Spoony Bard Podcast: Episode 58: My Cold Medication is Wearing Off

So this time Stark and I talk about the Sim City series, and basically how it is the largest waste of time in our young lives.  If there was a game series that ate up more of our time I can’t think of one.  In the tradition of most of our podcasts we don’t really talk about much for very long before getting distracted and simply talking about pretty much anything else that we can think of.  At one point this devolves into a new game that I came up with, “Video Games or Jersey Shore,”  which I think might be the worst thing that anyone has every thought of involving video games.


Gillman’s List: Five Worst SNES Games

I decided that to counter Stark’s list of best SNES games, mainly because I can’t let Stark have anything—ever, I should probably come up with a list of the worst games on that console. I also want to point out that unlike other “worst ever” lists that you see floating around the net; I play(ed) these games.

5.Clay Fighter

People who have been following the site for a while will know that fighting games haven’t always been my favorite genre, and when I was younger I refused to play them under the basis that I was the absolute worst person in the world with anything that resembled hand-eye coordination. This, oddly, did not stop my brother from renting any and all of the newest fighters and forcing me to repeatedly lose to him. I have said this before, and I will say it until the entire world knows, kids are idiots; even taking this into account, though, I knew that something was wrong with this game.

Saying that this game was conceived from the ground up as a cash in on the fighting game craze of the early 90’s would be akin to saying that a Nazi war criminal made some mistake. I am sure that there is a design document for this game kicking around somewhere that simply says, “Sure, why not?” with a couple of money signs after it. Knowing that this game was both stupid and that even bringing it up at school may cause a beating probably speaks loads about how it was thought of back in the day, and that is before I even attempt to bring up that the plot revolves around people being infested with a meteor from the circus.

Stupid fact about it: To date it has received two full sequels and one that was recently announced–all of them worse than the first one.

4.Secret of Evermore

There was a time and a place when any RPG released on any system pretty much instantly became a needed purchase from any nerd in America. That time was during the SNES and it somehow sadly ended up involving me buying Secret of Evermore.

The game managed to leave an odd taste in my mouth when I first bought it, although I didn’t really have any room to complain seeing as it was keeping me from playing through Secret of Mana for an eighth time. It marked the first time, as a young child, that I had ever seen a massive glitch in a game–this one causing the entire game to need to be restarted (and oddly enough me also call Stark a liar before I experienced it myself). I played through it recently and surprisingly found it to be so unplayable I couldn’t even make it through the tutorial.

Stupid fact about it: It was the first and last Square Enix game made entirely in the United States. It also referenced Evil Dead in the intro.

3. Killer Instinct

Back in the day there where good attempts at cash-ins and bad, and oh did we all try to pretend that Killer Instinct was one of the good attempts. Coming out right around the same time that Street Fighter II was wearing out its welcome, with 15th release in a handful of years, Rare debuted a brand new title that was entirely based around combos and not being Street Fighter.

The problem with the fabled 82 hit combo (which was just where the game stopped counting not the limit of how many times someone could be hit) was that there really wasn’t that much skill to it. In games like Street Fighter or King of Fighters the buttons needed to be pressed during the correct frames of animation for the combo to continue; in Killer Instinct as long as the buttons where pressed in the correct order—regardless of speed–a combo would start. This mythically led to fabled stories of people fast enough to input the commands going to get drinks, leaving the arcade, and coming back while their attack finished.

Stupid fact about it: The game officially was the death of the title “tournament edition” as it was hard to have a balanced and worthy game when anyone past a beginner’s skill can learn an attack that will suck up an entire life meter. Sadly a player could also be juggled in an upper cut for the same result.

2. Bubsy

Sure, most people know of the tragic attempt to bring Bubsy into 3D but no one talks about the fact that the series shouldn’t have started in the first place. The game boasted massive levels that had tons of collectables scattered throughout them, but it also played a lot like the Barney game that was out at the same time. I know that Bubsy is a cartoon cat, although there has always been an odd feeling that he might have some kind of other strange animal mixed in there, but he controlled like he was mainly cocaine and helium.

One of the big selling points of the SNES was the amazing amount of colors it could use, although as a child I just knew that stuff looked so much better than my NES, and Bubsy was out to use every single one of them. If Hannah Barbara did a ton of acid while looking through a kaleidoscope it might end up looking something like this game. Just remember that at the time people thought that this was a decent and playable game.

Stupid fact about it: Its big sequel, Bubsy 3D, has largely been called one of the worst games that man has ever made. It just goes to show that during the early 90’s people where just excited that game where coming out on consoles again.

1.Illusion of Gaia

We did a podcast about this game. I have never really hidden my feelings about this pro-Earth, anti-slavery, go-women game. This game made no attempt to hide these messages, but as a child I was so constantly bombarded with them from every angle that they simply flew over my head as almost required story telling elements of the time– don’t judge me as this was the same time that we all simply excepted the fact that every other episode from Blossom was going to be a “very special” one where Six managed to become addicted to some new drug/shopping/glue.

Later research into the game taught me that this game was part of a series, although super loosely connected, and that the other one on the SNES (Sol Blazer) was well received. It is kind of annoying that the main character in the game is travels with a pack of other children, each more useless then the last making him pretty much the only one that ever matters, all of whom slowly get weeded out throughout the course of the game. Some people try to defend this game with some of the “adult” things that happen in it, but the entire thing is packed so tightly with earth friendly conspiracy theories about how the ancients knew best and had better tech that all the heavy handed messages get lost when the dead souls of Atlantis are crying out against their crimes against nature.

Odd fact about it: If I play this game for more than 10 minutes there is a good chance that I might vomit. I have yet to figure out why.

Marvel vs Capcom 3 Accessories

Spoony Bard Podcast: Episode 26: We Miss MST3K

Never being one to do anything that would call the integrity of the show into question Stark made a very conscience choice to not play the game this week at all.  That is OK, because I went entirely out of my way to be overly bored with Legend of Legaia.  Stark talks about playing Ar Tonelico 1 and 3 and how much he really really hates PSN at the moment.  I talk about the article that I did on Valve and how everyone is complaining about DLC in Portal 2, even though that never went up on the site.  We also talk quickly about Forza 3.  There seemed to be something wrong with the recording this week, so there is some odd feedback.  I thought that it would be better to give it to you guys instead of making you wait even longer for me to figure out how to fix it in post.


How I Ended Up On Playstation 2 In The Year 2011

It’s no surprise that the crew at Varms loves older games… especially since we put out a podcast about classic games. I have been hammering out game time on just about every home console that has been around since the mid 80’s; among them are the latest in gaming hardware, including a Xbox 360, a PS3, and a pretty decent gaming PC. While everyone out there is going gaga for the latest and greatest FPS games and checking into rehab for Call of Duty: Black Ops addiction, I spent my free time playing Hyper Dimension Neptunia and Ar Tonelico Qoga- oddball niche titles no one really gives a crap about. Having beaten the both of them, I began to crave more JRPG gaming. I found myself buying a copy of the first Ar Tonelico game and popped it into my PS2, since I never played it and figured it would be a fun diversion after completing the newest title in the series. I became hooked, and lost 9 hours of my Sunday destroying anyone that stood in my way with the power of Reyvateil song magic.

I then realized that over all the years this current console generation has been around, there really hasn’t been much of anything for the fan of niche RPG’s to play with. Sure games like Mass Effect and Dragon Age are fun, but sometimes I just want to jump into a quirky, colorful, and charming JRPG… and these opportunities are few and far between on this console generation. I can understand that niche titles are called that for a reason- they are meant for a narrow audience. The problem I seem to have with this console generation is that even though companies still hammer out shovel-ware, I still can’t get my JRPG fix on the regular like I have on every other console generation. I decided this would be a great time to take a look at how the game industry and gamers themselves have changed the modern gaming world into one that is unfriendly to niche gamers.

It’s All About The Money

Newer games have fancy graphics and physics engines that give them that shiny new look. Unfortunately, this is only made possible with fancy new computers, software, and tons of time and effort… and all of that requires piles of money. These simple fact forces developers to be at the mercy of greedy CEO’s that would rather sell blockbusters than invest in something that is expected to sell to a small audience. Video games became a huge industry in recent years, so this mentality is pretty much standard for the industry. A Japanese RPG contains tons of content and costs a fortune to make on newer hardware, so they have to fit into the realm of “everyone will like this and play it”, versus something made for a fan of the genre. This is how we ended up with the latest Final Fantasy game being 50% RPG tutorial for dummies and 50% actual RPG.

People Are Obsessed With War

Okay, just to clear things up, most RPG’s are about war and fighting, at least on some level. What I’m talking about here is people’s obsession with real war, and the urge to bring it into their living rooms. American game companies dominate the industry these days, and all of the big sellers out there are about war. It seems every damn game I pick up now involves me wandering around bombed out battlefields and post apocalyptic wastelands, shooting up the locals in the name of freedom and justice. Don’t get me wrong, I like darker stories, but I also like going on a journey through a world that isn’t just a mess of blown up buildings. Even worse, there is only so much to say about the motivations behind conventional warfare- so you usually wind up with a shallow storyline that sums up to a bunch of one-liner grunts fighting an enemy that won’t give up for some reason. This goes even further downhill when you look at a game like Call of Duty: Black Ops, where the single player experience is a mess of bad AI and throwaway plot for the sake of focusing on the multiplayer experience that people buy the game for.

I actually feel people give games like this far too much credit than they deserve. Black Ops is nothing more than a shallow rip-off of Modern Warfare 2. The campaign is nothing more than mess of half-assed and rushed development, and the multiplayer is Modern Warfare 2 with some tweaks, maps, and name-changes. This game may print money, but it doesn’t deserve to. I love the COD games, but I have to admit that the franchise is getting past its prime, even more now that Activision screwed over the original developers out of sheer greed. I’m not saying everyone needs to become a super crazed JRPG nut that looms around wondering if a game has a female protagonist that is a Tsundere, but let’s face it… war… war never changes.

Haters Gonna Hate

In an era where more and more companies are taking to the internet to figure out what people want to buy, I am starting to take concern with the fact that website blogs and social networking have been getting more and more attention from game developers and publishers. Yes, I am aware that I am writing this article for a website blog and that I would love for you all to tell your friends on Facebook and Twitter how much you like wasting your time reading and listening to our crap… but there is one force on the internet that looms in the darkness, waiting to ruin everyone’s good times: Trolls. Trolls are lurking on every website, waiting to get a rise out of anyone with an opinion about something. The problem being, what happens if someone starts to take these douche bags seriously?

It turns out that in some ways, this actually may be a problem. Retailers and game publishers have experimented with tracking visitors on game review websites and seeing what kind of “buzz” the game is generating. The internet is full of foul-mouthed jerks that love bashing on the geekier breeds of gamers, and perhaps the most poorly treated segment of gamers are those that like JRPGs. The internet is rife with a culture that labels fans of anime and Japanese games as lonely freaks that have betrayed American culture. Even one of my favorite video comedy/review sites on the web, Zero Punctuation, is just full of hate for JRPGs. Even television has carried on the trend of attacking this segment of the geek population- you can’t watch X-Play on G4TV without knowing that host Adam Sessler HATES anything remotely Japanese. Now, while it’s fine for someone to have an opinion and express it in public, what is the point of having someone that hate’s JRPGs review them? Obviously they won’t like the games, and obviously they will bash the hell out of it and pick on the people that do like those games. All this does for the gamer community and the internet at large is feed the trolls.

With all these seeds of hate planted on the blogs of the world, I can’t help but feel that all this bad press is giving some publishers the wrong idea about whether or not they should take the risk of trying to sell niche titles anymore. Some have even attacked reviewers themselves for even reviewing a niche title. Here is a comment off of Destructoid.com, from a blogger that is angry with a writer for doing a review of Ar Tonelico Qoga, and giving the game a decent score:

Yeah, the end reAlly is near for dtoid if it doesent get rid of hack writers like this turd-eating retard reviewer. He also writes for japanator, this site’s otaku pimple. Seriously, all you weeaboos should quit chugging the soy sauce and realize that games like thus and most if what japan craps out these days are the cancer killing the industry. All they can sell now are rape simulators and kiddy pron fodder for fat losers who never see anyone naked besides their mom.

Seriously japan, the best you can come up with us a third-rate gears clone like vanquish? Fade away already, or take a hint from the giant wave and wash your industry clean.

-from “xxbarbicanxx”

Fun Fact: I left the horrible spelling and grammar intact for everyone at home to enjoy!

Okay “xxbarbicanxx”, we get that you can find it in your heart to hate foreign culture and make wild speculations about how they live, but damn man, can’t you at least realize that maybe some people play Japanese games because they are sick to death of testosterone-fueled grunts shooting up blown apart cities? Deal with it. Way to keep it classy with the poorly-timed tsunami joke, I do a classic video game podcast that sometimes degrades into conversation about people helping dogs masturbate and somehow have more tact. Also, anyone who uses the term “weeaboo” should be shot. It’s for the benefit of all mankind, trust me.

Sure no one with a real brain can take a troll seriously, but most marketing dummies out there don’t always have real brains. I hate to say it, but giving haters a voice may very well be making a small contribution to keeping most of my modern gaming experiences locked to a set of crosshairs and ammo counts on the screen. All I know for sure is that I’m sick of having to dust off older generation consoles and my Nintendo DS just to scratch my JRPG itch, and I just want to give kudos to companies like NIS America, Aksys Games, and Atlus for at least trying to give me some niche goodness I can pop in my PS3 and Xbox 360.

Rent Games for $8.99!

Spoony Bard Podcast: Episode 23: It Looks Like He is Taking a Dump When You Press Up

Taking another suggestion from the fans to talk about we played Tomba this week; saying that we had mixed results would be kind. It doesn’t take long before we start talking about pretty much anything else that we are doing. Ar tonelico, Pokemon, and even articles that we have thrown up on the site all end up being fair game. Sorry about the pod going up late, again, at least it still weekly.