Saturday, December 27, 2008

It's Okay, it's okay, it's okay

Fuck blue coins. OSK is taking forever on them. Granted, they're really hard to find, and it isn't a negative reflection on his mario skills, but still. It's really frustrating. But really.

Otherwise, my 64 runs take basically 30 seconds, so I'm spending a lot of time zoned out and doing nothing. Not enough blogging though. Ah well.
jvert is trying a cosmic race again. It didn't go so well the first time, but he's doing much better and... wow... talk about fateful. He just got it while I wrote that sentence. I gotta mention what's happening in real time in this blog more often.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Subliminal Messages

Mario sunshine is clearly a secret mind-control device being used by those racist against everything blue. They are training us all to instinctively destroy anything blue, like birds and butterflies. But let it be known: I'm onto them.

In other news, in addition to invisible block technology, I could really use some of that launch star technology. Or the hover pack. But mostly, the warp pipes. Unless they don't make the sound, then I wouldn't want them.

Further evidence of the genocidal nature of sunshine:

I rest my case.

Triple Threat

Well, this blog is officially revived, if only for one sake: the simultaneous 120 star runs in galaxy, 64, and sunshine. That's right, myself, OSK, and j_vert are each doing all 120 stars of 64, sunshine, and galaxy, respectively. It is, needless to say, awesome.

However, since I'm running original, I've got a good deal more down time than the rest of them. So, I'll be spending some of that time (by which I mean most) writing random shit here.

So, we have roughly 20 stars each right now, which is a good chunk of the easy stuff in each game. 64-wise, I'm still plowing through the easy first levels, so no worries for speed there. Galaxy, I don't know as well concerning the time consumption curve (a really bad way to word that), so no idea when that'll ramp up. Probly not for a bit longer, but soon. Sunshine, OSK is done with bianco hills, and some of the plaza, but he's spent enough hours in his life on mario, so I've got no worries at all about his speed. Looks like vert has the most pressure... poor guy. He hasn't even finished galaxy yet. Time for a commitment, space cowboy.

Allright, gotta wrap this up: 19-21 are waiting for me. Oh wait, I have no concept of responsibility for quality control here. Guess I can just end it then. On a drawn out clich├ęd group of sentences involving self reference. Yeah.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Take this Bowser! ... *whif*

So I'm sick and feel like crap, and I don't have much time before a plague of boxes is visited upon myself, but this needs to be said.

I suck at the bowser level. Which one you ask? The first. It was painful to watch myself do it. I actually felt bad for the people watching me do it, because the secondhand embarrassment and shame must have been pretty hard to handle. Had they politely left until it was over, I would have understood.
Anyway, my psuedo-speed run is not completely ruined, nor has OSK overtaken me for good, provided that I pwn the later stuff. Wet-Dry world has me worried though... oh and everything on the floor above it. *sigh*

Back to the grindstone. God I should be training...

More to come later.

Monday, June 2, 2008

May the Force be with your Lightsaber.

So I recently returned to Jedi Knight II: Jedi Outcast after not touching it for god only knows how long. Knowing, or at least vaguely remembering parts of the puzzles definetly makes the whole game go by faster. Not actually "solving" them right now isn't all that dissapointing (mostly because I still feel smart because I had figured it out once... or had seen someone do it once... or something). Not getting really frustrated at the harder parts is definetly a plus too (thank god Tavion didn't take dozens of tries this time).

Anyway, having never played any other star wars based first person shooters (man based at least, so I'm ignoring rouge squadron) I must say, I love lightsabers. They did a really good job of giving the player control over how they attack, without making it rediculously complex. Now I'll be the first to admit that it can easily degenerate into button mashing, with varying degrees of effectiveness, but especially with a force speed going on (everyone else gets slowed down) you get the time to actually think for a split second between attacks and really aim them. Most satisfying against other lightsaber-weilding foes, but certainly fun against stormtroopers too.

One of the other good parts associated with the 'saber though is how, especially early on, you aren't a god with it. A good chunk of the enemies use thermal detenators or tenloss disrupters, neither of which you can block with the 'saber and can really mess you up. They aren't impossible to defeat: you just need cover and a couple good guns of your own. It's nice that they can give you the 'saber (awesomely fun to use) and yet still force you to use the variety of more conventional laser guns and energy crossbows. Also, later on, your force powers become strong enough to be able to deal with these weapons without too much cover (unless they ambush you and/or catch you by too much surprise). By the very end of the game, I virtually never use guns: the lightsaber is just too good on its own. It finishes a logical progression from gun slinger to true jedi. The strongest jedi (good and dark) are 99% invulnerable to any and all gunfire, which makes sense and forces you to actually be better with the saber to kill them.

Anyway, what I'm basically saying is lightsabers are awesome, well balanced, and... well... c'mon, its a laser sword, of course its frakking cool. So go learn the ways of the force, and paint yourself a couple dark jedi on your 'saber grip.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Speeches from the Balustrade

Video games are awesome. Unfortunatly, one needs time to enjoy them. That time is not now, with APs in less than 2 weeks.

But that time is soon.

Anyway, I'm hoping to maybe actually post occasionally again, but as we all know that promise is pretty hollow (I'm thinking hollow as a Dyson's sphere) don't expect anything 'till final exams and gaming marathons start. I was writing a review of paper mario, but it's gotten really long and dry and doesn't really flow/isn't really interesting at all, so it's probably going to get scrapped over time by being ignored. Oh well. By the way, I got a 97 on that paper about diddy kong and mario.

Until next time, fare well, waste time, punish your eyeballs, and tetris rocks (much like jesus).

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

So... How's Life?

So I obviously haven't posted in awhile (i.e. forever) and I probably won't again until I'm really bored, gifted with vast amounts of spare time, and struck by inspiration. We all know that basically never happens, so don't expect much/anything until march and I'm playing video games 'round the clock again.

... *sighs nostalgically*...

What? Oh. Right. My point. Well, I've been meaning to make some crappy excuse for not posting (see above) but I felt that I ought to have a decent post at the same time. So, I'll now give you a paper I actually turned in for english class about video games (I'm not kidding, seriously) and... well... read it yourself.


Many a group of gamers has at least sampled the variety of racing games for the Nintendo 64. Of my two favorites, Mario Kart 64 is by far the better known, and a staple of the N64’s party options. Diddy Kong Racing, while not as widely known, fills much the same niche. When the time comes to put a racing game in one’s Nintendo, the question plaguing both casual and avid gamers alike is this: is Mario Kart 64 or Diddy Kong Racing the better game?

Both games have many elements in common. They are animated, somewhat tacky 3D racing games, using a combination of well-known and relatively obscure characters as the drivers. Each one has a story mode, featuring computer-controlled characters to round out the eight participants in each race, as well as a multiplayer option for up to 4 human players. Both games divide their courses into groups; four “cups” in Mario Kart and five “worlds” in Diddy Kong. Both also have a bonus section of the game featuring mirrored versions of every course. This involves simply flipping the direction of every turn on the course, but even such a seemingly trivial alteration can change the race completely. However, It is in the details where the games diverge.

In the sheer number of courses available for racing, Mario Kart falls rather short. With 16 courses divided among 4 cups, Mario Kart offers a decent selection. All of Kart’s courses are classic, three-lap races with eight players. Diddy Kong Racing has 20 such courses, as well as four unique arena style courses and six boss races where the player dukes it out with a single opponent on an distinctive, one-lap course. Mario Kart’s story mode forces the player into a single cup at a time, with all four races back to back. Points are awarded based on the finishing order of each race, with the player winning bronze, silver, or gold cups depending on their overall point total compared to the other racers. Diddy Kong Racing is a bit more complex. Every standard race is played twice, once at an easy difficulty, and the second time with silver coins scattered about that the player must retrieve. After placing first in every race, the player must defeat a boss on a linear one-lap course, again at two difficulties. Finally, one replays the four standard races back to back, with a scoring system very similar to Mario Kart. Although Diddy Kong has only two options compared to Mario Kart’s three, both games cover a good range of difficulties, from beginner to expert. Overall, Diddy Kong is far more expansive in this regard than Mario Kart.

Both games eventually reward the player with the bonus of being able to play every course in a mirrored mode. For Mario Kart, the “extra” setting can be applied to single player at the maximum difficulty and to multiplayer races. Diddy Kong Racing rewards the player with “adventure two,” which parallels the original story mode exactly, with two changes: all courses are mirrors, and the computer opponent difficulty is greatly increased. Keep in mind that because the silver coin challenge uses all new locations, this means every standard Diddy Kong course can actually be played at four distinct difficulties between the two adventures.

Perhaps one of the more major differences between Mario Kart 64 and Diddy Kong Racing is the choice of vehicles. In Mario Kart, only a car is used. Diddy Kong Racing, however, also allows the use of a hovercraft or plane on most levels. Basic driving skills must be remastered with each new vehicle. Although a few levels, especially water-based ones, restrict the usable vehicles, the extensive implementation of the plane and hovercraft add a new dynamic to traditional racing that Mario Kart lacks.

The most obvious difference between the two games lies in the item systems. Both games allow racers to obtain items that slow down opponents or aid the user. Mario Kart has generic “item boxes” that give the player a random item, ranging from offensive shells, to banana mines, to boosting mushrooms and so much more. Because of this variety of both weak and powerful items, Mario Kart often becomes more about what items one acquires than about how good a racer one is. In Diddy Kong Racing, players grab differently colored balloons for items. These balloons provide either an offensive missile, stationary mine, protective shield, magnetic pull, or simple boost, depending on their color. The same colored balloons always appear in the same places, causing Diddy Kong to be under much less sway from lady luck. There is still a variety of items because grabbing multiple balloons of the same color increases the item’s power. Mario Kart comes out on top for variety of items, but suffers from one major setback. Mario Kart weights the “random” items to be more favorable to those farther back from first place. While helping the underdog is a good idea in theory, often in practice a single good driver will lead the race until the very end, when a lucky item obtained by a player who has been lagging the entire race upsets the status quo and suddenly negates the first two and a half laps. I have been on both sides of this situation, and even when I win because of it, the victory always feels hollow. The consistency of Diddy Kong races is much better at ensuring that the best driver, not the luckiest, wins.

Diddy Kong also caters to the consistent driver with its “zippers.” Zippers are clearly marked arrows scattered across the course that provide any racer that touches them a temporary boost in speed. Reaching more zippers throughout a race can easily give a good driver a big lead over one less skilled at handling their vehicle. The number of zippers is very well balanced: enough to give a significant advantage to skilled drivers, but not so many as to trivialize items and other driving skills. Mario Kart does use boosting arrows, but only a handful of times, and almost exclusively to propel racers across a canyon or river. Nowhere in Mario Kart can one driver get a boost and another not, assuming neither one strays far enough off the course to be automatically rescued and brought back to the road.

Finally, there is the multiplayer mode of each game to consider. Both games support two human players racing against computers, although Diddy Kong requires a “magic code,” which can be easily found online, to do so. They also both support up to four human players in either traditional racing or battle mode. Mario Kart incorporates four new courses into its battle mode, while Diddy Kong has two battles among its arena courses. The items used in Mario Kart make that game better suited for battle mode, while Diddy Kong is more geared towards the traditional racing style. While Mario Kart lets multiplayer races be done on any course or its mirror, Diddy Kong once again has more options. Not only can humans battle each other in any course, they can also play the four race, point system trophy rounds. A pencil and paper allow Kart players the same option, but who really prefers having to record scores themselves?

Although Mario Kart 64 has a better battle system, Diddy Kong Racing takes first place in every other category. In sheer number of courses, single player story mode, consistent items and boosts, new vehicles and multiplayer options, Diddy Kong Racing reigns supreme. Without a doubt, Diddy Kong Racing is a superior game to Mario Kart 64.

Thursday, January 3, 2008

Requiem for Cheese Whiz

I’m a firm beliver that one can say “life is like *insert anything here*” and justify it. I believe this primarily because a friend of mine told me so, and he then proceeded to explain how life was like cheese whiz. How he did this has long since been forgotten, but what’s important is that it was done. So naturally, in the spirit of my current pastime (which is really all the time), I will give an appropriate example with an inappropriate amount of excessive explanation. Without further ado…

Life is like mario galaxy. You proceed from one stage to another, with each succesive stage only becoming available after the first is completed. However, it is usually necessary to revisit previous stages (with the benefit of increased knowledge and wisdom gained from more recent experiences) to truly master your surroundings. Although you can revist these places, you cannot ever truly return, because the initial problems have been solved, and can never be unsolved to be discovered again like they were in the beginning. Victory, for the traditional goal of pursuing happieness, is arguably reletively easy to obtain, but for most, it seems hollow until every last possible nook and cranny is searched down and explored. Only after this can true contentment be found. Of course, being human, everyone goes back over their memories again and again, reexperiencing as much as they can, but eventually, after enough repititions, all of the passion fades away, and you are left with only the memories of memories, and eventually all will be forgot.

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Bouldergeist Daredevil Run

This boss battle was a beast the first time through. Tough enemy in a very cool arena. I had a good amount of trouble as the last guy to face him, took at least a half dozen tries, but we got through with the clutch help of an overshield. Now, however, we are faced with the daredevil run. This means instead of having 6 life and the occasional coins, we have 1. I took it on first, and with a lot of luck managed it in just under a game over. j_vert took the next round, and it didn't turn out so good. After a long duel of wills, j_vert is currently taking a short break between rounds in the ring to collect himself, relax, get his mojo back. Now OSK is taking him on, and once again the bouldergeist is distinguishing himself as the single toughest boss yet encountered by a longshot. So far we've been blessed with continous progress. Yes, sometimes we've gotten hung up on a single star, but typically that's been just nasty on one player. Everyone has their bad moments, and although we give them some crap for it, we all know that it just takes some time to beat their personal deamons. This guy though, this guy's been beating on us all. Eventually, we're gonna take him down, but he's already done a number on us. It all comes down to good luck and well-trained instincts. It's hard to play really conservatively after you've had a half-dozen frustrating attempts, hence why we practice the breathers. Just taking some time off from the tension can have some pretty amazing effects on performance. Hopefully both of them will bring the smack down and beat this shadow-and-rock creature into the ground.

Major apologies for not posting this for around 24 hours after I finished it. I'll be better about this sort of thing in the future, I promise (please gods of karma, don't make me eat these words).

Hey, We Love Luigi and All, but... Seriously?

Giant pieces of meat in space = very bad for racing. j_vert had some trouble, but he got it in three or four tries. OSK is having a little more trouble, but he'll get it... eventually. We have faith. On the plus side, he's getting extra lives from star bits, so once he gets it, he's gonna make up some ground on the rest of us, which is going to help a lot with the hungry luma, and future ones too. There, he gots it. My turn XD

Sweet stuff with boos and invisible ground. It's like the zelda ocarina of time invisible ground, except you can't stand on this stuff unless you can see it. It's intense.

Oh, and on a random note (not at all related to the title), we found luigi. He's looking a little thin these days, being imprisioned by boos really didnt do him any good. Holy crap, luigi actually sucks. Allow me to explain: after you rescue him, he goes and looks for stars you might have missed. Sounds ok, maybe he'll open up hidden stars we couldn't get before. So he sends us some mail, saying he's found a star, with a picture of where he is in the level. Naturally, it's basically at the beginning, takes maybe a minute to get there, but y'know, he's probably just going to show us a new launch star, it'll be this sick new star stuff. Oh, what's that luigi? You have the star right here?
... douche.

At least luigi's mansion has been pretty good, 2 other good stars plus a nice hidden one. Actually, the third star is unreal. Nicely long, with a sick boss at the end. Even better, they improved on the lousy kill penalties. Each time you just have to refight the boss, but you need 30 new star bits if you want your overshield, so 3 or 4 tries in, if you still can't get it, it get's a lot harder. Very nice. Aww sick, after you kill him, he comes back! It's like gooper blooper, but even better. Except hopefully we'll only fight this guy once, not three times.
Dual-wield for the win. Man down. Victory is j_vert's.

Twelve... Ten... Nine... Four...

So, it's 2008... looking around, I gotta say the first couple hours haven't been particular better than last year. Galaxy rocks of course, but it rocked yesterday too, so I don't think we can pin that one on the new year.

Finally, galaxy has produced a truly beastly star, complete with an ice mario and ingenius use of enemies, wall kicks, all with an element of speed. A little frustrating, especially for the first guy (j_vert) but I think it's one of the best yet. On a completely different note, when d-pad targeting, the star bits hurtling towards you are pretty crazy. Not for those with heart conditions, or war veterans with post-traumatic stress.

I must say, the scattered nature of these galaxies is not in keeping with traditional mario, and I don't thinks it's an improvement. Although I love bowser worlds, a game of all bowser worlds just wouldn't work (this isn't nearly as good as that, but it's analogous to the highly sectionalized planets and puzzles). Bowser worlds are the desserts (specifically gumdrops) of the standard world meal (pizza of course). You can't just eat gumdrops... well you can, but it's much better to eat a crapload of pizza first. Some of the galaxies (honeyhive and the penguin beach one so far) are mostly just one planet, but even with that, typically one of the stars is at least half on a different mini-planet, so no single planet has more then 2 stars, and is therefore reletively simplistic and small. No need to really pack stars into small areas, or reuse sections of puzzles without changing them. I've always liked how Bo-omb Battlefield had you run past a chain chomp for 5 stars without making a big deal out of it, and then brought it back for the last star. It wasn't a new addition to the area, it had always been there, it just gained new importance. The galaxies do condense stars somewhat, but only really with comets, which reuse previous stars, with what is quite honestly not a huge change, not enough to really justify a whole new star.

Really, I just miss the large scale worlds of mario 64 filled with stars that you didn't have to get in any particular order. They were all there, the order was there just to give you hints on how to reach a star. Sunshine had even bigger worlds, with even more stars. The areas tended to be larger per star, with more specialized puzzles, but it worked out well because most of each level was still reused, with minor changes at most. Galaxy, so far, has been far too highly specialized for each puzzle. It's still good, but the style is a step backwords from its predecessors.

Now I'm feeling mean, so I will throw this out there: Galaxy has done very well with gravity and 3D mini-planets, and I'm loving the occasional step back into sidescrolling (especially the uses of gravity there).

That being said, I've lost basically all organizational skills, and I'm pretty sure my point rambles quite a bit more then it ought to back there, so I'll wrap this up for now. If anyone wants it, I'll very happily do another longer rant with more specifics (plus more galaxy will let me judge it's content better, we've seen less then a third so far).