Friday, July 07, 2006

outline/timeline I: my beloved pink handheld

A year ago, almost exactly, I was on a train from Oakland back here to Portland. Round midnight, overcaffinated and dumping trash into the seat-back pouch in front of me, I discovered a Nintendo DS. I fired it up instantly and played around with it for a bit. It had been registered to some guy named "jake", and had a comment listing of "never ever date vicky".(1) Eventually I got around to firing up the games, instead of just playing around with the machine's settings. Super Mario 64 DS was wholly impenetrable to my meager platforming skills, but I was instantly enthralled with Pokemon Sapphire.

Stealing is wrong.

But the guy doesn't even capitalize his own name, the pretentious putz, and the anti-Vicky bit struck me as infinitely juvenile. So...I kept the DS when my train ride was over. Crime is bad, but crime against children is 'way less a bad thing, right.

Soon enough, my inept stabs at Pokemon had drained the little guy's batteries totally. The little silver fella sat around my hovel for a couple months, because I just knew that the charger would be like fifty bucks. Fucking Nintendo. Then I ended up at this obscure Jewish retail outfit here in the northwest, called "Fred Meyer". Turns out that DS chargers retail for around a Hamilton. Hours later, I was thigh-deep in Hoenn's tall grass again, trying to catch 'em all.

Now, I am very very bad at Pokemon. (This sentiment will recur again and again throughout my work on this site, ranging from tragedy to farce, you may be sure.) Nevertheless, I felt a strong desire to play it. Since I despise that at which I am bad, there's a contradiction here.(2) This contradiction is most easily resolved by playing a NEW game, which maybe I could get good at and not despise (it).(3)

And thus was founded my love for handheld gaming. Within days, I'd scored my beloved pink handheld from a Goodwill for twenty bucks, and loaned the DS to my housemate so he can play New Super Mario Brothers.

As has been noted, the GBA is a truly terrific system.(5) Sadly, in the US, it's widely considered to be for kiddies. I weep hot, manly tears every time I peep a list of best sellers for the little platform. Such a fucking waste. But in Japan, it's very much a reasonable console for serious gaming, and a trickle of those titles get localized for our fair shores, which I then cherrypick, play for a while, enjoy the living shit out of, and abandon when I succumb to my Urge to Consume.

Follows a list of the games I'll might could get around to working on for here.

Pokemon Sapphire.

Maybe I'll come back to this one someday. A buddy of mine recently expressed some interest, so I'm trying to convince him to get one of the games we could trade rare Pokemon between...

Fire Emblem: the Sacred Stones.

One of the games on the very short list of "games that got me back into gaming".(6) I played it through, beat it, and immediately started a new game. Didn't make it through the second time, but what an awesome little game.

Astro Boy: the Omega Factor.

I picked this up despite being fairly sure it would fall into the category of "good license, mediocre game".(7) To my great surprise and immense joy, this is widely considered one of the best games in recent years. Sadly, it's pretty difficult, so I still haven't finished it. Someday, maybe someday...

Final Fantasy IV.

Still need to finish the last couple bosses. Got sidetracked.

Tales of Phantasia.

You know, I really really want to like the Tales of... series. Tales of Symphonia, after all, was a rental title that really helped repique my interest in games. But this little fucker is seriously an unplayable mess. I'll give it another shot, but I can't imagine myself playing this guy for any length of time.

Final Fantasy I.

One of the things that sidetracked me from FFIV. Finished it without great difficulty.

Final Fantasy II.

A trend in what I've been playing? Well, yes. 20/30 hours is all I can really spend playing any game, which gets you less than halfway through, say, Baten Kaitos, but is more than enough for old-timey games recently ported to portable systems. Yay the late 80s RPG! Anyhow, haven't really started this one yet. Taking a FF break.

Advance Wars 2.

Holy crap is this game addictive. This and Age of Empires DS have a way of sucking 6 hours from me utterly without mercy. Luckily, I hit stages in each that I couldn't beat on the first attempt, so I was able to take breaks from them. Both I will beat, however.

Iridion II.

Because everybody needs a game where they fly a space ship around and blow up lots of other spaceships. Pew, pew, pewpewpewpew!


Finished this a couple nights ago. Many electrons to be used on this little gem. If you're in a desperate hurry to see a review, I can suggest this one, which is a PERFECT example of much that's wrong with the "new game journalism": not only does he feel desperately inclined to tout his "I've had sex, you know" status, but the information he presents about the game fails to indicate that he played it for any longer than an hour.(8)

Gonna get to these sometime, maybe.

Kingdom Hearts: Chain of Memories.
Gunstar Super Heroes. (See Astro Boy on difficulty.)

And that's the outline! See you in the streets.


(1) This latter bit is funny primarily if you know that this comment listing feature is what one DS will broadcast to another DS if they're within ad-hoc wi-fi-ing range. It's like the introduction you'd pick to make to people, like a business card. "Never ever date Vicky."

(2) See here my contempt for "pleasing a woman" and "holding down a steady job". Also "bathing on the regular" and "not being a total(ly) pompous ass".

(3) This resolution dovetails nicely with a highly problematic major compulsion I have: a total desire to Consume New Products.(4) --Used games won't scratch the itch, I've tried. On a formal basis, I suppose my desire is simply to acquire shrinkwrapped items. Currently, I have around 5 shrinkwrapped games on my rack, with a half-dozen more whose shrinkwrap has been broken, but that I have yet to play. I'll get to them, I'll get to them...

(4) This compulsion is problematic because of my politics. It's formally equivalent to a strong desire to, on my day off, go out and do something really really racist. I don't know why retail therapy appeals to me, and I'm trying to extirpate the tendency, but that begins with being honest about it.

(5) If you've got enough ambient light. I can't play at home, which is why I live at the coffee shop. Hey, Advance Wars games don't/won't beat themselves, okay?

(6) The blizzard we had when I rented the Hulk: Ultimate Destruction, Tales of Symphonia and Eternal Darkness: Sanity's Requiem basing pretty much the remainder of the list. And maybe that Pokemon game/train trip.

(7) See also, Animaniacs: The Great Edgar Hunt and Robotech: Battlecry.

(8) The first problem is wholly unavoidable in the genre, unfortunately. The second, however, is unforgivable. The entire attraction to NGJ is that the kids are passionate about their subject matter, so when they start slacking on their actual gaming it undercuts the entire enterprise. I'll put up with the dozens of paragraphs in which the writer fails to actually talk about the fucking game, I'll put up with the endless nattering about their lives, which are inevitably wholly trivial enterprises, but ONLY BECAUSE the actual content about the game is often interesting. In this light, we may point also to: Rogers, Tim, essentially every word ever written. Oh, and that guy with like two first names--both of them spelt in quirky fashion!--two last names, AND an umlaut. I'll get to the other major problems with NGJ in later posts. Trust me.

2 Comments + Unabashed Criticism:

Blogger d.d. tinzeroes said...

Glad you got that off your chest.

By the way, I still have no less than FOUR Larry O'Brien trophys to your one (I think), although, to your credit, you also have a Stanley Cup.


5:32 PM  
Blogger Fat Contradiction said...

Two Cups (Carolina) and an Olympics win (USA). I got seriously misty when the game hoisted the flag at my award ceremony...

No NBA titles, though the Warriors were up 1-0 on Miami in the finals the last time I played NBA Live 2005 (over a year ago, according to the save file). This is after going 4-1 on 3-seed Minnesota, 4-0 on 2-seed Houston and 4-0 on top seed San Antonio. Since this run followed a resounding 16-13 regular season, this is probably the only virtual season I ever coached where we peaked at the right time...

Anyhow, I may go back and finish off the Heat sometime, just so you can't crow anymore about your 4-peat against my first-round flameouts. There's coaches that've won it all, and there's them that ain't: Rudy T gets to sit at the same table with Riley and Jackson; numbers don't matter after that first one.

But I'm not giving EA any more money, nor am I spending my sweet time creating new draft picks nor updating the fucking rosters. Given these guidelines for future conduct, it seems pretty clear that I'm done with sports games.

--Except!! I scored a copy of Midway Arcade "Treasures" II the other day, cuz I really wanted to play Mortal Kombat II, and to my delighted surprise, the compilation includes Cyberball 2072, an all-robot football game that I always loved. Madden can suck it, my game has flying saucers that come out to vaccuum up the debris from yr mech, which explodes when you don't get a first down.

12:29 PM  

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