Blog Archives

Free Games?!? I’ll take ’em!

Hey, folks! As an added treat to the loyal readers (and opportunity-seizing video game enthusiasts) of my blog, I’ve teamed up with AllKeyShop.com’s affiliate, CheapDigitalDownload.com to sponsor a video game giveaway. No pyramid schemes, no strings attached, just free stuff! Here’s how you enter:

1. On the widget (fantastic link below), log in with your Facebook or email account.

2. Quickly browse through CheapDigitalDownload’s vast selection of PC games (they’ve seriously got a ton…) and choose the game that you want to win. Get the Game URL and paste it on the box provided in the link below. Don’t forget this part: without the URL, they won’t know which game you want if you win (and you can’t enter).

3. Like and Follow their Facebook and Twitter pages to gain entries. To get more entries, just

share and tweet about this giveaway. The more entries you have, the more chances you also

have in getting the game of your choice! Super easy! Get the word out!

This giveaway will officially end on November 20, 2013 and the winner will be announced on the same day. An initial email will be sent to the winner, who then has 24 hours to respond, before a new winner will be selected. Please read full Terms and Conditions of this giveaway, found on the widget (in the link) below.

To join other fun and exciting giveaways, visit the Sponsor’s giveaway blog and join!

Best of luck!

(You can also visit the sponsor’s giveaway site to join more giveaways. If you like. If you like free stuff, that is.)

IT’S LINKY TIME!!!

HERE’S THE LINK! YOU ARE THE 1,000,000th VISITOR! CLICK THIS LINK FOR YOUR FREE CAR AND AIRPLANE AND TO FIND SINGLES NEAR YOU AND TO LOSE 15 POUNDS OVERNIGHT AND TO LAST LONGER… and maybe to get free video games.

(Keep being awesome, readers.)

~AG

P.S. I’ll be posting this link in every post I write from now till the end of the promotion, but if you’re super-duper-über committed to doing it every day, I’d only ask that you do go through my site to get to it (don’t just bookmark like a meanie-face).  Alternatively, you can just go visit my Facebook page here! Enjoy and thanks for being so awesome. 🙂

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A rare find, perhaps?

So, yes. I’m a horrible person, so on and so forth. I haven’t been updating, even though I came and said I would. The main reason for this is because I am woefully without internet at my current place of residence! Unfortunate, to be sure. But that’s okay. I’m sitting here in the music university, surrounded by one love, writing about another. Who could ask for more?

Except, of course, internet in my house. That’d be good.

One of my professors (a Texan who speaks flawless Italian. They exist??) mentioned offhand that German internet sucks. Since he probably has more experience with it than I do, that doesn’t bode well for me! Hopefully I’m the exception to the rule… or else, how will I surf Facebook and make meaningful blog posts about the nature of video games??

Anyhow.  If I had previously turned you on to the idea of the Humble Bundle, you hopefully bought the most recent one that came out. It was a little bit geared towards mobile-gaming again, but it still had a couple gems in it that I’m playing, have played, or am looking forward to playing. But I won’t talk about that now, for the reason that it’s irrelevant (as you can no longer buy it). Sorry! I hope that you made your purchase in good time, and I’ll be sure to make another post when the next one comes out. Naturally, I want you, dear reader(s?), to take advantage of the artful awesomeness that is indie gaming.

But for now, today’s blog post is about a gem that I found recently. This game is certainly not NEW, by any sense of the word (except the astronomical sense. Everything created by man is extremely new in the grand scheme of time), but it is both extremely interesting and a little bit fun, too. The game I am speaking of, of course, is Zelda 2.

What… what is going on?

It’s… side-scrolling. It’s a side-scrolling Zelda game! WHEN DID THIS HAPPEN? Well, 1987, to be exact. A couple years before I was born, but then again, I am so saturated with old games that one would have thought I’d have played this to death. But, (obviously, due to the surprised tone of my earlier sentences) I hadn’t discovered it until only a couple weeks ago. Sure, it’s an old game, but in the grand scheme of the Zelda franchise (and video games in general), it illustrates a very important concept.

What concept, you inquire? Well… the concept of a franchise! The concept of putting a number 2 next to the title of that game you released a while back, and hoping people will buy it and enjoy it just like they did the first one. There is a reason the Zelda franchise was so successful! And… well, it wasn’t this game. Just from looking at one screencap, you can immediately tell that this game is entirely different from every single other Zelda game in existence (with the slight exception of one part of the first dungeon in Link’s Awakening, where you get knocked off by the boss into a pit-type thing that is in fact side-scroll-y). It’s got experience bars, it’s platforming, it’s a very great deal more action-y and less puzzle-y than most Zelda games we’re aware of.

So, why does it exist? Knowing what we know now about the Zelda franchise, why didn’t they make a game that improved upon the concepts of the first game, offered a different storyline, and more cool features for the player to take advantage of? That’s what EVERY SINGLE OTHER Zelda game is! Why make this one such an anomaly? (Okay, that’s one too many rhetorical questions.) The answer is, naturally, because there were no rules and strategies to this sort of “franchise” thing. The world of console gaming was just starting to come into being, and the idea of putting out multiple games and relying on the brand of a fictional character was somewhat… foreign! It’s not just the matter of sticking your quarters in a machine anymore; it’s the idea of playing a whole other game, from start to finish, just because you liked the first one.

Now, if that were your goal… how would you go about it? Would you, say, make a game that is in most respects quite similar to the first game, but fluffed up a little bit, with more bells and whistles? Of course not! In the eye of the game developer, it would be foolish to put out such a similar product, and kind of seems like selling out, too. That mindset is all well and good, (and this game we’re talking about is produced FROM that mindset,) but as we now know, that’s not what video gamers desire! I know that when I play a Zelda game, I know what I want, and I know that I’ll find it within. There’s going to be a gradually increasing level of difficulty, lots of puzzles, tons of special items, princesses, Gorons and Zoras, something about the Triforce and the Master Sword… and it’s all going to be in top-down goodness. That’s a Zelda game. That’s the Zelda franchise.

And so, we have this game, different in style, and certainly less famous and less successful, all because it wanted to offer a totally different experience with the characters you know and love. Everyone knows, however, that characters don’t make a game franchise, because we’ve all played Super Mario Bros. 2. Turnips? Magic potions? Hearts???  (By the way, in case you didn’t know, Super Mario Bros. 2 was not originally Mario at all. Check it out here.) It’s a good game, but it’s an anomaly.

So, finally, what I’m getting at with this whole thing. The idea of a video game franchise is more than simple characters and worlds. It’s also gameplay! We have these great worlds that are developed, with cool characters, and interesting plotlines. However, when we play these franchise games, we expect them to behave a certain way! Metroids are ALWAYS frozen with ice missiles! Latikus ALWAYS drop spike balls. You ALWAYS get the Master Sword somehow. It’s the way the game works. You can’t just go fooling around with them willy-nilly. (By the way, willy-nilly is a totally awesome word. Use it in conversation sometime. But not willy-nilly!)

Having said all that, aren’t there good examples of games that HAVE been changed drastically within franchises that have also been successful?

Absolutely. Games and their franchises change with the capabilities of their systems. The ones that are successful, however, move the concept of their games to a new system, utilizing the capabilities of said system fully while preserving the idea behind the older games. Zelda: Ocarina of Time is one of the best games Nintendo has ever released. Super Mario 64 is another. Argue with me if you like, but… maybe you should just trust me on this one.  These games are both in 3D, which is an entirely different feeling for both franchises: Zelda’s top-down was equally as iconic by this time as Mario’s side-scrolling excitement. And, certainly, the idea of playing a musical instrument (actually controlling it with your controller, I mean… not Oracle of Seasons/Ages style)… was a game-changer (pun absolutely intended). Same deal with Mario: you now had health, and the world was way more free-form, even quest-oriented. There were little races and challenges and strange things that none of the other games before 64 ever had. And yet… Ocarina of Time? It’s a flippin’ PUZZLE game. You spent hours in the Water Temple not FIGHTING crap (except for those Tekteks. Screw those guys), but solving puzzles! You pushed blocks, shot fire-arrows, used small keys, hookshotted the hell out of targets and vines alike, and made your way through dungeons not by brawn, but by brains. It was a Zelda game, through and through. That idea was preserved. And NO ONE can dare to say that Super Mario 64 is not a platformer. Perhaps it was a little more forgiving with lives than the earlier Mario games, but I’ll be damned if I didn’t spend hours timing jumps right and trying to run without falling off one edge or another. The feeling of Mario was there, even if it looked a little bit different. Super Mario Galaxy and Skyward Sword (or Twilight Princess, too), took the games in a different direction. But c’mon. They’re still Mario and Zelda. You’ll always know a little bit what to expect.

So we see these games, how they change, how they stay the same, and we ask ourselves: SHOULD it be that way? What if every Zelda game had a different gameplay style, a different goal, a different set of mechanics governing your experience? Would those games still be good? The answer is unequivocally yes. The only thing is, instead of making these games “Zelda” or “Mario,” why not call them by another name? That way, we don’t have the problems of brand name expectations, and we can work within a much freer framework for what we can do and what we want to do as game developers! Let’s have a look at the result: Chibi Knight!

 

Click to play CHIBI KNIGHT, The Zelda 2 Knockoff.

 

If you decide to play it (and you really should), you’ll find that it’s fun, cool, addictive, engaging, and altogether very well-made! It’s also exactly the same style of gameplay as Zelda 2. So, after all this, I’ve come to this conclusion: the failure (not really FAILURE, by the way. It was successful in its original run, but it failed to stand the test of time like some other Zelda games we know) of Zelda 2 wasn’t because of its actual gameplay… it’s no longer a popular Zelda game because it was just too different. I guess the moral of the story here is “Be careful what you call Zelda.”

Also, in case you were wondering HOW MUCH Chibi Knight is like Zelda 2 (and how obvious the relation is)… Here’s the opening screen from Zelda 2:

Hm. I don’t see the resemblance at all.

Happy gaming, see you next time!

 

~Another Gamer

 

The Mobile Gaming Monster

Everyone has an iPhone. Some people may haughtily say, “No, this is an iTOUCH.” Or they’ll less haughtily say, “Actually, this is an Android.”

Let’s get past our differences. You say you’re going to “Google” something even if you use Yahoo (which I seriously hope you don’t. Yahoo? Really?). And I’m not going to go through my entire life saying “piece-of-technology-that-has-apps-on-it-and-fits-in-your-pocket.” I suppose I could say “smart-thing,” but that’s so vague I could be talking about a sentient can of tomato juice. SO! iPhone is the generalized smartypants technology title we’re using today. If you don’t like it, then get an Android… because that’s what I did, about 3 days ago.

My phone is about the same size, but the similarities end there.

Read the rest of this entry

And on the 7th Day…

…God was bored so he created video games. For those of us that love them, we know there is something of the divine in video games. Only a religiously inspired programmer could have created the genius that is Mario. (MARIO’s not exactly a genius, but the games are).

Look at the dark intelligence behind those eyes. He knows this is the 19th time he's rescued the Princess.

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The Blizzard Epidemic

You’re a serious gamer, right? I mean, your 4 food groups are chips’n’dip, hot wings,  cold pizza and Mountain Dew. You think that by going to bed early, you mean 3 or 3:30am, and you cancel that date you (finally) picked up from the online matchmaking service because it conflicted with your XBOX live time. Wait, no? You’re married to a wonderful woman (or man, even), work full time, have 3 kids who you’re trying to get through the public school system? You have an SUV, a mortgage, and you are looking forward to a relatively comfortable retirement? And you pay fifteen bucks a month to play World of Warcraft. How is this POSSIBLE?!?!?!? World of Warcraft is the bane of existence! It dominates your life! You lose real life friends and replace them with NPC’s in-game! You tell your guildmates that you’re going to go back “into real life” for a bit, like this is Inception and your fantasy world has become reality! It’s a terrifying, life-sucking, social-adjustment-destroying monster. Right? Read the rest of this entry

Video Games: Now with Music!

The 3-sentence bio at the bottom of the page mentions that I write music for video games. (Pause for effect…) Now, that may strike you as unbearably cool, unbearably nerdy, or just unbearable in general, but there it is. Video game music is such a wild, insane craze that I can’t begin to describe how it began or what happened along the way to make it such a big deal. Actually, I kind of can, and that’s exactly what I’d like to do in this post. I mean, if you look back to the days of your childhood (which may not be over, mind you), you can totally remember the tunes from those classic games you liked to play. If I play the first two bars of the Mario Theme, or the Zelda Theme, or the Tetris Theme, or any other frickin’ theme that has been put out in the past 20 years, and you played that game, you KNOW it. You’d recognize it. Why is that? BECAUSE VIDEO GAME MUSIC IS EPICALLY AMAZING. The very existence of those chunks of music that you hum to yourself in the shower is an incredible phenomenon that I can’t wait to share. I feel like I should have just skipped this paragraph and gone straight to the meat of it. That juicy, delicious meat. Read the rest of this entry