this post in the first place.

It’s an advertisement for a cross-promotional single for Hydlide Special (the name of the Famicom port). The singer in question is Mayumi Chiwaki. Her heyday was in the 80s-early 90s, followed by short comeback from the the late 90s until 2001, where she settled into a radio gig.

I was a bit disappointed at first, if only because of my own brain immediately associating all 80s J-Pop with City Pop, and the dreamy synths it contains. But that’s just me being me. The song itself is fine, and it’s definitely a far cry from the Idol shit I posted in my piece on Heinkyo Alien.

Unfortunately, you can’t just search for “ANGEL BLUE” on YouTube and hope to find the track. This is thanks to Japanese music labels and their severe allergy to anyone actually being able to listen to their music. The most you’re going to get is a guy pointing a camcorder at his record player. It’s pretty fucking grim.

LUCKILY FOR YOU, I happen to have the song, which I’ve gone ahead and uploaded.

mayumi chiwaki- angel blue

That’s Hydlide. A weird game that deserves better, especially now that thanks to From Software, jank is back in style. Go into it understanding that thirty-something years of technology and design has since built off of it, but you should still have fun with it.

heiankyo alien

Meant to have a blog post done last week, but that had to wait. I ended up catching a really nasty cold, instead. Nasty to the point of losing my voice for several days, and spending all of Friday in bed, because I was so light-headed and dizzy that being off my feet for more than a few minutes didn’t end well for me.

But it all worked out. I’m feeling a bit better (my nose is still ungodly clogged, and I have a bit of a cough), and I managed to find a better subject to post about. This would have been its own special page on my site, but I got a new computer over the holidays, and as such, I’ve lost my completely legitimately purchased and honestly and ethically installed copy of Adobe Dreamweaver, so it’s a blog post. Besides, blog posts are the future. They were the past, but they’ll be the future again once people finally start listening to me. So let’s do a post about a video game!

Heiankyo Alien was a computer game, according to legend, hastily developed in 1979 by a group of college students at the University of Tokyo after a news reporter was disappointed to find out that they didn’t develop video games. But then a couple days later, the team came up with a game concept, which was apparently enough back in those days to get arcade manufacturers lined up to try and get a deal with you. Long story short, it became something of a success, and got a bunch of ports and remakes, which I’m going to be talking about here.

Now, I don’t have the original computer game, but that’s okay, because it runs like shit anyway. Instead, I have the arcade port that came out a year later.

And…it’s fine. It holds up fairly well for a game of its age, maybe not on the level of say, Space Invaders, but still good nonetheless. The object of this game is that you’re a cop running around the streets of an alien infested Heian-era Kyoto, digging holes, waiting for the aliens to fall into them, then burying them alive, joining Dig-Dug in the sub-genre of “gruesome ways to die presented as a cutesy fun arcade game.” Like I said, it’s still really fun, and totally playable today. A couple of complaints: aliens move really fast and erratically, while you move slowly and dig even slower. And unlike something like Pac-Man, there’s no set A.I for the aliens, either. They’re content to run around in any random direction they choose, which can be a problem when you have your pit defenses all set, only for the last couple aliens to fuck off to the other side of the level.

like so

Later on, we got to the real shit. A company called Meldac, which are responsible for Abarenbou Tengu/Zombie Nation on NES, which was…okay, I guess, and the fucking awesome Mercenary Force on Game Boy, did their own remake of Heiankyo Alien.

Now here’s something I don’t really talk about much, for whatever reason: I fucking love the original Game Boy library. There’s a whole list of stone cold classics that little brick had, and I would consider the GB port of Heiankyo Alien to be right up there. Ain’t even kidding; you got your Super Mario Land, your Link’s Awakening, your Batman, your Avenging Spirit, your Final Fantasy Legend 2, and then you got your Heiankyo Alien.

Fuck Tetris, this is the addicting puzzle game you need on your Game Boy/Game Boy emulator. Everything is faster now. Moving and digging is so much easier to pull off, leaving you more time to prepare your routing strategies and avoiding wandering aliens. Yes, the A.I is still entirely random, but the smaller screen size means it’s easier for them to get you. It also means it’s easier for them to fall into holes you dig. It’s a fast-paced, fun as hell game that you’ll find yourself playing for way longer than you expected. Plus there’s all these neat new gimmicks, like steel floors that prevent you from digging through them, walls that rise and fall to prevent/allow movement through them, and a boat that can take you to the opposite end of a map, but you need to wait for it to dock before you can hop on-board. It also comes with a slightly compromised port of the original arcade game, if you’re into that.

I cannot recommend Heiankyo Alien on Game Boy highly enough. Play it late at night, turn the sound down a little bit, turn up something a little heavy, and have a good time burying those aliens.

There was also an ad campaign in several magazines at the time. These ads were actually really good, especially given the time period, with all its in-your-face, my console’s dick is bigger than your console’s dick bullshit.

Really classy shit. It should be noted that these ads gave us the greatest line in copywriting history:

HEIANKYO ALIEN IS A GAME EVERYONE CAN ENJOY

There’s also a Super Famicom version of the game. It’s…there. I’m not a big fan. It looks nice, but it controls terribly, and the power-up system feels completely tacked on. Feels like it’s trying to be more like Bomberman than Heiankyo. Maybe try it out for five minutes, I don’t know.

That was how I knew Heiankyo Alien, as this really sick Game Boy game. Then, during this past week, I was informed that a new HA was released back in 2017, giving it a scoring system and aesthetic in the vein of Pac-Man Championship Edition. I threw the $13 the game cost right at my computer screen, hoping it would make the transaction go faster.

This is Heiankyo Alien 3671.

it’s a lot less confusing than it looks

You get five minutes to bury as many aliens as you can. You get score multipliers for walking around blocks, digging up hidden items, and burying aliens of the same color. It also includes the ability to distract aliens with a piece of candy, something planned, then cut, for the original computer game. The different songs included are all really good at getting into that “high-score zen” state of mind, including a hidden track you can find that’s done with the Yamaha 2612 chip, which is the same sound chip the Sega Mega Drive used. Again, it’s a very fun and addicting game that’s well worth your time, even if I think that the Game Boy game is superior due to its level design.

There’s some remade graphics, but I don’t like them as much as the old ones.

There’s not really much else to say about it other than it’s Heiankyo Alien, but with more stuff. Speaking of, there’s a greyed-out option on the main menu that caught my eye.

There was supposed to be an “idol version” of the game. I looked into it, and apparently, the Heian police officer would be replaced with one of the members of the idol group GUILDOLL. But since it’s now unplayable, with the only trance of its existence being a short WAV file of a GUILDOLL song, it’s clear that the deal ended up falling through.

This led to me actually looking up GUILDOLL, to see what they were all about. It looks like they’re not a particularly big or notable group, seeing as their shows all take place in these small venues.

Now, as someone who has been to many a small venue to check out local acts, there’s nothing really wrong with that, but you combine that tiny, intimate setting with the crowd, and there’s a problem. Watching these videos, you start to notice that there are a lot of male voices in that crowd. Older male voices. A lot of older men really excited to watch a group of young girls dance and lip-synch to a backing track. Now, I know about the grossness of “idol” culture, but it seems so much sadder and sinister when it’s happening in the kind of smoke-filled shithole I would have some drinks and listen to Ivory Circle or Danielle Ate The Sandwich in. Kind of fucked up.

But yeah, Heiankyo Alien. It rules, regardless of its format (Super Famicom not included), and you should play it.

retail memorabilia gaiden: that time i was at a kotaku event

I should open this with a disclaimer here: the events that I’ll be recounting happened all the way back in 2011. I was also very, very drunk at the time. As a result, I would pre-emptively ask any forgiveness if my memory tends to be hazy or incoherent at times during this post.

Anyways. Back in 2011, things were a little weird for me. I was at home, sitting at my computer, drinking my morning coffee, and checking my messages. While I was doing this, I heard a very loud hissing sound. There was a lot of construction going on outside my apartment at the time, so I ignored it. But I could no longer ignore it when I stepped into my bathroom, and noticed that the floor was extremely wet. That wasn’t construction work outside, the pipes in my bathroom burst, and now my floor was rapidly starting to flood. Long story short, my carpet had to be torn out and completely replaced. Twice, actually, because the first time was an incompetent rush job. And because the plumber took his sweet ass time showing up and shutting the water off (the complex’s water supply is locked, you see), I ended up with black mold on and in the walls, which meant I couldn’t stay there until everything had been fixed and cleaned up. So for the next month, I lived in a motel. Luckily, this stay was paid for by my landlord, so it cost me nothing but the headache of having to be here in the first place. I ate a lot of pizza and brownies, played a lot of Pokemon White, which had just come out (I got White because I accurately predicted everyone I knew would get Black), and got some really good sleep on a surprisingly comfortable bed.

I didn’t really have much else to do at the time, other than wait for my home to be fixed. This was also around the time that Japan had been rocked by that horrible earthquake and tsunami. In response to that, Brian Crecente decided to host a charity event. Because he used to run Kotaku, and Japan=video games, apparently. Not because it was the right thing to do or anything. This was still back when Kotaku was a garbage website with no real quality, before it had its renaissance of having a couple good pieces, mixed with “Why Agent 47 Is The Queer Representation We Need” and “Why Masturbating To Child Pornography Is Good, Actually.” Side note: that fucking child porn article caused me to have a CSA-induced flashback/breakdown combo. So thanks for that, assholes.

Crecente and I both live in Colorado, and the event was held within walking distance of the motel I was staying at. It was at Cervantes Ballroom, a place I hadn’t been to since 2005, when my old roommate and I went to see Chiodos and Portugal The Man in concert. I’m hoping the venue was chosen because its relatively large size, and not because Cervantes also happens to be the name of a Soul Calibur character.

At risk of sounding like I’m too cool for the room, because after all, I was attending an event hosted by a video game website, this was exactly what you would expect. Lots of stereotypical nerds with no real social experience huddled around game merch and a couple of consoles hooked up on the ground floor. There was a small LAN center on the balcony, so if you wanted to play Counter-Strike or Starcraft (AND NOTHING ELSE), you could do that. And on the stage? You think maybe because this a music hall, there would be a band performing? Of course not. It was only a projector, and XBox 360, and a copy of Rock Band. For anyone who is unaware, Denver has a great music scene. A lot of amazing bands would certainly be available. Or, you could watch a bunch of random weirdos play plastic instruments. That works, right?

I realized pretty quickly that I was out of place. Sure, I love me some games, maybe even too much. But I’m not, and never will be, a “gamer.” I came in wearing a nice shirt, nice pants, a sweet jacket (it was cold this time of year), things you would wear if you were out at a nice club for an event. Everyone else was wearing shitty jeans and shirts with mystery stains. Not exactly “club” material.

pictured: me in formal attire (at the time, anyway). my scarf makes it look like i don’t have a chin, sorry about that. not sure why i put my hair behind my glasses frame, i’ll chalk it down to being drunk.

So as you do when you’re out at club and things are weird: you go and get drunk. And drunk I got. Apparently, as the bartenders had informed me, I was literally the only person there who ordered anything besides a glass of water. As a result, they gave me my “usual” a vodka/Red Bull combo in the Long Island Iced Tea glasses. If you’ve never seen one of those, understand that that level of alcohol, in that glass, got me fucked the fuck up in a hurry. This is where things start to become a bit of a blur.

One thing that sticks out to me is when I needed to use the bathroom. There was a line outside the men’s room. The first thing that comes to mind is, what the fuck? Why would there be a line to the bathroom at a club? They are designed to hold a large number of people. So I ask the guy at the front of the line what the deal is. His answer?

“Oh…there’s someone in there already.”

Now this is the part where I’m too cool for the room. I open the door, to show everyone that in public venues such as this, there’s more than one stall! And guess what? There was nobody in that bathroom! These people, who were all apparently adults, did not realize that there’s no line to a club bathroom. I took a piss, and walked out laughing.

Because this was an event for charity, here’s where the money raising things started to happen. Aside from the $10 cover charge, there was also an auction for various game memorabilia happening. If I had the money for it, I could’ve gone home with a physical copy of the Mega Man 9 box art, eternally tying me to that cursed game.

POINT OF THIS BLOG POST NOW

At some point during the night, I somehow managed to actually socialize with a small group of people. One of them was a cute girl in a Symphony of the Night t-shirt. That’s about all I remember about any of them. But while this was happening, and I was shaking my head at Brian Crecente’s incredibly cringe-worthy stage presence (complete with wearing a Denver Nuggets jersey and trying to speak “jive”), someone had approached us holding a small cardboard box. He informed us that it was a Lego model for some Lego game that was meant to be put up for auction, but the guy dropped it, causing the pieces to break off and leave the model unfinished. In his embarrassment, he asked us if any of us wanted it. Me, hella wasted, said yeah. I didn’t have to pay for it, and plus I got a free box to put my motel shit in. Things get really hazy after that. The cute girl talked me into going up on stage with her and her friends to play Rock Band. I think we did a Muse song. Was Muse ever actually in Rock Band? I don’t remember, and neither do you. Thankfully, for all the official Kotaku pictures taken that night, none of them feature me. Simply admitting this is embarrassing enough.

The next morning, it was dark, it was cold, and I was hung over. I spent the day opening up that box, and putting the model together.

And here it is, pictured taken literally the moment I finished it.

My apartment was eventually fixed up. I still live there now, actually. And Wall-E still sits on my desk, next to my other collectible toys.

I end this post by doing something Brian Crecente didn’t have the wherewithal to do: actually showcase a local Denver musician.

ivory circle- insomnia

what i’ve been playing 11/27/2019

My mood and general state of mind have gotten a lot better over the past couple of weeks. And it’s entirely due to getting back in contact with some old friends. People who I, and I’ll level with you here, have honestly been worried about off and on for the last few years. Hearing them all laugh and make jokes and have fun was a healing thing.

Now what does this have to do with games? That’s easy: we were all up until 4 in the morning playing The King of Fighters 2002. I don’t really recommend being up that late, especially when you’re old like I am. But if I’m going to be up that late, I’d rather it was because I was having fun playing video games, than being on Discord trying to convince someone that suicide isn’t the answer, you know?

Anyways, KOF 2002. It’s great. At least, the Ultimate Match version that we played. We got to play seriously. Then we goofed around. Then we (well, I) reminisced about playing KOF ROMs as a teenager, and really getting into the lore and well-drawn images of the pretty boy characters fucking. Also introducing my friend to DON’T BREAK MY SOUL WHOA WHOA TONIGHT

probably another post to be made about snk making all this supplemental material

And Hazel, my friend, she’s no fucking slouch. She’s really fucking good at fighting games, actually. So it was pretty cool that I managed to hold my own and actually get a few wins. Now obviously, I wasn’t a super-stud laying the smack down, but I think I did alright.

this is a time where i won

Quick side note here: shout out to SNK for having games loaded with hot-ass pretty boys with well-defined abs. Your cheap AI annoys the fuck out of me when I try to play this shit single player, but I can at least admire the dudes.

not official art, but can you blame me for posting it?

Myself, Hazel, and Gabi, we all got together and did some lobbies in Skullgirls, as well.

I’m not very good at Skullgirls. I like to play as Beowulf, though, so I can annoy everyone with my immense knowledge of Pro Wrestling.

In any case, it was good to get back in contact with people I care about. I’ve been kinda stewing in my own mental illness on my own for the last few months, and that shit will drive you crazy. So to get pulled out of that is really great, and it’s led to me feeling pretty darn good. Think I might bother them for some more games soon.

Plus, nobody’s asking me to play any fucking Overwatch, thank fuck -_-

kof 2002- esaka

9/15/2019: late birthday post

My birthday was on the 5th. I didn’t make a post then because I wasn’t home, and I’ve also been dealing with being sick, so I haven’t been able to take screenshots and pictures.

Anyways. I’m 33 now. So I’m going to do another post about the games I got as gifts (and a couple I bought on my own), and then follow up with a serious topic, like the adult I am.

Yakuza 6

This one was a gift. I recently finished Yakuza Kiwami 1, and I went right into this one. What I’ve played so far is really cool, and I would like to go back and play Yakuza 2-5 to get the full plot. I’m not too far into it; still doing sub-stories on chapter 1, in fact. Something I’ve liked is the seamless transitions; you go from walking down the street to immediately fighting hoodlums, or opening a door and entering a restaurant or Club Sega without a fade to black first. It’s really cool.

Kiryu is just such a relatable guy. He’s old and tired, but keeps getting dragged into other people’s bullshit. He wants to help everyone and do the right thing. He wants to chill out with some Virtua Fighter 5 and watch Anri Okita take her clothes off (maybe don’t click on that with your mom in the room). Like, same dude.

Marvel Ultimate Alliance 3

This game fucking rules, dude. You can have a team of four Spider-Mans. You can team up the good members of the X-Men (no more Gambit, thank fuck). You can play as the Avengers, but replace garbage characters like Iron Man with the Wasp or the goddamn Falcon. Plus the game was made by the XBox Ninja Gaiden people, so there’s more to this game than mindlessly pressing attack while watching numbers go up and hoping the fanservice keeps your attention, something the first two games were guilty of. On top of all that, I should repeat that it has motherfucking Venom. Venom who is actually a good character to play as this time around, and straight up uses some of his moves from Marvel vs Capcom.

Metal Wolf Chaos

Oh boy. I remember really gagging to play this game for about a decade now. I mean, a Japan only From Software game on a system I never owned? I needed to get my hands on it. This, despite Devolver Digital bungling the promotion of the game with their “Make America Great Again” bullshit that led to myself and a lot of other people dealing with a couple days worth of online harassment by The Gamers for rolling our eyes and saying it was fucking stupid. But you know, that’s not FromSoft’s fault. I was sure the game would be good anyway.

And…it is. It’s fine, mechanically speaking. The problem here is that it’s not 2004 anymore. A fascist America that locks up political prisoners and refugees in cages, blames the rise in crime on illegal immigration, relies on mainstream media to demonize antifa activities, and creates a narrative that the only person who can save the day from corruption is our “brave” President isn’t really satire anymore. That’s real life. Fifteen years ago, this would have been a decent parody of America’s post-9/11 attitude. In 2019? There’s nothing to satirize. The only difference between this game and our current political climate is there’s no giant robot tearing its way across the country. It’s very uncomfortable to play a game that says things like this, knowing that it’s the current GOP party line:

And it sucks, because again, that’s not From Software’s fault. I want to like this game, but man, it’s so fucking hard when things that were considered over-the-top jokes back in ’04 have since become very real. This might draw some heat, but I have to say that maybe it would have been better if this game were never re-released. Just have people mod an XBox if they wanted to play it so bad.

Anodyne 2

Like Yakuza 6, I’m still pretty early on with this one, but what I’ve played so far has been fucking great. I’m digging on the whole concept of “cleaning” people of mental illness and trauma that they struggle with, at your own expense. I’ve been told that the game gets heavy into some queer/trans stuff later on, which I’m looking forward to. And hey, it’s a game with a PSX/N64 aesthetic not made by people who have made thinly-veiled threats towards my found family! At the very least, it gets my nod of approval for that. Snark aside, I’m definitely going to be diving back into this one hard.

Blasphemous

The game looks nice. That’s about it, really. It gets frustrating pretty quick, putting enemies right under ladders and on platform edges, ready to attack you the second you attempt to make progress. Bosses have attacks with zero frames of animation, simply warping to you to do damage. Controls are pretty sluggish. Exploration can be a pain, with a lot of backtracking, even for its genre. It feels like one of those games where the dev team played Dark Souls, and the only lesson they took from it was “this game is hard.” Kind of a let down.

Cave Story

Not a new game by any stretch; I played this game when it got translated back in 2005. But I felt like replaying it, given the recent revelations of Nicalis being run by racist scumbags, one of the biggest “no shit” stories in gaming since the Riot Games allegations last year. So I loaded up the original freeware game, not bothering with that dirty “Cave Story+” bullshit. And what do you know? It still rules. An absolutely timeless game. As far as I’m concerned, this is what the concept of “Indie” should be. Making great (“great” being subjective, obviously) games that you feel strongly about that resonate with whoever plays them. I’ve spent so much time these last several years wondering why I still bother making games, despite everything that has gone down in that time. I loaded up Cave Story, and I was reminded why. There’s still a place for us; the real artists. Not the sociopathic rapists and egomaniacal transphobes.

ACTUAL SERIOUS THING NOW

Two weeks ago also marked my one year point of sobriety. Not a single drop of alcohol has entered my system since then. Admittedly, I’ve had my close calls the whole time. And August was kind of a rough month, as well (read those posts in case you forgot). Dealing with PTSD triggers without something to dull the pain can be difficult, but I did it.

This is a bottle of vodka I’ve had sitting in a cabinet by my desk. Last year, I took one last drink from it, and put it away. I left it there as a challenge to myself; to see if I had the strength to not give in. And I didn’t. As much as I wanted to at times, I kept myself from opening that door and pouring myself a drink.

Thanks to everyone who supported me during this time. All the friends and partners who stuck by me, even when they probably shouldn’t have. The faceless strangers a world away who had me in their thoughts. Even those who wanted me to give up and die. I’m still here and I’m sober because of you. And it may not always seem like it, but it has helped out tremendously with my mental health. Things are still hard, what with being an abuse survivor with BPD and PTSD, but I no longer feel the need to rely on alcohol to try and deal with it. That’s one battle in the war won.

Well, this was kind of a disjointed post. But I hadn’t done one in a while, and I was too busy to do one when I wanted to. So hopefully you liked this one, and I’ll be back soon (I hope) with another post about something.

retail memorabilia #3: littlebigplanet

It’s been a while since I’ve done one of these, but I found this while digging through my closet today, so it’s time for a new post!

This is small booklet, for lack of a better term, to promote the at the time upcoming LittleBigPlanet.

front
back

You open it up, and you get this sort of box/card holder type thing. It doesn’t open or anything.

But it does hold a number of postcard sized slips that list out all of the games’ features.

and here’s the back of the holder

Now unfortunately, I no longer have a working scanner (those Resistance 2 scans I have were done years ago), so iPhone will have to suffice for all of these cards. There are twelve all together.

Now, all of these have a design on the back. You put all twelve cards together, and it turns into this:

Now, I remember looking forward to the game really bad. I ended up buying it at launch. I have a thing for games that include a robust level creator. Games like Megaman Powered Up and Mario Maker are a permanent part of my collection, and LBP has hung around on my shelf for the same reason.

It’s just a shame that the games themselves are not especially good. At least aesthetically, the series is great. Amazing soundtracks and, if you know what you’re doing, it’s capable of some fantastic visuals, too. But the controls are really floating and hard to deal with, and the physics engine only adds to lack of handling you have. And on top of that, the actual level editor is really fucking complicated. I played this game in my 20s, and was having a hard time figuring out really basic things like putting platforms in the right place. LittleBigPlanet is a game aimed at like, eight year olds. If I, at around 22 (TWENTY-TWO!?) years old was struggling to make something, what chance do literal children have, you know? That being said, I still own all three of them, and load them up from time to time. Even if I can’t make shit in it, I can still sometimes find some good stuff other people have put together.

So that’s it for this post. I’m still digging around, looking for some bits of old promo materials I still have. Right now, I’m trying to find a collection of lanyards and pens, miscellaneous stuff.

And because this is a LittleBigPlanet post, figured I’d post one of the songs from its awesome soundtrack.

The Go! Team- Get It Together