News, Video Games

NES Coming Back on the Market… Sort of

Nintendo has announced a mini NES system that will come preloaded with 30 classic games. It will come with a controller designed as the original NES controller, and HDMI support. Essentially it is a virtual console in a different package than the Wii U. It will be launching November 11th for $60 US. Second controllers will be $9.99 US. The big question that hasn’t been answered is whether or not it will ever be able to support other NES games. The Wii U virtual console does have other NES games available on it, so there is an argument that it just comes pre loaded with 30 games, but also the ability to get the other NES games out there. When we do find out more information we will let you know, until then the 30 games the mini NES comes with are pretty impressive, so this could be a must have for many gamers.

-Balloon Fight

-BUBBLE BOBBLE

-Castlevania

-Castlevania II: Simon’s Quest

-Donkey Kong

-Donkey Kong Jr

-DOUBLE DRAGON II: THE REVENGE

-Dr. Mario

-Excitebike

-FINAL FANTASY

-Galaga

-GHOSTS’N GOBLINS

-GRADIUS

-Ice Climber

-Kid Icarus

-Kirby’s Adventure

-Mario Bros.

-MEGA MAN 2

-Metroid

-NINJA GAIDEN

-PAC-MAN

-Punch-Out! Featuring Mr. Dream

-StarTropics

-SUPER C

-Super Mario Bros.

-Super Mario Bros. 2

-Super Mario Bros. 3

-TECMO BOWL

-The Legend of Zelda

-Zelda II: The Adventure of Link

Video Games

Favorite Female Characters

In my years of playing games it always brings me great joy when I can play as a strong female, or even have a strong female interact with my character. While there are a number of good characters out there I feel that the following truly stand out. They display strength, and most of them have wonderful personalities to back that strength. I also feel they serve important roles in changing the way women are represented in video games.

Female Shepard: Mass Effect Series

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What made Shepard so wonderful was the fact that gamers really did have a lot of control of how the character developed and who Shepard was at the core. Making a male and female version of Shepard was an added bonus. Female Shepard was just as well developed as male Shepard. She had as many romance options, certain interactions dedicated to the female version. Jennifer Hale also did an amazing job voicing female Shepard which really added to the overall character. As far as getting to play a female character this was one that made me feel really empowered.

Lilith: Borderlands 2

I am specifically saying Borderlands 2 because in the first the characters don’t really have personalities. Lilith is part of the group leading the resistance against Handsome Jack and she jumps out a lot more. She cracks jokes, is comforting to her companions, suffers loss, and is even captured. Lilith however doesn’t seem to give up at any point. She remains dedicated to those around her, but also retains that criminal underside that you know they all have. I really enjoyed watching Lilith as a character, but was sad that she didn’t have so much personality when I actually got to control her. Either way she is a badass lady.

Bonnie MacFarlane: Red Dead Redemption

I think a lot of people discount Bonnie because she is not a playable character, and after the first part of the game she is almost completely forgotten about. However, I think this is rather unfair because she truly is an amazing woman. First it’s worth noting that you are introduced to Bonnie when she saves John Marston’s life. Bonnie then serves mostly as a guide to help the gamer through the tutorial. In the process you learn that Bonnie pretty much runs this massive ranch as neither of her brothers were up to the task. She lives in a world that doesn’t respect women, but she forces them to respect her. She steps up to do a job that is unforgiving and does it well. As far as women that you should respect Bonnie deserves a place high up on the list.

The New Lara Croft: Tomb Raider

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Personally I had a few issues with the older Lara Croft, she was by no means a bad female character, but I feel a lot of people gave her more credit then was really due. She was a pretty flat character, but the new Lara Croft fixed that. In addition to being strong she is actually very complex. The problem with simply making a “strong” female is that without some depth they really lose a lot when compared to the more interesting male characters out there. The reboot of Lara Croft is the perfect answer to this.

Alyx: Half Life 2

Alyx serves mostly to help the gamer by helping Gordon. She gives him important weapons, saves him, and even fights along side him. Alyx is an extremely useful ally throughout Half Life 2 and it’s various episodes. She also has a wonderful personality, she is kind, smart, and often times hilarious. Alyx is the perfect counter part to the silent Gordon. I have to say her addition was one of the best choices made in the Half Life universe, and I greatly enjoy playing along side her. Next step, I would like to have the chance to actually play as her.

Samus: Metroid

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I mulled over whether or not to add Samus to the list. The way it is revealed that she is a girl in the original game is a bit problematic to me. However, why she made it on the list is because of the change she made for gamers. Metroid was a lot of fun and people really enjoyed taking charge of that character and fighting through the epic world. Then bam at the end, this hero that people enjoyed so much was a girl. It was a shocking moment, and it was wonderfully crafted because a lot of players didn’t have a chance to say “Oh I don’t want to play a girl” before they fell in love with the game. The bikini though, but over all Samus has earned her spot.

Hammer: Fable 2

A lot of people would argue that an important female character can’t simply be a strong woman, but needs to develop. I would say this applies to characters regardless of gender. Hammer is a very complex character especially considering how little time she commands in this game. She starts out angry about having to be in her peaceful world, she wants to fight and finds her drive to do so. Hammer then enjoys the violence and believes that she is making the world a better place. However as the game progresses she comes to the realization that all the violence she and the other heroes are committing is only bringing about more violence. This is an amazing development to watch, and what’s even better is the end she finds the strength to go back to being peaceful. Hammer shows not only strength but different types of strength, and this is why I think she should not be over looked.

 

 

Elaine Marley: Monkey Island

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What I find so impressive about Elaine, and the game that she appears in, is how much they turn the traditional set up of video games on it’s head. While the gamer does control Guybrush, and he is supposed to fill the hero role it is evident he is not the real hero. He is bumbling and while hilarious fairly useless. The game takes it a step further by having Elaine kidnapped, a theme in video games. However, when Guybrush shows up to the save her the implication is that Elaine was going to get herself out of trouble and Guybrush’s heroics cause her more problems than solutions. In most games up until this point, and even after it the captured woman depends on the male character to rescue her. Elaine can take care of herself, and the male hero is not that skillful. It’s amazing that this was written into the game so long ago, because at this point female characters that were better off taking care of themselves was not really a theme yet.

Honorable Mention: Voiceless characters from various action RPGs

Credit has to be given to games like Fallout, Dragon Age, Elder Scrolls, and games like that that allow you to play a female avatar. The female characters have the same options and development of the male characters. However, they only get an honorable mention because the lack of real “voice” kind of makes it harder to associate with them as awesome ladies. This is far from a complaint though, I encourage all games to let people choose to play a female if they want. I also think in these games the lack of voice works just fine. If designers are going to make free form characters like this please, please allow people to play a woman because simply put there is no reason not to. So thank you to these games for giving us that option.

Video Games

The Best and the Worst Video Game Twists

previously published on 30plusgamer, a no longer active site

Twists can add a real umph to whatever you are experiencing, they can also completely cut it down and leave you wanting. Both good and bad twists can incite a large reaction, and video games have had their fair share of both.

THERE WILL BE SPOILERS

Best Video Game Twists

Would You Kindly/Andrew Ryan Is Your Dad- Bioshock

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I combine these two because both of these mind blowing twists are revealed at the same time pretty much. You discover that the man that has been guiding you through Rapture is actually the main baddie of the story. Not only that but he has control over your mind with the phrase, “would you kindly”. It’s safe to say that the second play through of this game you become very aware of just how often you are told “would you kindly”, and what the implications are.

To add to that moment you also discover that Andrew Ryan is your character’s father. Ryan is not much better than all the others that played their parts in destroying Rapture, but the confrontation with him does shed a lot of light on his motivations. It also sheds light on the fact that he knows you are a slave and then has you kill him. Combine the two and you have a huge amount of “what the hell?!” that flies at you.

It Was Really James- Silent Hill 2

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James is searching the town of Silent Hill because he is called there by his dead wife. He is haunted by their memories, tormented by Pyramid Head, and just plain broken because of her death. Of course it turns out that James is in fact the person who killed his wife. Depending on how you play the game there are a few different outcomes that follow this, but it’s a very shocking moment. James, up until that point, seemed rather devoted to his wife, and even stood by her when she was dying from an illness. Turns out, not so much. It turns out that the punishment of Silent Hill is his own guilt over killing her.

The Nuke- Call of Duty Modern Warfare

It’s pretty awesome when a game makes you think “Was I just Nuked?” and yes, yes you were. It’s something that kind of takes you by surprise. What makes the whole nuking even more dramatic is the fact that your character doesn’t die from the blast. No, instead you have a few more first person moments that allow you to think “no I might make it” then nope, you die.

John Marsten Dies Anyways- RDR

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After playing through the game, John has done everything asked of him. He turned his back on his old friends, he worked for the government to do what they felt he owed. Hell, he even redeemed himself in more ways than one along the way. John did everything asked of him to get his family returned and to live his life. Ultimately though it doesn’t matter. John is gunned down by the very people that he worked for and it’s taken away. It’s a rather heartbreaking moment though, and a twist that is actually needed, as sad as it is. It ultimately ties up the game, and the message there of, in a sad but suiting way.

Samus is a Girl- Metroid

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Really the plot twist is not so much a plot twist. It’s also lame by today’s standards when compared to the rest of what gaming plot twists have to offer. However at the time it was pretty mind blowing. Get through the game and you are rewarded with the knowledge that this whole time you’ve been playing not as a badass dude, but a badass lady. A+

Worst

The Cannibal Family- The Walking Dead, Episode 2

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It’s not that the twist is bad per se, rather it’s that it’s so predictable. From the moment you meet the bunch you know that something is up with them. They take you to their farm blah blah blah, then you find out they are cannibals. There seems to be little attempt to hide that this is coming, yet it’s still billed as a shocking reveal. If you are a fan of horror you should have seen this coming a mile away. It’s still a good episode, just a bad twist.

The Precursors Are What?- Jak 3

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It started with Jak and Daxter, the mystery of the precursors. Who were they, and why are they gone? They left insane technology behind, and it’s an ever present question throughout the games. Even with traveling to the future in Jak II, and all the other issues that came up the over all, the mystery of the precursors was there. So Jak 3 finally reveals the great secret. That they are the damn ottsels like Daxter and make the whole thing a joke. It’s kind of a slap in the face after wondering, and days spent on these three games to ultimately have the whole thing feel rushed and giving the gamer more questions than answers.

The Origami Killer- Heavy Rain

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There seems to be people on either side of this being one of the best and one of the worst plot twists in gaming history. Finding out that the killer was Scott Shelby is a moment that may people say “they never saw coming”. However, the argument can be made that the reason you never saw it coming is because there is a massive plot hole in Scott being the killer, namely that he couldn’t have killed one of the victims because he was in a different room. Ultimately it’s just kind of a let down, and a twist that depends on gamers ignoring a few things to buy it.

It Was All a Dream- Super Mario Bros 2

If I am being completely honest the whole “it was just a dream” is generally a crappy twist regardless of if it’s a game, movie, book, whatever. It takes a lot to pull this ending off without it completely and totally sucking. It is possible, just not likely. Super Mario Bro 2 did not pull it off. It’s annoying, unsatisfying, and kind of lazy.

It Was Jill- Resident Evil 5

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Oh shocking the hooded figure was Jill? No way, I did not see that coming at all. The game kind of keeps slapping you over the head with Jill this and Jill that, then we are supposed to be shocked when we come face to face with her? The only reason why the twist might have shocked some people is it takes way too long to get there, so they might have forgotten there was a hooded figure by the time of the big reveal.

Video Games

2D to 3D: Games That Did it Right

Previously Published by Megan E. Pearson on 30plusgamer, a no longer active site

The shift from 2D to 3D was a major turning point in video game history. Both gamers and technology seemed to be driving video games towards something new, but 3D was a massive shift. It was harder to develop for and a lot more expensive. It’s not that surprising to look back and realize just how many franchises failed to make the jump. Other franchises took awhile and a few failed games before eventually working out the kinks. A few though seemed to jump straight from the world of 2D to 3D in the best possible ways. While there are many of games out there that did a good job these five deserve a special place at the top of the list.

Mario

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Mario is one of the top video game franchises ever invented. By the time Nintendo 64 came out it was already highly successful for Nintendo. Taking Mario to 3D made perfect sense with Nintendo’s new console they needed to take this franchise to the next step, and they did it so well. Mario is not perfect, but honestly as far as the shift from 2D to 3D goes it’s damn near close. Mario traveled to many fun and interesting worlds, giving the game a fresh new feel. They also brought in what made the franchise so successful in the first place, with the enemies and a few of the power ups. Mario 64 managed to feel brand new while keeping what made Mario, Mario.

Legend of Zelda

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Legend of Zelda first went 3D with Ocarina of Time on the Nintendo 64. Part of what made this jump so successful was how epic it really was. They transported Link to a 3D world, still blending puzzles, action and adventure, and RPG elements of gameplay. People were also really impressed by the open world feel of the game. The biggest challenge that faced this game was the memory limitations that came with the Nintendo 64 cartridge, and was actually the largest game that Nintendo had ever released at the time. This was reflected in the game, it was large, with a rich story, and many rich environments. It really helped take the world of epic adventures for console gamers to a new level.

Metal Gear

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Possible what helped this series transition to 3D with Metal Gear Solid, was the fact that they tried to make it similar to the 2D predecessors in many ways. The movements, use of environments, and the field of vision system was pretty similar to the past games. Making sure to not change too much about gameplay, but instead focus on just shifting the graphics helped make the transition smooth and successful. Snake was taken into a new world of gaming and took stealth gaming to a whole new level.

Grand Theft Auto

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In addition to being the first 3D game in the series Grand Theft Auto 3 also made changes to gameplay. In the past the series had taken a top down view, and even had levels. GTA 3 instead combines a 3rd person shooter with a driving game, as well as expanding on the open world experience (slightly more limited in the first two) that the series is now known for. Despite making so many major changes to the series, these changes along with the 3D really did help create a great and popular series.

Final Fantasy

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In the world of RPGs Final Fantasy is one of those franchises that stands out. Even if you don’t play them most gamers know what Final Fantasy is. Final Fantasy VII was the first in the series to use 3D graphics. It was first planned for the Nintendo 64, but the cartridges still used by Nintendo lacked the memory needed for the game. So Square took the series to the Playstation and not only released their first 3D game, but a game that lived up to the epic adventures gamers had come to expect from the series. To many fans of the franchise it’s still considered the best in the series, but best or not it does mark an amazing shift from 2D to 3D. The characters and environments looked wonderful, movement and combat transitioned smoothly from 2D to 3D. If companies wanted to know how to bring their games to 3D right this was a perfect example to look at.

Metroid

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Unlike Mario and Legend of Zelda this popular Nintendo franchise did not go 3D with the release of the Nintendo 64. Instead Metroid Prime, the first 3D Metroid game was released for Gamecube 8 years after the last game in the franchise. Metroid Prime took the series into 3D and it was amazing. It had interesting worlds, found a way to use the ball function perfectly, and made the switch from side scroller to 3D FPS wonderfully. It may have taken awhile for Metroid to make the switch but it still did so wonderfully.

Ninja Gaiden

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Ninja Gaiden has been featured on many consoles. Nintendo had the older triology of the series in 2D, then Ninja Gaiden kind of disappeared for awhile. A new game was brought to the Xbox in 2004. Less of a sequel, this Ninja Gaiden was a whole new story in the franchise with the same Ryu and the same insane difficulty. Like Metroid perhaps waiting for the 3D phase to have a little time served this series well. Instead of rushing into the 3D world, Ryu took his time and gamers were giving a great transition for their waiting.